Fungi have shaped our world for billions of years and are present in us, on us, and in nearly every environment. They are one of the oldest lifeforms found on earth and throughout time formed landscapes and helped to give rise to the plant and animal kingdoms. These organisms forge mutually beneficial life-sustaining partnerships with us and can teach us a great deal about whole systems thinking.
Our guest is Merlin Sheldrake, biologist and best-selling author of Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures.
Merlin has spent his career investigating the role fungi play in supporting life on our planet, including the relationships between humans and fungi. Merlin posits, “All plants depend on fungi to survive, which means that all the food we eat, and the health of the soil in which it grows, depends on fungal activity. Fungal medicines and foods have played pivotal roles in human health for an unknowably long time, and have been responsible for some of the most dramatic breakthroughs in modern medicine.”
In this episode, Dr. Weil, Dr. Maizes, and Sheldrake discuss how the symbiotic nature of fungi challenges our perception of self. Dr. Maizes discusses their use in mental health and asks why mushrooms are popular in some cultures and avoided in others. Dr. Weil describes the medicinal and culinary use of fungi. Sheldrake discusses significant fungal properties and shares the many benefits they bring to humankind.