3 Ounces (90 grams) – Dried Muscaria (Fly Agaric)
A mystical magic mushroom recently made headlines for sitting on shelves at a dispensary in Florida. This mushroom is Amanita muscaria, known as “Fly Agaric” and colloquially as “Toadstool.” Amanita mushrooms are fully legal in the United States and have a long history of use all over the globe. Spiritually significant for tribal peoples from Siberia to Eastern Europe for centuries, Amanita’s use has spanned from psychedelic, to medicinal, to deadly.
So, is the Amanita mushroom a psychedelic medicine or a harmful toxin? At ACS Laboratory, we’re on a quest to find out.
What is Amanita muscaria?
The Amanita muscaria is a beautiful psychoactive mushroom with a red or orange cap speckled with white dots and a tall, white stalk. Its iconic image is associated with fairies, magic, and beloved stories like Alice in Wonderland. Its image is famous in fairytales, artists’ renditions of mushrooms, consumer products, and even emojis.
Amanita mushrooms are native to the United Kingdom and emerge from leaf litter on the forest floor. Though native to the UK, Amanita also grows in the United States, across Europe, and in New Zealand, Australia, and Tasmania as an introduced species. The Amanita species is particularly fond of birch, pine, and spruce forests, where it helps trees communicate through a complex underground mycelial network.
Amanita Muscaria Hallucinogenic & Toxic Properties
The Amanita muscaria is a complex mushroom species that is both toxic and hallucinogenic. Experts consider Amanita psychoactive but not a traditional psychedelic because it doesn’t contain active compounds that interact with serotonin receptors, like psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, or mescaline. Instead, Amanita muscaria contains muscimol, ibotenic acid, and muscarine working differently in the brain to produce poisonous and mind-altering effects.
- Muscimol: An Amanita muscaria metabolite, GABA brain receptor agonist, and psychotropic. This alkaloid’s main effects include euphoria, out-of-body experiences, and synesthesia (experiencing one of the senses through another, like seeing music as colors instead of hearing its tune.) Muscimol has been used in trials studying the treatment of Epilepsy and Parkinson’s Disease.
- Ibotenic acid: A potent neurotoxin and hallucinogen that directly impacts the central nervous system. When ingested via mushrooms, ibotenic acid rapidly decarboxylates to muscimol.
- Muscarine: Muscarine exists in trace quantities in Amanita muscaria and is less hallucinogenic than muscimol and ibotenic acid. Still, muscarine poisoning can cause serious effects, including increased salivation, sweating, crying, loss of coordination, visual distortions, stomach issues, and euphoria.
Muscimol, ibotenic acid, and muscarine deliver intriguing effects. Still, most people warn against ingesting Amanita muscaria mushrooms. In fact, famed mycologist Paul Stamets famously described the species as “one of the most dangerous mushrooms,” which caused him to go temporarily insane.
Proper preparation is critical when it comes to ingesting this fascinating mycelial variety. Fortunately, death by Amanita ingestion is rare, and people can mitigate the harmful effects by parboiling (partially cooking) it with water or drying the mushrooms. This process weakens Amanita muscaria’s toxic properties.