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Accurate Mushroom Identification is Important

There have been reports in the news recently regarding the use of mushrooms for healthamanita-mushroom and wellness. Mushrooms and specific fungal strains have long been known to have medicinal or nutraceutical properties. Consumption of fruiting bodies, powders made from fruiting bodies or mycelium, and tea extractions made from fungal material,  are cited in scientific literature as well as home wellness publications.  Here is a link to one of the latest news reports: http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/ingredient-in-magic-mushrooms-may-help-cancer-patients-studies-822393411841

People who use mushrooms for medical issues should be cautious, especially when dealing with mushrooms collected in the wild. The identification of mushrooms and other fungal fruiting bodies is an exact science, dependent on many characters, including microscopic characters. There is a tremendous amount of variation in fungi, due to environmental conditions and genetics. Many fungi produce secondary metabolites that can be toxic in very small amounts (such as 1 mg). The effects of mushroom toxins can be cumulative over time, with repeated exposure or consumption. People also vary in their sensitivity to mushrooms and metabolites.

Care should be taken and an accurate identification by a professional should be obtained before consuming any wild mushrooms or wild mushroom products. Caution is best, to avoid mushroom poisoning by eating something collected in the wild and not properly identified. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Office or Agricultural University for assistance.

NFG 12/2/2016

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