Fantastic Fungi: Healing Ourselves & Our Planet

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fantastic fungi

Written by Louie Schwartzberg | images via Fantastic Fungi

A solution for climate change is underfoot…

I recently got to chat with Green Diva Meg about the wonders of fungi. Listen to the GD Green Dude podcast, then read on for more…


After 40 years of filming, studying and advocating for nature, I still have one question I think about every day:

If pollination is the foundation of life on our planet, what supports the very plants that are pollinated, giving them the power to convert light energy into food, fuel, medicine and shelter?

The surface-level answer is soil (sorry for the pun). But that’s only the beginning of the truth. Let’s dig a little deeper. What turns solid rock and organic matter into soil? How does soil become rich with the nutrients that support all life on Earth?

The answer is the oldest, largest and toughest organism on the planet. It can feed us, heal us, clean up toxic waste and shift your consciousness. It is a form of intelligence living in the ground beneath us. It is Mycelium, the invisible network that is the root system for budding mushrooms.

fantastic fungi photo by marianna armata

I took a journey into an old-growth forest with my cameras and my good friend, mycologist and author Paul Stamets. He’s become our guide through a world of unexpected wonders as he shares his unique insights about the critical role of fungi in life on Earth, and about the environmental solutions and medical advances fungi can provide to enhance life in the future.

They are the solution we’ve been seeking to help rejuvenate our bodies, regenerate our environment and expand our consciousness.

This year I am teaming up with Producer Lyn Lear, Mycologist Paul Stamets and Dr. Andrew Weil to create the feature film Fantastic Fungi, an important scientific exploration and visual journey to raise awareness about the vast healing potential of mycelium.

Watch the Fantastic Fungi trailer here:

If you’d like to help support my independent film, please visit our Kickstarter page.

“Nature has been experimenting with fungi for a billion years, perfecting a lot of powerful survival tools,” says Stamets.

“We can use these tools in fantastic ways—to revive damaged ecosystems, to offset global warming, and even to prevent diseases.”

Dr. Andrew Weil adds, “The uses for mushroom mycelium fill niches for which we don’t have anything in western pharmacology.” There are indigenous fungi within this ecosystem with extremely strong antiviral properties potentially mitigating pandemic flu or small pox viruses enhancing immune function or helping the body defend against cancer in ways that are not harmful.

“My mother was able to beat breast cancer—the worst case her doctor had ever see—with the help of turkey tail mushrooms to support her chemotherapy,” says Stamets. “Engaging with mushroom mycelium can save thousands of lives.”

beautiful red mushroom, fantastic fungi

Mycelium is the key

Mycelium can not only help us with our personal afflictions, but also the many ills plaguing the globe. With science and technology, mycelium can be key ingredients to the restoration of the environmental damage caused by industrial waste.

By distributing the right nutrients to the right plants, mycelium helps to detoxify and recycle soil, optimizing nutritional density in our food supply. There is even evidence that fungi-generated soils could absorb vast amounts of carbon dioxide, help control climate change, and reduce radiation in areas like Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Stamets explains, “We can capture industrial waste or farm waste, reduce its toxic effects on the environment, and grow food for people. Mycelium breaks down hydrocarbons, oil, petroleum products, herbicides, pesticides.”

Collectively, fungi is the largest living organism and the foundation of all life on Earth—yet far too few appreciate its value simply because its story has not yet been told. In truth, we are only beginning to understand the powerful role mycelium plays in the ecosystem at large and how to create a symbiotic relationship with this organism. Mushroom mycelium is sacred medicine for our planet.

By producing this film independently, Fantastic Fungi can tell the story that needs to be told in a way that big studios can’t. It’s a film that can only be created from the front lines, from the doctors and scientists and artists who have learned the language of nature.

Together, we can create the shift in consciousness needed to restore our planet.

fungi quote 1

If you’d like to help support my independent film, please visit our Kickstarter page.


Listen to my previous conversation on the Green Divas Radio Show about how nature inspired me to make my films.

Listen to the latest Green Divas Radio Show—and other green and healthy living podcasts—daily on (or get the GDGD Radio app)!


louie headshotLouie Schwartzberg is an award-winning filmmaker whose notable career spans more than three decades providing breathtaking imagery using his time-lapse, high-speed and macro cinematography techniques. Schwartzberg is a visual artist breaking barriers, connecting with audiences, and telling stories that celebrate life and reveal the mysteries and wisdom of nature, people and places.

His recent theatrical releases include the 3D IMAX film “Mysteries of the Unseen World” with National Geographic, narrated by Forest Whitaker, and the documentary “Wings of Life” for Disneynature, narrated by Meryl Streep.

Designed to inspire, educate and perhaps even evolve our perspective on the world, Schwartzberg creates and curates unique Moving Art™ content which can be found practically everywhere, from your local theater to the smart phone in your pocket to Roku and Netflix (Moving Art™ was the first Ultra HD (4K resolution) content to appear on Netflix along with House of Cards). Several of the film shorts have gone viral – including “Gratitude” and “Beauty of Pollination” with 46MM+ web views – and spawned related media (books, webinars, and more). Custom Ultra HD Moving Art™ pieces created by Schwartzberg can also be found in high-end hospitality venues around the world.

For Schwartzberg, the greatest satisfaction is creating works that can have a positive effect on the future of the planet. “I hope my films inspire and open people’s hearts. Beauty is nature’s tool for survival – you protect what you love. If I can move enough people on an emotional level, I hope we can achieve the shift in consciousness we need to sustain and celebrate life.”

~Asst. Ed. Green Diva Christine

Conservation, Earth News, Environment, GD Ticker, Green Divas Radio Show, Green Dudes, Nature, sustainability

About the author / 

The Green Divas

The Green Divas share low-stress ways to live a deeper shade of green through a weekly radio show, podcasts, videos and blog posts. Working with talented partners and credible sources, the Green Divas produce content on a variety of topics relating to a healthy green lifestyle. Visit The Green Divas website to learn more, and check out The Green Divas on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter too!

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