The story begins on the morning of October 3rd 1799. A poor man can be seen in the gloomy dawn light gathering field mushrooms in London's Green Park. When he gets home, the mushrooms are cooked with flour, water and salt to provide a morning broth for him, his wife and their four children.

A few hours later Everard Brande, a doctor, is summoned to the household where the family are experiencing strange symptoms. The father has developed vertigo and disturbed vision; the rest of the family complain of poisoning and stomach cramps with their extremities becoming cold. Their pulses and breathing oscillate between frightening highs and lows. The family are overwhelmed with the fear of dying – all, that is, except eight year old Edward, who is "attacked with fits of immoderate laughter".

Nowadays we can be fairly certain that the strange symptoms experienced by the family 200 years ago were the result of accidental consumption of Liberty Cap mushrooms. Or, to give them the name by which they are better know, "magic mushrooms" or "shrooms". ...[Continue reading on Thenakedscientists]