It’s a hot, very sunny, and arid day on the Las Vegas strip, and Anthony S* has just taken 200 mg of Amanita muscaria gummies purchased from Psycon Las Vegas. As he wanders through the sea of casino-hopping partiers, the revelry has been ratcheted up from the Strip’s typical 10/10 to something closer to a 20/10.

Things are different from his last mushroom experience. Instead of the bright colors, alterations to his perception of sound, and open-eyed visuals he’s used to when taking psilocybin, Anthony feels a little “off.” Describing his experience as “kind of like being drunk on mushrooms.” Adding, “I felt mostly happy but slow, almost like I had a few drinks.”

While the red and white Amanita muscaria is often visually associated with the classic magic mushroom imagery of the 60s and 70s, it’s an altogether different beast.

Unlike the psilocybe family of mushrooms, Amanita muscaria contains zero psilocybin. Instead, it contains various psychoactive components known as alkaloids, one of which is called muscimol. It’s different from psilocybin in that you are unlikely to experience any Fear and Loathing style visual hallucinations (except in high doses). However, that doesn’t mean muscimol won’t make you trip. In fact, it may bring on an experience that even seasoned psychonauts aren’t quite prepared for. (1)

What is Amanita muscaria?

amanita muscaria mushrooms

Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the fly agaric, is one of the most recognizable mushrooms in the world, and it is known for its distinctive appearance. Featuring a vibrant red cap adorned with white spots, this mushroom looks as though it belongs in a fairytale. It thrives in temperate and boreal regions across the Northern Hemisphere and boasts a rich history intertwined with ancient rituals, Siberian shamanic traditions, and modern pop culture. (2, 3)

However, its enchanting exterior conceals a little-studied or understood nature.

As mentioned, unlike the psychedelic psilocybin mushrooms celebrated for their vivid visual effects and euphoric experiences, Amanita muscaria contains a different set of active compounds: muscimol and ibotenic acid. These compounds produce effects that are more sedative and dissociative, resulting in a unique experience that can feel like a blend of mild intoxication and dreamy euphoria. Anecdotal user reports often describe the effects as a mellow, introspective journey characterized by slow, pleasant detachment from reality.(2, 3)

What is Muscimol and Ibotenic Acid?

As briefly discussed above, muscimol is a component found in Amanita muscaria that is thought to be responsible for most of the psychedelic effects. It has a role as a Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor agonist, which binds to and activates these receptors in the brain, leading to a range of effects. This interaction with the GABA_A receptors (a neurotransmitter in your brain) may produce a calming and sedative-like experience.(4)

Users may feel relaxed and detached from reality, with an altered perception of time and space. This compound can also cause drowsiness and, in higher doses, lead to more robust and potentially challenging experiences.(4)

Critical Information About Muscimol:(5)

  • Action: GABA_A receptor agonist
  • Effects: Sedation, relaxation, mild euphoria, altered perception of time and space
  • Onset and Duration: Amanita muscaria effects may begin to manifest within 30 to 120 minutes and can last between 5-10 hours.
  • Side Effects: Drowsiness, confusion, impaired coordination, potential for intense dissociative experiences at higher doses

Ibotenic acid is another significant compound found in Amanita muscaria, which is converted to muscimol in the body. Unlike muscimol, ibotenic acid is structurally similar to glutamate, one of the brain’s chemical messengers. It acts primarily as an agonist at N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), which is excitatory rather than inhibitory. Excitatory neurotransmitters make it more likely for one neuron to pass information to the next one, creating a chain reaction. Inhibitory currents, on the other hand, make it less likely for this information to be passed along.(6, 7)

The effects of ibotenic acid are typically more stimulating than those of muscimol. A dangerous adverse event that occurs when ingesting Amanita muscaria is a toxic reaction with symptoms that include facial flush, skin numbness, and severe nausea and vomiting. In traditional Siberian shamanic preparations of Amanita mushrooms, drying is essential as it converts much of the ibotenic acid to muscimol, reducing toxicity and enhancing the desirable effects.(6, 7)

Critical Information About Ibotenic Acid:(4)

  • Action: NMDA receptor agonist
  • Potential Adverse Events: nausea, vomiting, and discomfort
  • Conversion to Muscimol: Decarboxylation through drying or heating converts ibotenic acid to muscimol
  • Toxicity: Requires careful preparation to reduce harmful effects

While Amanita muscaria may be alluring, it’s important to approach it with respect and caution. It’s a potent organism that requires proper preparation to mitigate its toxic effects. Consuming it raw can lead to severe gastrointestinal distress and other unpleasant symptoms. However, when dried and prepared correctly, it may facilitate altered states of consciousness that have fascinated humanity for centuries.

Amanita muscaria

Amanita muscaria, The Spirit Shroom of Siberian Shamanism

‘Amanita muscaria holds a significant place in the shamanic traditions of Siberia, where it has been used for centuries in spiritual and ritualistic contexts. The indigenous peoples of Siberia, including the Evenki, Chukchi, and Koryak tribes, have long used this mushroom for its powerful psychoactive properties, which they believe facilitate communication with the spirit world.(8)

In these cultures, Amanita muscaria is not merely a hallucinogenic substance but a sacred tool used by shamans to achieve altered states of consciousness. The shamans consume the mushroom to enter a trance state, enabling them to perform various spiritual tasks, such as healing, divination, and communication with ancestral spirits. This practice is deeply rooted in the belief that the mushroom bridges the physical and spiritual realms, allowing the shaman to gain insights and guidance.(8)

Traditional consumption methods include eating the dried caps, brewing them into a tea, or sometimes even consuming the urine of individuals who have ingested the mushroom, as the active compounds remain potent and are filtered through the body.(9)

Shamans use Amanita muscaria to embark on spiritual journeys in ritualistic contexts, often seeking wisdom, healing powers, and guidance from otherworldly entities. The mushroom is also believed to possess medicinal properties that can help diagnose and treat various physical and spiritual ailments. Furthermore, Amanita muscaria is deeply embedded in the mythology and folklore of these cultures, often symbolizing a connection to the divine and the mystical.(9)

A Legal (“Magic”) Mushroom?

amanita muscaria in commercial market

In recent years, Amanita muscaria has made a notable comeback, evolving from its ancient shamanic roots to a trendy item in the modern commercial market. This explosion of psychedelic capitalism is often fully on display at events like Psycon, and other psychedelic conferences and conventions, where vendors can be found selling everything from vapes to gummies, chocolate bars, and even teas and infused coffee.

Among the most popular offerings are Amanita muscaria gummies. These edibles provide a convenient way to experience amanita mushrooms. According to anecdotal sources such as the Erowid Foundation, the effects of these gummies are typically described as mildly euphoric and sedative. Typically, vendors claim they offer a mellow, inward-looking journey that stands out from other psychedelics like psilocybin.

However, the experience that’s advertised isn’t always what people get. Anecdotal sources and trip reports on sites like Reddit and the Erowid Foundation describe experiences ranging from mildly pleasant or euphoric to terrifying. One Erowid user recounts consuming two, supposedly 150mg gummies purchased from a California cannabis dispensary which brought on an experience they called “a paranoid time loop.” They also said they “felt locked in, in an utter panic, and unable to communicate what was happening.”(9, 10)

Part of the potential risk comes from the unregulated nature of muscimol-containing products. Unlike psilocybin, which the DEA has classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, muscimol is legal and widely available, with products like muscimol extract and supplements found everywhere, from head shops to Amazon. However, it has no current FDA-approved medical use and is relatively limited in research. This has led to many amanita products being treated similarly to dietary supplements, which can make claims that do not need to be evaluated by the FDA.(11)

Of course, some have a positive response. One Erowid user’s experience with amanita mushrooms was quite different from the intense, mind-altering experience of psilocybin. According to them, “It was very relaxed through the 4-hour duration of my amanita trip,” although they were initially nervous about the different quantities, they eventually consumed 7.5 grams. Overall the user reported a positive and generally “relaxed experience,” highlighting how psychoactive chemicals can have a wide range of effects on individuals.(12)

Beyond gummies, Amanita muscaria extracts and vapes have also hit the market, catering to those seeking more intense or immediate experiences. Extracts, which can be taken directly or mixed into drinks, provide versatility in how they are consumed. Vapes, on the other hand, deliver a fast-acting method, appealing to users who desire quick onset effects. These products concentrate the mushroom’s active compounds, resulting in a potent experience that can be intriguing and profound for seasoned psychonauts but also have the risk of being deeply traumatic, especially for psychedelic novices.

All of this begs the question, “Should I try amanita mushrooms?” For some, like Anthony, muscimol can be deeply enjoyable and may expand your consciousness. For others, it could lead to an undesirable and difficult-to-navigate experience. Whatever you decide to do, the first and most important step is to educate yourself. Read product reviews, ask questions about sourcing, potency, and ingredients, and only purchase amanita products from reputable vendors. We can’t and never will tell you if you should try a psychoactive drug, but we can and will continue to push you to ask big questions, get real answers, and always put the safety of yourself and your circle first. Safe and happy tripping, fellow psychonauts.

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

This material is not intended as a replacement or substitute for any legal or medical advice. Always consult a medical professional about your health needs. Psychedelics are widely illegal in the United States, and readers should always be informed about local, state, and federal regulations regarding psychedelics or other drugs.

  1. Francesca Irene Rampolli, Premila Kamler, Claudio Carnevale Carlino, & Francesca Bedussi. (2021). The Deceptive Mushroom: Accidental Amanita muscaria Poisoning. European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine, LATEST ONLINE. 
  2. Francesca Irene Rampolli, Premila Kamler, Claudio Carnevale Carlino, & Francesca Bedussi. (2021). The Deceptive Mushroom: Accidental Amanita muscaria Poisoning. European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine, LATEST ONLINE. 
  3. Amanita muscaria – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (n.d.). 
  4. Erowid Psychoactive Amanitas Vault: Dosage. (n.d.). Retrieved May 16, 2024, from 
  5. PubChem. (n.d.). Muscimol. Retrieved May 15, 2024, from 
  6. Ibotenic Acid – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (n.d.). Retrieved May 14, 2024, from
  7. Cleveland Clinic. (2022, March 14). Neurotransmitters: What They Are, Functions & Types. Cleveland Clinic; Cleveland Clinic. 
  8. Lee, M., Dukan, E., & Milne, I. (2018). Amanita muscaria (fly agaric): from a shamanistic hallucinogen to the search for acetylcholine. Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, 48(1), 85–91. 
  9. ExoticPlastic3330. (2023, June 20). Want to get these soon, but are they really as terrifying as people have made them out to be? So many bad experiences on erowid and such. 
  10. Amanita muscaria – Erowid Exp – “So I Decided to Go for Some More…” (n.d.). Retrieved May 14, 2024, from 
  11. Schuster-Bruce, C. (n.d.). A legal psychedelic mushroom species is being sold in the US. It can cause euphoria — or “temporary insanity.” Business Insider. Retrieved May 14, 2024, from 
  12. Amanitas – A. muscaria – Erowid Exp – “Very Relaxed Through the 4-Hour Duration.” (n.d.). Retrieved May 14, 2024, from