l threats. Its amazing ability to take just about any input and turn it into something useful will be seen as you move your way down this list.

2. Natural Water Filter

Mushrooms can filter bacteria out of water. In particular, mycelium has been shown to remove E. coli from water, and even uses the bacteria as a food source.

3. Carbon Sequestration

As our climate continues to warm, we’ve started to frantically look for ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Typically forests have been thought of as carbon sinks, but we usually think of the trees as doing the work, when in fact mushrooms play a major role in taking the carbon out of the air and delivering it to the roots of trees.

Importantly, this process helps move the carbon deeper and deeper into the soil, rather than remaining on top of the forest floor. So even if the trees are removed, much of the carbon remains.

4. Mental Health

A mushroom known as lion’s mane has been shown to be particularly successful at treating Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety and other mental disorders. Simply eating the mushroom regularly can have a tremendous impact on your overall mental health.

5. Hats

While the world is by no means facing a shortage of hats, if it ever were, mushrooms could help. Paul Stamets is famous for wearing around a hat made of boiled mushrooms and looks pretty cool wearing it. I don’t know if I’d recommend making one yourself, but it’s nice to know it’s an option.

6. Nature’s Internet

Stamets has taken to referring to mycelium as nature’s internet because they have the ability to send messages from one plant to another. If a plant is harmed or dies, due to a disease or pollutant, a warning message is sent to all of the other connected plants, allowing them to adapt.

The mushrooms react quickly and are usually able to somehow transform the offender into a food source. Even if the compound is something that is entirely new and foreign, the mycelium is able to break it down into nutrients.

Oyster mushrooms, in particular, are incredible at breaking down hydrocarbons into food, not just for themselves, but also for the surrounding insects and animals. They can even be trained to metabolize nerve agents.

7. Physical Health

While mushrooms are super in a lot of different ways, they are also pretty super in the superfood sort of way. They are full of nutrients that can boost your immune system and help fight cancer.

8. Change Your Mindset

Stamets attributes much of his intelligence and success to his consumption of psilocybin mushrooms, more commonly known as magic mushrooms. In fact, some have theorized that modern human intelligence itself is owed largely to the consumption of them.

While I’m not personally pinning the hopes of humanity on everyone having psychedelic experiences in the woods, they do seem to have worked wonders for Stamets. He says they opened his mind to the wonders of nature, and that’s almost certainly a good thing.

They’ve led him to make some great recommendations on what we should be doing to help the health of our planet and ourselves. We need to be helping mycelial networks grow by growing mushrooms ourselves, which spreads mycelium, and stopping the burning of forests and the removal of dead wood, which mycelium feeds off of. And we should be spreading information about the powers of mycelium to help everyone better understand the potential lying at our feet.

Mushrooms may seem an unlikely hero, growing in the dark, but they just might hold the spores of a brighter future tomorrow.