One man's attempt to treat his mental health issues with psilocybin went horribly wrong, according to a new case study that underscores the dangers of withholding important information about natural medicines.
The case study, released online in the Journal of the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, tells the story of a man who nearly died of a fungal infection after shooting up mushroom tea. The 30-year-old man, who had a long history of bipolar disorder and opioid abuse, reportedly began researching the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms and decided to try it out for himself.
The anonymous man started off his journey in a relatively usual fashion by acquiring some psilocybin mushrooms and making a tea out of them. But instead of simply drinking the tea, he decided to inject it directly into his veins. Shortly thereafter, the man began suffering from lethargy, nausea, diarrhea, and jaundice. Days later, after he started vomiting up blood and showing signs of extreme confusion, his family took him to the ER.
By the time he made it to the hospital, the man's lungs, kidneys, and other organs were beginning to shut down. Further tests revealed that he had developed a fungal and bacterial infection in his blood. In other words, the very mushrooms that he had injected were now starting to grow inside him. Fortunately, after nearly a month in the hospital, the man has mostly recovered.
Believe it or not, this isn’t even the first time that someone has been hospitalized after shooting up shrooms. According to Curtis McKnight, psychiatrist at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Arizona and co-author of the present study, another case study from 1985 reported two other cases where people got sick after injecting psilocybin.
McKnight and his colleagues make it clear that they support recent research showing that psilocybin and other natural psychedelics have the potential to treat depression, anxiety, addiction, and other issues. But the authors also note that the lack of public knowledge about these drugs and their risks can lead to unfortunate situations like the one detailed in their report.
“The case reported above underscores the need for ongoing public education regarding the dangers attendant to the use of this, and other drugs, in ways other than they are prescribed,” the authors conclude, Gizmodo reports.
Since the federal government and most states continue to prohibit psychedelics, anyone hoping to explore the therapeutic potential of these medicines must do so at their own risk. Fortunately, several US cities have recently decriminalized natural psychedelics, and Oregon just legalized psilocybin-assisted therapy statewide.
The US Food and Drug Administration has also granted psilocybin Breakthrough Therapy status, allowing researchers to fast-track clinical studies that could eventually lead to the federal legalization of medical psilocybin.