Magic mushrooms Figure

The magic or hallucinogenic mushroom is a popular name for ones which exhibit hallucination (visual and auditory), mental derangement and muscle flaccidness. In central and south America, such mushrooms were being used in religious ceremonies since ancient times. The hallucinogenic effects vary according to different individuals; they are similar to those obtained with LSD, though they are much weaker than those of LSD. They were illegally sold, in the forms of cultivation kits, dried pieces or tablets, on the streets and via the Internet before 2002. Various species of the Psilocybe genus are being used as magic mushrooms. Most magic

O Figure 2.8

Cultivation of "magic mushrooms" (Psilocybe cubensis).

psilocin CizHieNiO

Structures of psilocybin and psilocin.

mushrooms being circulated in Japan are Psilocybe cubensis and/or P. subcubensis and Cope-landia genus. The responsible toxins are psilocybin and psilocin. The psilocybin is metabolized into psilocin in human bodies (> Figure 2.9).

From January 1997 to June 1999, 24 inquiries about magic mushrooms were received by the office of Japan Poison Information Center [4]; the numbers of inquiries were 1 in 1997, 10 in 1998 and 13 in 1998 (6 months). An article entitled "Dangerous proliferation of hallucinogenic mushrooms" appeared in the Asahi morning newspaper on July 18, 1999. It described a case, in which a person had had a delusion of being capable of flying in the air, had jumped from a window of the 2nd floor and had been severely injured, and also a case, in which a university student had been mentally deranged on the campus; the article raised the alarm on such dangers. In January, 2001, there was a case, in which a youngster ate a grown magic mushroom, which had been purchased in the form of a cultivation kit via the Internet, and provoked hallucinatory symptoms to result in his death due to cold inside a roadside gutter in the nude.

Accidents and incidents by ingestion of magic mushrooms are increasing recently; such abuse should be controlled strictly. In the United States and Japan, the possession, cultivation and intake of magic mushrooms have been completely prohibited recently.

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