Even Safe Wild Mushrooms Can Make You Sick If...

by BB
(Montpelier, VT, USA)

Stay safe when eating wild mushrooms.

Stay safe when eating wild mushrooms.

...If you eat them raw. NEVER eat any edible wild mushrooms raw. Always thoroughly cook them.

Some mushrooms, even good edibles, contain elements that can cause stomach upset. Cooking wild mushrooms essentially stabilizes (or chemically changes?) the components that could cause gastric discomfort.

In the early 1960s, my father, using a European mushroom guide, picked and ate some green russula fungi raw, on a salad. He became extremely ill for hours, and was taken to the emergency room where they administered an antidote. He recovered, but for years he avoided wild mushrooms.

His experience points up another proviso: Make sure you have a fairly recent, North American mushroom guide that has clear, detailed photographs. Mushrooms in foreign guidebooks may look the same as American species, but they may be different than those you find here, and possibly inedible or poisonous. Several national and regional mushroom societies are online, so check those sites for recommended field guides. Avoid coffee table books not only due to size, but they're also not necessarily intended as identification guides.

Other things to remember:

- Sometimes some individuals are allergic to perfectly edible wild mushrooms. One person I know of discovered that he is allergic to chanterelles, even though that species is not known to cause any discomfort when consumed. (Exactly the opposite, in fact.)

- On the other hand, there are a few edible mushrooms are known to cause discomfort in some people, even though most people enjoy them without any difficulty. One example is the Honey mushrooms (Armillaria mellea).

- For that reason, when trying a new wild fungus for the first time, only eat a small portion. That way you can see if you have an allergic reaction.

- Another factor to keep in mind is that some mushrooms don't mix well with alcohol consumption. One particular fungus that requires complete avoidance of alcohol is the Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus). The risk of stomach upset even lasts for some time after consuming the mushrooms.

With these provisos and a good mushroom expert to confirm your findings - enjoy! Wild mushrooms can provide culinary delights beyond your expectations.


Comments for Even Safe Wild Mushrooms Can Make You Sick If...

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Thank you! NEW
by: Anonymous

I feel silly that I didn’t know about eating raw mushrooms. I have been eating cooked Bella’s in my eggs each morning and had developed VERY red eyes. Like pink eye red and couldn’t figure out what it was from. I had bought some shiitake and maitake and put them out in the sun as I was looking to find a vitamin d source that I don’t react to. I took the tiniest bite not knowing better of a maitake and my throat burned and I didn’t feel so well. So I did a search on google to find this. Thank you so very much for this article and to everyone that shared. I have had major allergic reactions in the past and have some rare genetic mutations. Not worth the risk. I’m going off the shrooms.

Dried Lobster mushrooms NEW
by: Anonymous

I have had the worst weekend due to reaction to eating dried store bought "crab" mushrooms. This is new since last year when I ate commercially grown fresh ones. I live in Quebec but only found them growing wild in Nova Scotia, with my sister, and probably ate them but don’t remember any side affects.
Strangely enough, I am also allergic to crustaceans, that is shellfish, like crab and lobster. I did not consume any liquor with my meal that landed me up almost in hospital. Had I not recognized the horrible symptoms from last years reaction, which I suspected but was not %1000 sure of until now, I most certainly would have called 911.
Also, mushroom poisoning has a definite"feel" -sweating, violent flu like symptoms, but no chills, just severe nausea.

wine cap reaction? NEW
by: bobbyg

I ate my first wine caps a year ago from a friend's mushroom bed and they were great. So we put in a bed here for me, that began producing in mid August. I had a few--maybe 3 small to medium very fresh mushrooms--2 suppers in a row, well sauteed in butter and spices--no problem with them. But when I had a third small portion the next night, holy gastric explosion the next morning!!! I gave them several days off, and things went right back to normal, but still not convinced it was the wine caps, I sauteed 2 to go with supper last evening--and same darn lower tract bomb went off this morning!!!! I had a similar experience with chanterells. Sauteing them fresh out of the woods was great, but then eating some last winter that I had sauteed and frozen, KABOOM! Could I have suddenly have become allergic to maybe all wild mushrooms? I better not be allergic to morels now...grrrrr...

Puffball NEW
by: Anonymous

Found a tiny puffball in my mother's raised garden bed so I tried a nibble. Ended up with gastrointestinal upset 6-7 hours later. First time trying a foraged mushroom

Hen of the Woods NEW
by: Anonymous

I had two bites of a hen of the woods bought from a store, and experienced the throat irritation that a previous commenter described. Will be cooking thoroughly! Drank some milk to alleviate and took an allergy tab. I won’t be doing that again!

Oyster mushrooms are my nemesis NEW
by: Anonymous

I ate oyster mushrooms for years as a child and one day I ate them in a curry and 2 hours later I was vomiting and had very painful cramps. Didn’t know what made me so I’ll. The next time I ate it was in a salad and again I didn’t know they were in the salad and I called the restaurant the next day and confirmed it was oyster mushrooms. Both times I ended up in hospital vomiting for over 5 hours until I vomited pure blood until I was knocked out and on a morphine drip. I can still eat button and field mushrooms, just never the fancy ones

Yellow sponge morals NEW
by: Anonymous

Each time I eat morals with beer I get sick,maybe the alcohol has a diverse reaction.My wife sautes them with onions.When she deep frys them I seem to be ok.But I think I will just find them and let others eat them.I have stomach pains all night and naustia.So if you can eat them,I am glad for you.

Mushrooms and Toxic Chemtrails? NEW
by: Ro El

I am wondering if the more recent toxicities of mushrooms that are happening to so many people have anything to do with the spraying of chemtrails in the air.
There have been several whistle blowers coming forward giving personal testimonies of the validity of this program that continues to be utilized in our skies, and the chemicals being sprayed are not only extremely toxic to Humans but also affect vegetation and wildlife.
Mushrooms, because of the way mycelium grows, would certainly be absorbing those toxins into the network of growth.
Most of the comments I've seen about adverse reaction apply to wild mushrooms, so it makes sense to me personally that this could be a cause.
I don't eat wild mushrooms; I would love to forage for them but I don't know NEARLY enough to trust my knowledge or even any books about them... I have instead chosen to grow my own at home. It's definitely a challenge, but it's growing into a Love of the art. Highly recommend it - you can grow them in a relatively small space nearly anywhere!

Mushroom reactions after long history of eating wild mushrooms NEW
by: Anonymous

I grew up eating wild mushrooms that my Czechoslovakian dad and grandma harvested. I've been harvesting Morels on my farm as an adult for over 25 years, but increasingly had unpleasant reactions to store bought mushrooms including nausea, fever.

Developing intolerance
by: porcinigirl

I made a mushroom pasta casserole last night and it was delicious! Problem is my husband woke up with horrific stomach pain at about 3:30 AM, real low in guts. Finally when I got up at 5:30 AM he threw up and most of the mushroom were still in his upper tract (8 hours later...). He immediately felt better. I used hedgehogs, something that we have eaten in the past and is easy to identify. I am guessing he has become allergic to Hydnum for some reason. He is still feeling bad and cannot seem to eat anything right now without to making his stomach hurt again. He also has a sensitivity to Clitoplus Prunus (Millers) They cause him to have terrible gastric issues, though he loves the flavor. I am sure glad this site is here!

puffball troubles! NEW
by: Anonymous

I fried small puffballs (lycoperdon pyriforme) in a batter in oil, had terrible gastric trouble. I assume the batter cooked thoroughly but the mushroom did not.

Beware of look-alikes and decomposition of morels NEW
by: Anonymous

Be aware of look alikes. Even the morel mushroom has a toxic look a like, it is usually darker and looks very similar. Also be aware that sa morels decompose the chemical composition changes, as with other mushrooms they may not look bad but some tell tale signs is an ammonia or Uric smell, or an almost sticky texture or red or rusty coloring as aposed to the natural healthy earthy neutral coloring. Other mushrooms have their own characteristics as well.

Clean prepare and cook thoroughly NEW
by: Anonymous

Chicken of the woods must be cooked thoroughly before eating or it will cause stomach or gastric problems. Same with oyster mushrooms and morel mushrooms. Learning from experience isn't always the best way. I had sautéed oyster mushrooms, that should have been cooked longer, and the gills flushed more, and less of the stem used. My tummy paid the price. Make sure your mushrooms are cleaned properly, and cooked enough to denature the toxins, some shrooms harbor parasites as well so research and prepare wisely.

Lobster Mushrooms
by: Dave

I have eaten wild mushrooms for years with no problem. This year, 2020, has been an excellent Chanterelle year. Yesterday, I had a chanterelle omelet with Lobster mushrooms added. Wow...Delicious, but my eyes became unbearably itchy & burned slightly after about an hour and the feeling lasted for 24 to 48 hours. Not the eyes themselves, but the eyelids, corners, and "bags." One weird thing was that they bothered me more when closed.

I took Benadryl and it helped a little, but only time helped. I considered the ER for a while, but did not go. The effects eventually subsided. Maybe Ill avoid wild shrooms for awhile.

Maitake (Hen of the woods?) NEW
by: Karyn

My husband and I both took a couple of bites of raw Maitake that we just bought, and within 10 minutes we both had a burning sensation in our throat. Its been about an hour now, and it did not go away—but we both took Benadryl just in case.

After looking at the package, I notice it says "Cook thoroughly" but I eat raw mushrooms from the store all the time, so I didn’t think anything of it...These have a strong flavor like portobella which I really like, but now I don’t know if we are allergic or not. Do I dare try them again...we’ll see!

2020! No wine with morels.
by: Anonymous

On visiting our friends every summer, they have barbecued steaks and cooked morels. Last week was the 3rd time I have had them and was again sick and throwing up. Everyone else was fine. I decided to "google" morels and wine. I got my answer. Finally! I am giving up morels and going to enjoy my wine.

Alcohol and Coprinus comatus NEW
by: Anonymous

Eating Coprinus comatus with alcohol does not cause problems. This is one of the most widely spread bits of misinformation in the mushroom world.

The mushroom genus that causes problems with alcohol is Coprinopsis. This is another type of ink cap but it is not even in the same family as Coprinus comatus. In times past it was placed in the same genus but modern DNA methods have placed it in the Psathyrellaceae. Coprinus comatus however is in the family Agaricaceae.

The causative agent for the reaction is an unusual amino acid called Coprine. It interferes with the biological pathway that processes alcohol and causes the accumulation of acetaldehyde which is what makes you sick. But this amino acid is not present in Coprinus comatus. I have eaten Coprinus comatus with alcohol many times without ill effect and this is not something that can be an individual tolerance - the effects of Coprine are a fundamental bit of biochemistry that you cannot avoid.

Shitake hell NEW
by: To,

I ate raw shitake mushrooms. I was covered all over with a really bad rash for two weeks. Ate only a couple two weeks before that and had a rash on my forearms but didn’t put it together until the last time. It was terrible.

Thanks for your posts. Still trying to find out why I can't eat Chantelle anymore
by: Anonymous

Tonight is the 4th time in a year that I have tried to eat wild mushrooms after last season I had what I thought was an intolerance reaction. I'm reading these posts trying to wait out the cramps and bloating. It happened to me last season when eating Penny Buns as well, my favourite but not so easy to find so I haven't been able to try again this year. Neither I think that I will sadly. I wish I could know if all wild mushrooms will make me feel this way. I don't have problems when eating the ones from the shop. But I don't feel like experimenting any further. Really sad because I really enjoy them.

Shiitakes problematical for me too NEW
by: Julie

Like a previous commenter, it was four instances of gastrointestinal distress after eating shiitakes before i figured out it was the mushrooms, which had never been a problem for me before. It happens whether fresh or dried. Still ok with all other wild mushrooms thankfully, but so sad not to be able to eat the more common and affordable (since actually cultivated) shiitakes anymore.

Love wild mushroom but can't eat them anymore NEW
by: Sunny

Like a few of the comments here I can no longer eat most wild mushrooms. It's with great sadness. I still go out picking them because I love picking almost as much as eating them. I was a commercial harvester for a while, now it's just for enjoyment. Chanterelles just give me stomach pain and upset but enough so that I don't want to eat them, but the worst is lobster mushrooms. I experimented last night again just to be certain and because I just wanted to taste a little piece, literally just the size of my thumbnail sauteed in butter. Wasnt more than 2 hours later that I lost by my entire dinner and had to take 2 gravol just so I could sleep and stop getting sick... I have no idea why it started. about 3 years ago out of the blue. We used to enjoy so many mushroom dishes as living in the PNW mushrooms are everywhere in abundance during the fall. But now I'm afraid to even try and see if there are any of them I can eat. I think I was able to eat Admiral boletes a couple of years ago, shitaki are fine and the store bought white mushrooms are no problem. Just most of the really lovely wild mushrooms seem to be the problem.

Chicken of the woods NEW
by: Anonymous

I foraged this and cooked it up. I did add white wine and I have had stomach distress going on three days. They were delicious but now I’m afraid to eat more of them.

Chicken of the wood
by: Anonymous

When harvesting chicken mushroom. Make sure it's not on maple. The mushroom absorbs something out of Maple that will make you sick.. Allso don't eat mushrooms out of parks unless you know they don't use fertilizer and pesticides. If you want to get into wild mushrooms be smart join a mushroom club. Talk to the members. Show them picks include location of the find (ex. What it was found on. Tree type or soil type. Include pics of it in place before picking. Then pic of gills and a spore print.)

Not so sure about Chicken of the Woods NEW
by: Andrew S.

While playing disc golf in MD one of my friends found some Chicken of the Woods. My Wife insisted that we try only a little the first night and all was fine. So the next night we had a large dish with pasta and peppers. The next day my gut was way off and still is (day 5). Basically, I'm not very hungry, but we all need to eat. Then when I do I bloat.

I cannot be sure that it is the mushrooms, but for now I'm taking probiotics and trying to wait it out. If I still have these symptoms next week I'm going to the Dr.!

It would be an odd coincidence if I had some major illness like pancreatitis that flaired up at the same time as I tried these shrooms. Aside from that, they were tasty.

Ran to shiitakes NEW
by: Anonymous

Just had a stir fry that included shiitakes. Then I sat down with a glass of wine and immediately sweated profusely, had stomach pain and diarrhea. It could have been something else in food, but doubt it

what is the interaction
by: Anonymous

why does drinking alcohol with wild mushrooms make you ill? what is the chemical interaction?

No longer able to eat oyster mushrooms NEW
by: Anonymous

I used to eat oyster mushroom as a child when my mom put them in soup. I really liked them added. I would be disappointed when my mom would prepare the soup, but the mushrooms were unavailable. Now as an adult, I discover my body cannot tolerate it. The first time, I thought it was food poisoning during summer because the food sat on the stove at room temperature. The last time, I bought them at the store. I thought the fuzzy was the mold, and threw away sections of it. I ate them as prepped in soup that evening. My body woke up 30 minutes before the expulsion, as if it was giving me time to get ready for an unpleasant overnight experience. I took the remaining back to the store figuring that it was bad stock. I don't think I want to confirm for a 3rd time that I have to avoid oyster mushrooms for good. I can eat shitake and button without problem. I cannot figure out when eating oyster mushrooms became toxic to me.

Never had any problem with Shaggy Mane and Alcohol NEW
by: bgmCoder

We eat Shaggy Manes all the time - sauteed in butter, usually. I've had them with red wine many times, and so has my community. We've never had any issue, ever with this.

However, I've read about other coprinus species that have an effect with alcohol. One of those looks like shaggy mane that isn't quite shaggy. I've never tried with this one.

But with Shaggy, Mane, I don't hesitate.

Morels NEW
by: Pat

Fried up some morels last night, four hours later I was vomiting. The worst thing though is that my eye lids and skin below my eyes is crimson red. This happened right after I threw up. The eyes aren’t red and there is no swelling, just red. I’m pretty scary looking!

Chicken of the wood cause stomach pain NEW
by: Anonymous

I eat chicken mushroom then have abdomens pain for a week now when easy the pain does it go away in time or do I need to see a doctor?

Shiitake mushrooms now off limits...
by: Ruth

After four episodes of gastro-intestinal distress after eating dishes with shiitake mushrooms, they are now off limits for me. It didn't bother me before, but now I'm scared of them. Twice from a restaurant, once in a friend's mushroom risotto, and once in an Asian Salad at Whole Foods. Not sure what it is -- dried mushrooms imported from China, old mushrooms, or what.. I now put that in my medical file, and tell waiters that I am intolerant. A doctor told me that they were high in MSG. Any opinions?

Morels are TOXIC
by: Udo Hoffmann

Yes you read that correctly "RAW", Morels are toxic to humans unless they are cooked or dried.

No mushroom, and that includes the button mushrooms you buy in the store, should ever be eaten raw! a select few, like the morel can be safe when dried but even then you will want to cook them after re-hydrating them to get the most flavor out of them.

No more Morels
by: Anonymous

I used to be able to eat Wild Morels, grew up harvesting them, recently I noticed I didn't feel very well after eating them, dizzy and light headed, then extreme pain in my neck and head, still not entirely convinced, I ate them, and I got extremely sick. Vomiting for hours till dry heaves took over. Not to mention the other gastro-distress.

Bad allergy to wild mushrooms
by: Eric Maui

I have been allergic to wild mushrooms for the past 15 years or so. I can eat White (button), Portobello/Crimini and Shiitake.
The rests are off limit for me. They cause severe gastro intestinal attacks and it can last up to 4 or 5 hrs. Lately they have been very serious. Now, believe me, I am not looking at eating mushrooms for pleasure, but in several occasions, chefs have been using mushroom powder to fortify stocks or soups, and even when asking the wait help if there is mushrooms in the dish, the response was nope.
It is a real bummer as I really love(d) mushrooms
Still trying to figure out why it started and what is the real medical cause for it

wild mushrooms make me ill
by: Anonymous

Many thanks this helps,our local bakery produces chicken and wild mushroom pies which are wonderful
but twice i have eat them and i have been really ill the both times but not straight away it took about 12 hours after i eat the pie,the rest of the family who eat one was fine.only i am ill after them.

alcohol and mushrooms don't always mix
by: Jonathan

Alcohol can cause bad reactions with otherwise edible mushrooms, and not just with coprinus comatus. I can eat morels by themselves with no problem, but if I have a glass of wine with them they make me quite ill. Others have had the same issue. This also seems to occur with other species. So perhaps it is best not to drink alcohol with wild mushrooms.

Some mushrooms make me sick that did not before!
by: LadyJ

I have always loved mushroom, even as a child. I did learn over time that Chanterelles simply don't agree with me, then later I found that I couldn't tolerate my absolute favorite, grilled Portobello mushrooms. (To me, they are the "caviar" of mushrooms.) After reading that sometimes alcohol might not be the best beverage for an individual when eating mushrooms, this makes since. The first (and last) time I had a bad experience with the Portobello mushrooms was when I was also having a glass of wine. Sounds crazy, I know, but I'm not one to have alcohol with my meals. I recently had a Portobello "burger" with a soft drink and had no problems.

Good Advice!
by: Amy

Thanks, BB! Some very insightful and useful advice here.

Sometimes I see some opposition to this opinion, but I do believe that mushrooms should be cooked before eating. I think we all need more raw foods, but mushrooms don?t really qualify. Here?s why:

Mushrooms, unlike plants, have cell walls made up of a substance called chitin rather than cellulose. Chitin is harder to digest, which not only causes stomach discomfort but also makes it harder for your body to absorb the healthy nutrients for which mushrooms are so well known. Cooking breaks down these walls, making your meal not only healthier but also way easier on your stomach.

Another very important reason to cook mushrooms has to do with toxins. Many species, even safe ones like the common button mushroom, may contain slight toxins that can irritate the stomach and make you sick. These chemicals are destroyed in the cooking process, rendering them the safe treats that you know and love. Of course cooking won?t save you from seriously toxic species such as the deadly amanita, but you?d be surprised at how easily a normal, ?safe? species can irritate you if not cooked.

You mentioned more important points as well:
-Know what you?re eating. (Never eat anything that you haven?t safely identified at least 3 times before).
-Have a good guidebook that?s up to date, comprehensive, and local for your region.
-Get live, expert advice.
-Many species can cause an allergic reaction in different individuals, so if trying something new for the first time only eat a small bit and wait to see what it does to you.

More great and thorough advice on the subject is here:
Eating Raw Mushrooms

I?m really glad that your Dad was okay, but I feel bad for your friend who?s allergic to chanterelles. What torture! (He can still eat chocolate though, right?) ;)

So remember, folks. Cook your mushrooms! You digestive system will thank you.

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