Mushrooms are one of the most commonly edible funguses found in Indian markets since a long era. These are enriched with sources of antioxidants, beta glucan, B-vitamins and other essential minerals like copper, potassium etc. and are beneficial for skin, bones, blood cells, heart and brain. Besides that, it has primal amino acids, saturated and poly-saturated fatty acids, fibers, proteins and micro elements to fight against breast cancer, hyperglycemia, hypertension, cancer and obesity. Apart from nourishment, mushrooms are utilized in medicine industry as therapeutic foods. Some mushroom species have immune-modulating, anti-viral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-cancer properties to fight against several chronic diseases and also help in maintaining homeostatic balance of body. Besides that, Ganoderma lucidum, commonly known as Bracket mushrooms, cultivated in South India, exhibit antioxidant and anti-tumor properties and are put-to-use on HIV infected patients since a long time. Ostreatus exhibits the isomers of lovastatin to reduce level of cholesterol in blood. Several proteins in the Ostreatus mushroom have antiviral and even anti-HIV properties. Compounds of Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms act as immunity boosters and cancer fighters.
Kodaikanal, a hill station to the south of Tamilnadu, is not only renowned for its mesmerizing nature, but also far-famed for ‘Magic Mushrooms’ locally called ‘shrooms’. In the past few years, tidings on youth huddling towards a hill resort were notable on social media. Digging into the sheath, it was found that the exotic place is one of the decriminalized hubs of magic mushrooms. The issue moved into the foreground in 2013, when a group of college students from Pune were trapped and found ‘high’ under the clasp of magic mushrooms, as if they had consumed mild dosage of LSD or cocaine. Later on, another group of twelve students from Kerala grasped the nettle in 2016 but unfortunately two of them were found dead and three students were taken to hospital in critical condition. The rash still continues despite strong interference of local police and Narcotic Intelligence Bureau (NIB). Piles of cases have registered till date; some were solved while some are still astray.
Fig. 2 Magic Mushroom
In March 2019, an official team of NIB along with Criminal Investigation Department (CID) comported a combing operation to clamp down the illegal peddlers of shrooms, but returned empty-handed due to lack of evidences. Many countries like U.K, U.S.A, Germany and others have banned using the shrooms whereas in Brazil, Jamaica, Vietnam it is still legal to trade and consume them openly. However, though Indian Narcotics officials banned Magic mushrooms for its hallucinating content; no arrest has been issued as it is not yet listed as an illegal drug. This made people confounded about the purchase and consumption of mushrooms. However, a few varieties of mushrooms are still mysterious and deadly toxic to consume and magic mushrooms or shrooms are one of them. But why is it needed to be more cautious about shrooms? Is it safe to consume magic mushrooms as a food ingredient? Later on, all these uncertainties turned into a debate whether to legalize shrooms’ farming or not.
Kodaikanal is not only known for its jaw-dropping views, but is also a home of organic foods, home-made chocolates, packed goodies, cheese, pine forests, and the far-famed magic mushrooms. It has the apple’s delivered to the doorstep of most of the cities in Tamilnadu. Despite the strict police protection at the state border, tons of shrooms are imported to the states from Kerala to Himachal Pradesh gypping the entire security system. The name ‘Magic mushrooms’ or ‘shrooms’ may sound quite fancy, but its effect can be life-threatening. These are scientifically termed as Psilocybin cubensis which alters user’s normal life even if consumed in a mild portion. It belongs to the most poisonous family of mushrooms which is psychoactive and leads to hallucinations and other trippy sensations. The mushroom became popular among youth since last decade, but it has been consumed by local tribes as a therapeutic food. But recently it became woeful to witness the ruination of a massive number of youths under the grip of such psychoactive drugs.
Looking at the brighter side; the compositions of Psilocybin may be taken as mood-delirious for a while, and later it supercharges the neurons and synchronizes brain activities to be faster (according to a study by King’s College, London in 2014). It slacks down the hypothalamus function and lets the thoughts and dreams to flow freely through neural interconnections. A survey in 2011 referred magic mushrooms to be used in a mild dose for those people who often visit psychologists for their personality enhancement. After a single dose of Psilocybin, a person may be more exposed to new ideas, experiences and creativities as the drug controls their emotions. But one should be quite careful before ingesting the dose, for it has numerous side-effects like headache, nausea, vomiting and anxiety issues.
Therefore, all the debates reached a notion that consumption of magic mushrooms is not exactly same as consuming Psilocybin. According to a statement given by Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act: magic mushrooms are not completely banned in India, however, its molecular substances like Psilocybin and Psilocin are illegal. Hence, these mushrooms should not be listed as drugs but its psychoactive molecules in its purified forms should be considered to be illegal. The local police should keep an eye on the activities of drug mafias; remember that our war is against illegal drug trafficking not with the drugs. And someone can’t be arrested for being accused for carrying mushrooms. To underline this, use of magic mushrooms is accepted as decriminalized and thereby bringing in a balance between drug prohibition and drug legalization. Under decimalization of shrooms, the possession and consumption of mushrooms should not carry any drug violation law.
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