Most mushroom enthusiasts are familiar with psilocybin, the chemical in “magic” mushrooms that gives people mild-altering “trips.” But there is another magical type of mushroom gaining popularity. Amanita muscaria, also called the Fly Agaric, is an iconic mushroom with a red cap covered in white dots that can alter consciousness and cause hallucinations at high doses. However, Amanita muscaria and psilocybin-containing mushrooms differ significantly in their psychoactive properties and effects. 

This article explores Amanita muscaria’s unique psychoactive qualities that set it apart from classic “psychedelic” mushrooms. It examines active ingredients and what people say about the mushroom’s mind-altering abilities. 

Amanita Muscaria vs. “Magic” Mushrooms

Amanita muscaria, often described as “one of the most remarkable and beautiful mushrooms,” has been used medicinally for centuries, showing therapeutic potential for treating stress, anxiety, pain, and sleep issues. Tribal groups in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and Russia incorporated the Amanita muscaria species into spiritual rituals due to the mushroom’s “dreamlike” visions and ability to alter consciousness. Check the guide for Amanita Muscaria effects.

Amanita muscaria differs from traditional “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms,” which contain psilocybin, a naturally occurring psychedelic compound. Instead, Amanita muscaria mushrooms contain muscimol and ibotenic acid as their main psychoactive chemicals. 

Let’s compare.

  • Psilocybin is a hallucinogen that interacts with a specific serotonin receptor in the human brain, influencing neurological processes such as anxiety, depression, cognition, and mood. It produces effects similar to LSD, including vivid colors and geometric patterns. 
  • Muscimol interacts with GABAa receptors, which have more to do with the central nervous system. GABAa interaction inhibits and alters neuronal activity in multiple brain regions, with more soothing effects, similar to a muscle relaxant. Muscimol also has euphoric effects at higher doses. 
  • Ibotenic acid is a potent neurotoxicant that interacts with glutamate receptors, making it more stimulating and energizing. It converts into muscimol in the body. 

Amanita Muscaria: A True Hallucinogen?

Amanita muscaria and magic mushrooms fall into the general group of psychoactive drugs known as hallucinogens. However, their hallucinogenic effects are very different. The hallucinogen category divides into three broad categories: psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants. 

Magic mushrooms are classic psychedelics: 

  • Psychedelics affect all the senses, altering a person’s thinking, sense of time, and emotions. The psilocybin in magic mushrooms produces perceptual changes, emotional shifts, and a distorted sense of time. 

Amanita muscaria is known as a “delirium” and classifies as a dissociative and deliriant:

  • Dissociatives reduce (or block) signals to the conscious mind from other parts of the brain. The muscimol in Amanita muscaria alters brain activity, and this sensory deprivation can facilitate things like self-exploration, hallucinations, and a dreamlike state of mind.
  • Deliriants are a subclass of dissociatives. The word “deliriant” means “involving or causing delirium.” Deliriants, like Amanita muscaria, can cause “true hallucinogens,” such as conversing with people who aren’t there or dreams indistinguishable from reality. 

Amanita Muscaria Effects

Many say Amanita’s effects are unpredictable, with experiences varying widely. For instance, some report no impact, while others have extensive journeys that leave them with many questions. Some have sedative or sleepy effects, while others report excitation and extreme energy bursts.

Many attribute the wide range of experiences to the mushroom’s ibotenic acid content. When mushrooms contain more ibotenic acid than muscimol, users typically report more negative effects, such as confusion and agitation. For this reason, most commercial Amanita products and extracts contain muscimol only.

Effects usually start 30 to 90 minutes after ingestion and can last four to 10 hours. The Amanita muscaria experience is dose-dependent, with small doses being more pleasant. 

According to reports on sites like Reddit and Erowid, small-dose effects often include: 

  • Relaxing euphoria 
  • Warm body sensations and marked analgesia (pain relief)
  • Increased ability to meditate
  • Light muscle spasms, a somewhat energetic feeling, and a sense of peace and sleepiness.

Deep sleep and vivid dreams: 

A common thread in the Amanita muscaria experience is falling into a deep sleep. Sleep can be renewing, with intense, vivid dreams that are difficult to recall in detail upon waking. Amanita muscaria can also significantly reduce the number of times someone wakes up. In their sedative state, many report effects such as:

  • Strong visions
  • Religious insights
  • Increased internal dialogue and the ability to think through personal issues 
  • A sense of peacefulness and an “internal quiet.”
  • Intense “clarity of thought” and “stillness of mind.”
  • Increased focus on imagination and daydreams

One Reddit user said they “came to regard the mushroom as a wise, benevolent guide and helper.” Another on Erowid said their experience was “so profound that words can barely hint at the reality” and “recalling it continues to inspire awe.” 

Looping and delirium: 

Another frequent description of the Amanita muscaria trip is a “looping sensation,” where people report doing things repeatedly, even when they want to stop. Some describe frantic, panicked, and delirious mental states. 

One user said they felt “delirium like never before, which gave me the impression that I had two minds.” 

Another said they would “panic a bit when returning to normal consciousness like I have a need to hold on to dear life.” 

These effects result from consuming raw Amanita muscaria mushrooms with high ibotenic acid content. For safety reasons, people should never ingest Amanita raw. Instead, consumers should always choose lab-tested muscimol extracts and speak with a  medical professional first. 

The Bottom Line

Amanita muscaria is an alternate type of magic mushroom. Because these mushrooms contain muscimol and ibotenic acid as their main hallucinogenic chemicals, they offer a very different experience than traditional “magic” mushrooms. The effects are dose-dependent and can vary widely based on the consumption method. Most users report the best outcomes with smaller doses of muscimol extracts, saying Amanita muscaria gives them a relaxing euphoria and peacefulness. Some have vivid dreams with profound personal insights. Unlike psilocybin mushrooms, Amanita muscaria is unregulated and legal in most of the United States, making its effects more accessible. 

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