An August 2021 interview with Paul Stamets for Scientific American explored the different ways in which mushrooms could change our relationship with outer space. From terraforming planets to psilocybin therapy, Stamets is sure that no place is too vast or too far away for mushrooms to conquer.
Will fungi be joining astronauts on their missions to the extraterrestrial? Are they the key to future life in space? Stamets and NASA are hot on the case.
Who is Paul Stamets
If you don’t know who Paul Stamets is by now, let us introduce you. Stamets is an accomplished American mycologist and entrepreneur who has studied fungi for decades. As a longtime resident of the rainy, wet, and mossy Pacific Northwest, he has studied the world of fungi in all of its glory for decades. He’s written numerous books, worked on an array of scientific studies, and has been the focal point of a few widely popular documentaries. In the world of mushrooms, Stamets is the guy to turn to.
Written in 2005, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World is one of Stamets most popular books. However, the American mycologist is starting to consider far beyond what mushrooms can do on Earth and is turning his mind's eye into the mysterious and limitless universe.
There are tons of interesting topics covered by Stamets in the Scientific American article, but let’s dive into the most fantastical idea that caught our attention at Alchemi Mushrooms: astronauts bringing psychedelic mushrooms with them to outer space.
Why Psilocybin In Space?
Stamets has been a long advocate for the beneficial and medicinal uses of psilocybin mushrooms. If you’ve read our blog, you know that psychedelic mushrooms can be used to help cure a variety of mental conditions, such as anxiety disorder, depression, and PTSD, all of which have been reported by astronauts across the globe.
Space travel is known to take a massive toll on the human mind and physical body. Studies show that being in space for long periods of time can cause astronauts’ white brain matter to change. White brain matter is a group of nerve cells which allow the brain to communicate between cells by sending and receiving information. Extended periods of time in space can cause white brain matter to deteriorate, which can affect their mental capacity when they are back on earth.
On top of changes in white brain matter, anxiety and depression are two common mental conditions experienced by astronauts. Being extremely far away from family and friends, isolated in a space shuttle with the same people for long periods of time can cause a decline in morale, happiness, and mental stability, all things that are absolutely vital to safe and successful space missions.
Unfortunately, the effects of space travel don’t stop there. PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is common in people who live high-risk lifestyles. According to the DSM-V, people with high-risk careers have a 3% to 58% chance of developing PTSD, which is an alarming difference compared to the general population’s 1% to 14% chance of developing it. With PTSD comes an unwelcome slew of other symptoms, such as addiction, depression, and anxiety disorders, such as antisocial personality disorder. It’s clear that astronauts need specialized treatment to help them combat the effects of extraterrestrial travel, and Stamets thinks psilocybin can help.
Microdosing is the act of taking a very small amount of a drug to reap certain benefits without inducing psychoactivity, or ‘tripping’. A normal microdose is about 1/10th of a normal psychedelic dose and aims to increase productivity, boost mental health and clarity, and/or indulge in deeper consciousness while avoiding a full psychedelic experience. When administered correctly and by a licensed psychiatrist, microdosing has been shown to positively impact patients experiencing anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD and other mental conditions.
“Under carefully controlled conditions, our astronauts [being] able to take psilocybin in space and look at the universe and not feel distant and alone but feel like they’re part of this giant consciousness will give them a better frame of mind—psychologically, emotionally—to work with other astronauts and stay on mission,” Stamets told Scientific American. “So I say this with great sincerity: NASA and anyone else working and looking at the settlement of space, you should consider that psilocybin mushrooms should be an essential part of your psychological tool kit for astronauts to be able to endure the solitude and the challenges of space and isolation.”
To be clear, Stamets covers a lot more in this interview than just urging astronauts to take shrooms and reach for the stars. His research on how mushrooms can be used to make life easier and more sustainable in space is prolific and taking psilocybin for mental health is just scratching the surface. Fungi knows no boundaries, and they just might take over outerspace next.
Explore the Ways Mushrooms Can Benefit You
While microdosing psychedelic mushrooms is still widely illegal across the United States, there are still plenty of legal functional mushrooms that can help you live your best life. Many mushrooms aside from psilocybin can provide users with results similar to those of psychedelic mushrooms. Some of these benefits include increased mental health and well-being, physical endurance and strength, and so much more.
At Alchemi Mushrooms we create organic mushroom supplements that aim to help people reap the benefits of functional and medicinal mushrooms everyday. Give our daily supplements a try and see how nature’s true medicine can improve your mental and physical well-being.