While we await the day when we can confirm a new date for our Fantastic Fungi screening, we wanted to share this eye-opening article from our Spring 2020 issue. Read on to learn how the humble mushroom could be more powerful than you ever imagined…
‘Mush’ more than you thought
by Alison McEvoy
Mushroom powders, truffles, coffees and supplements abound these days on the market. Mushrooms are a re-discovery, having been used for centuries in Asian diets and healing traditions. According to Paul Stamets, American Mycologist, fungi are our friend, our ally and even our ancestors.
FUNGI: OUR FRIEND
Fungi are purported to have profound healing capabilities. Many, such as Paul, also see them “shamanistically significant” in that “[they] can feed you, kill you, heal you and send you on a spiritual journey”. But should we have fungi in our daily diet? Or should we use shrooms as a supplement on a planet where the soil our food grows in is ever more nutrient poor?
When it comes to researching the benefits of mushrooms there is a lot of language of possibility out there. Mushrooms are “known for”, “used to treat” this or that, “believed by some” to do this or that. The studies are “limited” and any purported benefits are “unsupported by studies”.
Lion’s mane is significantly connected with improving cognitive function. Some small clinical trials have shown it may improve memory and protect the neurological functions from diseases such as dementia.
Chaga is proven to be full of fibre, essential nutrients and has an extremely high melanin content. As such, it has been involved in many trials and studies for helping with things like diabetes, liver damage and even cancer. What its nutrient density means for us when we ingest it, isn’t entirely clear however. Melanin, for example, is a skin protective leading some to believe that Chaga can protect against skin cancer, sun damage and even prevent ageing.
FUNGI: OUR ALLY
The movie Fantastic Fungi shows just how much fungal mass exists under our feet – as the soil we walk and build upon – and how this mass is sentient, conscious and intelligent. Fungal networks run through the earth, like a “natural internet”, which serve as vehicles of communication. In this way, Fungi can detect, share information on, and respond to changes in the eco-system. It can thereby devise solutions to ecological challenges faced by the earth. According to Paul, many of the bacterial diseases that affect humanity, also affects fungi. Fungi come up with antibodies to fight these bacteria which humans can and do use – penicillin being an obvious example.
It is believed that fungi pose a whole world of possibility when it comes to healing potential. Paul believes that much of this information has been lost – ancient chains of knowledge broken. He is one among the tribe of people in the modern world who are fighting to re-discover the potential of fungi. Our own Bill O’Dea is part of this tribe. Bill runs mushroom hunts, forages and speaks internationally on his knowledge of fungi.
FUNGI: OUR ANCESTOR
Stamets also puts forward a very convincing case that “we are descendants of fungi”. Animals evolved from fungi, including our primate ancestors and, down the line, so did we. Our bodies are “fungal bodies” at a cellular level, consisting of “fungal mass”. Indeed, when you think about it, it’s not that surprising that we might share cellular similarities with many aspects of the planet. The earth provides our food, our water, our air and all of the substances out of which our body forms itself through its inner intelligence.
Tread softly, people. Just as Yeats spread his dreams under our feet, planet Earth has woven intricate webs of fungi underfoot and this natural internet is an intelligence we need to rediscover.
For more, visit fantasticfungi.com