Amanita Muscaria vs. Psychedelic Mushrooms

Amanita Muscaria vs. Psychedelic Mushrooms

Amanita muscaria, commonly known as fly agaric, is the quintessential red-and-white-spotted mushroom seen in garden decor and emojis. While it is psychoactive, it is distinct from traditional magic mushrooms.

The term "magic mushroom" usually refers to the less vibrant, psilocybin-containing species known for inducing profound, mind-altering experiences.

Amanita muscaria stands apart from psilocybin mushrooms in more than just appearance and effects. This discussion delves into the primary differences between Amanita muscaria and psychedelic mushrooms, including their habitats, active compounds, medicinal potential, and legal status.

A Comprehensive Look at Amanita Muscaria and Psilocybin Mushrooms

A Comprehensive Look at Amanita Muscaria and Psilocybin Mushrooms

Mushrooms containing psilocybin, often referred to as "magic mushrooms" or "shrooms," are fungi that house the psychoactive compound psilocybin. When ingested, psilocybin converts into psilocin, leading to profound visualizations and mystical experiences.

Key Highlights:

  • Appearance: Psilocybin mushrooms typically feature light tan to off-white caps in various sizes and white to brown stems, sometimes exhibiting a bluish hue.

  • Species: Over 200 mushroom species contain psilocybin or its derivative, psilocin. Psilocybe cubensis, particularly the subspecies "Golden Teachers," is widely studied and cherished for its gentle, insightful effects.

  • Popularity: These mushrooms are among the most commonly used in the U.S. and Europe, with a rich history of use in spiritual and religious ceremonies.

Amanita muscaria, also known as "fly agaric," is renowned for its ability to attract and eliminate flies. This psychoactive species contains muscimol, ibotenic acid, and muscarine as its primary active compounds. Consuming Amanita mushrooms raw can be toxic, and they are related to several deadly varieties, such as Amanita phalloides, the infamous "Death Cap."

Key Highlights:

  • Appearance: A. muscaria mushrooms are large and striking, noted for their vivid scarlet red caps.
  • Psychoactive Properties: Unlike psilocybin mushrooms, A. muscaria is considered a "deliriant" rather than a "psychedelic." It acts on different receptors, inducing an ethereal, dreamlike, and sedative state.
  • Effects: Fly agaric mushrooms can be calming and sedative, often leading to euphoria and a "dreamlike" state. Improper preparation can cause severe symptoms like excessive sweating, vomiting, defecation, and temporary psychosis due to ibotenic acid.
  • Species: The Amanita genus includes about 600 agaric species, featuring some of the world's most toxic mushrooms and several esteemed edible varieties. Amanita muscaria stands out among them.

Where They Grow: A Guide to Psilocybin and Amanita Muscaria Mushrooms

Psilocybin Mushrooms

Psilocybin mushrooms are remarkably adaptable, thriving across the globe in diverse climates. Typically found in meadows and woodlands within tropical and subtropical forests, these mushrooms prefer soil rich in humus and organic plant material. Commonly, they grow around decomposing tree stumps, on rotting wood, or in sunlit grassy areas. Interestingly, some have even been observed near churches and temples.

In controlled indoor environments, psilocybin mushrooms are cultivated using spores and substrates under sterile conditions with regulated temperature and light. It's crucial to ensure the substrate is free from heavy metals to promote healthy growth.

Amanita Muscaria Mushrooms

Amanita muscaria mushrooms are native to the temperate and boreal forests of the Northern Hemisphere. They are currently imported into the United States from regions like Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, and Siberia. Despite this, they are found worldwide, including in Brazil, South Africa, Central Asia, North America, and Europe. Amanita muscaria thrives in a symbiotic relationship with nearby plants, primarily growing under trees in large forests with compatible hosts such as birches, pines, spruces, firs, and larches.
Exploring the Active Ingredients in Psychedelic Mushrooms

Exploring the Active Ingredients in Psychedelic Mushrooms

Magic Mushroom Compounds

Psychedelic mushrooms, with over 200 species, boast more than 400 active compounds. The most recognized psychoactive component is psilocybin. Psilocybin is a prodrug, meaning it requires metabolic conversion to become active. Upon consumption, the liver transforms psilocybin into psilocin through dephosphorylation. Psilocin is primarily responsible for the psychedelic effects, interacting with serotonin receptors, specifically the 5-HT2A subtype, to create altered sensory experiences similar to LSD.

In addition to psilocybin and psilocin, magic mushrooms contain numerous active compounds contributing to their full spectrum of effects. 

Key compounds include:

  • Baeocystin: A precursor and analog of psilocybin, found as a minor active compound.
  • Norbaecystin: A psilocybin analog and minor active alkaloid.
  • Norpsilocin: A psilocybin derivative, more potent at 5-HT2A receptors than psilocin.
  • Aeruginascin: An active metabolite chemically similar to psilocybin and psilocin.
  • 4-Hydroxy-N,N,N-Trimethyltryptamine (4-HO-TMT): A metabolite related to aeruginascin and bufotenine, akin to serotonin.
  • Harmine: A beta-carboline alkaloid with various psychopharmacological effects.

Amanita Compounds

Amanita muscaria mushrooms differ as they don’t contain psilocybin or psilocin. Instead, their primary active ingredients are muscimol, ibotenic acid, and muscarine. Muscimol is the most potent, engaging GABAa receptors to deliver sedative-hypnotic, depressant, and hallucinogenic effects, and is ten times stronger than ibotenic acid.

Ibotenic acid interacts with glutamate receptors, leading to stimulating and energizing effects. Mushrooms with higher ibotenic acid content often result in confusion, agitation, and euphoria.

Muscarine, present in trace amounts (0.02% dry weight), is the weakest psychoactive compound. It affects muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in the parasympathetic nervous system, causing effects such as salivation, sweating, and, occasionally, sexual arousal, crying, urination, digestion, and defecation.

Psychedelic vs. Psychoactive Effects

Understanding Psychedelic vs. Psychoactive Effects

Magic Mushrooms vs. Amanita Muscaria: Key Differences

Magic mushrooms are known for their psychedelic effects, whereas Amanita muscaria induces psychoactive effects. The distinction between psychedelic and psychoactive hinges on their mechanisms of action and the experiences they produce.

Psychedelic Effects of Magic Mushrooms

Classic psychedelics, such as psilocybin, interact with serotonin receptors in the brain. This interaction leads to perceptual alterations, emotional shifts, and often profound spiritual experiences. One significant aspect of psychedelics is their ability to promote neuroplasticity, forming new neural connections that help users reframe their perspectives and implement lasting changes.

Common psychedelic effects include:

  • Visual phenomena like halos around lights and objects, and encounters with magical beings
  • Bright, vivid colors, tracers, and visual distortions
  • The sensation of the world "breathing"
  • Flashbacks and altered memories

These effects typically begin 30 to 60 minutes after ingestion, peak within 1-2 hours, and last for about 4-6 hours, followed by an "afterglow" that can persist for hours or even days.

Psychoactive Effects of Amanita Muscaria

Amanita muscaria’s psychoactive effects are quite different. Consumption often leads to a deep sleep, with visions and insights emerging in dreams. Some users liken the experience to alcohol intoxication.

Muscimol, the active compound in Amanita muscaria, does not produce the hallucinatory effects seen with psilocybin. It lacks the "mind-manifesting" properties of classic psychedelics. Instead, its psychoactive symptoms include:

  • Physical relaxation or a sedative effect
  • Euphoria and a "dream-like" state
  • Blurred vision
  • Impaired motor skills

Some users may also experience nausea or cramps, and in severe cases, temporary insanity, comas, or even death. Symptoms typically start 30-90 minutes after ingestion, peaking around 2-3 hours.

In summary, while both magic mushrooms and Amanita muscaria affect the mind, they do so in distinctly different ways. Understanding these differences is crucial for anyone exploring these fascinating fungi.

Medicinal and Nutritional Value of Psilocybin and Amanita Muscaria Mushrooms

The Healing Potential of Psilocybin Mushrooms

Research into psilocybin dates back to the 1960s, revealing its promising potential in treating various disorders. Psilocybin mushrooms have been utilized in therapeutic settings to address ailments such as cluster headaches, obsessive-compulsive disorders, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and addiction.

Studies have shown that psilocybin can significantly and sustainably reduce depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer. Another prominent research group in London found that psilocybin could be effective in treating all-cause major depression. Additionally, a 2015 study highlighted its usefulness in treating alcoholism.

The Medicinal Benefits of Amanita Muscaria

The Medicinal Benefits of Amanita Muscaria

Amanita muscaria, also known as fly agaric mushrooms, have a long history of medicinal use among tribal groups in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and Russia. These mushrooms are known for their analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, and stimulant properties. Recent research supports these traditional uses, demonstrating that muscimol in Amanita muscaria offers several medicinal benefits, including:

  • Alleviating stress and anxiety
  • Relieving muscular pain
  • Promoting restorative sleep
  • Exhibiting anti-tumor and memory-protective activities

Microdosing and Comprehensive Healing

The book Microdosing Amanita Muscaria by Baba Masha, with a foreword by microdosing expert James Fadiman Ph.D., details a 3,000-person study on the medicinal effects of microdosing with Amanita muscaria. Baba Masha provides comprehensive instructions for safely using Amanita muscaria, including drying techniques, and preparing tinctures, teas, oils, and ointments, as well as effective microdose amounts.

The study participants reported significant healing benefits of Amanita muscaria for a wide range of conditions, such as depression, insomnia, migraines, allergies, gingivitis, heartburn, eczema, psoriasis, epilepsy, hypertension, and hormonal dysfunction. Additionally, many participants experienced pain relief and success in breaking addictions to alcohol, opiates, nicotine, caffeine, and other narcotics.

Differences Between Psilocybin and Amanita Mushrooms

Understanding the Legal Differences Between Psilocybin and Amanita Mushrooms

Psilocybin-Containing Mushrooms: Legal Status and Research

States such as Colorado and Oregon have recently moved to decriminalize or legalize psilocybin mushrooms. However, these mushrooms remain classified as Schedule I controlled substances at the federal level, making them illegal across the United States.

Despite this, the FDA and DEA have permitted a limited number of tightly regulated human studies to explore the potential medical and psychiatric applications of psilocybin. In a significant step forward, the FDA has designated psilocybin as a "breakthrough therapy" for depression, which could expedite the development of psilocybin-based treatments for resistant depression.

Legal Status of Amanita Mushrooms

In contrast, Amanita muscaria mushrooms are legal in most regions. The active compounds found in these mushrooms are not regulated by the DEA and are not listed in the DEA’s drug scheduling list, rendering A. muscaria federally legal in the U.S.


Amanita muscaria and psilocybin mushrooms present distinct differences. Psilocybin mushrooms, commonly known as magic mushrooms, are renowned for their psychedelic and mind-expanding properties. In contrast, Amanita muscaria is known for its psychoactive effects, often inducing sleep and vivid dreams. However, Amanita muscaria can be toxic if consumed in large quantities or improperly prepared, leading to stomach cramps, illness, and potentially fatal toxicity. Despite their therapeutic potential and relatively safe profile, psilocybin mushrooms remain illegal in the U.S., whereas Amanita muscaria mushrooms are mostly unregulated.


Does Amanita muscaria contain psilocybin?

No, Amanita muscaria does not contain psilocybin or psilocin. Instead, it has active compounds like muscimol, ibotenic acid, and muscarine.

What is the difference between Amanita muscaria and fly agaric?

"Fly agaric" is a common nickname for Amanita muscaria due to its ability to attract and kill flies.

Is muscimol a psychedelic compound?

Muscimol is a strong and selective orthosteric agonist for GABA receptors. Although it has sedative-hypnotic, depressant, and hallucinogenic effects, it is classified as a deliriant, not a psychedelic.

Why is it legal to possess Amanita muscaria but not psilocybin mushrooms?

Psilocybin, found in psilocybin or magic mushrooms, is classified as a Schedule 1 drug in the U.S. Conversely, the compounds muscimol and ibotenic acid in Amanita muscaria are typically unregulated.