MYCELIUM RUNNING—How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World
BY Paul Stamets, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, 2005, $35.00

Most people know a few edible mushrooms—the common white button mushrooms, shitake, Ganoderma lucidum or reishi (magnificent in Ganoderma coffee), but there are many more. Some have excellent immune enhancing properties such as Cordyceps, shitake, and Ganoderma. Perhaps much more important in the health of the world are the thousands of fungi—which are part of the mushroom family—all of which are essentially the recycling scavengers of the world. They MAKE soil, without which there could be no plants, animals or humans! Beyond that critical function, there are a number of mushrooms that have been used to create antibiotics (penicillin!), anticancer agents, as well as antiviral and antifungal medications. The broadest spectrum of anticancer properties is found in Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi), followed closely by Cordicepe sinensis and Lentinula edodes (Shitake). The best source I have found is

Molds, yeast, mushrooms, blight, rusts are all part of the phylum—yes even the yeast that makes bread and wine, and Candida and athlete’s foot!

And some of the most striking abilities of fungi are their ability to decompose and detoxify virtually everything. In fact without them, the world would be a stinking mess, even worse that it already is! There are even species which dispose of petroleum, heavy metals and radioactive material.

Beyond the tremendous educational value of this magnificent book, it is beautifully illustrated, as well as loaded with 18 pages of scientific references. Indeed it is, as one commentator said the “gospel of fungi”.

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