"MAGIC" MUSHROOMS REALLY
AREN'T MAGIC AT ALL. In fact, their alarming effects are the nasty, brutish- and
sometimes not so short- result of disruptive, chemical interference with the body's nervous
system. We in Nova Scotia have five categories of hallucinogenic "Shrooms":
-Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria);
-Liberty Cap (Psilocybe) and
It is a criminal offence to gather, possess or sell any of them.
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ALL PARTS of all the above fungi. Poison concentration varies with species. As in
Alice's experiences in Wonderland, the effect of even a small taste can be devastating- see below.
an alkaloid, muscarine, together with two other, less
muscimol and ibotenic acid.
Fly Agaric has been used to invoke inebriation, religious or otherwise, since the Stone
Age. Some scholars maintain that the inspirations for some of the major religions of the Near
East originate in a Fly Agaric cult, though in latter days, this fungus has been typically
consumed as an escape from everyday drudgery.
Conocybe, Panaeolus, Psilocybe, and Stropharia:
two related alkaloids called psilocybin or
psilocin. Both are chemically similar to synthetic lysergic acid diethylamide
(LSD). Scientific knowledge of these fungi is far from complete; WARNING: OTHER
UNKNOWN TOXINS are likely to be present as well.
As early as 3,500 years ago, hallucinogenic mushrooms, that is, fungi containing
psilocybin or psilocin, formed part of the religious rituals of the Aztec people of Mexico. About
two dozen species were considered Teonanacatl, literally "the flesh of the gods", whose
consumption was supposed to confer privileged & holy perceptions.
TYPICAL POISONING SCENARIO:
Accidental ingestion; some people mistake these fungi, especially in their early, "button" stage,
for edible varieties, with disquieting results. An even greater risk is that those who seek these
fungi deliberately, for the intoxicating effects, will mistake a deadly species- especially other
members of the
AMANITA family- for a "magic" mushroom. Other types,
Conocybe may contain more dangerous poisons as
IT IS ESSENTIAL TO TAKE ABSOLUTELY NO CHANCES WITH WILD
Fly Agaric- deep sleep twenty minutes after ingestion, during which hallucinations or
feelings of euphoria are sometimes experienced. More serious symptoms include severe digestive
upset, dizziness, psychological distress, and convulsions. Consumption of ten or more of these
fungi is considered FATAL; consumption of a single fungus may have no lasting
Conocybe, Psilocybe, Stropharia and Liberty Cap- symptoms of intoxication,
about one hour after ingestion, including confusion, tremors, euphoria, delirium, anxiety,
paranoia, and altered perceptions of speed, light, and colour. Ingestion is not fatal; victims
frequently require restraint and sedation until the effects wear off, to prevent them from injuring
themselves or others.
OTHER HALLUCINOGENIC FUNGI
LSD itself has origins in a naturally occurring fungal disease of rye grains,
Although this fungus is the source of drugs useful in treating migraine and hemorraging, it is also
the notorious cause of hallucinations & temporary insanity in people who inadvertantly eat
affected grain. In medieval times, French peasants suffering from ergot poisoning were thought
to be consumed by holy fire- St. Anthony's Fire- because they frequently complained of
excruciating sensations of burning, not to mention infections of gangrene caused by the
interruption of circulation in the limbs. Though the control of ergot, by burning infected crops,
is relatively simple, incidents of ergot poisoning have been reported as late as 1951.
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