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Do you know the mushroom man?
This large rare tree fungus called agarikon, held by Paul Stamets, has medicinal properties.
October 27th, 2011
04:39 PM ET

Do you know the mushroom man?

It's hard to miss Paul Stamets at TEDMED. He's wearing a hat made out of a mushroom, which he picked up in Hungary. And he brought a large bag containing exotic mushrooms with medicinal properties to his talk, including the large rare tree fungus agarikon.

"We have discovered a new class of antivirals and antimicrobials," he said.

Stamets, the Indiana Jones of mushroom hunting, revealed exciting uses for mushrooms for boosting the immune system. Turkey tail mushroom, for instance, has been shown in clinical trials to help breast cancer patients, Stamets said.

When his mother had stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, she took a turkey tail mushroom supplement in addition to standard drugs Taxol (paclitaxel) and Herceptin (trastuzumab). Today, she is tumor-free and came up on stage to hug Stamets.

In a separate interview with CNN, Stamets recommended everyone eat a wide variety of mushrooms, three to four times a week. They should always be cooked in order to reap their benefits, he said.

His wife, Dusty Yao, also loves mushrooms. She makes paper and even paint out of them. They and a small team of people go out and look for mushrooms to study all over the world. Stamets and Yao sell nutritional supplements of mushrooms through their company Fungi Perfecti. These are not considered drugs, so they do not go through the same Food and Drug Administration process of approval as over-the-counter medications.

Stay tuned for an upcoming CNN.com video about Stamets' work with mushrooms and the amazing powers that they hold.


soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Bozo

    Trippy.....Man!

    October 27, 2011 at 18:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • enoch100

      Psilocybin mushrooms really made me cool and sharpened my memory. They also made me......made me.....made......uh....what?

      October 27, 2011 at 19:11 | Report abuse |
  2. kshah

    I am glad the world is turning towards natural cures for problems caused by changes in life-style.

    October 27, 2011 at 18:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • manwich

      Yes, because cancer is obviously caused by changes in life-style.

      October 27, 2011 at 18:10 | Report abuse |
    • Mark C

      "Yes, because cancer is obviously caused by changes in life-style."

      Actually, moron, lifestyle has everything to do with lifestyle. Even conventional medicine agrees. High fat, low-fiber diets, lack of exercise, etc.

      October 27, 2011 at 18:19 | Report abuse |
    • Iconoclast

      Yeah manwich, do you think cancer would be as widespread in an area where people eat less processed foods and the air and water are clean of chemicals? I'll give you a hint.....it's not.

      October 27, 2011 at 18:27 | Report abuse |
    • BS

      Cancer diagnoses peaked quite a few years ago and even started declining. Unless you people want to claim that the air has been getting much cleaner and people have been eating a lot healthier, your "theories" are not exactly bulletproof.

      October 27, 2011 at 18:40 | Report abuse |
    • Homey Don't Play Dat

      "Actually, moron, lifestyle has everything to do with lifestyle." — Mark C

      Pot, meet Kettle. Kettle, meet Pot.

      October 27, 2011 at 19:03 | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Actually yes. People are eating healthier and doing more activities

      October 27, 2011 at 19:29 | Report abuse |
    • Michael M.

      @kshah

      Uhh... sorry to burst your bubble, but most medications are natural compounds, or are more effective versions of natural compounds.

      acetylsalicyllic acid
      taxol
      artemisinin
      lovastatin
      ciclosporin
      curacin A
      epitbatidine
      tetrodoxtin
      ...

      Just to name a few. The difference is that you don't have to stick your thumb up a Pufferfish's rear and make it sing to get it after chemists learn how to synthesize it.

      October 27, 2011 at 20:29 | Report abuse |
  3. zoundsman

    It's just a matter of time, we find more medicinal uses of things on the planet that were once unknown.
    The Chinese and their herb use were doing it for thousands of years. Now the trick is to be careful before
    decimating species left and right. This mushroom man sounds like a guy on his own path.

    October 27, 2011 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JD

      yet with all that – no one anywhere really lives longer than anyone else in the world as a result –

      October 27, 2011 at 18:40 | Report abuse |
    • zoundsman

      Living the longest is not a contest. It's about living without some infernal ailment taking you through
      the years.

      October 27, 2011 at 19:51 | Report abuse |
  4. Jimbo

    Psilocybin mushrooms cured me from thinking like a sheep and conforming to all the stupid things we have been taught in modern society....everyone should try it out, the world would be a better place.

    October 27, 2011 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Iconoclast

      Amen to that. People need to seriously take a step outside themselves even if it's just once or twice. The world would indeed be a better place. Instead it's full of mostly self absorbed and violent adult children.

      October 27, 2011 at 18:23 | Report abuse |
    • JD

      Your cured of thinking alright

      October 27, 2011 at 18:41 | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Shrooms are great to do every once and a while, they really help to even me out and can really alleviate symptoms of depression. Just make sure you do them responsibly and in a comfortable, safe environment and you should be fine.

      October 27, 2011 at 19:10 | Report abuse |
    • Blake

      JD, it's "you're" not your.

      October 27, 2011 at 19:21 | Report abuse |
    • J-Pap

      Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound of the tryptamine family. DMT is found in several plants and also in trace amounts in humans and other mammals. It is the active ingredient in ayahuasca ceremonies which have been done for centuries by shamans in the amazon.

      The DMT experience opened my eyes and changed the way I view life. I highly recommend it. It should not be used recreationally, only as a learning tool.

      October 27, 2011 at 21:30 | Report abuse |
  5. Nyles

    Go Paul!
    You're on the right path so keep running!
    They'll be a bunch of us supporting you on the sideline with water bottles 🙂

    October 27, 2011 at 18:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Simpleton

    Natural medicine is real, I believe in that, but so are all the false claims. Must be 200 items in Chinese medicine alone claimed to be an aphrodisiac. People would take natural medicine more seriously if we could make an authentic checklist eliminating the fraudulent claims.

    October 27, 2011 at 18:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. FKell

    There is a reason why these types of things have not been used in "western" medicine, and it has to do with patents and profits. You can not patent a naturally occurring substance. If it turns out that the cure for cancer is a natural extract, we wouldn't find it because the companies that are researching this are typically "for profit" companies, and while it might be a great image/band thing, it certainly would not make them billions and trillions of profit like an engineered pharmaceutical would.

    October 27, 2011 at 18:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Coffeeclue

      Once it becomes an "extract", it's no longer natural. Isn't that what Western medicine is all about? Making very targeted extracts?

      October 27, 2011 at 18:33 | Report abuse |
  8. Truth

    Watch out for the snake oil salesmen! I dabbled in the herbal field for years. Nothing has been proven as effective. Most of it is dangerous as it is grown without pesticided and they may contain harmfull organisms that can get you very sick. Lets trust science, vaccination, and progress. Enough with these madmen, they only want to get rich off the weak minded.

    October 27, 2011 at 18:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Vicki

      but I love Portabellas, and I don't feel like paying grocery store prices. Besides, the modern science is firmly rooted (ha!) in the natural world. Use any Neosporin lately? 🙂

      October 27, 2011 at 18:56 | Report abuse |
    • Malljaja

      You said it. This is postmodern quackery at its worst. For example, just because something has medicinal properties doesn't mean it should be eaten three times a week. First find out what the malady is that you want to cure, and then the active principle that may actually cure it. Mushrooms are not interested in our well-being, so consuming them willy-nilly is like throwing mud against a wall.

      October 27, 2011 at 19:10 | Report abuse |
  9. David B

    I've been using Ling Zhi for a while now. One of China's best secrets.

    October 27, 2011 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • enoch100

      We can smell it from here.

      October 27, 2011 at 19:13 | Report abuse |
  10. One Day

    Does he also sell those "GOOD" mushrooms?

    October 27, 2011 at 18:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Vicki

    This guy is great (if a bit obsessed). I just read as much of his book as I could relate to, and plan to try a tray of oyster mushrooms to start. Nice to see someone worthwhile getting interviews.

    October 27, 2011 at 18:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Harry

    Natural medicine exists, however, there is lots of fraud and scamming as well. You have to be very careful and not believe that the magic mushroom is going to cure you of everything under the sun just by eating it. That said there are very real and tangible benefits as well as medical advancements studying nature. Anti-biotics for instance!

    October 27, 2011 at 18:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Goodguy1

    my mother died of Leukemia when I was 15, there is a cure for her type of Leukemia now with help from the Rosy Periwinkle found in Madagascar. We are stuck between fraudulent vitamin pushers and corporations cooking up chemicals for cures. Aspirin is from a tree's bark, aloe is beneficial for so many things. I just wish drug companies put more feet on the ground in forests and jungles and looked for natures remedies.

    October 27, 2011 at 19:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. realist

    Old news. Chinese have been doing this for centuries.

    October 27, 2011 at 20:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. wisdom4u2

    I believe him and I know God has given us herbs and plants for healing. Seek and you will find ....

    October 27, 2011 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. kshah

    Ayurveda, Unani... every culture has always had its own formula of herbal cures to modern diseases, I am just glad that its coming out in the open and that drug manufacturing companies are no longer trying to cover it up. It'll shock many to learn that marijuana is actually a medicinal plant, and so is tamarind.

    October 27, 2011 at 20:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Bill

    I tripped on psilocybin mushrooms a few days ago and discovered Michael Jackson music for the first time. Watch Thriller, Speed Demon, or Smooth Criminal videos when you're peaking... just amazing rhythm and energy. I started running again after that trip and have had a much more positive outlook on life.

    Can't believe there are still so many clowns in this country that think things like this should be illegal. You people act like little babies in your emotional and faulty reasoning.

    October 27, 2011 at 20:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. hawaiiduude

    magic mushrooms made me realize everyone else are insane sheeple!

    October 27, 2011 at 20:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. tif31

    All you people talking about cancer and lifestyle, you may not know this but every single person has cancer cells in their body. Look it up.

    October 27, 2011 at 20:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. bill

    The DEA are not scientists and they choose to ignore science and facts. The people have spoken via Mr. Frank and Mr.Paul. We were ignored by those who only seek power and control.
    Screw 'em. Bong everyday and trip when you can. I know right and wrong and my actions will not harm others.
    Case closed.

    October 27, 2011 at 21:44 | Report abuse | Reply

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