Harm potential of magic mushroom use : A review, Jan van Amsterdam et al., 2011

Harm potential of magic mushroom use : A review


Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 2011, 59, 423-429.

Doi : 10.1016/j.yrtph.2011.01.006



In 2007, the Minister of Health of the Netherlands requested the CAM (Coordination point Assessment and Monitoring new drugs) to assess the overall risk of magic mushrooms. The present paper is an updated redraft of the review, written to support the assessment by CAM experts. It summarizes the literature on physical or psychological dependence, acute and chronic toxicity, risk for public health and criminal aspects related to the consumption of magic mushrooms. In the Netherlands, the prevalence of magic mushroom use was declining since 2000 (last year prevalence of 6.3% in 2000 to 2.9% in 2005), and further declined after possession and use became illegal in December 2008. The CAM concluded that the physical and psychological dependence potential of magic mushrooms was low, that acute toxicity was moderate, chronic toxicity low and public health and criminal aspects negligible. The combined use of mushrooms and alcohol and the quality of the setting in which magic mushrooms are used deserve, however, attention. In conclusion, the use of magic mushrooms is relatively safe as only few and relatively mild adverse effects have been reported. The low prevalent but unpredictable provocation of panic attacks and flash-backs remain, however, a point of concern.

Keywords : Magic mushrooms, Illicit drugs, Risk assessment, Adverse effects, Recreational drugs

1. Introduction

The present paper is a revised version of the technical report used in the assessment of magic mushrooms by the CAM (Coordination point Assessment and Monitoring new drugs). The CAM, an advisory board of experts that provides science-based advises about recreational drugs, was asked by the Dutch Minister of Health to assess the overall risk of psilocine and psilocybine containing mushrooms, i.e. magic mushrooms. The reason to request the assessment was the fatal accident of a French girl who allegedly had consumed magic mushrooms before the accident occurred (cf. case 8 in Section 6.5). Moreover, some other magic mushroom related incidents preceded this fatal accident, and in the same period a report from the Municipal Health Service about magic mushroom related incidents appeared. The expert panel of the CAM, consisting of toxicologists, pharmacists, pharmacologists, policy officers, clinicians, police men, and social scientist/anthropologist, assessed the acute and chronic toxicity, public health, prevalence of use, availability and public order aspects of magic mushrooms. Details on the procedure have been described recently (van Amsterdam et al., 2010). The first author of this review is the secretary of the CAM.