Friday, April 25, 2014

FungiFacts Friday: Lion's Mane Mushrooms for Healing Nerve Damage

       The Lion's Mane mushroom, or Hericium erinaceus, are definitely not your common looking mushroom. The great picture above came from The Unique and Versatile Lion's Mane Mushroom. This powerful medicinal mushroom helps with a variety of health issues such as neurological problems and stomach ailments, and can even be used just to improve your memory and enhance mood. I could probably use some of this after the rough week I had (*>.<) Lion's mane is not only a great natural pick-me-up for the average person, but also holds great potential for helping people with serious neurodegenerative diseases and even Alzheimer's. Check out this fantastic article by Paul Stamets to learn more on this great mushroom Lion's Mane: A Mushroom that Improves Your Memory and Mood?

Mandy Spring, Aspiring Mycologist

Friday, April 18, 2014

3 Interesting Facts on Fungi and Forests

       1. Fungi do not only support the forest with their well known role as decomposers, they also exchange nutrients between plants of different species via their common mycelial bond, which aids young tree seedlings to grow under the shade of the canopy. To read more about this check out Simard et al. 1997 Net Transfer of Carbon between Ectomycorrihizal Tree Species in the Field

From Snail Macro Photography check out the rest, super cute!

       2. Mycelium mats underneath forests can grow to be massive and live hundreds of years. The largest living organism we know of is actually a Honey mushroom (Armillaria ostoyae) that covers more than 2,400 acres and may be over 2,200 years old! (Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets pg 23)

       3. Abandoned logging roads cause all kinds of environmental damage from channeling storm water that floods streams with heavy amounts of sediments to eroding top soils. By using inoculated wood chips with saprophytic and mycorrhizal mushroom spores and spreading them over old roads the scars on these ecosystems can be healed and reclaimed by the forest. To read more on this- Mycorestoration of Abandoned Logging Roads, also where I got the pictures below. 

Spreading straw over the inoculated wood chips
Five weeks later!

       Hope you all have a great Easter weekend and I'll leave you with this other adorable snail on a mushroom picture from the same link as the first pic (*^.^)
                                                         Mandy Spring

Friday, April 11, 2014

FungiFacts Friday: Reishi Mushrooms, the Ancient Health Secret of Asia

       Reishi, the Japanese name for mushrooms of the Ganoderma genus (also known as Ling Zhi in Chinese), have a wide array of medicinal benefits. These beautiful mushrooms range in color from black to bright red and have a glossy appearance. They have long been revered in Asia for improving ones health and longevity of life; now Western science is finally catching up on the value of this mushroom. Research has been done on its use for everything from "Hypertension, cardiovascular disease, asthenia-type syndromes, allergies, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, antioxidant, stress, memory and concentration, muscle aches, arthritis, cancer etc" Studies show reishi mushrooms benefit people stricken with a variety of ailments, from high blood pressure to AIDS

       This mushroom is an antimicrobial, as well as fights cancer through stimulating the production of macrophages that increases the body's natural killer T cells. It also has great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Reishi mushrooms improve respiration because of their ability to enhance oxygen absorption, and some studies show it may even reduce the effects of aging from its role with reducing oxidative stress from free radicals. For more on this information and particular studies check out pages 231-238 of Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

FungiFacts Friday: The Potential of Mycelium to Grow Materials

       I was first introduced to this concept that mycelium could be used to make eco-friendly materials years ago on the Ted Talk Eben Bayer: Are mushrooms the new plastic? This video is a must see! Everything from food trays and packaging materials to chairs (A growth industry: How mushrooms are being used to create furniture, a very cool read) can be grown (*O.O)

       How you ask? All that's needed is a feedstock of crop waste like husks, inoculate it with mycelium and let it sit in the dark for about five days depending on the size of the mold. Then after the mycelium product has served it's purpose, it's completely decomposable and can be put back into nature. Today our primary feedstock to power our lives and make most of the products around us is petroleum, a limited resource. Just to produce the plastic bottles used by America in 2006 it was estimated to require more than 17 million barrels of oil, not including what was used in transportation (Bottled water and energy fact sheet). Plastic also does not easily biodegrade, it only breaks down in the environment to tiny pieces that act as small toxin sponges that take a very very long time to completely break apart. This is particularly frustrating in the ocean where these little bits are mistaken as food by fish (*>.<) Don't even get me started on the multiple floating islands of trash in the ocean, look it up if you dare. Why is the world's biggest landfill in the Pacific Ocean?

(The Great Pacific Garbage Patch: Where the above photo came from but if you read that one there are much more disturbing pictures of the effects of our trash, you've been warned, it's extremely sickening)

       It's a rabbit hole that is quite depressing to go down... basically my degree in Environmental Science taught me the multitude of ways we are destroying our environment, and all the ways we could be doing something about it but aren't. I could rant on this subject forever but the point in this case is we need to start making all plastics smarter and biodegradable, as well as using more alternatives to Styrofoam and other petroleum products. Mycelium holds great potential to help us on the path of sustainability if we would just wake up to utilizing it.
Mandy Spring, Aspiring Mycologist