Fungi Expert Shares Warning Amid Magic Mushrooms-Linked Deaths

The death of a Melbourne woman, Rachael Dixon, who died from consuming a drink made with mushrooms at a health retreat, has prompted new warnings about mushroom foraging and the use of mushrooms as medicines. While some mushrooms are nutritional foods and others have been safely used in traditional medicines for centuries, other varieties are toxic, making foraging for mushrooms a risk.

In recent years, scientists have been investigating how an ingredient from mushrooms might be used to treat severe mental health conditions. Psilocybin, a compound found in psychotropic “magic” mushrooms, was approved by Australian drug regulators as a medicine for treatment-resistant depression last year. Monash University psychiatry professor Suresh Sundram said promising clinical trials and the previous year’s TGA approval had accelerated the community’s interest in mental health treatments involving psilocybin, which was already famous as a recreational drug.

A fungi expert has revealed why so many Aussies are taking magic mushrooms after the mother-of-two died from suspected poisoning at the alternative health clinic. Dr. Alistair McTaggart from Symbiotika Lab explained that magic mushrooms contain an evolutionary form of slug poison, which is made up of a series of psychedelic compounds, including psilocybin. However, magic mushrooms are illegal in Australia and classified as a Schedule 9 prohibited drug, on a legal par with heroin.

Michelle Mullins, the owner of the alternative health clinic Soul Barn, revealed a private event was being held at the clinic when Dixon fell ill and died. Dixon and two other customers were rushed from the wellness center to the hospital after the possible poisoning. The two other patients were released from hospital on Tuesday.

One line of inquiry police will investigate is whether the trio did consume a drink with magic mushrooms. It is mushroom season in Australia’s south, and Clunes, located 30km north of Ballarat, is surrounded by forests.