A Cure for Depression. A Cure for Pollution. A Cure for Everything? Here’s how Mushrooms Can Help both People and Planet Thrive.

Adam Millett
Aug 22, 2019 · 13 min read
Image for post
Image for post

Where is the Magic?

You know I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms. The one’s Mam puts in the dinner at least. White mushrooms I think they’re called? It’s the texture you see. Too squidgy. (No not squidy, you heard right the first time, I did say squidgy. With a g before the y. I think this word accurately sums up that spine-tingling huffy puffy mushy feeling you get when you bite into one of those funny-looking fungus bumps.) Portobello’s are the same, too squidgy for Adam. But you know what? Mushrooms are a whole lot more magical than a hearty bowl of stroganoff with fungi soup on the side, and I’m not just talking about that 60’s kind of magic.

Image for post
Image for post
A bunch of innocent-looking ‘white mushrooms‘. Ugh, Squidge Squidge Squidge.

A Mushroom a Day Keeps the Doctor Away: Healing Ourselves

We can’t expect a world full of sick people to heal a sick planet, so improving our personal health could be seen as the first step towards a planetary recovery. Embracing the versatile magic of the mushroom has so much potential to heal each one of us, physically, mentally, and spiritually, and if we can learn to heal ourselves, maybe we can learn to come together and heal the planet as well. Here’s how mushrooms can help.

Healing the Body

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and is responsible for a third of all deaths. A quite remarkable statistic. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes are all conditions that can lead to cardiovascular death, and can all be prevented or treated one way or another using mushrooms.

Image for post
Image for post
The reishi mushroom, a curious-looking medicinal wizard.
  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Obesity.
  • Diabetes.
  • Cancer.
  • Arthritis.
  • Liver Damage.
  • Asthma.
  • Renal Failure.
  • Stroke Damage.
  • Improved gut health.
  • Increased Vitamin D.
  • Provides antioxidants.
  • Boosts metabolism.
  • Protects bladder health.
  • Increased energy.
  • Decreased stress.
  • Improved cognitive function.

The potential of mushrooms for healing the most widespread physical health problems we face as a species is clear to see.

Healing the Mind

It is a truly disturbing and saddening reality that mental health problems such as depression and anxiety disorders are more common throughout the world now than ever before, and are showing no signs of disappearing any time soon. There is no single factor behind these troubling statistics, and I’m sure many of the problems I mentioned in the opening paragraph play their part. I mean how can people not be depressed and anxious when the planet is on the brink of collapse, everyone’s eating a poisonous diet, and the marketeers keep reminding everyone that they’re just not good enough?

Image for post
Image for post
A poster declaring that allowing women to vote would be detrimental to men’s employment and the business world. Sometimes, the law is nonsense.
  • Alcohol and tobacco addiction.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Treatment-resistant major depression.

We keep trying to treat mental health conditions with chemical-ridden pharmaceutical drugs that often just make the conditions worse, when there’s a completely natural solution right in front of us. These mushrooms grow in the ground, not a lab, and are clearly designed by nature to connect with us, work with us, and heal us, physically and mentally.

(Thankfully the legalization of these magical little friends is already well under way in the States, and once the Americans do something, the dominoes tend to start falling all over the western world.)

Healing the Soul

Image for post
Image for post
Can mushrooms bring us closer to ‘god’? I mean nobody knows really but this picture sure is groovy!

A Mushroom a Day Keeps the Apocalypse at Bay: Healing the Planet

Mushrooms are the ‘great facilitators’, the ‘glue that holds everything together’, the ‘bridge from sun to plants to human prosperity’.

So mushrooms can make us healthy, but what good is that when the planet’s already drawing up our eviction papers? The planet is becoming inhospitable and we need to do everything we can to reverse the damage we’ve done. We still have time to save ourselves, and yes, you guessed it, mushrooms can help us do it.

Boosting Reforestation

As I’ve mentioned already, mushrooms make everything work. They allow plants and trees to grow bigger and stronger by helping their roots absorb nutrients and water from the soil. This, in turn, allows plants to absorb energy from the sun through photosynthesis, which makes it possible for animals to thrive as well. Mushrooms can even be used in micro-forestry to kill sickness in other plants, as they can live off the bacteria that make other plants sick.

Image for post
Image for post
Mushrooms and trees are connected through their root systems, and they help each other prosper.

Tackling Toxic Pollution

Through a process known as mycoremediation, mushrooms can be used to clean up all sorts of polluted areas and damaged habitats. Different types of fungi are able to secrete digestive enzymes which work to break down various contaminants. Mushrooms are incredibly effective at the following:

  • Removing pollution from soil.
  • Cleaning up oil spills.
  • Remediating radioactive contamination and waste.

Turning Plastic Waste into Organic Matter and Food

Here’s something else that sounds like magic. What if I told you there was a way to just wave a magic wand, and make all the mountains of plastic we have piling up around the world simply disappear? Okay so it’s not quite as simple as that, but it’s still pretty magical: there is one particular species of mushroom that can survive on a diet of pure plastic. A flipping mushroom that eats plastic! I mean isn’t that surely the answer to all our problems? Our single-use plastic packaging problems at least?

Image for post
Image for post
The plastic devouring ‘Pestalotiopsis Microspora‘ mushroom. What a beautiful beast.

Revolutionizing Consumer Products (In a Sustainable Way)

There’s an initiative called the FungusChain project that’s transforming mushroom waste into usable eco-friendly products. There’s a company called Ecovative Design that uses mycelium to produce compostable packaging, skincare products, leather alternatives, clothes, bags, shoes, and all sorts of other stuff. It’s really quite astonishing how many things you can make out of mushrooms. Here’s a list:

  • Cling film.
  • Cleaning products.
  • ‘Rubber’ gloves.
  • Food additives.
  • Building bricks.
  • Material for clothes, bags and other accessories.
  • Robust and compostable packaging.
  • Skincare products.
Image for post
Image for post
Is this a nice bag? I don’t know. Is it even a bag? Maybe it’s a purse? Why don’t we just call it a smooner? Anyways, I think it’s as stylish as style itself, and it’s made entirely out of mushrooms. Woopa!

Making Batteries More Powerful and Better for the Environment

Is there anything mushrooms can’t do? It seems like their magic knows no bounds.

As if the mushrooms haven’t done enough for us already, they can even be used to make batteries more efficient; helping conserve energy while also replacing non-renewable materials such as graphite.

I Take it Back

I started this post by saying I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms. Well, I take it back. Entirely back. I’m a tremendously big fan of mushrooms. I couldn’t be a bigger fan of mushrooms. Mushrooms are God. Mushrooms are everything. Mushrooms are my one and only true love. Mushrooms, simply put, are life.

Image for post
Image for post
Mushroom tea anyone? Yes please.

About the Author

Image for post
Image for post

The Open Mind

Open your mind, empower yourself, change the world.

Adam Millett

Written by

Freelance writer for hire with a passion for sustainability. Check out awallofhope.com for my blog and wordchameleon.com for details about my writing services.

The Open Mind

Open your mind, empower yourself, change the world.

Adam Millett

Written by

Freelance writer for hire with a passion for sustainability. Check out awallofhope.com for my blog and wordchameleon.com for details about my writing services.

The Open Mind

Open your mind, empower yourself, change the world.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store