Amanita muscaria is an iconic psychoactive mushroom with stunning red and white spotted caps. Also known as “fly agaric,” this species differs from other Psilocybe because they do not contain the psychedelic compound psilocybin. Instead, Amanita Muscaria effects are therapeutic and mind-altering, and careful preparation is essential to avoid potential toxicity. Let’s explore the fascinating world of Amanita.
What is Amanita Muscaria?
Amanita muscaria is a psychoactive mushroom that occurs naturally in the forests of the Northern Hemisphere and throughout the world thanks to human-driven spread. It is a mycorrhizal fungus, which means it has a symbiotic relationship with pine, birch, fir, and oak trees.
From a historical perspective, Amanita mushrooms hold a prominent place in folklore and mythology. This distinctive mushroom has captivated the human imagination for centuries, symbolizing enchantment, mystery, and magical realms. From indigenous Siberian shamans using Amanita for rituals to Santa Claus' iconic red-and-white attire inspired by this mushroom, Amanita muscaria continues to evoke a sense of wonder.
This powerful mushroom can also evoke a sense of fear due to its toxic potential. Consuming Amanita muscaria mushrooms raw can be highly dangerous due to ibotenic acid. In its natural state at high doses, ibotenic acid can cause adverse effects on the human body, including nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, disorientation, and loss of coordination. Fortunately, these mushroom products are generally well tolerated when properly prepared.
Is Amanita Muscaria Psychedelic?
Amanita muscaria is a psychoactive mushroom. However, it is not a classic psychedelic like the Psilocybe cubensis species. Classic psychedelics typically cause hallucinations and mystical, ego-dissolving experiences, while Amanita muscaria effects are more dream-like and sedative.
- Ibotenic acid - Ibotenic acid is a potentially neurotoxic psychoactive compound that can adversely affect the central nervous system. Acting as a glutamate receptor agonist, it excessively stimulates neurons. This action can cause confusion, hallucinations, and seizures, necessitating caution when preparing and consuming Amanita mushrooms.
- Muscimol - Muscimol is a psychoactive compound occurring naturally in Amanita mushrooms and as a byproduct of the metabolism of ibotenic acid. However, unlike ibotenic acid, muscimol has neuroprotective properties and sedative and calming effects. Researchers believe it may have potential therapeutic applications for anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. Muscimol is 6-8 times more potent than ibotenic acid, and scientists are currently studying the compound for its potential learning and memory benefits.
- Muscarine - Muscarine is a potentially toxic compound that appears in tiny quantities in Amanita mushrooms. It affects the parasympathetic nervous system, which can cause sweating, salivation, tearing, blurred vision, gastrointestinal distress, and cardiovascular and respiratory problems in severe cases.
Amanita products should contain high muscimol levels and low ibotenic acid and muscarine levels to avoid potential adverse effects.
What are Amanita Muscaria Trip Effects?
Amanita Muscaria trip effects can range from dream-like and sedative to completely confusing and disorienting, depending on the dose and consumption method. The experience often lasts several hours–up to 24 in some cases.
Users typically describe the following amanita muscaria effects:
- Intense dreams
- Altered perception of time
- Increased sensory perception
- Nausea and vomiting at high doses
- Muscle relaxation
Microdosing Amanita Muscaria
Amanita muscaria effects are highly dose-dependent. Microdosing Amanita, or taking low sub-perceptual amounts will not elicit euphoria and intense perceptual changes. Instead, anecdotal reports suggest that microdosing Amanita muscaria can produce health benefits like improvements in energy or mood. Other reports say small amounts help with pain relief and deep sleep. Clinical research does not yet exist to support these assertions.
How do Amanita's Psychoactive Effects Compare to THC and THCA?
Amanita muscaria effects are quite different from THC and THCA, the primary psychoactive and therapeutic compounds found in cannabis.
THC, THC P and THCA primarily affect the endocannabinoid system in the body, which regulates physiological processes, including mood, appetite, and pain sensation. THC is known for producing a "high" or euphoric state, as well as increasing appetite and reducing pain and inflammation.
In contrast, Amanita muscaria primarily affects the central nervous system, producing altered perception of time, potential hallucinations, and increased sensory perception.
Overall, THC is generally considered a more mild and predictable psychoactive substance, while Amanita muscaria trip effects typically produces more intense and unpredictable outcomes.
Is Amanita Muscaria Poisonous?
Amanita muscaria mushrooms can be poisonous when consumed raw, unprocessed, and in high doses. The primary safety concern is ibotenic acid, which can cause intense gastrointestinal discomfort and nervous system disruption. Muscarine can also present risks due to its parasympathetic nervous system effects, causing excessive tearing and sweating at high doses.
That said, people have safely consumed Amanita muscaria for centuries. It’s all about the preparation.
How Do I Consume Amanita Muscaria?
Proper preparation of amanita is essential to avoid toxic effects.
Traditionally, the most common at-home method is making tea. A warm, acidic tea converts ibotenic acid to muscimol and likely has fewer side effects. Another DIY method is UV light drying, which converts some of the ibotenic acid to muscimol. However, no one should attempt either at-home Amanita preparation technique because it’s impossible to detect how much muscimol might remain in the mixture without proper testing.
The safest way to consume Amanita is to purchase high-quality lab-tested extracts with low ibotenic acid and muscarine levels. Properly filtered and processed Amanita extracts include pills, tinctures, edibles, and beverages.
How Much Amanita Muscaria Should I Take?
There is no single recommended dose for Amanita muscaria. Generally, a psychoactive dose of muscimol is about 10–15 mg, while ibotenic acid is 50–100 mg. However, Amanita muscaria effects can vary widely depending on the individual's sensitivity, the setting in which it is consumed, and other environmental or biological factors. People should consider starting with a 1-2 mg microdose and gradually working up to the desired effects for the best results.
How Does Amanita Muscaria Feel?
Trip reports show a wide range of Amanita muscaria effects, which vary between people for reasons researchers don't understand yet. Many notice a pleasant and enhanced energy and sometimes extreme euphoria at the beginning of an Amanita trip. The first 3o minutes could also include nausea, an increase in salivation, and dizziness.
One Erowid report describes Amanita as more "visions than visuals." Instead of hallucinations, Amanita tends to distort objects' size and shape, altering depth perception and understanding of the speed things are moving.
Speech can be tough, if not impossible, at high Amanita doses, with loss of coordination and possible twitching. Some people report leaving their bodies entirely or falling into a deep sleep. The sedative and dissociative effects can contrast with stimulant and euphoric feelings, sometimes alternating between wakefulness and sleep. As the peak experience subsides, Amanita users sometimes describe falling in a lucid dream state.
Another Erowid report said, "What Amanita does for my dreams is spectacular," elaborating they felt like an "action start in a movie" with excellent recall the next day. Feeling refreshed and grounded the day after an Amanita experience is common.
Amanita and its compounds are not listed on the DEA’s controlled substances list, meaning Americans can possess and consume Amanita without legal risks. Louisiana is the only US state that expressly prohibits Amanita sales and consumption.
Amanita muscaria, also known as fly agaric, is a captivating and iconic psychoactive mushroom with a rich historical and cultural significance. Its effects primarily stem from muscimol and ibotenic acid, ranging from dream-like sedation to disorientation. Proper preparation is key to maximizing the potential benefits and minimizing risks. Those interested in experiencing Amanita muscaria effects must choose a high-quality product with minimal ibotenic acid and start at a low dose to maximize potential benefits.