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It’s amazing when you think about it that the Three Wise Men brought to Jesus, very valuable and precious gifts. Frankincense, Myrrh and Gold.
Now years later we are learning the benefits of Frankincense for killing cancerous tumors. Myrrh has very strong antiviral and fungicidal properties. It was used with the ancient Egyptian people for numerous reasons. And we always thought gold was gold nuggets but in actuality it was Turmeric. Turmeric is an amazing anti inflammatory, and good for brain health too. Also Turmeric and Myrrh can protect against lead toxicity.
By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington.
Until 1969, biologists thought mushrooms and other fungi were plants. They’re actuallymore closely related to animals, but with enough differences that they inhabit their own distinct classification.
This and more recent findings about these mysterious organisms illustrate how much we have yet to learn about the complexities of the natural world. New research reveals mushrooms can even help plants communicate, share nutrients and defend themselves against disease and pests.
There’s far more to mushrooms than the stems and caps that poke above ground. Most of the organism is a mass of thin underground threads called mycelia. These filaments form networks that help plants, including trees, connect to each other, through structures called mycorrhizae.
Scientists believe about 90 per cent of land-based plants are involved in this mutually beneficial relationship with fungi. Plants deliver food to the mushroom, created by photosynthesis, and the filaments, in turn, assist the plants to absorb water and minerals and to produce chemicals that help them resist disease and other threats. And, of course, a myriad of other life forms benefit from the healthy plants.
The structure and function of the mycelial networks and their ability to facilitate communication between physically separated plants led mycologist Paul Stamets to call them “Earth’s natural Internet.” He’s also noted their similarity to brain cell networks. According to a Discover article, “Brains and mycelia grow new connections, or prune existing ones, in response to environmental stimuli. Both use an array of chemical messengers to transmit signals throughout a cellular web.”
Research by Suzanne Simard at the University of British Columbia found that Douglas fir and paper birch trees transfer carbon back and forth through the mycelia, and other research shows they can also transfer nitrogen and phosphorous. Simard believes older, larger trees help younger trees through this process. She found that the smaller trees’ survival often depends on large “mother trees” and that cutting down these tree elders leaves seedlings and smaller trees more vulnerable.
Researchers in China found trees attacked by harmful fungi are able to warn other trees through the mycelia networks, and University of Aberdeen biologists found they can also warn other plants of aphid attacks.
It all adds to our growing understanding of how interconnected everything on our planet is, and how our actions — such as cutting down large “mother” trees — can have unintended negative consequences that cascade through ecosystems.
Scientists are also finding that fungi can be useful to humans beyond providing food and helping us make cheese, bread, beer and wine. Stamets believes mushrooms can be employed to clean up oil spills, defend against weaponized smallpox, break down toxic chemicals like PCBs and decontaminate areas exposed to radiation.
He credits his interest in fungi to another fascinating aspect of many mushrooms around the world: their hallucinogenic properties. During college, Stamets spent a lot of time in the Ohio woods, where he first tried psilocybin mushrooms. They had a profound effect on him, and after his first experience, his persistent stutter went away. He later quit a logging job, because the work was destroying mushroom habitat, and began studying fungi at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
Since then, his research has led to fascinating discoveries of multiple possible purposes for fungi, including nuclear decontamination, water filtration, biofuels, increasing agricultural yields, pest control and medicines.
Research is also shedding light on potential benefits of the psychotropic properties of mushrooms, such as the 144 species that contain psilocybin. Indigenous people have long used hallucinogenic mushrooms for ceremonial, spiritual and psychological purposes — and with good reason, it turns out. Psilocybin has been shown to improve the brain’s connectivity. Researchers are finding the chemical can help combat depression, anxiety, fear and other disorders, and increase creativity and openness to new experience. This makes them potentially beneficial for post-traumatic stress, addiction and palliative care treatments.
We humans have made a lot of technological and scientific advances, and this sometimes gives us the sense that we’re above or outside of nature, that we can do things better. Sometimes it takes a fascinating lifeform like a mushroom to shake us from our hubris and show us how much we have yet to learn about the world and our place in it.
A healthy environment nurtures healthy people
(Credit: City of Toronto via Flickr)
If a home is not cleaned and cared for, it will become rundown and less habitable or even unlivable. It’s no different with our broader surroundings, from the immediate environment to the entire planet.
If we disconnect from the natural world, we become disconnected from who we are — to the detriment of our health and the health of the ecosystems on which our well-being and survival depend.
Understanding that we’re part of nature and acting on that understanding makes us healthier and happier, and encourages us to care for the natural systems around us. A growing body of science confirms this, including two recent studies that explore the ways nature benefits human health.
A Toronto-based study, published in Nature and co-authored by a team including University of Chicago psychologists Omid Kardan and Marc Berman and David Suzuki Foundation scientist Faisal Moola, examined the relationship between urban trees and human health. According to “Neighborhood greenspace and health in a large urban center”, people living in areas with many trees, especially large trees, report feeling healthier than people in areas with fewer trees.
The other study, published in Ecosystem Services and co-authored by scientists from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, reviewed a range of previous research to explore “observed and potential connections among nature, biodiversity, ecosystem services and human health and well-being.” The authors of “Exploring connections among nature, biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human health and well-being” concluded, “the signiﬁcance of biodiversity to human welfare is immense.”
According to the Toronto study, adding 10 or more trees to a city block offered benefits to individuals equivalent to earning $10,000 more a year, moving to a neighbourhood with $10,000 higher median income or being seven years younger. As well as self-reporting of health and well-being, the study also found reduced rates of heart conditions, cancer, mental health problems and diabetes in areas with more trees.
The NOAA study delved even deeper into specific physical and mental health outcomes, finding that people living in areas with abundant green space live longer and experience lower rates of “anxiety and depression (especially), upper respiratory tract infections, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), severe intestinal complaints, and infectious disease of the intestine” than people deprived of nature.
The researchers concluded that increased exposure to nature “can have positive effects on mental/psychological health, healing, heart rate, concentration, levels of stress, blood pressure, behavior, and other health factors.”
They also found that, although evaluating nature according to the services it provides to humans “may lead to a human-centric view of the biosphere,” preserving these ecosystems and natural biodiversity for our own benefit will improve ecosystem health and the natural services other species need to survive and thrive.
As noted in a Toronto Star article, the Toronto research also found that, “within cities, urban tree lines often follow the fault lines of social, economic, political and ecological disparity.” In other words, protecting and increasing green spaces and improving access to them is a social justice as well as a health issue.
This isn’t news to anyone who gets outside regularly. People who spend at least 30 minutes a day in nature for 30 consecutive days as part of the David Suzuki Foundation’s annual 30X30 Nature Challenge report numerous benefits, including improved mood and vitality and a greater interest in the natural world. It’s why the Foundation is launching the Back to School Superhero Challenge on September 21 to encourage kids, families, students and teachers to get outdoors, learn about environmental issues and make a difference.
Science is giving us a better understanding of the many ways preserving, caring for and restoring natural spaces can improve the lives of humans and other beings — and how connecting with nature increases our desire to protect and reduce our negative impacts on our surroundings.
Earth is our only home. But it’s more than that. We’re a part of the natural systems that make up our planet and its atmosphere, and what we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves — as I conveyed in my bookBy David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington
I am excited to say I am hoping to take off (a little late in the season) on vacation to PEI and Nova Scotia. I am an avid sea glass collector. LOL. I love the water and walking along the beach with my dogs Nambe, Nemo and Hank (Hankie Spankie). It is grounding to walk along the beach bare foot surrounded by nature and hearing the crash of the surf. I collect whatever color sea glass or lake glass that I can find but I also collect old washed in pieces of painted ceramic (from plates etc.) Just thinking about these pieces and how many years it has taken them to get rounded pitted and polished. Some of the rare black glass is from the days of rum running. It is called black glass but when you hold it up to the light is is a dark olive color. Of course I am also partial to different hues of blue.
As for new products in the store…I had amazing results using Natures Aid on my dog Nemo who had allergies and his skin on his stomach actually turned black due to the allergens. His skin has now returned to his normal pink color and he is not pulling his hair out anymore. I was thrilled to find a natural cure.
I am excited about our Naturopaths Course she is conducting called “Whole Food Diet” Wednesday nights starting in mid September .It is not only a course but she is going to spend individual time with each of us going over our own personal diet and health goals. That is good value.