I tried amanita muscaria, the 'delta-8 of mushrooms,' here's how it went (2024)

Across the country, Americans looking for a legal alternative to psychedelic mushrooms have set their sights on amanita muscaria, the colorful mushroom known as fly agaric. It’s quickly gaining a reputation as the delta-8 of shrooms: Psychoactive but not outlawed.

With the exception of Louisiana, amanita muscaria can be purchased online and shipped anywhere in the country. The firetruck-red mushroom doesn’t contain psilocybin, but instead a different psychoactive compound called muscimol.

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Lower hallucinatory effects

Experts say that muscimol tends to elicit less hallucinatory effects than the psilocybin and psilocin in other entheogenic mushrooms.

“[Amanita muscaria] chills you out,” James McConchie, an educator and advocate, as well as the owner of San Francisco’s Haight Street Shroom Shop and a co-founder of Decrim SF, told Leafly.

McConchie compared its effects to ketamine. “In low levels,” he said, “it’s not a numbing agent per se, but it’s like an anesthetic a little bit. When you get into higher doses of it, you can get into a stupor or drowsiness.”

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Different forms of ingestion

While the retail industry for amanita has only recently taken a step into the mainstream, Indigenous peoples—particularly in Siberia and current-day Scandinavia—have embraced it for centuries. To avoid its toxic effects, they fed the mushroom to reindeer and then drank their psychoactive—and detoxified—urine in order to experience its effects.

These days, retailers like Psilo Mart typically sell amanita muscaria extract as a powder, capsule, or edible. (Sorry, no go on the reindeer piss.) Adults can purchase products online, or at a single brick-and-mortar store: Chillum in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Retailers typically sell amanita muscaria products in microdose form. In other words, a single capsule or gummy isn’t intended to give consumers a full-on, psychoactive trip. Instead, microdoses should induce mild, soothing effects.

Yet my recent experiences with amanita muscaria revealed that even a microdose product can instill stronger effects than expected, or desired.

A capsule for an autumn hike

For my first amanita muscaria experience, I took a microdose capsule containing 350mg of amanita extract just before starting a day hike in the Rocky Mountains. The extract possesses roughly one-quarter the potency of psilocybin.

The capsule provided an extremely pleasant and mild experience. Less than an hour after I swallowed it, I felt a clear-headed, gentle buzz take effect. As my friends and I scaled a series of switchbacks, exposing a gleaming expanse of snow-capped peaks to the south above the trees, I felt immensely cheery and calm.

A few miles later the trail brought us to a lookout, where I had a serendipitous encounter with a local cannabis dispensary owner, who kindly offered a puff of his Gary Payton joint.

The cannabis elevated the effects of the mushroom considerably. About fifteen minutes later, I felt considerably more euphoric. I didn’t experience any hallucinatory effects, but noticed that the sun-dappled path and flora radiated a particularly bold brightness. That super-positive vibe fueled me through the entire day, like Harry Potter after sipping on a vial of Liquid Luck.

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The gummy did a number on me

I was sold on amanita muscaria, and was keen to enjoy another stroll down that gentle, mildly psychoactive road.

A few days later, I popped a pleasantly dense and chewy amanita gummy into my mouth. It was a Sunday morning. I figured I was in for a similar experience. I was looking forward to a walk across town to the library and some reading in the sun.

But that was not what the amanita gummy had in store for me.

I’m not sure of the cause—my empty stomach, a variation in the dosage, or a combination of the two—but I was not prepared for what happened next.

Seriously tripping

The trip came on within thirty or forty five minutes. While, at its peak, the previous capsule had put a little pep in my step, the gummy quickly induced substantial hallucinations. A quick walk with my dog illuminated paths through the neighborhood park that I never knew existed as the trees glowed with a surreal, Mario-esque brightness. A kaleidoscope of otherworldly colors sprang forth behind my closed eyes. My short-term memory disappeared like water down a drain.

I retained enough perspective on the situation to chuckle about it. I desperately wanted to chalk it up to a silly SNAFU and get on with my day. But as anyone who’s had a challenging experience with psychedelics can tell you, resisting its effects rarely goes well.

When I got home from the walk, I laid down on the living room floor and spent considerable time staring at the houseplants. A series of distressing images and existential thoughts swirled through my head. The trip also induced significant physical shaking and cold sensations. My hands largely went numb.

Those symptoms lasted between two and three hours. Eventually I went out on the porch and played Tetris on my phone in the waning afternoon sun until my mind began to settle.

RelatedWhere are psychedelics legal or decriminalized in the US?

Reflecting on two very different experiences

Personally, I tend to believe that even uncomfortable psychedelic experiences can be beneficial. That was certainly the case for me and the amanita gummy. Even though the trip had been distressing, I processed some of the anxieties it surfaced in the following days with my therapist, to extremely constructive ends.

While my sample size—one mellow experience, one intense experience—is small, the takeaway was clear: Even if you plan to microdose, open yourself to the possibility of a stronger experience. Otherwise, you may find yourself in unexpectedly turbulent waters.

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I tried amanita muscaria, the 'delta-8 of mushrooms,' here's how it went (2024)


What happens if you get Amanita muscaria? ›

In cases of serious poisoning the mushroom causes delirium, somewhat similar in effect to anticholinergic poisoning (such as that caused by Datura stramonium), characterised by bouts of marked agitation with confusion, hallucinations, and irritability followed by periods of central nervous system depression.

Is Amanita muscaria illegal? ›

United States Legal in most states with few exceptions mentioned below. In Louisiana, except for ornamental purposes, growing, selling or possessing Amanita muscaria is prohibited by Louisiana State Act 159.

Is fly agaric hallucinogenic? ›

Fly agaric contains two toxins, ibotenic acid and muscimol, which are responsible for its psychoactive and hallucinogenic effects.

What happens if you eat a fly agaric? ›

Famous, enchanting and highly toxic. Fly agaric is the home of fairies and magical creatures and a lover of birch woodland, where it helps trees by transferring nutrients into their roots, but if eaten can cause hallucinations and psychotic reactions. These fairy tale mushrooms are highly toxic.

What is the Amanita muscaria death cap? ›

What does deathcap look like? A large fungus growing up to 15cm across and 15cm tall with a domed or white cap – depending on age – on an off-white stem. Although it looks fairly inoffensive and similar to a number of edible mushrooms, it is deadly poisonous.

How much muscarine is lethal? ›

In humans, the oral lethal dose of muscarine is estimated between 40 mg and 495 mg. Based on the muscarine concentrations of between 0.1% and 0.33% (dry weight) in Inocybe and cl*tocybe spp., ingestion of a single mushroom can be lethal.

Is Amanita muscaria hard on the liver? ›

Amanita muscaria (fly agaric) and Amanita pantherina (panther cap), if properly identified, are usually not toxic to the liver, but reactions are quite dependent on the individual and overdose is sometimes lethal.

What states do Amanita muscaria grow? ›

Amanita muscaria var. guessowii American fly agaric (yellow variant) Amanita muscaria var. formosa has a yellow to orange cap, with the centre more orange or perhaps even reddish orange. It is found most commonly in northeastern North America, from Newfoundland and Quebec south all the way to the state of Tennessee.

Is Amanita muscaria asexual? ›

Reproduction. Being a member of the phyla Basidiomycota, A. muscaria reproduces sexually via sexual spores known as basidiospores. The basidiospores are produced externally on cells called basidia, which line the gills of the club-shaped fruiting body, also known as the basidium.

What does fly agaric do to the body? ›

It is used as a hallucinogen but can be poisonous to humans. Fly agaric mushrooms have chemicals that cause the brain to misunderstand what the body is seeing, hearing, tasting, and feeling. Despite serious safety concerns, fly agaric mushroom is sometimes used as a hallucinogen.

What can I do with fly agaric? ›

Some of the primary therapeutic uses of fly agaric observed in Siberia are its use as a stimulant, an analgesic, an anti-inflammatory, an anxiolytic, and as a sleep aid. One of the more interesting uses of this mushroom is as a stimulant, providing the user with stamina and staving off fatigue.

What's the most poisonous mushroom? ›

Amanita phalloides is the most poisonous of all known mushrooms.

What is Amanita muscaria good for? ›

Recent research on the mushroom's pharmacology supports these traditional uses, demonstrating the muscimol in Amanita muscaria could have several medicinal benefits, including: Treating stress and anxiety. Easing muscular pain. Promoting restorative sleep.

What is the poison in Amanita muscaria? ›

muscaria mushrooms can contain ibotenic acid and muscimol, which are structurally similar to glutamate and gamma-Aminobutyric acid, respectively; ibotenic acid is capable of producing central nervous system excitation (e.g., hallucinations, agitation, or seizures), and muscimol causes central nervous system depression ...

Which Amanita is edible? ›

Edible. Edible species of Amanita include Amanita fulva, Amanita vagin*ta (grisette), Amanita calyptrata (coccoli), Amanita crocea, Amanita rubescens (blusher), Amanita caesarea (Caesar's mushroom), and Amanita jacksonii (American Caesar's mushroom).

How does muscimol affect the brain? ›

It enhances the inhibitory effects of GABA, the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, leading to decreased neuronal excitability and a calming effect. Additionally, muscimol has been shown to increase dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and mood regulation.

How much Amanita muscaria is toxic? ›

A small dose (up to four mushrooms) can cause dizziness, nausea, tiredness, a feeling of weightlessness, visual and auditory hypersensitivity, space distortion, unawareness of time, and colored hallucinations [1]. A larger dose gives more pronounced symptoms of poisoning with spasm and more vivid hallucination.

How rare is Amanita muscaria? ›

A large, conspicuous mushroom, Amanita muscaria is generally common and numerous where it grows, and is often found in groups with basidiocarps in all stages of development.


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