Amanita muscaria may be the most famous mushroom in the world. It’s the iconic toadstool—red cap, white dots—that you see again and again in popular culture. It’s the shrinking mushroom Alice eats in Wonderland, the mushroom power-up in the Super Mario Bros video game; it’s even the mushroom emoji on your phone. A. muscaria’s coloring is unmistakable.
What’s less well-known is that Amanita muscaria is a psychedelic mushroom. It’s rich in muscimol, a rare hallucinogenic compound that separates A. muscaria from other mind-altering mushrooms. Not many people use it, though, because it’s also poisonous if you prepare it incorrectly.
Here’s an in-depth look at the Amanita muscaria mushroom, its psychedelic effects, its legality, and how to prepare it correctly.
What Is Amanita Muscaria?
Amanita muscaria (also called the fly agaric or fly amanita) is a species of psychoactive mushroom.
A. muscaria may be the most recognized mushroom on the planet. Its distinctive red cap and white spots set it apart from most other mushroom species, though it’s worth noting that the color can vary; some subspecies of A. muscaria have a bright yellow or orange cap.
Amanita muscaria can also take different shapes. Younger specimens have a globe-shaped cap that widens and becomes flatter as the mushroom ages.
A. muscaria is native to the Northern Hemisphere, but international shipping has introduced the mushroom to countries across the Southern Hemisphere. It usually travels as a tagalong on pine or birch trees. Today, the fly amanita grows across the world, particularly in North America and Northern Europe.
Amanita Muscaria Street Names
Amanita muscaria is rarely sold on the street. However, two informal names for it are:
- Fly agaric
- Fly amanita
How Do You Use Amanita Muscaria?
It’s rare that people take A. muscaria as a psychedelic drug. Unlike psilocybin mushrooms, which you can eat fresh, Amanita muscaria mushrooms are poisonous in their raw form. They contain ibotenic acid, a neurotoxin that can cause vomiting, drowsiness, low blood pressure, and ataxia (loss of muscle control). 1,2.
You can boil A. muscaria to get rid of most of its ibotenic acid. However, doing so will also remove muscimol, the main psychedelic compound in the mushrooms. Boiled fly amanita mushrooms are no longer poisonous, but they’re also not typically psychoactive.
Some people dehydrate A. muscaria for several days between 105-115 degrees Fahrenheit. The drying process converts ibotenic acid to muscimol, reducing toxicity and increasing psychedelic potency.
Most A. muscaria is sold in its dried form. However, there’s still some risk—if the producer dehydrates the mushrooms improperly or incompletely, toxic ibotenic acid may remain.
There’s no established dose for A. muscaria. If you decide to try it in its dried form, understand that it’s a poisonous mushroom, be aware of the risks associated with eating it, and start with a small dose. You may also want to have the number of a poison control center on hand.
Amanita Muscaria Effects
Whereas most psychedelic mushrooms contain psilocybin, A. muscaria gets its psychedelic properties from a compound called muscimol. 3 Unlike most psychedelics, which affect your brain’s serotonin system, muscimol binds to GABA receptors—a separate set of pathways in your brain. As a result, Amanita muscaria mushrooms cause different effects than other psychedelic mushrooms do.
Positive effects of Amanita muscaria
Amanita muscaria’s positive effects include 4,5:
- Visual and auditory hallucinations
- Improved mood
- Synesthesia (blending of the senses; for example, seeing sounds or tasting things you touch)
An unusual effect of A. muscaria is Alice in Wonderland syndrome—when you alternate between feeling giant and tiny relative to your surroundings.
The effect gets its name from one of the early scenes in Lewis Carroll’s famous book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, in which Alice eats a mushroom and grows giant, then shrinks to the size of a thimble. The scene was allegedly based on the effects of an Amanita muscaria mushroom.
Similarly, the super mushroom in the Mario franchise is based on A. muscaria, both visually and in terms of its effects—appropriately, it makes Mario grow larger 6.
Negative effects of Amanita muscaria
Amanita muscaria can also have negative effects. They include:
- Dissociation (a sense of separating from your body; can be positive or negative)
Amanita muscaria poisoning
A properly prepared fly agaric mushroom won’t cause any poisoning symptoms. However, if you eat mushrooms that still contain ibotenic acid, you may experience more severe negative symptoms related to Amanita muscaria poisoning, including 1,2,4,7:
- Ataxia (loss of muscle control)
- Nervous system depression (low blood pressure, shallow breathing)
- Loss of balance
- Loss of consciousness
Thanks to advances in medicine, Amanita mushroom poisoning rarely causes coma or death, provided you can get to a hospital for treatment.
Amanita muscaria and alcohol
Do not mix A. muscaria and alcohol. Both substances work on the GABA a receptor in your brain and cause central nervous system depression. If you combine the two their effects could stack, shutting down your breathing or causing your blood pressure to drop to dangerous levels.
The Timeline of Amanita Muscaria
Here’s a look at the timeline for Amanita, including:
- How long Amanita muscaria takes to kick in
- How long an Amanita muscaria trip lasts
- How long Amanita muscaria stays in your system
- How it feels coming down from an Amanita muscaria trip
How long does it take to kick in?
Amanita muscaria’s effects kick in 30-90 minutes after you eat it.
How long does it last?
A typical A. muscaria trip lasts 8-12 hours.
How long does it stay in your system?
There’s no available data on how long A. muscaria stays in your system. Muscimol and ibotenic acid are not tested on any standard or expanded drug test.
Coming down from a trip
After an Amanita mushroom trip you may experience headaches and sleepiness. In the case of A. muscaria poisoning, aftereffects may be more severe and can last for several days.
However, there seems to be fairly low risk of long-term damage from ingesting A. muscaria, provided you don’t take an enormous dose. In a 2021 case report, a man ate more than a pound of fresh A. muscaria, having mistaken it for another mushroom. He suffered no long-term effects and was discharged from the hospital after four days. 2
Is Amanita Muscaria Legal?
Unlike most psychedelics, Amanita muscaria is legal to grow and consume in most of the United States. Louisiana is the only state in which it’s illegal to possess A. muscaria (although you can still grow it for ornamental purposes).
Amanita Muscaria Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few frequently asked questions about Amanita muscaria.
Does Amanita muscaria get you high?
Amanita muscaria (also called fly agaric) is a psychedelic mushroom. It contains muscimol, a psychoactive compound that causes hallucinations and euphoria. However, it’s rare that people take A. muscaria as a psychedelic drug because it’s poisonous if you prepare it incorrectly.
What happens if you eat Amanita muscaria?
Amanita muscaria mushrooms contain muscimol, a psychedelic compound that causes hallucinations and euphoria. However, raw A. muscaria also contains ibotenic acid, a neurotoxin that causes loss of muscle control, shallow breathing, loss of consciousness, and other negative effects. It’s important to prepare A. muscaria properly to remove the ibotenic acid.
Is Amanita muscaria a drug?
Amanita muscaria is not a drug; it’s a species of mushroom. However, A. muscaria does contain a drug called muscimol. Muscimol is a psychedelic compound that causes hallucinations, euphoria, changes in mood, and altered sensory perception. Amanita also contains a neurotoxin called ibotenic acid and can be dangerous to ingest.
What is Amanita muscaria used for?
Amanita muscaria originated in Siberia, where Indigenous people would use it as an entheogen—a mind-altering drug that encourages spiritual development or contact with the gods and is often used in religious rituals. Some Siberian residents also boil Amanita, deactivating its toxins and psychoactive compounds, and then eat it as food.
What does Amanita muscaria do to you?
Amanita muscaria causes visual and auditory hallucinations, euphoria, and changes in mood. One of its more unusual effects is Alice in Wonderland syndrome, where you feel as though you’re growing or shrinking relative to your surroundings. Note that Amanita is toxic if prepared incorrectly.
Is Amanita muscaria toxic?
Raw Amanita muscaria is toxic. It contains ibotenic acid, a neurotoxin that can cause ataxia, vomiting, loss of consciousness, and in extreme cases, coma or death—though fatalities are rare, especially in adults. Boiling the mushrooms removes ibotenic acid. However, it also removes muscimol, the substance that makes Amanita psychedelic.
Can I overdose on Amanita muscaria?
You can overdose on Amanita muscaria, although it’s unlikely to be fatal if you get medical attention. In a 2021 case report, a man ate a pound of Amanita, mistaking it for another type of mushroom. He collapsed and was taken to the hospital, but suffered no long-term damage.
Can I mix Amanita muscaria with alcohol?
Do not mix Amanita muscaria with alcohol. Both substances work on GABA receptors in your brain, causing central nervous system depression. Their effects may stack, which can shut down your breathing or cause a severe drop in blood pressure. Mixing A. muscaria and alcohol is dangeorus.
Can I drive while on Amanita muscaria?
Do not drive or operate other heavy machinery while on Amanita muscaria. Amanita is a powerful psychedelic mushroom that causes visual and auditory hallucinations, as well as a distorted sense of time and space. Driving while on any psychedelic drug is dangerous.
Can I microdose with Amanita muscaria?
There’s no established microdose for Amanita muscaria, nor is there any research on the topic. In theory, however, it’s possible to microdose with Amanita. Keep in mind that Amanita is a natural product and muscimol content will vary from mushroom to mushroom, as growing conditions affect potency.
Amanita muscaria (also called fly agaric or fly amanita) is an iconic mushroom that’s famous for its red cap and white dots. It has psychedelic properties, but it also contains a neurotoxin that can send you to the hospital if you don’t prepare the mushrooms properly.
A. muscaria is legal in the United States, except for the state of Louisiana, where you can only grow Amantia for decorative purposes. However, if you’re going to take Amanita muscaria as a psychedelic drug, be sure you prepare it in a way that removes or deactivates the toxins.
Psilocybin mushrooms (sometimes called magic mushrooms) are a non-poisonous alternative to Amanita, although they’re currently illegal in the United States.
1. Ibotenic Acid – MeSH – NCBI. Accessed June 6, 2022.
2. Rampolli FI, Kamler P, Carnevale Carlino C, Bedussi F. The Deceptive Mushroom: Accidental Amanita muscaria Poisoning. EJCRIM. 2021;8(3):002212. doi:10.12890/2021_002212
3. Tsujikawa K, Mohri H, Kuwayama K, et al. Analysis of hallucinogenic constituents in Amanita mushrooms circulated in Japan. Forensic Sci Int. 2006;164(2-3):172-178. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2006.01.004
4. Michelot D, Melendez-Howell LM. Amanita muscaria: chemistry, biology, toxicology, and ethnomycology. Mycol Res. 2003;107(Pt 2):131-146. doi:10.1017/s0953756203007305
5. Stebelska K. Fungal hallucinogens psilocin, ibotenic acid, and muscimol: analytical methods and biologic activities. Ther Drug Monit. 2013;35(4):420-442. doi:10.1097/FTD.0b013e31828741a5
6. Li C, Oberlies NH. The most widely recognized mushroom: chemistry of the genus Amanita. Life Sci. 2005;78(5):532-538. doi:10.1016/j.lfs.2005.09.003
7. Satora L, Pach D, Butryn B, Hydzik P, Balicka-Slusarczyk B. Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) poisoning, case report and review. Toxicon. 2005;45(7):941-943. doi:10.1016/j.toxicon.2005.01.005