Storm-Bred Magic Mushrooms
Can Improve Your Personality
Unlike what almost 100% of politicians, celebrities, and people way more famous than you may believe, there is a living organism that’s much bigger than them all: it’s a 2.4 miles across mushroom and it resides in the Blue Mountains of Oregon.
But maybe because it’s over 2,600 years old, and despite being called honey fungus, there’s nothing sweet or mushy about this creature. It’s still expanding, killing every plant on its path, and it’s covered by the carcasses of hundreds of dead trees.
Then again, it’s a mushroom. You know, that very peculiar life form that can feed you, get you high, or poison you to death, and whose multitude of varieties are freaky enough to sprout from soil (or a cow’s pie), or grow on the very flesh (or nail surface) of your body.
But not that humongous creature, which tests showed that it’s a single individual, and that seems happy to preside over a national park in Oregon. Maybe being simply the earth’s largest living being is enough, thank you very much.
But as a plant species, fungi are not always so scarily dominant, and research is being conducted about the ability of some varieties to break down heavy pollutants, and even clean up dirty diapers, no matter how powerful the digestive track of your absolutely adorable baby may be.
In fact, they’ve been adapted for use in almost as wide a range of applications as there are species, from a Mushroom Death Suit, suitable to usher the body decaying process at burial, to a compost for packaging and furniture that could one day replace plastic and other non-degradable materials, to future uses in the auto industry.
Thus, it was almost inevitable to learn about two relatively surprising properties these at times beautiful organisms may have in store for all of us, free for the taking and all related to that special kind, so dear to so many, the magic mushrooms: they are abundant after storms and they may be actually good for you.
FRESH AFTER THE HURRICANE
As it turns out, then, hurricanes like to leave something else on their wake, besides mayhem and destruction: plenty of psychedelic mushrooms. Of course, to many people, that particular kind of hongos is exactly what the definition of mayhem and destruction is meant to be. Perhaps.
Or it’s just a freakish way of nature to compensate those living in high-risk areas: to give them a break in the form of a trip to their own mind. As long as they can come back sane and sound, they most likely would appreciate the gift, if given a taste. Philosophically speaking, maybe.
The phenomenon was first observed after Hurricane Irene‘s passage in the New York metropolitan area, in 2011. What was then a rare and mildly intense storm – not nearly as lethal and devastating as the following year’s Hurricane Sandy – did seem to have made some folks wide-eyed happy afterwards, according to unconfirmed reports.
It gets better. As it goes, the magic kind also improves your general well being, according to research conducted (more)
* Mushroom Car
* Nothing’s Wasted
by a Johns Hopkins University of Medicine team. A single dose of psilocybin, its active ingredient, is enough to cause positive effects for up to a year.
Users’ personality showed increased ‘openness,’ improving the way they’d perceive themselves and their environment. It makes one think about about Timothy Leary and all that heavily redacted stuff about mystical experiences, enlightenment, and an irresistible desire to get into each other’s pants of the 1960s.
THE BEAUTY OF THE BEAST
Of course, that doesn’t diminishes an iota the fact that they can be lethal both to humans and animals. Given their immense variety, it’s really hard to distinguish the one fit for consumption from the one that’s great to party with, from the one that has your name on it.
As for pets, veterinarians have been sounding the alert for years now. It’s an extra challenge, for example, to domestic cats, whose proverbial curiosity along their customary wide-ranging nocturnal wanderings can prove to be a lethal combo.
Even more disturbing is the explosive spread of some tree-destroying fungi associated with climate change. As with that mountain of an underground mushroom, they are not edible, so unless someone comes up with a way to turn them into something else, say, a new type of fuel, it’ll remain just what it is: a hungry, scary if not unattractive, monster.
WHITE PATCHES, BLACK SKIN
As for fancy chefs, podiatrists and foot-fetish aficionados, we’re not pressing on too hard. Think about it: who can afford meals infused with truffles that retail to the tune of $3,500 a pound on a regular basis?
Vitiligo, a relatively rare, chronic and progressive depigmentation of the skin, whose most famous afflicted celebrity was none other than Michael Jackson, was once thought to be caused by a fungus. The theory hasn’t been completely disproved but scientists prefer now to attribute the condition to the “unknown.”
A much more common, and comparatively, much more repugnant skin fungus condition, is also very hard to cure, albeit not impossible: those terrible patches on toenails, whose carriers are extremely self-conscious.
KISS MY TOENAIL-FUNGUS FEET
The affliction, which is also progressive, affects yet another demography, one that very likely has to deal with it on a regular basis: those who obsess over feet. Our heart pours out to such a harmless and amorous bunch, the fetishists and their recurrent heartbreaks.
Then again, people who live in hurricane-prone areas have it definitely rougher. And they all could benefit from what Leary, that good ol’ doctor whose seven grams of ashes were blasted off to space aboard a rocket, used to prescribe: ‘Turn on, tune in and drop out.’
(*) Originally published on Aug. 15, 2011.