Dangerous side to tasty mushrooms

Updated 2017-08-03 10:05:51 Shanghai Daily

Although mushrooms can taste delicious and provide important nutrients, some wild species contain deadly or disease-causing poisons, warned the China Food and Drug Administration.

Proteins and vitamins in edible fungi can boost the immune system, ease body pain, soothe coughing fits, induce a calm mental state, and even build defense against cancer. However, poisonous mushrooms in the wild can cause serious health issues including death. People may have trouble discerning poisonous fungi from safe ones, and eaters should not pick up the chopsticks when feeling uncertain about the type of mushroom on the plate, according to the FDA.

Some mushrooms contain an especially dangerous toxin called phallotoxin. These compounds can stand both heat and a lack of humidity. Six to 48 hours after ingesting the toxin, patients start to develop jaundice and hepatomegaly — swellings in the liver. More serious symptoms include hemorrhage and abnormalities in the heart, brain, and kidneys. Without treatment, 50 to 90 percent of the patients die. Just 50 grams of Amanita verna, a type of fungi that resembles edible mushrooms but contain phallotoxins, can kill.

One variety of mushrooms has psychedelic properties. One to six hours after ingestion, eaters' parasympathetic nervous system becomes affected, and one starts to sweat, drool and weep for no apparent reason. The pupils also contract. Severe symptoms include dizziness, delirium, hallucinations, convulsions, spasms, coma and difficulties in breathing. Some patients even develop persecution mania and can eventually commit suicide or homicide.

Other issues caused by poisonous mushrooms include vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches. Some mushrooms, like Coprinus atramentartius, also known as ink-caps, prove harmless themselves, but when ingested alongside alcohol, the mushrooms can render humans unable to process alcohol and cause digestion problems.

Experts cautioned that citizens must cook mushrooms thoroughly to reduce the virulence of the toxin. If any symptom of food poisoning occurs, one should immediately seek medical attention, remembering the amount of time passed since ingestion and bringing along a sample of the mushroom to help with diagnosis. Induced vomiting can help if the mushrooms have not been ingested for too long.

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