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Magic Mushrooms Injected into Man's Veins Started to Grow in Blood (iflscience.com)
139 points by cmsefton 3 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 95 comments

Mushrooms growing in humans is nothing special at all: It is called Mycosis or Candidiasis, and there are (generally) antifungal drugs.

Deliberately self infecting with fungus is something very stupid... Did he survive?

This is an instance of fungemia, which is the fungus growing in the blood. Candidiasis is a kind of fungemia caused by a particular fungus family that isn't Psilocybe Cubensis (the particular kind of magic mushrooms in this case).


> there are (generally) antifungal drugs.

I used to work in drug development specifically on anti fungal medication and they are all extremely hepatotoxic. They tend also to be pathogen specific. I doubt this fellow will live long enough to get a liver transplant.

Interesting, does this also apply to externally applied over-the-counter antifungals such as Clotrimazole or Bifonazole?

very much so, but the dosages are low and your skin is pretty good at keeping bad stuff out. Don't eat a tube of Clorimazole or drink a bottle of Head and Shoulders.

I'm surprised that a mushroom adapted to growing in dirt was able to grow in human blood - I was under the impression that the growing medium matters quite a lot to mushrooms, and dead plant matter vs living animal matter seems like a big difference.

Lots of fungi and bacteria that aren't human pathogens can nonetheless infect us if they somehow get past our skin. Since they haven't evolved an equilibrium to maximize spread these are some of the deadliest diseases out there - or were until we learned to control them with drugs.


We tend to think of the adaptive immune system, antibodies and such, as what protects us from disease. But it isn't nearly important as the automatic immune system that quickly dispatches most potential pathogens that find their way into our body without any period of learning. And that isn't as important as the barriers like skin and mucus that prevent all the critters of the world from getting into us in the first place.

The blood should be fairly sterile, so one of the hardest parts is already taken care of.

Sheep and horse blood are used as growth media all the time. Not sure about this fungus though.

Though you’d think the body would be able to fight this off.

That's the surprising part to me. I'm not shocked mushrooms would grow in blood. Their air needs are pretty low, and might be solved by the ambient level in blood. Afaik the light is primarily to signal time of year to the mushrooms, they don't photosynthesize.

I am surprised the body didn't kill the spores off though. I'm very curious what portion of his symptoms were from the spores directly, and what portion were from the body's immune reaction going absolutely crazy.

If the symptoms are from the mushrooms and not from an immune response, that seems medically interesting. It might have applications in drug delivery systems, and in a long shot, maybe things like synthetic organs. Keeping the body's immune system from killing itself seems like a major hurdle to that.

Doesn’t have to be spores germinating. Could very well be a living fungal cell that had the conditions to replicate.

Depends on the fungus. Some are far more picky than others.

Magic mushrooms, in particular, love cow dung as a growing medium.

That being said, fungus tends to be nigh indestructible. The guy boiled it before injection which really speaks to just how hardy those spores can be.

> The guy boiled it before injection

No, he poured boiling water over the mushrooms - big difference. Plenty of time for boiling water to cool before killing all of the spores.

> Magic mushrooms, in particular, love cow dung as a growing medium.

This is a myth. Most magic mushrooms grow in wood, moss, dirt, etc. The media just likes hyping up p. cubensis first whatever reason.

"Magic Mushrooms" is ambiguous, so yeah, anything around it is a myth. When it comes to Cubensis, it's commonly found in the places you mention. I think the "myth" you mention, is about Liberty Cap (Psilocybe semilanceata) which you can find basically anywhere in the northern hemisphere, very common all over Europe. While Liberty Caps don't directly grow in the dung, they do love cow and sheep pastures and is more commonly found there. If you're an adult, never experienced psychedelic drugs before but would like to, and live in Europe, try looking for Liberty Caps in a nearby pasture once temperatures went down to between 0-10 degrees. I'm sure you'll find some.

be very very careful, there is a aphorism:

"there are old mycologists and bold mycologists, but no old bold mycologists"

Not sure that's true, some adventurers get old, some don't. Boldness has nothing to do with it. Shulgin, Leary and others reach high age, still bold people.

You say cow dung as if you think that rich, picky concoction of nutrients (vegetation processed by a ruminant animal and then shat onto the ground) is an example of it being the opposite of picky.

The most common cultivation medium for psilocybin mushrooms is brown rice powder mixed with vermiculite. I wonder how that matches up in terms of pH and nutrients.

It's not as unusual as it seems.

Fungi being more likely to grow in humans are one of the underestimated consequences of climate change which we might run into in the future.

Can you expand on this "Fungi being more likely to grow in humans are one of the underestimated consequences of climate change which we might run into in the future." ?

Why would climate change lead to more Fungal growth in humans? Genuine question

I did a small bit of research into this but it was pretty long ago so the details are a bit vague but if I remember correctly it was mainly due to 2 factors:

- Fungi often don't parasite humans as we are "to warm" (and many other reasons) but with increasing warmer weather fungi will likely adapt to it and in turn become humans become increasingly closer to be "an interesting habitat"

- Changes in weather changing how fungi grow and where they grow making it more likely for existing problematic fungi to come in contact with humans.

Take all of this with a grain of salt it was quite a while ago that I read about it and I mainly remembered the conclusion.

But there had been cases where due to (likely) climate change induced changes in weather fungi started infecting humans, it was either in the US or Australia. So sorry again not much useful information.

I guess it might have been better to not post this without trying to find the articles/dokus I had read/seen about it given that I don't remember to many details besides the conclusion I had.

(EDIT: Try searching "warmer weather fungi humans" at least on duckduckgo this yielded some articles about this which are not the sources I had read and I still have to read and evaluate them, but might find some useful information)

Didn't read the full paper, but according to a Reddit comment here they say he survives:


If I remember correctly, Anti-Fungal drugs can have some pretty serious side effects.

I think the point of the OP was that its pretty common for fungi to grow on and in humans, so much that there is a well known class of drugs meant for it.

Had to take anti-fungal drugs for a rash. They were crazier than the rash but got rid of it. They made my eczema flare up really badly, and I was insanely sensitive to sun exposure, which is apparently a quite common side effect. Anti-fungals really are no joke.

Last info they give, he was still treated with antifungals

But in the blood?

Yes - and systemic fungal infections are medically serious.

But surely not all fungi are capable of it? The fact that this is one is capable of both surviving and producing hallucinations seems like an incredible fluke.

If I had to name a life form that has immense survivability in multiple environments and also causes hallucinations or other toxic-like effects in brains, I'd definitely point to fungi. Fungi is nature wilding.

I wish that was true for chanterelles. Many fungi need very specific conditions.

This reminds me of the Lenin was a mushroom hoax[1] where Lenin, a psychedelic afficionado, consumed so much mushrooms that he turned into one.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenin_was_a_mushroom

Let us not forget about the fungus among us: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sacred_Mushroom_and_the_Cr...

For science fiction writers, it is interesting to think about this on an epoch time scale as a means for creating different human-alien like hybrids.

Imagine a trillion alternate earths where some percentage of humans try this but some survive and gain superior evolutionary improvements becoming a human-mushroom hybrid creature.

Replace mushroom with virus, and maybe that's what actually happened in real life.

Most people are probably already aware, but that’s likely exactly what happened with mitochondria: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symbiogenesis

A better example is the mammalian placenta. That actually was enabled by viral genes, while mitochondria developed from free-living organisms.

Bacteria too, gut biome is a thing and an interesting symbiosis.

In a sense one can argue that all the processes going on in the body (thinking of e.g. white blood cells) is also a form of symbiosis.

Hmm, there was a sci-fi book about this where a billion years into the future plants have developed sentience and humans are given intelligence by symbiotic fungi. Found it:


Someone should combine this with a placenta to prevent septic shock and then we can have the psilocybin equivalent of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto-brewery_syndrome

Sounds like a prequel to the novel "The Girl with All the gifts" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Girl_with_All_the_Gifts)

(great book by the way!)

He prepared it for injection by drawing it through cotton before injecting the concoction into his veins.

I don't think I understand this. And the fact the injected juice of boiled mushrooms made mushroom grow in his veins... It's beyond my sub-mediocre understanding.

> He prepared it for injection by drawing it through cotton before injecting the concoction into his veins.

This is a preparation stolen from heroin users. The idea is that you only want the water-soluble (i.e. dissolves in water) parts, and that the non-water-soluble parts are bad. So the cotton is meant to catch anything that isn't dissolved in the water. It's likely effective at catching large particulate.

> And the fact the injected juice of boiled mushrooms made mushroom grow in his veins... It's beyond my sub-mediocre understanding.

Mushrooms reproduce with spores, which are basically tiny tiny seeds. Too small to be caught by a cotton filter; solutions that have spores in them look like they're just kind of grey, you can't see the individual spores with a naked eye.

Spores are also some of the toughest things on the planet to kill. Surviving boiling wouldn't be crazy surprising to me. Anthrax spores (which is a bacteria, not a fungus) have been under the permafrost in the Arctic for who knows how long, and are infecting animals as the permafrost thaws.

Also, the article says he poured boiling water over them. Dumb, it's not going to uptake much of the psylocibin from the mushrooms on a single poor, but you know those gills on the bottom of the mushroom? The part with all the rows of really thin flesh? Those are covered in spores, and pouring water over them will definitely wash those spores into your solution.

Long story short, the guy was a moron. I think he was attempting to make injectible psylocibin, but that is a) generally unnecessary, and b) far more difficult than "lemme boil some mushrooms in water". At the very least, I would think you would want to isolate the psylocibin. Right now, he's injecting psylocibin, spores, and whatever bacteria he washed off the mushrooms with his boiling water bath. I'm not willing to bet my life that boiling water is enough to make it safe to inject. Maybe safe to drink in an emergency, but I would not risk sepsis for this.

Thank you, I saw that news in Reddit and was also wondering how it happened. Yours is the best explanation I've read.

Some bit of non-dead mushroom survived his amateur purification process.

I imagine he got the idea from heroine users.

I know nothing about biology either, but I'm guessing some spores survived the boiling and simply passed through the cotton.

I've dipped my toes a bit into mycology.

Spores can survive atmospheric boiling temperatures of water. Often a pressure cooker is used to sanitize substrate (wheat, and many other things) to grow mushrooms on. This ensures the only spores that exist on your substrate is the ones that you want.

I believe you're referring to a mushroom growing technique called PF Tek. But following this technique, you are supposed to wait until the substrate is done boiling and has come back to room temperature before inoculating it with spores.

Most fungal spores have only moderate heat resistance and die at temperatures below 80 degrees Celsius.

Substrate sterilization with a pressure cooker prevents bacterial growth and inactivates fungal virus that may ruin your harvest.

I think you mean above 80 degrees Celsius

No, I specifically meant below. I should have written " ... die at temperatures even below 80 degrees Celsius".

He sounds like a fun-guy.

Should have just drank the tea... Or if he absolutely must inject a psychedelic, then DMT.

Aldous Huxley had his wife inject him with LSD right before he died. Maybe that's where this guy got the idea. https://theplaidzebra.com/aldous-huxleys-wife-wrote-this-let...

This is half a story. What treatments were tried and did the patient survive?

The letter is here but I can't access it from my phone: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S266729602...


He survived but was still beging treated when the report was published (11 January 2020):

Initial exam was remarkable for O2 saturation on room air of 92%, heart rate of 100, and blood pressure of 75/47. He was noted to be ill-appearing with dry mucous membranes, mild cyanosis of the lips and nail beds, and jaundiced skin. His abdomen was diffusely tender to palpation without rebound or guarding. He was grossly confused and unable to meaningfully participate in an interview.

Laboratory studies revealed thrombocytopenia, hyponatremia, hyperkalemia, hypochloremia, hypocalcemia, acute renal insufficiency, and acute liver injury. Cardiac workup revealed elevated cardiac enzymes and his electrocardiogram was remarkable for sinus tachycardia and early repolarization. Mr. X was then transferred to the ICU for evidence of multi-organ failure and he was started on intravenous fluids, multiple vasopressors, broad spectrum antibiotics, and anti-fungal medications. His hospital course was further complicated by septic shock and acute respiratory failure requiring intubation on hospital day two and disseminated intravascular coagulation requiring plasmapheresis. Cultures confirmed bacteremia (ultimately cultured as Brevibacillus) and fungemia (ultimately cultured as Psilocybe cubensis – i.e. the species of mushroom he had injected was now growing in his blood). He was treated for a total of 22 days in the hospital with eight of them in the ICU. At the time of writing, he is currently still being treated with a long-term regimen of daptomycin, meropenem, and voriconazole.


Wasn’t there a ‘50s sci-fi movie? Invasion of the Mushroom People? People stranded on an island started eating random mushrooms and turned into giant human hungry mushrooms? Life imitates art?

This maybe "Attack of the Mushroom People Official Trailer" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWNAX2DlmTI

Go to the last 10 seconds or so for the good bit.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057295/ "Shipwrecked survivors slowly transform into mushrooms."

Directed by the guy who did Godzilla.

Before calling the person "stupid", read the article. He has bipolar disorder, and it's agony trying to live with it so people will be desperate to take measures to ease the pain.

I agree, “ignorant” is the actually appropriate term. He didn’t know. Not to diminish his pain and suffering in any way.

And maybe not even "ignorant". I'm not bipolar, but I have (in the past, various therapy techniques and physical exercise have largely controlled/mitigated it) had some severe depressive episodes. During them, you are not in your right mind. For my friends with bipolar disorders, the same happens during their manic phases. Your more rational decision making faculties are not really present or fully utilized depending on severity so even if you know better, you don't act on that knowledge properly. Within the moment your belief system can be severely altered.

Can confirm, live with a bipolar spouse. It’s a nightmare.

If you don’t like the current mood, give it a few seconds.

Um, that is clearly not bipolar disorder.

Not Bipolar 1, but could easily be Bipolar 2. The two types are rather different, and type 2 is far more prone to rapid cycling.

This is not the typical presentation for Bipolar 1 or 2. The only difference between 1 and 2 is 1 has more prominent manic symptoms/episodes. Both types of Bipolar have mood fluctuations that take place over weeks or months, not within the same day. For example, being manic for a few weeks, then depressed for 3 months, then manic again for a month, and so on. There is such a thing as a "mixed episode", where the patient is both manic and depressed at the same time, and can cycle between the two states extremely rapidly (within the same day, or day to day). But a mixed episode is rather rare.

Anyways, the point is bipolar people have mood swings that are very slow. Rapid mood swings in the same day are not a symptom of bipolar disorder; more likely, this is a symptom of borderline personality disorder. In fact, how rapid the mood swings are is one of the ways bipolar disorder is distinguished from borderline personality disorder.

Speaking from experience as I have been diagnosed with both bipolar disorder and BPD.

And then there's cyclothymia, which is a milder form of bipolar disorder and very often goes undiagnosed.

No, that’s wrong again. It’s not on the order of seconds.

Cyclothymia? Or just borderline personality disorder?

Borderline personality is the actual diagnosis.

Didn’t think people here would know that one.

Medication she takes is for both.

When it’s bad, she start arguing about something and she will alternate between sweet, full rage, innocent, normal, babyish, nurturing, selfish, vindictive.

The rapid shifts are quite frightening. She would have little memory of mental states.

I had to start recording our conversations to prove what was going on.

i mean...he could have tried to drink the tea or eat the mushrooms first. i understand the desperation. i do and have great empathy for him.

but unfortunately, i know have even greater empathy for him, b/c he made a really dumb choice.


Desperation doesn't make acts intelligent, just understandable.

Someone who wasn't stupid would have filtered the 'tea' better before injecting it to make sure it wouldn't cause sepsis, and organ failure. Or you know maybe drink the tea instead of injecting it into a vein.

Do you understand why your comment has been downvoted? If not, it's this part:

> Someone who wasn't stupid

Being bipolar/depressive doesn't make someone stupid, or necessarily ignorant. Not knowing the individual I can't make any judgements regarding this. But I have experienced severe depressive phases. During those (and similarly with manic phases) you can lose control of your mind and understanding/beliefs about the world. You may act stupidly (but do not become stupid) based on how your beliefs about the world change or the general loss of control over yourself you're experiencing.

You're being downvoted because there is a qualitative difference between these statements: "Someone is stupid" vs "Someone is acting stupid" or "Behaving stupidly". Though many people don't hear the difference when it's directed at them, there is a difference in sentiment and intent. The former is about the person themselves, the latter about their behavior. The former is hard to correct if true, the latter is something someone can alter about themselves (assuming they have some degree of control over their faculties and behavior).

It doesn't surprise me, some fungus even thrives in radiation (a well known example being at Chernobyl) thanks to radiosynthesis.

The impressive part is that doctors were able to save him!

He sounds like a real 'funguy'

So wait.. are we saying that Lenin might have actually been a mushroom?


am...am I a bot?!?!

> the case highlights the need to educate the public on the dangers of using drugs in ways that they are not prescribed.

Over 5,000 people died last year from antidepressant overdoses thanks to the medical establishment. I view people like mushroom guy as heroes who risk their lives to pursue leads and try and save millions while the medical establishment stumbles it's way around, being careful never to stray too far from the bank.

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/895959/antidepressant-ov...

It isn't heroics. It's desperation.

There are ways to self experiment that make some sense and there are a lot of ways to self experiment that are a good way to get harmed with little hope of upside and describing people who get badly messed up this way as "heroes" is probably a good way to increase the odds of more people getting badly messed up.

I wish there was more support for reasonable self experimentation as an alternative to "You are so completely and thoroughly fucked and no one will help you" but I really don't want to see something like this glorified as heroics because that will tend to get a lot of pushback against more reasonable methods of self experimentation and make it harder to find a constructive path forward.

Depends if you think heroes are only known after the fact or if actions themselves are heroic.

If this guy stumbled upon a permanent cure for depression, we'd be calling him a hero.

This would not be the first time that fungus or other plants grew inside the human body. I remember reading about a boy who had a seed get blown into his eye and it sprouted.

When I used to be active on CF lists, someone got the bright idea to inhale some kind of oil using their nebulizer and ended up with pneumonia. You can readily google "oil induced pneumonia" and get articles about lipoid pneumonia. It's a well known phenomenon that inhaling fats or oils blocks the lungs and can cause pneumonia.

The reason we don't like people doing self experimentation is because a lot of people know shockingly little about how their body works and do damn little in the way of due diligence to look stuff up beforehand. I have difficulty imagining that I would inject any kind of fungus into my body for any reason.

That's just not a good way to extract the active ingredient he was looking to ingest, which can be ingested orally just fine from what I gather.

And I don't think we would be calling him a hero. Most likely, we would be claiming "He got lucky" and "It's a wild coincidence -- stranger things have happened" and wouldn't even bother to commission a study to see if it is replicable.

> because a lot of people know shockingly little about how their body works

I agree with this. It took me a solid year of significant studying to get to the point where I could comfortably read a medical research paper, and that was coming from an engineering background.

However, when I look back at my life, some of my most impactful contributions have come from doing dumb risky things in fields I knew nothing about. I think the Kay quote "A change of perspective is worth 80 IQ points" applies here. Novices have a different perspective, which sure can be dangerous, but also gives them an 80 IQ point advantage.

Anyway, I agree with your point that it would be nice to make it safer to do biohacking, but at the same time I think we shouldn't be too quick to discourage it, as it's actually a smart strategy for society to have outsiders try things that would seem dumb from an insider's perspective.

I'm not talking about discouraging it. I'm talking about not encouraging people to go at it in the wrong way so as to get called a "hero."

People do a lot of stupid stuff for short-sighted reasons like public recognition.

Oh I agree 100% we should not be calling him a hero. I'm just saying that ex ante claims about heroism in general (for or against) make little sense if you think heros are determined to be as such only based on the consequences of their actions.

The fundamental issue here is that we only know the medical details because this went so badly that he was taken to a hospital. If it had worked and he felt miraculously better, there would probably be no "official" documentation because he would get on with his life and not see a doctor about it.

I can speak firsthand as to what that gets you. And being labeled a "hero" is not what that gets you.

Very good points!

Still a hero, at least we now know shrooms aren't injectable as heroin.

But that begs the question of maybe just missing an extraction step in the process lol.

> I wish there was more support for reasonable self experimentation

Yes! 100% agree.

As long as you don't expect your society to also pay to keep you alive when that self-experimentation very predictably goes wrong.

Lets not glorify self harm.

Maybe they are glorifying the scientist who did the experiment on themselves, knowing the risks?

That kind of glory has been directed at other researchers.

Pretty sure I'm doing the opposite. Now I think there should be a safer, collaborative way to do biohacking, but BigPharma and the medical establishment is absolutely awful at making us healthier, so turning to them is not the answer. Source: spent a couple years in medical research.

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