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!

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

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

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.

#337: Hamilton Morris on Better Living Through Chemistry: Psychedelics, Smart Drugs, and More

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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]


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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40 Replies to “Paul Stamets — How Mushrooms Can Save You and (Perhaps) the World (#340)”

  1. This was an exceptional podcast Tim! I have heard Paul Stamets interviewed before, but I learned many new things while listening. I too have pages of notes! I am very passionate about the further exploration of psychedelic research. I have Fibromyalgia and have found some fascinating stuff thru self experimention I would love to see researched and evaluated further. Keep up the awesome! Cheers from Lost Angeles 🙂

    – Renata Carmen

  2. I’m not very scientific and tend to avoid the over-technical interviews, but glad I stuck with this one. The Paul Stamets interview was mind-blowing. By far my favorite podcast to date. Began listening due to curiousity of the Silicon Valley microdosing phenomenon, but by the end that was the least interesting part of the interview. Opened my eyes in many ways. I would encourage everyone to listen to this podcast at least once.

  3. I thought mushrooms did not have much benefit. But when I read this article I thought differently about it see more

  4. I’ve listened to a lot of your podcasts and this was my favorite one. Paul comes off so genuine. He’s doing fascinating and important research.

  5. That was amazing.

    It would be really great to have a simple instruction on how to acquire and consume mushrooms and a list of the benefits of the different kinds…

    Thank you!

  6. And of course Star Trek Discovery dedicated an entire character and season 1’s plotline to Paul Stamets and Astro mycology!

  7. About 30 minutes into this episode, I was a little hesitant that the mind-blowing nature of this content gave me flashbacks to the infamous “Swordfish” episode; but I’m really glad I stuck with it, because the authenticity really shone through by the end. This episode is oozing with exciting content with massive implications; and I really appreciate these guys for sharing this conversation with us. Two things I would love to hear some follow-up on: 1. As a homeowner who is paying a national pest control company almost $40 a month for treatment against carpenter ants, I would love to know step-by-step instructions on how to duplicate Paul’s results in my own home (as well as know any possible dangers to humans and pets; and, 2. Does Paul have any recommendation on a daily or other regular regimen of consuming Lion’s Mane and other mushrooms, and in what form? Thanks again for such a great episode, and I will be checking out some of the linked resources.

    1. His company, Host Defense, sells Lion’s Mane extract in pill form. I’m pretty sure Paul would recommend it 😉

  8. RE: Psilocybin super heroic dose stutter cure; I wonder what would happen if a recording of a person’s personal positive affirmations in their own voice were played in an endless loop while they were in a controlled heroic dose trip? Would new neural pathways be generated that enable desired traits to be actualized immediately and negative habits forgotten?

    1. This is a very interesting idea, but I definitely wouldn’t be the first in line to volunteer to take a heroic dose and then listen to a loop of my own voice. In addition to potentially freaking out the participant, it seems more likely that it would take one out of the experience and be very distracting.

  9. Really good episode Tim! Would love to know more about how “transforming” the psychedelic experiences are for high performing individuals!


  10. Hey Tim, its off topic, anyways, have you ever tried [Moderator: link for hypoventilation training removed.] that might be something for you to ceck out!

  11. I enjoy your informative and insightful interviews! Just listened to Paul Stamets and wonder how a 53-year-old married woman can learn more about a “safe” psychedelic experience. noooobody I know in the tiny town I live in does this. I’m married to a pharmacist who is NOT into altered states… not that I have been, for the most part, either, but I’m at a point in my life/my marriage (he also suffers from depression, but he’s not the only one suffering) that it’s time to figure out what I want to do when I grow up…. Thanks.

  12. Tim – I’m sure you probably don’t read many of these, but I just wanted to say thank you for producing podcasts like your latest one with Paul Stamets (and many, many others). Getting this type of information out to the masses is integral for a paradigm shift and you’re playing a big role in that. If I can impact the world at a fraction of the impact you’re having, I’ll be happy. Keep doing what you’re doing, it’s making a difference.

  13. Hi Tim,

    I’m newly obsessed with your podcast, and I loved revisiting the Wood Wide Web with Paul! I feel so drawn to the way you engage with and listen to the people you bring onto your podcast. If you ever want to go on a greenbelt walk or hit the springs to chat with this very average and well-meaning lady, please reach out!

    Keep doing your thing!

    Kat Butchofsky

  14. Such a good interview!

    Very happy to finally hear something positive about the bee situation.

    What is the name of the documentary with Suzanne Simard? I can’t find it in the resources.

  15. It’s been challenging not to think about anything besides this podcast – thank you Tim and Paul!

    Curious whether you are familiar with Josh Mittledorf and his science blog, “Playing the Game for a Longer Life”? It’s fascinating – would love to hear an interview with him. You may find his latest post of particular interest

    Much gratitude for the continual flow of information and inspiration.

  16. I’m sure I’m going to offend when I suggest this, but something just seemed off about this guy. Admittedly, my instinctive reaction to miracle claims from mad scientist types is always skepticism, so maybe he’s completely legit, but still… The guy basically says he’s found the most powerful anti-viral and anti-bacterial “drug” in the world, but big pharma is stopping him from getting it out there. He’s also found the most powerful and environmentally friendly insecticide in the world, but big Ag is stopping him from getting it out there. Oh, and he also solved the bee problem, but somehow no one believes him…or at least no one of major consequence. Also, unnamed high-ranking people in the DOD may also be stopping him due to various top secret projects he’s worked on for them…but he can’t go into that with too much specificity because of national security reasons. Again, I’d love to be wrong about him [Moderator: last half of sentence removed.]. His defense to all of this is “I have patents” and “my company makes soooo much money”. Sorry…that just sounds a bit too much like a con artist selling snake oil, who, admittedly, probably believes every claim he’s making, but defends his products by pointing to his new suit and saying, “Could I afford this if I was lying about my snake oil?” I’m sure a lot of what he says about mushroom biology is true, and he’s obviously an excellent businessman, but even a quick dig around the internet turned up a number of folks (many in the mycological community) who acknowledge his business acumen as well as the contributions he’s made to expanding the scope and popularity of mycology, but who also also think he frequently makes claims that go way beyond anything he has any credible research to back up. I watched him on Joe Rogan and honestly, he seemed even sketchier on there. I’ve done my fair share of psychedelics, and agree that there is definitely a place for them in the worlds of medicine, psychology, counseling, and even self-improvement, but sometimes you see a guy and just think, “That guy has gone on way too many trips and has started to lose touch with reality.” I appreciate that Tim frequently brings on “outside the box” thinkers, I’m glad I heard this episode, and while I’d love to be proven wrong, until I see some really hard proof to the contrary I simply don’t believe most of his wilder claims.

  17. I really really want to know how to make or buy preconidial mycelium. I listened to this fantastic podcast and even read the patent, but I am still none the wiser. Would love to try this out on my house’s pesky ant population. Does anyone have any ideas?

  18. To get the cognitive/memory benefits of lion’s main mushrooms, do they need to be eaten fresh/raw or will powdered form do the job (e.g. lions main tea)?… If so, can someone also point me to research showing the powdered form works?

  19. Im leaving a comment on the off chance someone may be able to help. I have listened to almost all the episodes of Tim’s podcast as well as the Paul Stamets interview on Joe Rogan.

    I tried microdosing to fix my anxiety and initially it helped immensely. However as time went on the beneficial effects started to wear off. To my greatest regret I mixed an SSRI, lexapro with some of my doses and this I fear has changed the way my body reacts to mushrooms. In july i accidentally took a large dose of LSD and now my flight/fight system is constantly on the edge. I am reaching out out of desperation and hoping the experts on mushrooms would be able to offer any advice on how to get better.

  20. Tim and Paul, Great podcast! Any studies/thoughts on which mushrooms (with or without psilocybin) might help lower hypertension? Thanks, John R.

  21. Tim and Paul,

    Paul definitely educated me on the subject of mushrooms and I’d like to try it.

    Are there private clinics that administer treatments or experiences that are like-minded as Paul? I’d much rather visit this place rather than the beach for vacation!

  22. Tim,

    Thank you for curating the incredible information. You and Paul are helping to change the way people view the world. If we can consider ourselves part of the ecosystem, we have an increased chance of improving the world around us. Cheers!

  23. I started listening to your podcast last year and was so happy to hear about how mushrooms could save me from my depression. I had been in a 7 year depression with a traumatic brain injury. I thought after everything I tried I would give it a shot. I live in the Netherlands so microdosing was an option.
    I have bipolar II but thought maybe it would be ok. At first it was fine and eventually it blew up and created a very unpleasant situation for me with friends and family.
    I’m happy to hear it works for some people, but it can be very dangerous if not monitored, especially for those with bipolar and schizophrenia. Best of luck.