Home » Australian woman dies after drinking suspected toxic mushroom infusion

Australian woman dies after drinking suspected toxic mushroom infusion

An Australian woman has died after drinking an infusion suspected to contain toxic mushrooms at an alternative healing centre north-west of Melbourne.

Rachael Dixon, 53, went into cardiac arrest after drinking an unknown substance at Soul Barn Creative Wellbeing Centre in Clunes at midnight on Sunday, according to authorities.

Two other people required treatment in hospital and have since been discharged.

“It’s believed a woman was at a retreat on Fraser Street when she became ill after ingesting a drink just after 12am,” a Victoria Police spokesman said.

“Investigations remain ongoing and police will prepare a report for the coroner.”

Police are investigating whether the group planned to ingest magic mushrooms.

Soul Barn’s Facebook page describes the centre as an “alternative and holistic health service”.

On Saturday night, it was hosting an event about ancient skincare rituals led by a visiting beautician who used infused herbal oils “sourced from local farms and wild-foraged plants”.

A post said: “[The specialist] weaves ancient skincare rituals and combines them with modern techniques to create nurturing yet active facials.

“Using infused herbal oils sourced from local farms & wild foraged plants, plus handcrafted skincare from around the world especially chosen for its potency and purity … This is a facial like none other, one you will never forget!”

‘Guided trips’

It was not clear if Ms Dixon and the other two people who required hospital treatment were at the event.

A new post on Sunday said that Soul Barn extended its “deepest condolences” to the family.

A “sound healing” session planned for that day was cancelled and Soul Barn remained closed on Tuesday.

The Telegraph has contacted Soul Barn for comment.

Ms Dixon’s son Matthew paid tribute to his mother on social media on Sunday, writing: “To the most loving, most caring person I’ve ever known; can’t thank you enough for everything you ever did for me and all the support you gave me.

“Words can’t begin to describe how much I will miss you, wish I could give you one last hug.”

Detectives have yet to determine what kind of mushrooms may have been in the drinks.

The ingestion of magic mushrooms in “guided trips” led by counsellors has become more popular in Australia amid growing research into the possible therapeutic benefits of the psychedelic substance psilocybin.

But as that industry develops, some health experts have raised concerns about a lack of regulation as well as the possibility people could unknowingly ingest poisonous varieties.

Earlier in April, Australian food safety experts issued a warning about the dangers of wild mushrooms.

‘Deadly mushrooms can look edible’

Dr Evelyn Wong, Victoria’s acting chief health officer, said: “There is no home test available to distinguish safe and edible mushrooms from poisonous mushrooms.”

Cathy Moir, the chairman of the Food Safety Information Council, said that social media influencers had also contributed to the popularity of wild foraging.

She said that death cap mushrooms could appear at any time of year but were more common in the two weeks after heavy rain.

“They are not native to Australia and are often found near English oak trees,” Ms Moir said.

“People born overseas, especially in European and Asian countries, should be aware that these deadly mushrooms can look like edible mushrooms they may have gathered in their home countries.”

The incident comes less than a year after the highly publicised case involving the alleged murderer Erin Patterson, who has been accused of lacing a family lunch with “death cap” fungi.

Three people died. Patterson has been charged with murder and attempted murder.