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Answers to questions about : Fatality after consuming Psilocybe...

Alain Gerault gerault at shom.fr
Mon Jun 10 04:12:14 EST 1996

As an answer to all the pertinent and interesting questions I have been asked 
about this case on my e-mail, here is a new abstract in order to shed light on 
the subject .
The 22-year-old healthy male comsumed hallucinogenic mushrooms the following 
way :
- Gone on his own to gather mushrooms in the fields, he consumed 30 to 50 of 
them, raw, right in the fields, around 3:00 pm.
- He consumed around 10 raw mushrooms around 6:00 pm.
- With some friends of his, he consumed cooked mushrooms around 8:00 pm. The 
quantity ingested by each participant of the "shrooms party"  was estimated to 
5 to 10. The other participants, who had not consumed any mushrooms earlier in 
the day got "high" with this quantity, some of them did even feel adverse 
effects : cramps, drunkeness...which proves that the Psilocybe semilanceata 
variety was particularly potent.
- The victim fell in a coma around 11:00 pm, left unattended by his friends 
who were "gone" not realizing how serious his state was, he died around 3:00 
The sypmtomatology before the coma was :
- Hallucinations, hyperreflexia, tremor, drowsiness, cramps in his legs, 
spasm, he urinated in his trousers.
- During the postmortem examination and the analysis of the blood and urine 
samples and of the stomach content : alcohol, barbiturates, benzodiazepins 
tricyclics, cannabinoids, opiates, amatoxins and anticholinesterases proved 
negatif. Level of psilocin in the blood : 4 micrograms/ml by HPLC. There were 
some spores of psilocybe semilanceata in the gastric content, but no other 
spores of a different type.
Conclusion after the postmortem examination by the forensic expert : The death 
is due to a collapse after an overdose.
Our personal conclusions are:
The death is due to a combination of unfavourable and aggravating 
circumstances :
- Three intakes of mushrooms in short intervals with cumulative effects ( I 
have estimated the number to 50 mushrooms, but it is probably more).
- In this case, raw mushrooms certainly increase the toxicity.
- No vomiting (vomiting is common when the intake of mushrooms is too 
important, it is a good defensive reflex of the body which prevents from a 
severe poisening. The vomiting could be caused by baeocystin.)
- Variety f P. semilanceata very potent, containing an important amount of 
total indole derivatives. According to my personal analysis psilocybin, 
psilocin and baeocystin are present and also many other unidentified 
derivatives. Studies are in progress in my laboratory. In this specific case, 
we can not reason in terms of psilocybin because a synergy between the 
different components is to be considered.
- Absolute lack of medical care, and maybe a weak resistance of the victim, he 
was left several hours in the coma. Cares in hospital would certainly have 
saved the victim.
It is actually an unusual case about shrooms' consumption (but not in 
toxicology where fatality or severe injuries are reported in some cases with 
substances that are not said to be very toxic.)
I would add that the accumulation of several unfavourable circumstances is 
necessary. Unfortunately, all of them were gathered in this dramatic case. The 
nil risk does not exist, especially about natural stuff with changeable 

                               A. GERAULT
                           Ph. D.,toxicologist.

The english version of the issue is in process, I will e-mail it to those who 
asked for it as soon as ready (by the end of the week).

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