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Mushroom poisoning

Mushroom poisoning refers to the toxic condition caused by eating certain mushrooms due to the poisonous compound present in it. The toxic condition may be from mild pain or discomfort to death in human beings. These toxins are the secondary metabolites produced in mushrooms through specific metabolic pathways. The poisoning effect of mushrooms depends upon the type of toxin, quantum of ingestion, size and age of the consumer, presence of alcohol in human, mode of cooking and other factors.
The main cause of mushroom poisoning is eating poisonous mushroom by misidentification. It is also attributed to intentional ingestion of certain mushrooms for their hallucinogenic effects. Consumption of certain mushrooms with alcohol or specific drugs also leads to poisoning. In few cases, consumption of raw mushroom causes poisoning whereas cooked mushroom are non toxic as the water soluble toxins are removed while boiling and the mushroom become non toxic. Hence, better not to eat raw mushroom. In some cases, individual selectivity of particular mushroom causes allergy or some health mushrooms.
Toxins from different wild poisonous mushrooms vary in their toxicity. Symptom of mushroom poisoning varies according to the mushroom toxin. Toxicity may be simple allergy to causing death. First symptom expression is usually few hours after mushroom consumption to few days depending upon the toxin present in mushroom, quantum of mushroom consumed and human body nature. The most common symptom is gastrointestinal upset and irritation. These cause consequent vomiting and diarrhea under mild toxicity conditions. Under severe cases, mushroom toxins affect the specific human parts and cause its failures. This further leads to mortality.

Mushroom toxins and associated symptoms


Mushroom species



Amanita ocreata,
Conocybe filaris,
Lepiota josserandii
Gastrointestinal upset after 6 hours of eating i.e.,
vomiting and profuse, watery diarrhea. Damage
to liver begins after 24 hours of ingestion.
Amanita phalloides Phallotoxin Gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting and
diarrhea normally leads to death
Cortinarius orellanus Orellanine After 20 days of ingestion, symptoms such as
pain in kidney area, thirst, vomiting and
headache occurs
Boletus luridus,
olivasceus, Inocybe
Muscarine Sweating, salivation, tears, blurred vision,
palpitations and respiratory failure.
Gyromitra esculenta,
Gyromitra infula
Gyromitrin It blocks neurotransmitter leading to muscle
cramps, loss of coordination, tremors, seizures
and gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting and
diarrhea. It also causes red blood cells to break
down, leading to jaundice, kidney failure, and
signs of anemia.
Coprinus variegate,
Coprine It inhibits aldehyde dehydrogenase, which
generally causes no harm. If alcohol is ingested,
it prevents removal of alcohol in body leading to
flushed skin, vomiting, headache, dizziness,
weakness, apprehension, confusion,
palpitations, and sometimes trouble breathing.
Amanita muscaria,
Amanita pantherina
Nausea, vomiting, confusion, euphoria, or
sleepiness is possible. Loss of muscular
coordination, sweating, and chills are likely.
Amanita gemmata,
Amanita pantherina,
Amanita muscaria
Muscimol It alters neuronal activity and displays sedative,
hypnotic and dissociative psychoactive effects
including dissociation, synesthesia, auditory and
visual distortions.
Psilocybe cyanescens,
Paneolus cyanscens
Psilocybin Euphoria, visual and religious hallucinations,
and heightened perception.
Amanita pantherina,
Hygrophoropsis aurantica
Arabitol Gastrointestinal irritation
Boletus satanas Bolesatine It is a protein synthesis inhibitor and main
symptoms include violent vomiting, which can
last up to six hours

It is necessary to take the concerned person immediately to nearby hospital if mushroom poisoning is suspected. If the consumption time is less than a hour, induce vomiting so as to remove the poisonous mushroom from stomach. Information on time of ingestion, time of first symptom noticed is to be noted and be given to the doctor towards better treatment along with mushroom information. Information on alcohol drinking also essential if the person is recently drunk.
The treatment for mushroom poisoning is not well known all over world. Initial treatment consists of gastric lavage in order to remove the toxins before they get absorbed in to body system (Anita Gautam et al., 2011). Benzyl penicillin is used as an anti-toxin based on the assumption that it decreases the uptake of toxin in to hepatocyte (Moroni et al., 1976). The toxin alpha-amanitin is excreted by the kidneys and are  reabsorbed in the renal tubules, therefore forced dieresis may be useful (Vesconi et al., 1985). Antioxidant silymarin has also been used in the treatment of mushroom poisoning (Enjalbert et al., 1999).

Avoid eating of unknown wild mushrooms
Do not eat unknown raw mushroom directly
Eat small amount of mushroom if you are eating unknown mushroom for the first time
Avoid new mushroom dishes for elderly and diseased people besides children
Use only firm, healthy, insect free mushrooms for culinary purposes
Keep a small part of wild mushroom whose identification may help in identifying type of poisoning


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