What do we know about the illnesses caused by microdosing on candy during death investigations?

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A man has died after possibly eating Diamond Shrooms microdosing candies, which were recalled last week after causing serious illnesses including seizures, intubations and intensive care stays.

The cluster of cases continues to grow across the country, according to an update released this week from the Food and Drug Administration. To date, 48 people in 24 states have fallen ill after eating the candy, including chocolate bars, gummies and candy cones, that were sold online and in retail locations such as smoke and vape shops. Of the 48 people who got sick, 46 were sick enough to require medical care and 27 were hospitalized.

At the moment, the death reported in the FDA's latest update is only “possibly linked” to the candy and is still under investigation. No other information is available yet.

But in an interview with Arce, medical toxicologist Michael Moss was not surprised that the candies could be deadly. Moss, who is medical director of the Utah Poison Control Center, cared for one of the first people to become ill in the cluster.

An early case

The man had become ill in Nevada and was transferred to a hospital in Utah, where Moss was a member of his care team. After the man came out of intensive care, Moss sat with him and tried to understand what had happened. According to Moss, the man had purchased a birthday cake-flavored chocolate bar from a local store. The bars are sold as “microdosing” candies, which suggests they contain psychedelic compounds, but the exact ingredients and dosage are not listed.

Although the man told Moss he had some experience with psychedelics before, it was only with actual mushrooms. This was the first time he had eaten such a bar. And the bar's packaging had only vague instructions about how much to eat at a time to achieve certain effects. For example, eating nine or more squares of the bar was described with an image of an eye containing several colors of the rainbow.

“What does this dose mean? And how many milligrams is this dose? Nobody knows,” Moss said. “So, they decided, 'It's a chocolate bar.' So why can't you eat a chocolate bar? That's a pretty reasonable thing to do.”

But, within minutes of eating the bar, the man felt nauseated and dizzy and tired. He lay down and doesn't remember much after that. Fortunately, a family member soon came home and found him. The family member noticed he had vomited and was possibly gasping for breath or choking. By the time paramedics arrived, he had a seizure. He had another seizure in the emergency room. Doctors gave him seizure prevention medications and a breathing tube and put him on ventilation before transferring him to a hospital in Utah.

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