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Gyromitra Mushroom Toxicity - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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Gyromitra mushrooms, or “esculenta,” are edible poisonous substances that can cause toxicity under certain circumstances. Read the article to know more.

Written by

Dr. Osheen Kour

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Published At December 29, 2022
Reviewed AtMarch 17, 2023

Introduction

Gyromitra mushrooms or esculents (edible) are a poisonous mushroom species that can cause toxicity after ingested either raw or cooked. The toxin in these mushroom species is a highly toxic, volatile, colorless, and carcinogenic compound. These mushrooms are found in Europe and North America during the early spring season and are called “brain fungi.”

The gyromitra mushroom toxicity is mainly caused by consuming the poisonous mushroom while searching for the actual morel mushrooms. These species contain gyromitrin toxins, the leading cause of poisoning. The adverse symptoms usually develop after two to 24 hours, mainly affecting the gastrointestinal system.

How Do Gyromitra Mushrooms Differ From Their Toxic Counterpart?

Actual mushrooms differ from their toxic counterparts in the following ways:

True Morels:

  • The cap of the mushroom is directly attached to the stem.

  • The mushroom cap is uniformly shaped, unlike false morel.

  • The top of the mushroom has pits on its surface, unique identifiers of natural morel mushroom species.

  • The inner part of the true morel is always hallowed lengthwise from the top to the bottom of the stem.

False Morels:

  • The cap of the false species is attached to the stem at the top, and the remaining part remains hanging.

  • The mushroom cap appears irregular and flattened in shape.

  • These false mushroom species are wrinkled, smooth, or rigid in appearance but do not have pits on their surface.

  • The inner part of the false morel is not hollow but filled with cotton-like tissues.

What Are the Symptoms of Gyromitra Mushroom Toxicity?

Gyromitra mushroom toxicity can cause the following symptoms:

  • Initial gastrointestinal symptoms include vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea with blood stains.

  • Severe diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration.

  • Vertigo, lethargy, tremors, headaches, dizziness, and ataxia may also develop.

  • Neurological dysfunction, liver damage, and kidney failure also occur following initial symptoms and often cause seizures and coma.

  • Kidney failure usually occurs rarely, but the toxicity of gyromitra mushrooms can affect the liver to a great extent.

  • A person may develop jaundice followed by spleen and liver enlargement.

  • Irregular blood sugar levels.

What Is the Mechanism of Action of Gyromitra Mushroom Toxicity?

  • Gyromitra mushroom metabolizes in the stomach to form toxic inorganic compounds which can block vitamin B6 in the central nervous system.

  • The mushroom toxicity also inhibits the formation of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), thus, causing excitation in the central nervous system.

  • These inorganic chemical compounds formed by mushroom toxicity can further lead to organ damage and toxicity in the liver.

  • Toxins in gyromitra mushrooms can inhibit the histamine hormone, thus elevating the histamine levels and causing abdominal pain, headaches, nausea, and vomiting.

What Is the History of Gyromitra Mushroom Toxicity?

  • Gyromitra mushroom is mainly consumed in Finland and is considered a delicacy in the country. The mushrooms are collected, processed, and sold out under proper regulatory control with specific guidelines for preparing the delicacy with gyromitra mushrooms. Although the fatality associated with this mushroom species is reported only four in about 100 years, all occurred due to the consumption of raw gyromitra mushrooms.

  • Gyromitra mushroom species are widely consumed in eastern Europe and have reported the maximum number of poisoning cases. At the same time, Western Europe and North America have reported only a few toxicity cases.

  • Studies on the toxicity of gyromitra mushrooms suggested that the reaction caused were much similar to that of allergic reactions. Some people had severe symptoms and toxicity, while others showed no signs after eating the same species and amount of mushroom from the same delicacy.

  • Many people were found to develop toxicity and ill effects from some mushroom species eaten in the past, and others believed that oil used in preparing mushrooms causes toxicity.

How Is Gyromitra Mushroom Toxicity Diagnosed?

Gyromitra mushroom toxicity is diagnosed in the following ways:

  • Laboratory tests include lactate dehydrogenase, elevated transaminase, and total bilirubin levels.

  • Diagnosis is made based on the central nervous system, liver, and kidney test report findings.

  • Tests show elevated levels of creatinine cause acute kidney injury.

  • No findings can be seen in CT and MRI if seizures are present.

How Is Gyromitra Mushroom Toxicity Treated?

  • Initial treatment mainly supports maintaining the electrolyte and fluid balance in the body. In addition, the doctor continuously monitors kidney output, liver function tests, creatinine levels, and blood urea nitrogen.

  • Seizures are treated effectively with benzodiazepines.

  • Activated charcoal therapy is done for gastric decontamination during early detection of toxicity.

  • Intravenous fluids are given to a person having severe diarrhea and vomiting.

  • Kidney dysfunction cases are treated with dialysis, and the lost blood cells are replaced through blood transfusion.

  • If a person develops methemoglobinemia, methylene blue treatment is given intravenously.

  • Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine is used to treat neurological symptoms like refractory seizures.

  • Refractory hepatic failure is treated with a liver transplant.

What Are the Major Complications Caused by Gyromitra Mushroom Toxicity?

The complications caused by gyromitra mushroom toxicity include:

  • Gyromitra syndrome.

  • Acute liver injury.

  • Acute kidney injury.

  • Central nervous system toxicity.

  • Refractory seizures.

  • Red blood cell hemolysis.

  • Methemoglobinemia.

What Is the Differential Diagnosis for Gyromitra Mushroom Toxicity?

  • Iron toxicity.

  • Gallstones.

  • Isoniazid toxicity.

  • Stimulant abuse.

  • Organophosphorous toxicity.

  • Giardiasis.

  • Gastroenteritis.

  • Pediatric gastroenteritis.

Conclusion

Mushroom poisoning cases are witnessed worldwide because people consume them without correctly identifying suitable species. These poisonous species lead to adverse signs and symptoms and cause gyromitra syndrome in a person almost after five hours of mushroom consumption. Accidental mushroom poisoning can occur because people don't know mushrooms can cause toxicity in the body. The only way to reduce toxicity through mushrooms is to recognize edible species that are safe for consumption. Gyromitra mushrooms are carcinogenic properties and can cause toxicity even when taking less amount over a prolonged period. Therefore, a person should take medical advice immediately if any incident takes place.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

What Effects Does Gyromitrin Have on the Body?

 
Gyromitrin undergoes decomposition in the stomach, leading to the formation of toxic hydrazines. These hydrazines not only cause irritation but also have a significant impact on the central nervous system (CNS) by depleting pyridoxine, an essential nutrient. This depletion of pyridoxine results in a reduction in the synthesis of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an important neurotransmitter. Additionally, the toxic effects of gyromitrin may extend to the depletion of glutathione in erythrocytes and liver damage, further adding to its potentially harmful consequences.

2.

Can Gyromitra Be Consumed?

 
The mushroom known as false morels is called Gyromitra esculenta. Despite being poisonous and even lethal if not properly dried and cooked, it is collected and consumed by many people in northern Europe and the USA.

3.

What Cure Does Gyromitra Esculenta Have?

 
To control or prevent seizures, pyridoxine 25 mg/kg IV can be administered. If a patient is having seizures despite receiving pyridoxine, Benzodiazepines may also be advised.

4.

What Signs or Symptoms Does Gyromitrin Have?

 
Gyromitrin, a hydrazine compound found in Gyromitra esculenta or false morel mushrooms, can induce acute symptoms within a relatively short time frame. These symptoms include a sensation of bloating, nausea, vomiting, watery or bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, muscle cramps, dizziness, and lack of coordination (ataxia). The onset of these symptoms typically occurs between six to 12 hours after ingestion of gyromitrin-containing mushrooms.

5.

How Does Fungus Compare to the Brain?

 
The "Dictyophora" genus, also called the "brain mushroom," is one example of a fungus that resembles the brain. Its distinctive look, which has intricate folds and gaps resembling a brain, gave rise to its name.

6.

Can Termite Mushrooms Be Eaten?

 
The majority of people can eat these mushrooms, and where they are found, the larger species are a common natural meal. They consist of the West African and Zambian Termitomyces titanicus, which has a cap that can expand up to one meter (3.28 ft) in diameter.

7.

Is Gyromitra Infula Poisonous?

The gyromitrin toxin is found in the poisonous mushroom Gyromitra infula. Consuming this toxin carries serious health concerns because it is known to cause hemolytic illness and epileptogenic (seizure) neurotoxicity (damage to the nervous system). Gyromitra infula has hemolytic and neurotoxic qualities, thus it is necessary to use caution and stay away from it to avoid any potential negative consequences.

8.

What Is the Gyromitra Mushroom?

 
Gyromitra is a genus of ascomycete fungi that contains roughly 18 species. They are a fake morel, a poisonous mushroom that frequently resembles the edible morels in the genus Morchella.

9.

What Is Gyromitra’s Common Name?

It is referred to by a number of common descriptive names, including "brain mushroom," "turban fungus," "elephant ears," and "beefsteak mushroom/morel." However, the term "beefsteak mushroom" might also apply to the basidiomycete Fistulina hepatica, which is far less dangerous.

10.

Is Gyromitra Esculenta a Rare Species?

Gyromitra esculenta is widespread across North America, reaching as far south as Mexico, but being more prevalent in montane and northern coniferous woods like those in the Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Range in northwestern North America.

11.

What Shade Are the Spores of Gyromitra?

Spore prints range from clear to white. Spores are smooth and elliptical when magnified. Similar species include numerous others with wrinkled, lobed, or folded tops, and at least two other species of the genus Gyromitra are found in Missouri.

12.

Is Gyromitra Gigas Edible?

 
If properly prepared, it is listed as edible in several guidelines. Consumption is not advised because of its variability and resemblance to other more dangerous Gyromitra species.
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Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar
Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Pulmonology (Asthma Doctors)

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