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Toxicity of Various Mushrooms

Gerard L. Moench, MD, FACS
JAMA. 1963;186(11):1025. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03710110077022.
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To the Editor:  —The report on the "Toxicity of Amanita muscaria" (JAMA185:663 [Aug 24] 1963) interested me very much since years ago I studied fungi. Their edibility was of secondary interest to me because most fungi are not fit for food; they are too hard, tough, stringy, bitter, etc. However, only a few are actually poisonous.It was when I sought detailed information about the actual toxicity of the various forms that I ran, again and again, into the most contradictory reports. A fungus which was toxic in one area was eaten with impunity in another. No doubt soil conditions and weather exert an influence. In the case of Helvella esculenta, for example, it has been shown that in wet weather there is more helvellic acid present in the fungus and this may cause gastric upset. I know of two patients in whom Cantharellus aurantiacus caused severe gastric


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