Paul Stamets: Mushrooms as Medicine
“We need to have a paradigm shift in our consciousness. If we don’t get our act together and come in commonality and understanding with the organisms that sustain us today, not only we destroy those organisms, but we destroy ourselves.” – Paul Stamets
Leading mycologist, Paul Stamets shares his work exploring the diverse role medicinal mushrooms may have in activating our immune systems and helping treat cancer, to new data supporting the role of fungi in bio-security and the health of the bees that pollinate our planet.
All around the world (1), there grows an impressive array of mushrooms and fungi of all kinds. Over the centuries—even millennia—ancient cultures have made some startling discoveries about these fungi when it comes to their health properties.
Reishi, for example, is known to power up immunity and promote healthy aging. Cordyceps boosts physical energy in rather incredible ways, while lion’s mane is especially known to boost mental energy. All of these mushrooms and fungi have fantastic claims to fame, both in the past realms of traditional healing and today’s scientific research.
For those of us who live in America, however, all these mushrooms may seem exotic, distant, and fairly unavailable—which is somewhat true. Most of these fungi are local and native to Asian countries or the far north, though reishi (and even the reputable chaga) can be found in certain corners of North America.
But it may surprise that there does happen to be one mushroom that studies show number among the most amazing of medicinal mushrooms, and it grows right under our very noses.
Scientifically, it is called Trametes Versicolor. In plain English, we call it the turkey tail mushroom.
TURKEY TAIL: THE HEALING MUSHROOM FROM OUR OWN WOODS
That’s right: turkey tail is an incredibly common mushroom, native to forests all around the world, including our own. All the same, it’s quite difficult to identify, with many woodland fungi being very close imitators of this colorful wild inhabitant, usually found growing on the logs and limbs of trees.
Obviously, the name of the mushroom has a lot to do with its appearance. It grows in a fan-like shape, showing many layers and rings of striking and contrasting colors—ranging from browns and tans to blues, creams, and even reds, making it look indeed quite like the tail of a wild turkey.
According to Josh Axe, renowned health expert, turkey tail has a history as rich and colorful as its appearance, especially in Asia. “…turkey tail mushrooms have been brewed for thousands of years by the Chinese as medicinal teas,” said Axe in his article.
“It’s been used as early as the 15th century during the Ming Dynasty in China,” he continued. “The Japanese, who reference it as kawaritake or ‘cloud mushrooms’…have been well aware of [its] benefits…in fact, the cloud-like image symbolizes ‘longevity and health, spiritual attunement and infinity’ to these Asian cultures.”
THE HISTORY OF ITS HEALING USE
Is it any coincidence that Asian herbalists dubbed turkey tail a symbol of health, longevity, and infinity? Hardly.
The mythos of this fungus’s cloud-like, the heavenly appearance may actually be connected to its actual uses in ancient herbalism, and not just its symbolism. In Asia, records show it was used as both a food and medicine to strengthen the body and overall health.
Truth be told, however, turkey tail very likely was used for health and healing all over the world, since the mushroom is known to grow just about anywhere. This includes in traditional European herbal healing, different First Nation herbal traditions, and many others.
While there isn’t much public history on what cultures outside of Asia used turkey tail for, today’s scientific forays into medicinal mushroom research suggest it may all basically involve turkey tail’s most well-researched benefit of all: its immune-boosting capabilities.
Back in the day, an immune-strengthening herb or mushroom could be translated as a tonic or even an adaptogen: something that reinforced health everywhere in the body and protecting it against illnesses of all kinds.
WHAT DOES SCIENCE SAY ABOUT IT TODAY?
Do turkey tail’s benefits translate back clearly enough through today’s scientific lens, however? Apparently, yes, they do—and possibly much better than any other anciently used medicinal mushroom that has been researched thus far today.
As of today, there are far more studies and research confirming turkey tail as being unbelievably good at what it has always done in ancient herbalist tradition: empowering immunity, and thus, overall health by protecting the body from various diseases.
In non-scientific terms, turkey tail’s benefits sound quite simple. But take a closer look, and there are many more facets and layers to what it can do—each just as unique and striking as the colors in its appearance.
TURKEY TAIL HAS AMAZING IMMUNE BENEFITS
As stated before, the turkey tail is perhaps best known for being an immune mushroom. Like other mushrooms that help ramp up immunity, turkey tail contains polysaccharides which help it do the trick—though research also shows it has something a little more unique than all that.
A 2011 study on turkey tail found that it also contained a unique protein, called TVC, that both stimulated the immune system and modulated its response. This could possibly make it a great agent for protecting against illness, while also being great for controlling the immune system from harming itself, as in the case of autoimmune illnesses (like rheumatoid arthritis).
Turkey tail’s immune-protecting benefits may be so great, it could even be a potential antiviral treatment to combat and treat AIDS or HIV. Turkey tail was mentioned with many other mushrooms—like reishi and maitake—in a 2011 study where HIV-infected subjects took these mushrooms and experienced immune benefits comparable to mainstream HIV anti-viral drugs.
For any illness—serious or minor—turkey tail could be a marvelous ally to help revitalize weakened immune systems and assist the body with fighting off foreign invaders, from HIV infections all the way to the common cold. Research is quite hopeful today, though still, more studies are needed.
My recommendation: Afford yourself the time to watch all three videos in succession. This is essential wisdom for anyone interested in saving this planet.
I just ordered the Host Defense Stamets 7 Daily Immune Support from Amazon based on the solid reviews and trust gained by watching these videos and interviews with Paul Stamets. Update after 2 weeks of daily use of Stamets 7:
1) Noticeable increase in energy throughout day
2) Improved memory function and greater overall facility with the creative process-improved acumen and application of skills acquired in the past.
3) Improved cognitive process overall-observed by others and myself.
4) Improved digestion and regularity.
Royal Sun Blazei (Agaricus Brasiliensis f blazei) mycelium 143 mg
Cordyceps (Cordyceps Militaris) mycelium 143 mg
Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum.l) mycelium 143 mg
Maitake (Grifola frondosa) mycelium 143 mg
Lions Mane (Hericium erinaceous) mycelium 143 mg
Chaga (Ionotus Obliquus) mycelium 143 mg
Mesima (Phellinus linteus) mycelium 143 mg
Extracts of Polypore Mushroom Mycelia Reduce Viruses in Honey Bees
Waves of highly infectious viruses sweeping through global honey bee populations have contributed to recent declines in honey bee health. Bees have been observed foraging on mushroom mycelium, suggesting that they may be deriving medicinal or nutritional value from fungi. Fungi are known to produce a wide array of chemicals with antimicrobial activity, including compounds active against bacteria, other fungi, or viruses. We tested extracts from the mycelium of multiple polypore fungal species known to have antiviral properties. Extracts from amadou (Fomes) and reishi (Ganoderma) fungi reduced the levels of honey bee deformed wing virus (DWV) and Lake Sinai virus (LSV) in a dose-dependent manner. In field trials, colonies fed Ganoderma resinaceum extract exhibited a 79-fold reduction in DWV and a 45,000-fold reduction in LSV compared to control colonies. These findings indicate honey bees may gain health benefits from fungi and their antimicrobial compounds.
Read the article right now on Nature Magazine.