A man was hospitalized after injecting himself with a “tea” he’d made from magic mushrooms and the fungus began to grow in his veins.
In a case report published in the Journal of the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry doctors describe a 30-year-old man, referred to as “Mr X” for anonymity purposes, who sought to self-medicate for opioid dependence and depression. Doctors first became aware when he was brought into the emergency department by his family, who were concerned by his state of confusion.
The family reported that he had recently stopped taking medication prescribed for bipolar disorder type I, after which he began to swing between depressive and manic states of mind. It was during this period that he began research into the therapeutic effects of microdosing LSD and psilocybin, a naturally occurring psychedelic produced by over 200 species of mushrooms.
It has been shown in numerous trials that the compound psilocybin can have therapeutic effects, including relieving major depression, as well as anxiety and existential worry in terminally-ill patients. However, this is all in controlled trials where the drug was taken orally. Mr X obtained magic mushrooms and prepared what he called a “mushroom tea” by pouring boiling water onto the fungus, which contains the water-soluble psilocybin.
Drinking mushroom tea is a method used by some recreational takers of the drug. However, Mr X took the unusual step of preparing it for injection by drawing it through cotton, before injecting the concoction into his veins.
Following injection, he began to develop a number of problems. By the time his family discovered him days later, he had jaundice, nausea, diarrhea, extreme confusion, and was vomiting blood. His organs had begun to fail, including his kidneys and his lungs, and he had suffered from an acute liver injury. His heart rate was elevated, and he was experiencing septic shock. In essence, things were not looking good by any measure, and he was placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Clots that were forming in his blood required investigation and treatment. In perhaps the most viscerally grim part of the case study, the team describes how they took cultures from his blood and found that “the species of mushroom he had injected was now growing in his blood”.
Whether the fungus growing in his blood may have contributed to his confusion is not clear cut, given the other issues occurring in his body at the time.
“It is unclear whether active intravascular infection with a psychoactive fungus such as Psilocybe cubensis may prompt persistent psychoactive effects as seen with ingestion of the same species, which could further contribute to changes in perception and cognition,” the team wrote in the report, adding that the case highlights the need to educate the public on the dangers of using drugs in ways that they are not prescribed.