Thu, Jul 9, 2020

Stamets’ “Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World” is the go-to reference guide for anyone looking for mushrooms with mind-altering properties in the wild.

Just a few years ago, the name Paul Stamets was known only amongst an insular group of scientists known as mycologists, or those who study mushrooms. Now, he’s arguably the most famous ‘mushroom person’ on the planet, thanks to the West’s increased interest in mushrooms as medicine.

I say the west because in eastern cultures mushrooms have always been a source of medicinal benefit, but in Europe in the middle ages (thanks to a lot of bad science and medicine) the idea of mushrooms as anything other than a vegetable decreased significantly. Now, thanks to Stamets, all of that is changing.

Paul Stamets is a Pacific Northwesterner.

Born in Salem, Ohio, his Fungi Perfecti business – which cultivates and sells a variety of medicinal mushrooms – is located in Olympia, Washington. Stamets is far more than just an entrepreneur, though.

He’s also a leading researcher of mushroom habitat, production and medicinal use.

And yes, that medicinal use does include the use of psychedelic mushrooms for the benefit of human sanity and altered consciousness.

In 1996, Stamets published the first guide to finding psychedelic mushrooms in the modern world. His “Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World” is the go-to reference guide for anyone looking for mushrooms with mind-altering properties in the wild. In 2017, Stamets made a now-famous appearance on the Joe Rogan show where he described one of his more interesting instances of finding psilocybin mushrooms in an urban environment. Much to his surprise, they were growing in mulch at a police substation at the University of Washington in Seattle. He and a friend discovered them and collected them patiently (while waiting for periods in-between for police cruisers to leave).

Taking these mushrooms had a heavy effect on Stamets – one where he had a vision of dead cattle. And weeks later he would experience the same scene: dead cattle due to extreme flooding near his cabin east of Seattle. Stamets believes that this experience was an immersion in the multiverse due to the psychedelic experience.

But psychedelia isn’t the end-all-be-all of Stamets’ research, far from it. Stamets is somewhat of a ‘mycological evangelist,’ sharing with the world his ideas and research of how fungi can help save humanity from itself. He’s been credited with discovering four new mushroom species and holds eight patents. Stamets still works as somewhat of an outsider, where he funds his own research and often shares views that are far flung and outside of the scientific establishment – but surprisingly often, correct.

Stamets believes that mushrooms can help to restore bee populations, and to help in restoring our planet’s damaged biodiversity. And then there’s perhaps one of the most important for our world today – the idea that mushrooms can clean up industrial waste and oil spills. Much of the details on these ideas can be found and summarized nicely in his famous TED Talk “Six Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World,” which has been viewed more than three million times.

According to Stamets, mushrooms have a myriad of more applications beyond being used for altered states of consciousness. Indeed, they can help humans and the planet we live on in diverse ways. From helping with mental health issues, to supporting our immune system, to helping to cure specific auto-immune disorders, and even cancer.