Paul Edward Stamets is a mycologist, speaker, author, medical researcher, and entrepreneur. He says he’s “saving the world, one hypha at a time.” Paul is considered an intellectual and expert in fungi, its habitat, medicinal uses, and production. His lectures and presentations show how mushrooms can help the planet and benefit people’s health. He is the founder and owner of Fungi Perfecti LLC. Among other products, the company makes a line of supplements called Host Defense Mushrooms.
Stuttering Stops, Career Begins
Born in Salem, Ohio in 1955, Paul stuttered from an early age and credits his discovery of mushrooms to stuttering. He was often shy and embarrassed by it, which left him staring at the ground most of the time. With all the time he spent looking at the ground, he couldn’t help but notice mushrooms.
He tried psychedelic mushrooms for the first time when he was 18. He ended up climbing a tree and was stuck there during a heavy thunderstorm. At the time, Paul realized he could die at any moment but also found the experience overwhelmingly beautiful. Looking inside himself, he felt as if he was part of the forest and the universe. As he reflected on his life, he told himself over and over in his mind to stop stuttering. Later, when the storm ended and he headed home, he ran into an attractive woman who was a neighbor of his. Normally, talking to her was nearly impossible because of his shyness and stammer. But this time, they exchanged greetings without incident, to the surprise of them both. His stuttering never returned. This transformation led Paul to devote his life to studying psychedelic and other species of mushrooms.
Paul studied biology and electron microscopy at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and received his bachelor’s degree in 1979. In 1983, he traveled to China with his mentors Gary Lincoff and Andrew Weil. The trip inspired him to extend his research work into Asian varieties of medicinal mushrooms.
Paul started Fungi Perfecti in 1980, selling exotic culinary mushrooms and giving seminars to educate the public. The company now conducts research and sells supplements, mushroom growing kits, gourmet foods, clothing, and cultivation equipment and supplies.
Collaborating with scientific organizations and research institutes is essential to the work Paul does. He has worked with the National Institutes of Health, Washington State University, and the US Department of Agriculture. Over the years, he has discovered and named several new species of psilocybin mushrooms. His research work covers new medical applications for mushrooms, cultivation methods, and their nutritional properties, among other topics.1–10
Paul has written six books including “Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World” (1996) and “Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World.” Also, he has been awarded several patents for a variety of mushroom-centric inventions including pesticides and cultivation tools.
More information on Paul and his work is available on the Fungi Perfecti website, his Twitter feed, Facebook page, and via his TED Talks. His 2008 TED Talk, “6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World” has been viewed over 4.5 million times.