Paul Stamets' mushroom-based bioremediation techniques to the rescue again…

April 27, 2008 New York Times

Saddled With Legacy of Dioxin, Town Considers an Odd Ally: The Mushroom

By ANNIE CORREAL

FORT BRAGG, Calif. — On a warm April evening, 90 people crowded into the cafeteria of Redwood Elementary School here to meet with representatives of the State Department of Toxic Substances Control.

The substance at issue was dioxin, a pollutant that infests the site of a former lumber mill in this town 130 miles north of San Francisco. And the method of cleanup being proposed was a novel one: mushrooms.

Mushrooms have been used in the cleaning up of oil spills, a process called bioremediation, but they have not been used to treat dioxin.

“I am going to make a heretical suggestion,” said Debra Scott, who works at a health food collective and has lived in the area for more than two decades, to whoops and cheers. “We could be the pilot study.”

Fort Bragg is in Mendocino County, a stretch of coast known for its grand seascapes, organic wineries and trailblazing politics: the county was the first in the nation to legalize medical marijuana and to ban genetically modified crops and animals.

Fort Bragg, population 7,000, never fit in here. Home to the country’s second-largest redwood mill for over a century, it was a working man’s town where the only wine tasting was at a row of smoky taverns. But change has come since the mill closed in 2002.

The town already has a Fair Trade coffee company and a raw food cooking school. The City Council is considering a ban on plastic grocery bags. And with the push for mushrooms, the town seems to have officially exchanged its grit for green.

The mill, owned by Georgia-Pacific, took up 420 acres, a space roughly half the size of Central Park, between downtown Fort Bragg and the Pacific Ocean. Among several toxic hot spots discovered here were five plots of soil with high levels of dioxin that Georgia-Pacific says were ash piles from 2001-2, when the mill burned wood from Bay Area landfills to create power and sell it to Pacific Gas & Electric.

Debate remains about how toxic dioxin is to humans, but the Department of Toxic Substances Control says there is no safe level of exposure.

Kimi Klein, a human health toxicologist with the department, said that although the dioxin on the mill site was not the most toxic dioxin out there, there was “very good evidence” that chronic exposure to dioxin caused cancer and “it is our policy to say if any chemical causes cancer there is no safe level.”

Fort Bragg must clean the dioxin-contaminated coastline this year or risk losing a $4.2 million grant from the California Coastal Conservancy for a coastal trail. Its options: haul the soil in a thousand truckloads to a landfill about 200 miles away, or bury it on site in a plastic-lined, 1.3-acre landfill.

Alarmed by the ultimatum, residents called in Paul E. Stamets, author of “Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World.”

Typically, contaminated soil is hauled off, buried or burned. Using the mushroom method, Mr. Stamets said, it is put in plots, strewn with straw and left alone with mushroom spawn. The spawn release a fine, threadlike web called mycelium that secretes enzymes “like little Pac-Mans that break down molecular bonds,” Mr. Stamets said. And presto: toxins fall apart.

In January, Mr. Stamets came down from Fungi Perfecti, his mushroom farm in Olympia, Wash. He walked the three-mile coastline at the site, winding around rocky coves on wind-swept bluffs where grass has grown over an airstrip but barely conceals the ash piles. It was “one of the most beautiful places in the world, hands down,” he said.

Quick to caution against easy remedies — “I am not a panacea for all their problems” — he said he had hope for cleaning up dioxin and other hazardous substances on the site. “The less recalcitrant toxins could be broken down within 10 years.”

At least two dioxin-degrading species of mushroom indigenous to the Northern California coast could work, he said: turkey tail and oyster mushrooms. Turkey tails have ruffled edges and are made into medicinal tea. Oyster mushrooms have domed tops and are frequently found in Asian food.

Local mushroom enthusiasts envision the site as a global center for the study of bioremediation that could even export fungi to other polluted communities.

“Eventually, it could be covered in mushrooms,” said Antonio Wuttke, who lives in neighboring Mendocino and describes his occupation as environmental landscape designer, over a cup of organic Sumatra at the Headlands Coffeehouse.

The proposal is not without critics, however.

“There still needs to be further testing on whether it works on dioxin,” said Edgardo R. Gillera, a hazardous substances scientist for the State Department of Toxic Substances Control. “There has only been a handful of tests, in labs and field studies on a much smaller scale. I need to see more studies on a larger scale to consider it a viable option.”

On April 14, at a packed City Council meeting, an environmental consultant hired by the city voiced skepticism, citing a study finding that mushrooms reduced dioxins by only 50 percent. Jonathan Shepard, a soccer coach, stood up and asked: “Why ‘only’? I think we should rephrase that. I think we should give thanks and praise to a merciful God that provided a mushroom that eats the worst possible toxin that man can create.

Jim Tarbell, an author and something of a sociologist of the Mendocino Coast, said the enthusiasm for bioremediation showed a change in the culture at large.

We are trying to move from the extraction economy to the restoration economy,” Mr. Tarbell said. “I think that’s a choice that a broad cross-section of the country is going to have to look at.”

At the April 14 meeting, Georgia-Pacific promised to finance a pilot project. Roger J. Hilarides, who manages cleanups for the company, offered the city at least one 10-cubic-yard bin of dioxin-laced soil and a 5-year lease on the site’s greenhouse and drying sheds for mushroom testing. And the City Council said it would approve the landfill but only if it came with bioremediation experiments.

So, sometime later this year, Mr. Stamets is scheduled to begin testing a dump truck’s load of dioxin-laced dirt in Fort Bragg.

“One bin. Ten cubic yards. That’s a beginning,” said Dave Turner, a Council member. “I have hope — I wouldn’t bet my house on it — but I have a hope we can bioremediate this.”

Fungus Fair in Oakland this weekend (Dec 1-2), featuring Paul Stamets

“A Celebration of Wild Mushrooms

* 1-2 December 2007
* Saturday: 10 am to 6 pm — Sunday: 12 pm to 5 pm
* Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Streets, Oakland

“In the San Francisco Bay Area, when the first rains tease up the chanterelles and porcini, fungus lovers head to the “Fungus Fair: A Celebration of Wild Mushrooms” at the Oakland Museum of California. The Fair, hosted by the museum and the Mycological Society of San Francisco (MSSF), provides information on the uses and abuses of fungi, with displays and exhibits on ecology, toxicology, and cultivation. Arrays of identification tables display locally collected mushrooms. Campsite gourmands learn how to serve up the safe and scrumptious species through identification tutorials, cooking demonstrations, and sales of recipe books, soups, snacks, and fresh edibles. Watch renowned Bay Area chefs prepare dishes like matsutakes & roasted cauliflower in coriander cream or sautéed caramel candy cap pears and dentelles.

“The Oakland Museum of California, 10 & Oak Streets in Oakland, is one block from the Lake Merritt BART and a few blocks from Highway 880.

“Admission is $8 general, $5 seniors/students with ID, and free for members, kids five and under, and Oakland City employees. A special two-day pass is available for $12 at
www.museumca.org/tickets

“The weekend event is a rare chance to pore over displays of remarkable
native mushrooms and see how they can be used to dye paper and
clothing, treat cancer and HIV, and add flavor to many foods. Attend a
slide talk or use a microscope. Highly recommended for curious kids!
Mycologists will be on hand both days to answer questions and identify
unknown specimens for visitors.

“Mushroom munchers can learn to recognize and prepare edible fungi from
cookbook and food vendors and the Fair’s popular cooking
demonstrations. Local chefs will prepare dishes with fresh fungi in an
outdoor kitchen on Saturday and Sunday.

“During the Fair, the MSSF presents slide shows on mushroom hunting and
identification. Paul Stamets, an advocate of the medicinal properties
of mushrooms, will give talks on the role of mushrooms in ecological
restoration (Saturday, 4 p.m.) and the mind-altering psychotropic
species (Sunday, 3:30 p.m).

“Fungus-Filled Family Fun! Mushroom crafts and Fair tours for kids take
place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 4
p.m.

“Fair vendors will have fresh wild mushrooms, cultivation kits, books,
clothing, posters, and other mushroom-centric items available all
weekend.

“The Mycological Society of San Francisco is an all-volunteer, nonprofit
organization dedicated to the promotion of educational and scientific
activities involving mushrooms. Founded in 1950, the MSSF is the
largest regional mushroom society in the U.S. The Society awards annual
scholarships, tracks local mycological species, and assists Bay Area
poison control centers. It also leads mushroom identification walks and
works to preserve cultural traditions of mushroom collecting. Visit
http://www.mssf.org for details.”

Paul Stamets: "Simply employ the skills of fungi and join with them in healing the scars of the planet."

Mycova: Helping the Ecosystem through Mushroom Cultivation

Adapted from the article, “Earth’s Natural Internet” by Paul Stamets, published in the Fall 1999 issue of Whole Earth Magazine

Mushroom growing isn’t just a rapidly expanding agribusiness; it’s also a significant tool for the restoration, replenishment and remediation of Earth’s overburdened ecosphere. Like most people, we at Fungi Perfecti are concerned about the depletion of resources, loss of habitat and release of toxic substances into the environment. We’d like to show you some of the many ways in which the cultivation of mushrooms can help to tip the scales in Nature’s favor, thereby benefiting all the inhabitants of Planet Earth.

Farmers, gardeners and scientists have long known about the importance of healthy soil. Human populations have ebbed and flowed according to the carrying capacities of their environment and the food chain it provides. But despite our long history with our environment, we know surprisingly little about the ground beneath our feet. And yet, it is the very soil upon which we depend that is in dire jeopardy. Unless we begin to understand and utilize the dynamics of soil creation, the matrix of life on this planet may begin to unravel. Genetic diversity and resilience could suffer to the point of mass extinctions, the scope of which could be comparable to the cataclysms of 60 million years ago. These extinctions appear to be underway—we are noticing only the more obvious victims.

Covering most all landmasses on the planet are huge masses of fine filaments of living cells from a kingdom barely explored. More than 8 miles of these cells, called mycelia, can permeate a cubic inch of soil. Fungal mats are now known as the largest biological entities on the planet, with some individuals covering more than 20,000 acres. Growing outwards at one quarter to two inches per day, the momentum of mycelial mass from a single mushroom species staggers the imagination. These silent mycelial tsunamis affect all biological systems upon which they are dependent. As they mature and die back, panoply of other fungi quickly come into play. Every ounce of soil does not host just one species, but literally thousands of species of fungi. Of the estimated 1–2 million species of fungi—about 150,000 species being mushrooms—we have catalogued only about 50,000, of which 14,000 have been identified with a species name. The genetic diversity of fungi is vast by design, and apparently crucial for life to continue.

Waves of mycelial networks intersect and permeate through one another. This interspersing of mycelial colonies is the foundation of soils worldwide. Although seemingly undifferentiated under the microscope, the ability of fungi to respond to natural disasters and sudden changes in the environment are a testimonial to their inherent intelligence. I believe that mycelia are Earth’s natural Internet, the essential wiring of the Gaian consciousness. The recent creation of the computer Internet is merely an extension of a successful biological model that has evolved on this planet for billions of years. The timing of the computer Internet should not be construed as a happenstance occurrence. Sharing intelligence might be the only way to save an endangered ecosystem. The planet is calling out to us. Will we listen in time? The lessons are around us. Will we learn?

The vast, interconnected mantle of mycelia reacts quickly to the availability of plant and animal debris, recycling carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, iron and other essential elements. When storms, floods, volcanoes, or other natural disasters wreak havoc on the environment, fungal champions come to the rescue, capturing debris with mycelium and beginning to recycle. Humans have the unfortunate distinction of creating more debris than any other organism on this planet. We have become the new natural disaster. From our minor significance in the biological world only 10,000 years ago, our population is now over 6 billion, continuing to rapidly increase, taxing resources and stressing habitats beyond their maxima.

Growing Mushrooms=Creating Fertile Soils

Saprophytic and parasitic fungi help create the organic components of topsoil, in alliance with myriad numbers of bacteria, insects, and other organisms. An orchestra of primary, secondary, and tertiary saprophytic fungi render wood into biodynamic soil components. These soils benefit plants that in turn use photosynthesis to manufacture their own foods.

Fungi can selectively raise or lower soil pH, increasing the usability of existing soils without the need for additional adjustment prior to use.

In the course of breaking down forest and agriculture wastes, a directed biological succession begins. Composting without generating mushrooms is a lost opportunity for production of food and other valuable products and services.

Nearly all plants have joined with saprophytic and mycorrhizal fungi in symbiosis. Mycorrhizal fungi surround and penetrate the roots of grasses, shrubs and trees, expanding the absorption zone by 10 to 100 fold, aiding in their quest for water and increasing the moisture-holding capacity of soils. This close alliance also forestalls blights and is essential for longevity of the forest ecosystem. Throughout the life span of a Douglas Fir tree, nearly 200 species of mycorrhizal mushrooms can be joined in this most holy of alliances. The interrelationships of these species with other organisms in the forest are just beginning to be understood. What we do know is that fungal complexity is the common denominator of a healthy forest.

Unfortunately, the nearly 50% loss of mycorrhizal mushroom species in Europe forebodes of impending ecological collapse. With the loss of fungi, disease vectors soon plague the forest. The diversity of insects, birds, flowering plants and indeed all mammals begin to suffer. Humidity drops, now exposed soils are blown away, and deserts encroach, stressing resources all the while human populations artificially expand beyond the carrying capacity of their resident ecosystems.

Los Angeles, Mexico City, Bangkok and most cities are biological anomalies: they exist only from the subsidies of resources being from drawn from afar. Yet, much could be done with the massive importation of raw material into urban environments. Instead most of the imported materials eventually are diverted into toxic landfills, returning virtually nothing to the carbon bank from which they were drawn. Ever hear of a landfill selling their soil to gardeners? The current practice of garbage dumps is an ecological travesty. Good soil components are mixed in with plastics, heavy metals and chemical poisons.

Mycoremediation Composting Diagram

The most progressive communities encourage composting of their refuse, a good first step, but this is far short of the potential that could be realized by making the public mycologically astute. Hope lies in making a concerted effort to aid the fungi in their natural role. “Where to begin?” is simpler to answer than trying to comprehend the enormity of the task at hand. Simply employ the skills of fungi and join with them in healing the scars of the planet. Not an ethereal task, any kindergarten student can make a significant contribution with the simplest guidance.

The potential benefits from employing fungi are enormous, and can be realized immediately. First, everyone is involved in spreading fungi. With airplane travel, international mail and trade, spores of fungi have hitchhiked across the planet. This re-mixing of the fungal genome may be a fortuitous event. Nature needs to create a new equilibrium. The human factor is the uncertain variable. The first step in helping Nature is to consciously use fungi, mushrooms in particular, in recycling and in the generation of foods. This elementary step was first industrialized by the mushroom growing industry. Little did the first mushroom cultivators realize that they had taken a revolutionary step in harnessing one of the most powerful biological forces of nature.

Mycoremediation

From a piece of tissue the size of one tenth of your little fingernail, what we call a clone, cells can be grown exponentially into millions of pounds of mushrooms in as little as several months. More than 10% of the growing medium or “substrate” (straw, sawdust, compost, most agricultural and forest debris) can be converted into a protein- and vitamin-rich food. Not only are these mushrooms nutritious, they have demonstrated abilities in enhancing the human immune system, and they produce a slew of natural antibiotics. Yet it is the residual mycelium in that substrate that holds the greatest potential for ecological rehabilitation.

Mycelia can serve as unparalleled biological filters. When I first moved to my property, I installed an outdoor mushroom bed in a gulch leading to a saltwater beach where clams and oysters were being commercially cultivated. An inspection showed that the outflow of water from my property was jeopardizing the quality of my neighbor’s shellfish with the bacteria count close to the legal limit. The following year, after the mushroom beds were colonized with mycelium, the coliform count had decreased to nearly undetectable levels. This led to the term I have coined “mycofiltration”, the use of fungal mats as biological filters.

Mycelium produces extracellular enzymes and acids that break down recalcitrant molecules such as lignin and cellulose, the two primary components of woody plants. Lignin peroxidases dismantle the long chains of hydrogen and carbon, converting wood into simpler forms, on the path to decomposition. By circumstance, these same enzymes are superb at breaking apart hydrocarbons, the base structure common to oils, petroleum products, pesticides, PCBs, and many other pollutants.

For the past four years I have been working with Battelle Laboratories, a non-profit foundation, whose mission is to use science to improve environmental health. Battelle is a major player in the bioremediation industry, and widely used by the United States and other governments in finding solutions to toxic wastes. The marine science laboratory of Battelle, Sequim, Washington became interested, as their mandate is to improve the health of the marine ecosystem. Under the stewardship of Dr. Jack Word, we began a series of experiments employing the strains from my mushroom gene library, many of which were secured through collecting specimens while hiking in the old growth forests of the Olympic and Cascade mountains. We now have applied for a patent utilizing mycelial mats for bioremediation, a process we have termed “mycoremediation”.

After several years, and redundant experiments to prove to naysayers that our data was valid, we have made some astonishing discoveries. (I am continually bemused that humans “discover” what nature has known all along.) The first significant study showed that a strain of Oyster mushrooms could break down heavy oil. A trial project at a vehicle storage center controlled by the Washington State Dept. of Transportation (WSDOT) enlisted the techniques from several, competing bioremediation groups. The soil was blackened with oil and reeked of aromatic hydrocarbons. We inoculated one berm of soil approximately 8 feet x 30 feet x 3 feet high with mushroom spawn while other technicians employed a variety of methods, ranging from bacteria to chemical agents. After 4 weeks, the tarps were pulled back from each test pile. The first piles employing the other techniques were unremarkable. Then the tarp was pulled from our pile, and gasps of astonishment and laughter welled up from the observers. The hydrocarbon-laden pile was bursting with mushrooms! Oyster mushrooms up to 12 inches in diameter had formed across the pile. Analyses showed that more than 95% of many of the PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) were destroyed, reduced to non-toxic components, and the mushrooms were also free of any petroleum products.

After 8 weeks, the mushrooms had rotted away, and then came another startling revelation. As the mushrooms rotted, flies were attracted. (Sciarid, Phorid and other “fungus gnats” commonly seek out mushrooms, engorged themselves with spores, and spread the spores to other habitats). The flies became a magnet for other insects, which in turn brought in birds. Apparently the birds brought in seeds. Soon ours was an oasis, the only pile teeming with life! We think we have found what is called a “keystone” organism, one that facilitates a cascade of other biological processes that contribute to habitat remediation. Critics, who were in favor of using plants (as in “phytoremediation”) and/or bacteria, reluctantly became de facto advocates of our process since the mushrooms opened the door for this natural sequencing.

In this series of experiments, our group made two other significant discoveries. One involved a mushroom from the old growth forest that produced an army of crystalline entities advancing in front of the growing mycelium, disintegrating when they encountered E. coli, sending a chemical signal back to the mother mycelium that, in turn, generated what appears to be a customized macro-crystal which attracted the motile bacteria by the thousands, summarily stunning them. The advancing mycelium then consumed the E. coli, effectively eliminating them from the environment. The other discovery, which I am not fully privy to, involves the use of one of my strains in the destruction of biological and chemical warfare agents. The research is currently classified by the Defense department as one mushroom species has been found to break down VX, the potent nerve gas agent Saddam Hussein was accused of loading into warheads of missiles during the Gulf War. This discovery is significant, as VX is very difficult to destroy. Our fungus did so in a surprising manner.

We believe that buffer zones around streams work primarily because of the mycelium resident in the first few inches of soil. Buffers with multi-canopied trees and shrubs combined with grasses, and the debris fall-out they provide, afford a mycologically rich zone, filtering out run-off from adjacent farms, highways and suburban zones. The mycologically rich riparian zones are cooler, attract insects which lay larvae (grub for fish), and then foster bird-life. Once the riparian zones achieve a plateau of complexity, they become self-sustaining. Amazingly, I have not heard of a single researcher ever mention the primary role fungi play in riparian buffers, let alone the purposeful introduction of mycelial colonies to protect watersheds. This method is ingeniously simple in its design and yet seemingly out of grasp of politicians. The prejudice against mushrooms is a form of biological racism—mushrooms are just not taken seriously.

Mycofiltration is a natural fit to John Todd’s “Living Machine®” use of estuary ecosystems to break down toxic wastes. The marriage of upland use of mushroom mycelium with estuary environments could solve—in the short term—some of the greatest challenges threatening our ecosystem, and truly give meaning to the word “sustainability”. We are currently moving towards unifying these two friendly technologies in the creation of a new paradigm for the 21st century. However, we need help.

Conclusions

What our team has discovered given our elementary research is that the fungal genome has far greater potential in treating a wide variety of environmental and health concerns than we could have conceived. Although we have looked at just a few of the mushroom species resident in the Old Growth, clearly these ancestral strains of mushrooms have survived millennia due to their inherent ability to adapt. These adaptive mechanisms are the very foundation of ecological stability and vitality in an increasingly more rapidly changing environment. Mushrooms are “smart” fungi. These discoveries coming to me are perhaps no accident. Your reading this article is perhaps no accident. Regardless, let’s take advantage of a unique coincidence to empower individuals, communities and vast ecologies by harnessing the power of mushroom mycelium.

What can you do? Delineate your garbage into categories. Not only compost all organic debris, but segregate the refuse into piles appropriate for a variety of desired mushroom species. Inoculate cardboard and paper products, coffee grounds, and wood debris with mushroom spawn. Teach children about the role of fungi, especially mushrooms, in the forests and their critical role in building soils. Encourage mushrooms to grow in your yards by mulching around plants. Take advantage of catastrophia—natural disasters are perfect opportunities for community-action recycling projects. We should learn from our elders. Native peoples worldwide have viewed fungi as spiritual allies. They are not only the guardians of the forest. They are the guardians of our future.

Fungi Perfecti has the strains, the knowledge and the facility for projecting mycelium en masse. We are very familiar with acclimating mycelium to outdoor environments. Those interested in applying these technologies are invited to contract with us for our services. Serious inquiries only, please.

Related Links

The foundations for many of the cultivation techniques described in this document are detailed in Paul’s essential textbooks, Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms and The Mushroom Cultivator.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals offers much food for thought on the subject of environmental contamination.

The PBS documentary “Trade Secrets: A Moyers Report” is a detailed and chilling account of the chemical industry’s efforts to conceal the harmful effects of vinyl chloride, benzene and other toxic chemicals on their own employees, the greater public and the environment.


Farmlab Public Salon Double Feature this Friday…

Urban Permaculture Design and Community: Cultivating Relational Intelligence and Practical Solutions for a Climate-Changing World
Farmlab Public Salon
Kat Steele
Friday, April 13 @ 5pm
Free-of-Charge

Hear from a leader in the next generation of bay area permaculture designers as she shares perspectives on the evolving holistic design system and process. What is this design system? Why is it unique? How can it work in our suburbs and cities? How can Permaculture help address the issues of sustainability and community food security in our urban ecologies? Kat offers living and working examples of how projects integrate permaculture principles with green building, affordable housing, new technologies, green businesses and education, and social and economic justice! Hear how Permaculture can be used to best prepare and respond to the climatic and social transitions that we are facing today. In addition to her own work she’ll screen a short film about the innovative City Repair project of Portland, Oregon and lead a discussion about this evolutionary place-making phenomena

About Kat Steele
Katherine “Kat” Steele is a permaculture activist, designer, educator and founder the Urban Permaculture Guild in Oakland, California. She facilitates workshops on natural building and permaculture as well as publicly speaks about eco-social design, city repair and the power of placemaking. Trained in Ecovillage Design with the Findhorn Foundation of Scotland, Natural Building with Kleiwerks International and Permaculture Design with the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center she also holds an MA in Creative Arts from San Francisco State University. She presently serves on the board of two Bay Area Non Profit Organizations devoted to Peace, Justice and Sustainablity, the NorCal Chapter of Architects, Designers, Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) in Berkeley and Bay Localize in Oakland.

“How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World”
Farmlab Public Salon
Paul Stamets
Friday, April 13 @ 7:30pm
Free-of-Charge

As we are now well engaged in the 6th Major Extinction (“6 X”) on planet Earth, our biosphere is quickly changing, eroding the life support systems that have allowed humans to ascend. Unless we put into action policies and technologies that can cause a course correction in the very near future, species diversity will continue to plummet, with humans not only being the primarily cause, but one of the victims. What can we do? I think fungi, particularly mushrooms, offer some powerful, practical solutions, that can be put into practice now.

Paul Stamets will discuss the evolution of mushrooms in ecosystems and how fungi can help heal environments. As environmental health and human health are inextricably interconnected, fungi offer unique opportunities that capitalize on mycelium’s diverse properties. Forest dwelling mushroom mycelium can achieve the greatest mass of any living organism – this characteristic is a testimonial to its inherent biological power.

Mushroom mycelium can replace chemical pesticides, break down toxic wastes, including petroleum-based products such as diesel, dioxins, and numerous other toxins into non-toxic forms. Understanding mycelium’s production of antibiotics is useful not only to compete with bacteria in nature but has also proven useful for treating animal diseases. Since bacterial can be vectors for viruses, interesting strategies emerge for supporting ecological health using mycelium as ecological medicine.

About a dozen species of medicinal mushrooms will be explored from a historical perspective leading to the clinical studies in which Paul is participating. Moreover, he will discuss his work with the U.S. Departments’ Bioshield BioDefense program, wherein his extracts were the first natural products from hundreds of thousands of samples tested found to be potent inhibitors of pox and other viruses. The field of mushroom-based medicines is rapidly expanding and this talk will show how mycomedicines can be incorporated in daily living to improve the quality of life while protecting the biosphere.

About Paul Stamets
Paul Stamets has written six mushroom-related books. Several are used as textbooks around the world by the gourmet and medicinal mushroom industries. He is the author of many scholarly papers in peer-reviewed journals (The International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms; Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM, Oxford University Press); Herbalgram, and others).

He has written more than twenty patents. He started a mushroom wholesale and retail sales business, Fungi Perfecti, LLC, in 1980. (See http://www.fungi.com.) The business has four laboratories, 10,000 sq. ft. of clean rooms, and is equipped with 20+ laminar flow benches for doing in vitro propagation work. Paul has received several environmental awards. He is an advisor to the Program of Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona Medical School, Tucson; on the Editorial Board of The International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, and was appointed to the G.A.P./G.M.P. Board of the U.S. Pharmacopoeia. Dr. Andrew recommends his products. Stamets is the supplier and co-investigator of the first two NIH funded clinical studies using medicinal mushrooms in the United States. His strain collection is extensive and unique, with many of the strains coming from old growth forests. He is involved in several other research trials ongoing and pending. Married to Dusty Yao, whose shares a passion for fungi, and their love of the Old Growth forests.

Farmlab Location

Farmlab / Under Spring, 1745 N. Spring Street #4, LA, CA 90012
Across the street from the site of the Not A Cornfield project, in a warehouse colocated at Baker Street and N. Spring Street

Salons are always free-of-charge, all ages welcome.
Refreshments will be served.