- Why Amanita muscaria?
- Why Microdose?
- Microdosing Study
- Why Not Macrodose?
- What are the Negatives with Macrodosing?
Why Amanita muscaria?
Most would agree that Amanita muscaria is one of the most strikingly beautiful mushrooms on this planet. Its bright red cap, large size, and unique spots make it memorable for anyone who encounters it. The fact that it is so beautiful as well as so healing, makes you wonder if Amanita was meant to be consumed by humans, or if it’s just a cool natural coincidence.
Beyond its appearance, Amanita has other unique characteristics that make it particularly interesting as a source of healing and joy.
1. It’s one of the oldest substances used by humans
Amanita muscaria is one of (if not the) oldest psychoactive substance used by humans. Some historians have found that the history of Amanita predates alcohol by 10,000 years.
It's origins lie in the Siberian-Beringian area of present day Russia. Over time it's use spread to North and Central America as well as down into Europe and Australia. In that time there have been no confirmed deaths linked entirely to Amanita muscaria. In fact it was seen as "the mushroom of imortality" in some cultures, and as "the drink of the gods" in others.
Credit: Chelovek-Mukhomor (Human-Amanita muscaria), found in Kamchatka, Russia
Some say religion has ties to Amanita, claiming the holy grail and even Jesus was really just an Amanita mushroom. The spiritual awakening and uplift you get from Amanita can feel like a religious rebirth, so it's not too far of a stretch to believe such a thing.
2. Contains muscimol, a unique compound
Amanita muscaria contains a unique molecule called muscimol that acts on the GABA neurons in our brains. It's unique because muscimol contains a nitrogen-oxygen bond, a very rare structure, not often found in nature.
What this means is muscimol has a unique action on our GABA neurons. In fact, it binds to the same receptor site as the GABA neurotransmitters already found in our brain, so it's action is very similar. Since GABA is the main inhibitory neuron, muscimol relaxes overly excited neurons. This overexcitation often leads to anxiety and inflammation.
Without anxiety, you feel confident, relaxed and bold. You are more willing to speak up and more energized to go after the things you really want in life.
3. Has a gentle energy
Muscimol has a very gentle energy to it, much different from traditional psychedelics and SSRIs. Instead of making you face your issues head on (like psychedelics) or avoid your problems altogether (like SSRIs), muscimol reduces your fear so that you have the strength to solve your issues, and face life.
Amanita also helps stabilize your mood, so you are less likely to swing from elation to depression. When things get tough, they help ground your emotions so you can feel more in control.
4. Hand foraged from nature
Amanita muscaria is an obligate mycorrhizal fungi, meaning it needs to form a connection with the roots of trees in order to survive. It’s a symbiotic relationship, they provide the host trees with nutrients and extra water, and the trees provide the fungi with sugars. They both benefit.
credit: Dario Cortese
However, that means it's impossible (currently) to grow Amanita indoors or via traditional farming. They must be hand picked from the forest.
The good news is every Amanita mushroom is grown in the most ideal conditions: with organic soil, fresh rain and nutrients from the surrounding forest. This is one of the reasons Amanita has so much healing potential.
Microdosing Amanita muscaria is where the magic happens. When treated with respect and patience, the benefits you can gain from working with Amanita are incredible. In general, there are two polar effects gained from microdosing Amanita muscaria, depending on when people consume it in the day.
When microdosed in the morning, people report gaining a rush of energy, a mood boost, calmness, a feeling of feel-being and the reduction of a mental chatterbox and anxiety.
When microdosed in the evening, people report falling asleep easily and having vivid, realistic and fantastical dreams. The next morning they wake up feeling well rested and lively.
Amanita Microdosing Study
Recently details on an observational study on microdosing AM was published in a book aptly named “Microdosing with Amanita muscaria”. It was led by a Russian doctor under the pseudonym “Baba Masha” and involved the participation of 5,900 people, most living in Russia (where Amanita is easily accessible). The study ran for 2 years and accumulated data on 107 study questions all relating to the effects people experienced while microdosing Amanita muscaria.
credit: Baba Masha
The book is a great resource for learning more about how this mushroom affects us humans, so I'll dig into the results a bit.
The following are some of the most impressive results following the study:
AM microdose overall opinion
92% positive results
2% negative results
6% no results
AM microdose stability, dependency
74% stable effects after the course, planning to continue
21% Effects are stable only during the consumption
5% Dependency, unstable condition without AM microdosing
Withdrawal after AM microdose course
74% no withdrawal
17% unbalanced mood
Condition after AM microdose course
75% felt great
22% condition returned to previous
3% condition worse than before
Overall opinion on AM microdosing course
93% continue AM microdosing, plan to repeat it
7% quit AM microdosing because of negative symptoms
Depression, lack of energy and AM microdosing
79% positive effects
3% negative results
8% temporary relief
10% no results
Anti-depressants(AD) substituted with AM microdosing
89% great results
11% no results, return to AD
Substitution of anti-depressants(AD) with AM microdosing
60% quit AD cold turkey, positive effects
19% replaced AD gradually, positive effects
7% quit AD cold turkey, negative effects
14% replaced AD gradually, negative effects
Most commonly used phrases people used while microdosing for reduced depression included:
|Desire to live||Balance and harmony||calm joy of being||strengthened inner voice|
|Reduced criticism and envy||Reduced aggression||Reassessment of priorities||Disappearance of fears|
|Rethinking of mental trauma||Normalization of criticism||Paradigm shift||Rethinking worldview attitudes|
|Change in style of thinking||Exit of spiritual crisis||Increased self-interest||Improved communication|
|Reduced sense of inflated ego||Disappearance of guild||Reduced sadness||
Mood enhancer with AM microdosing
88% vitality, energy
The most commonly used phrases people used who were taking AM for mood enhancement include:
|Burst of energy||Calmness||Creativity||Deeper appreciation of nature, world, oneself|
|Desire to act||Reduced irritability||Disappearance of mental chatterbox||Ease of communication|
|Endurance||Enhanced self-awareness||Feeling of well being||Disappearance of past and future worries|
|Firmness of intent||Mood uplift||Greater empathy||Happiness|
|Improved focus||Increased physical strength||Mental clarity||Peacefulness|
Creativity and AM microdosing
63% positive results
37% no changes
Sleep aid, AM microdosing
73% good night’s sleep
17% no results
Autism and AM microdosing
77% positive effects
8% negative effects
15% no results
Arthritis and AM microdosing
70% positive effects
30% no results
The study also had some interesting results with regards to alcohol dependence.
Alcohol addiction and AM microdosing
35% quit alcohol
50% positive effects
15% no results
Stability of AM microdose on alcohol consumption
89% stable effect
11% return to previous level of alcohol consumption after AMM
The results are pretty impressive, and any pharmaceutical drug would be more than happy to receive results like the ones above. However, we have to be cautious about looking into them too much because they were not gained from a randomized double blind study (the gold standard in the scientific community).
Some of the drawbacks:
- Participants in the study were self selected (meaning they chose to microdose Amanita themselves)
- They knew what substance they were taking (possible placebo effects)
- Not every participant answered every study question (possible bias).
However, there currently are no double blind studies on the effects of microdosing Amanita muscaria. Baba Masha’s study is the most objective compilation of benefits of AM microdosing we have. It’s also a great jumping off point for future scientific studies, particularly on topics that had the most impressive results (like depression, sleep, and autism).
Why Not Macrodose Amanita?
When people first hear that Amanita is psychoactive, they most often look into how much they need to consume to have a "trip". They've tried and familiarized themself with the traditional psilocybe mushrooms (that produce psychedelic trips) and want to experience something new. In their eyes, "trips" are enjoyable, world altering and predictable. This is not the case with Amanita. In fact, psilocybe and Amanita muscaria mushrooms are closer to being opposites than one in the same.
Those that have formed a relationship with Amanita know that "tripping" or "macrodosing" (taking large amounts) is not the path to take with this toadstool.
How Much is a Macrodose?
A macrodose of Amanita muscaria is typically over 10g, which is the amount needed to feel the full effects of Amanita’s power. With a macrodose there are major perception changes, hallucinations, and trippers often get thrown into dreamlike states. The experience people often report following a macrodose is often negative or at the very least one that leaves them with great respect for this mushroom.
What are the Negatives with Macrodosing?
1. Unpleasant Mental Experience
When macrodosing Amanita muscaria, many people experience:
- Looping (mentally or physically)
- Experiencing infinity and multiple dimensions
- Visiting a place resembling hell
The most often reported effect is the feeling of "looping" or having the need to repeat the same thing over and over again. There's a well known story Paul Stamets (celebrity mycologist) told while on Joe Rogan's podcast of this exact effect. He recalled taking a large amount of Amanita pantherina (a stronger variety of Amanita muscaria) with his friend Dave when he was in his 20's. While trying to walk home, he experienced a bad case of mental looping:
"I dropped my camera and I went over looked around and there was my camera. I picked it up. I'm going Wow Dave I dropped my camera. I dropped my camera again. Oh ah Dave's I dropped my camera. I pick up my camera and go whoa I dropped my camera. I did this over and over and over again. Repetitive motion syndrome kicked in, it is a very common symptom of Pantherina, I dropped my camera dozens and dozens of times. I looked at it in the end and well it was shattered"
At even higher amounts, Amanita will send you into a deep dreamlike state, with strange and even frightening things occurring, like living through multiple timelines simultaneously or experiencing infinity. Many report feeling extreme elation at one point in the trip and then quickly being thrown into a place they can only describe as hell.
No macrodosing experience is the same, but almost all who decide to walk that path come out of it with a deeper respect for Amanita, as well as a desire to take much less of it the next time.
2. Unpleasant Physical Experience
Most unpleasant physical side effects involve either:
Vomiting can be reduced greatly with a full decarboxylation. At extreme amounts, however, many people report falling asleep and then waking up in a puddle of vomit, or feeling the need to vomit with every mental loop.
Convulsions or body twitching also occur at very high amounts. Sometimes they can be perceived as "pleasant" to the person consuming Amanita, as if they need to repeatedly "convulse" to feel better. To an outsider, however, it can be quite frightening to watch their friend convulse while (often) unconscious.
3. Risk of Muscarine Toxicity
Muscarine is a molecule that is most often found in inocybe and clitocybe species of mushroom. It activates the muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in the body, which control the parasympathetic response in the body. For those that have taken a physiology class in college, you'll know the parasympathetic system as the system that activates the body's rest and digest response. As the name suggests, it’s responsible for relaxing your muscles, kick starting digestion, and slowing breathing. In addition, muscarinic receptors are also found in the sweat glands.
Clitocybe mushrooms (contain muscarine) credit: mycoweb
Muscarine has also been found in Amanita muscaria in very small amounts. When microdosed, the amount of muscarine is so small, it often cannot be detected in samples. When macrodosed, however, the effects from muscarine consumption are visible.
Symptoms of muscarinic toxicity include:
All of these symptoms can be avoided with properly dosing Amanita muscaria. Even keeping AM doses at the small to medium level (3-9g) can keep you in the “safe zone”, not likely to feel the effects of too much mascarine.
Amanita muscaria is a powerfully magical mushroom. With great power comes great responsibility. And if there is a mushroom that needs to be respected its Amanita muscaria. But if you wish to work with AM in the future, make sure you follow these 3 guidelines to increase the benefits and reduce side effects:
- Microdose (0.5-2g daily)
- Consume only fully decarboxylated mushooms
- Be consistent and do the work