Remember a couple of weeks ago when we introduced our fungal friends? We mentioned we were excited about some of the future research and applications centered around fungi. Well, it appears the fungus is among us (last one I promise) again, and this time the news is pretty magical.
Perhaps the most popular fungi, mushrooms are extremely prevalent around the globe. They are a valuable source of nutrition to many people, with varying species containing good sources of vitamins, protein, and essential minerals. This makes them quite nutrient dense, considering most mushrooms are about 90% water.
Not only are mushrooms prevalent, they can also grow to be absurdly large. There is a mushroom growing in Malheur National Forest, Oregon that measures over 2 miles across.
That is a humongous fungus (I can’t take credit for that one, that’s actually its nickname).
This Honey Mushroom, armillaria ostoyae, is considered to be the planet’s largest living organism.
Take that, blue whale.
Over 200 species of mushrooms naturally produce a psychoactive chemical called psilocybin. You may have heard your wacky uncle talk about “magic mushrooms” before and how “super rad” they are. Well it turns out the FDA agrees with your wacky uncle. Kind of.
For the second time this year, psilocybin has been granted “breakthrough therapy” status by the US Food and Drug Administration. The chemical compound is being used in a single dose to treat Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). The designation is meant to speed up the process of drug development and review and is only used “when preliminary evidence suggests the drug may be an enormous improvement over already available therapy, according to the FDA.”
There are now two companies conducting clinical trials and the special designation will allow both to move along as quickly as possible.
MDD affects over 16 million people in the United States alone and currently there are a very limited amount of effective treatments. A viable treatment option, perhaps from psilocybin, could drastically improve the quality of life for tens of millions of people around the world.
And boom, that’s rad.
The shroom boom is real. We can’t wait to learn more about fungi in the future.
Share this with those fun-guys and fun-gals in your life.