“The difference between medicine and poison is dose” Paul Stamets on the Omphalotus Illudens or much commonly known as the Jack ‘o Lantern mushroom.
Stamets talked about the infamous poisonous mushroom and talks about its medicinal properties. The mushroom, according to Stamets, provides compounds that can be used to arrest tumor growth by preventing DNA replication and protein binding which makes tumors grow.
Though the mushroom has a wide array of medical uses, you shouldn’t be so quick as to cook and eat it. It highly resembles chanterelles that grow wildly and provide food for scavengers so you should be really cautious when foraging. Consumption of the poisonous mushroom could cause vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea.
The mushroom, while very promising, still imposes toxicity on a human body unless chemically modified. The main component of the mushroom, Illudin S, which helps with fighting tumors, is still highly poisonous that it can’t be used directly. That said, the Illudin S is what’s responsible for halting tumor growth by “damaging” DNA in such a way that the damage blocks further advancements.
MGI Pharma, who is now under Eisai Inc., has conducted clinical trials to try to make the Illudin S component into a viable treatment for cancer. The group has created an experimental drug Irofluven as part of their research. Irofluven, as of now, is still not open to the public due to risks that may arise due to consumption.
The Omphalotus Illudens provides a better insight on the correlation between poison and medicine. Poisonous mushrooms have been avoided almost everywhere since people fear its effects. It is highly relieving that these mushrooms are presenting to be of good use nowadays with medicinal advancements “It is very good example (of medicine from poison)” as per Stamets, “and it glows in the dark” he added.