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National Mushroom Centre identifies 50 poisonous mushrooms, advises caution

The National Mushroom Centre has confirmed 50 mushrooms in the country to be poisonous, while thousands more are being studied for identification. And with mushroom foraging season just around the corner, the centre is cautioning people to avoid the consumption of unidentified mushrooms. Currently, the centre has sent around 5,000 mushroom samples to Japan and Europe for identification.

Mushrooms possess medicinal properties. However, certain varieties can pose severe health risks, even leading to death.

The National Mushroom Centre’s records reveal over 100 cases of mushroom poisoning and more than 30 recorded deaths between 1994 and 2020.

Thus, the centre is advising people about mushroom poisoning, an issue that has continued for more than two decades.

According to mushroom specialist, Dawa Penjor, poisonous mushrooms can harm the brain and kidneys, causing dizziness, abdominal cramping, diarrhoea, nausea, and even death.

He added that there is no specific medication for mushroom poisoning although treatments like stomach wash and inducing vomiting can be effective if administered before the poison spreads throughout the body.

“There is no easy way to tell which mushrooms are toxic. That’s why we strongly advise against consuming any mushroom that you can’t identify. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

He added that the symptoms can appear anywhere from 30 minutes to four days after consumption.

To raise awareness and educate the public, the National Mushroom Centre has conducted training sessions for mushroom collectors. They have also distributed informative posters and calendars to schools, BHUs, local leaders, and Agriculture and Forestry Extension agents.

Meanwhile, out of about 6,000 mushrooms discovered in the country by the National Mushroom Center, only around 1,000 mushrooms have been successfully identified.

The centre has been sending mushroom samples for identification to Japan for almost five years now and began sending them to Europe only last year.

Tashi Yangden

Edited by Sonam Pem