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Paul Stamets — How Mushrooms Can Save You and (Perhaps) the World (#340)

“The war against nature is a war against your own biology.”
— Paul Stamets

Paul Stamets (@PaulStamets) is an intellectual and industry leader in the habitat, medicinal use, and production of fungi. Part of his mission is to deepen our understanding and respect for the organisms that literally exist under every footstep taken on this path of life. Paul is the author of a new study in Nature’s Scientific Reports, which details how mushroom extracts—specifically extracts from woodland polypore mushrooms—can greatly reduce viruses that contribute to bee colony collapse.

Paul is the author of six books, including Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms, and Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World: An Identification Guide, and he has discovered and named numerous species of psilocybin mushrooms. Paul is also the founder and owner of Fungi Perfecti, makers of the Host Defense mushroom supplement line, and it is something I’ve been using since Samin Nosrat recommended it in my last book, Tribe of Mentors.

Paul has received numerous awards, including Invention Ambassador (2014-2015) for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the National Mycologist Award (2014) from the North American Mycological Association (NAMA), and the Gordon & Tina Wasson Award (2015) from the Mycological Society of America (MSA).

The implications, applications, and medicinal uses of what we discuss in this interview are truly mind-boggling, and we get into some of my favorite subjects, including psychedelics and other aspects of bending reality. If you’re interested in contributing to psychedelic science and research, you can do so at MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), or if you’ve got $100,000 or more to spare, visit me at

I hope you enjoy this entire interview, but if you only have time to listen to one part, I recommend checking in at the [56:24] mark to hear how Paul’s first experience with psilocybin mushrooms affected his lifelong stutter. Enjoy!

Want to hear another podcast that explores science and psychedelics? — Listen to my conversation with Hamilton Morris, host of Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia, in which we investigate the mythology of Alexander Shulgin and the difference between poison and a dose. Stream below or right-click here to download.

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


  • Connect with Paul Stamets:

Fungi Perfecti | Host Defense | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube


  • How do you pronounce and define fungi and mycelium? [10:05]
  • What makes the immunological resilience of mycelium all the more impressive? [11:07]
  • In what way is a mushroom like a fish? [13:13]
  • From a genetic or an evolutionary perspective, how should people think about mycelium? Is mycology more closely related to botany or zoology? [14:48]
  • Why do antifungal drugs have the potential to be extremely dangerous to humans? [18:14]
  • Paul describes a Kafkaesque childhood in Columbiana, Ohio after his family’s business collapsed in the wake of WWII — bringing much of the town with it. [19:16]
  • How living in a carpenter ant-infested house made from military surplus scraps combined with Paul’s affinity for vacuuming and curiosity about mycelium to create a natural pest remedy. [22:26]
  • If proven so successful, why hasn’t this natural pest remedy been brought to market yet? [34:30]
  • Fighting viruses with mycelium in a post-9/11 world. [35:47]
  • At what point in the research cycle is agarikon being tested against viruses today? [41:47]
  • What happened when top secret test results intended for other eyes only were misdelivered to Paul? [44:08]
  • What’s the upside to the United States Department of Defense taking your patent for reasons of national security, or having naysayers argue against your patent’s effectiveness? [46:57]
  • As Paul’s mycelium solution for fending off carpenter ants isn’t yet on the market, what does he suggest to people who want to try it today? [50:12]
  • As a 10-year solution that only costs about 25 cents to produce, is Paul’s mycelium pest fix perhaps too effective for the liking of those who profit from current, toxic remedies? [51:49]
  • When a sincere attempt at disrupting the status quo can’t make it past a boardroom only concerned with “greenwashing” its corporate image. [53:34]
  • Paul takes us on the epic “superhero’s journey” that relieved him of his lifelong stutter as a teenager — with the assistance of “about 20 grams of” psilocybin cubensis. [56:24]
  • Has Paul had any stuttering relapses since that day? [1:09:47]
  • Paul relays a story about what psilocybin did for an aging friend with failing senses. [1:10:14]
  • Why does Paul think his superhero’s journey was instrumental in helping him overcome his stutter, and what effects has he witnessed in others on similar journeys? [1:14:35]
  • Paul touches on why profit-driven pharmaceutical companies might frown at the therapeutic efficacy of magic mushrooms — in parallel to chemical companies rejecting natural pesticides. [1:16:43]
  • Mushrooms are just the tip of the mycelium. Paul elaborates on how fungal biomes operate and why it might be that humans often fear the ephemeral nature of mycelium. [1:18:10]
  • Paul talks about the neuroregenerative benefits of lion’s mane and soul’s eye in mycelium over mushroom form. [1:21:40]
  • At nearly 93 years of age, Paul’s mother can still beat his brothers at Scrabble — could it be thanks in part to her daily intake of lion’s mane? [1:22:54]
  • Paul ponders the effects of stacking microdoses of psilocybin with lion’s mane and what might be used to treat neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. [1:23:44]
  • How might such microdosing be administered and supervised in a research setting? Paul explains why this question is timely and shares his reasons for a strategy of filing what he calls “blocking patents” under certain circumstances. [1:27:08]
  • Is microdosing sexy — or at least more attractive to people who might otherwise be afraid to try a full dose of psilocybin? [1:29:48]
  • What does Paul Stamets believe makes Paul Stamets Paul Stamets? [1:33:50]
  • Paul tells us about that time he (politely) used his black belt prowess to change the life of an angry biker. [1:37:08]
  • A reminder that kind acts, even in small increments, can move mountains. [1:40:54]
  • You are beautiful. [1:42:10]
  • In the network of everything, Paul is an astromycologist now. [1:42:59]
  • A wide variety of ways in which fungi could help solve human problems — from environmental cleanup to famine relief to space travel. Bonus: the proper way to pronounce mycorrhizal. [1:44:24]
  • How a Syrian refugee is teaching others to cultivate mushrooms for food — a skill set that can be passed along and lay the foundation for sustainable biosecurity. [1:47:42]
  • Fantastic Fungi and the Wood Wide Web. [1:49:19]
  • Why colony collapse disorder is really just a euphemism for a serious problem — though surprisingly the one issue that bridges liberals and conservatives. [1:50:20]
  • “Failure is the price of the tuition I pay to learn a new lesson.” [1:56:51]
  • Paul’s epiphany for how to save the bees came to him in a dream. Really! Why this might be good news in the midst of the sixth Great Extinction. [2:02:25]
  • What can people listening who are not mycologists nor future mycologists do to help save the world? [2:09:51]
  • Parting thoughts. [1:15:37]


Posted on: October 11, 2018.

Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.

Who was interviewed? Here’s a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.


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