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International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms
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ISSN Druckformat: 1521-9437
ISSN Online: 1940-4344

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International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms

DOI: 10.1615/IntJMedMushr.v8.i3.70
pages 251-262

Poisonous and Hallucinogenic Mushrooms of India

S. K. Deshmukh
Department of Natural Products, Nicholas Piramal Research Centre, 1, Nirlon Complex, Off Western Express Highway, Near NSE Complex, Goregaon (East), Mumbai, 400 063, India
K. Natarajan
CAS in Botany, University of Madras, Guindy Campus, Chennai, 600 025, India
S. A. Verekar
Department of Natural Products, Nicholas Piramal Research Centre, 1, Nirlon Complex, Off Western Express Highway, Near NSE Complex, Goregaon (East), Mumbai, 400 063, India


Mycetism or mycetismus (mushroom poisoning) is caused by toxins present in the basidiomata even after it is properly cooked. There are mainly seven different types of poisoning syndromes (Phalloides syndrome, Orellanus syndrome, Gyromitra syndrome, Muscarin syndrome, Pantherina syndrome, Psilocybin syndrome, and Gastrointestinal syndrome), along with Paxillus syndrome and coprine syndrome. The Indian subcontinent consists of several ecoclimatic zones and it is a treasure trove of fungal diversity. In fact, the Western Ghats, which form a long mountainous region along the west coast of India, is considered as one of the hot spots of biodiversity. The mushroom biota of this large country is still not explored fully and to date only about 1200 species of fungi belonging to the orders Agaricales, Russulales, and Boletales are described in comparison to about 14,000 species of mushrooms reported from all over the world. This represents only 10% of the world biota of mushrooms, and the majority of the other 90% remain to be discovered in the tropical regions of the world. The present review deals with the distribution of poisonous and hallucinogenic species of mushrooms described from India. A survey of the literature reveals the species of fungi belonging to various genera that are reported from India, which cause the major types of mushroom poisoning syndromes. Among the total number of mushrooms reported from India, only a very small percentage are poisonous or hallucinogenic. Even though there are several reports in the newspapers about poisoning after consumption of mushrooms, there is only one report of a clinically proven case of mushroom poisoning by Chlorophyllum molybdites in India. There is a need for greater awareness of mushroom poisoning among the general public and clinicians in India. The need of a database of poisonous mushrooms and the symptoms of mushroom poisoning along with the germ plasm collections is emphasized. There is a great need of chemical investigations of Indian mushrooms for their active principles, which can possibly be used in a wide range of metabolic and infectious diseases, such as cancer, AIDS, and others.