The Effects of Amanita muscaria: Exploring Its Benefits

With its glossy red color scattered with startling white spots, Amanita muscaria, or the Fly Agaric mushroom, looks like it’s been transported directly from Alice in Wonderland or some otherworldly realm. It tracks, then, that this remarkable appearance hints at both magic and danger within. 

Like many psychoactive fungi, Amanita can trigger unpleasant experiences when used irresponsibly. However, when consumed in a safe format this stunning mushroom can unleash a unique active compound that can elevate wellness and quality of life in transformative ways, potentially assisting with insomnia, uplifting low mood, easing stress, and promoting relaxation.

Are the effects of Amanita muscaria harmful or beneficial? 

Up until recently,  Amanita muscaria has held a reputation for being a toxic mushroom that imparts poisonous effects upon those who consume it. Amanita’s common name, Fly Agaric, is actually derived from the mushroom’s traditional use as an insecticide. Toxic ibotenic acid housed within Amanita flesh can attract and kill flies, along with other household insects. However, beyond this pest-repelling toxin, Amanita muscaria is actually rich in a compound that can invoke an array of highly beneficial effects: Muscimol. 

Muscimol is a unique non-toxic alkaloid that is found in several Amanita mushroom species. It’s important not to confuse muscimol with psilocybin and psilocin, the prominent psychedelic compounds found in other so-called magic mushrooms. While it’s true that muscimol shares psychoactive similarities with these compounds and can impart a psychedelic experience, muscimol differs from psilocybin and psilocin in the kind of effects it delivers. 

Intense visual patterns and body sensations are less common in muscimol, which tends to feel more dreamlike, gentle, and nuanced. Vivid visions from muscimol commonly arise during sleep rather than during a waking state.

Two chemical structures side-by-side. The chemical Muscimol and Ibotenic Acid.

While the psychedelic renaissance in recent years has seen an explosion of research linked to more mainstream psychedelic compounds, the potential of Amanita muscaria’s positive effects have largely been overlooked–likely because the mushroom has been misunderstood as poisonous. 

However, thanks to emerging research into muscimol driven in part by Psyched Wellness, researchers are uncovering myriad potential benefits of Amanita muscaria that can be used to treat diverse mental and physical issues. Most importantly, an independent panel of researchers have found that the Amanita muscaria extract created by Psyched Wellness, AME-1,  is safe and non-toxic.

Some of the most apparent benefits of muscimol that have been documented to date include:

  • Calming effects

Compelling research and reflections on muscimol emphasize its ability to induce feelings of deep calm and relaxation. 

In one 2024 study on rodents, a microinjection of muscimol led to anxiolytic (anxiety-easing) and antidepressant behaviors. Another animal study demonstrated that muscimol increases dopamine production, a chemical released in the brain that helps to create feelings of uplift and elevated mood. 

Anecdotal reports from individuals who have consumed Amanita mushrooms highlight a reduction in negative thoughts, overwhelm, and anxiety, allowing stress to be confronted with greater mindfulness and clarity.

  • Pain relief and skin issues

There’s additionally a growing body of research documenting muscimol’s ability to reduce different forms of pain and discomfort. Most recently, a 2023 systematic review and meta-analysis (a form of research that compiles and synthesizes diverse studies) explored the usefulness of muscimol as a treatment for pain caused by nerve injuries. 

According to the researchers who conducted the analysis, muscimol can lead to a significant reduction in different forms of neuropathic (nerve) pain. The data also showed that the pain reduction kicked in most powerfully 15 minutes after use, and lingered for up to 3 hours in many cases. 

A recent in vivo (test tube) Psyched Wellness study also demonstrated that Amanita muscaria extract could reduce the pain associated with inflammatory skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and hives. The 90-day study found that the positive effects of Amanita were linked to its ability to prime particular immune receptor cells. Other research has also pointed to the potential skin-supporting properties of Amanita, with a 2023 survey revealing that 5.6% of users consume the mushroom to help address diverse skin problems.

  • Sleep support

The quest for a sound night’s slumber is a fundamental concern for many of us. One major element of quality sleep that is often overlooked is our dream sleep, also known as REM sleep. REM is also the phase where memory consolidation, emotional processing and brain development takes place, and it’s a vital element of sleep quality

There’s a range of studies available, such as this one, that indicates that the muscimol found in Amanita muscaria has benefits for REM sleep by increasing the number and length of REM episodes and enhancing delta and sigma brain wave activity during these cycles. Delta brain wave activity contributes to feelings of deep rest and relaxation. The sleep time we spend in the delta state can be considered a vital indicator of our sleep quality.

  • Modulating brain function

Test tube research carried out by Psyched Wellness has demonstrated that Amanita muscaria extract activates microglia cells (immune cells in the brain). Microglia play an important role in healthy brain and central nervous system maintenance by clearing out damaged neural cells, infections, and plaque. The positive effects of microglia activation may include enhanced mood and improved sleep.

How does Amanita muscaria confer these positive effects?

Amanita muscaria appears to exert many of its positive effects via its influence on the body’s GABA receptors, which lower activity in the central nervous system. In low doses, the muscimol in the Amanita mushroom interacts with the body’s GABA receptors, helping feelings of calm and relaxation to arise. 

However, at high doses, a different kind of experience can unfold, characterized by a profound sense of tranquility, dream-like imagery in the mind, and altered perception. We’ll explore more of what we’ve discovered about the effects of Amanita muscaria on the body in upcoming articles.

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How Amanita muscaria extract can support positive mood enhancement

A very strong connection exists between mood, mental health, and physical health. Your mood affects every aspect of your life, influencing how you feel about yourself, others, your health, and your life in general. 

When the rigors of daily living accumulate or external stressors create strain, maintaining a positive mood can feel challenging. Finding safe ways to support a stable state of mind is helpful as it’s easier to glide through life's fluctuations with an elevated outlook. 

As briefly explored in the above section, one of the unique effects of Amanita muscaria is its impact on mood. A recent survey of 250 Amanita muscaria users revealed that 29.6 percent turned to the mushroom to help ease stress, while a further 20.4 percent consumed the mushroom for its antidepressant properties. Other users underscore the warm, relaxed, gentle euphoria that follows the consumption of Amanita muscaria

For individuals who are seeking a naturally-derived, non-toxic, and non-psychedelic way to uplift and elevate mood, the proprietary AME-1 Amanita muscaria extract used in our Calm Tincture represents a safe and effective option, crafted from hand-harvested wild mushrooms. 

Unlike many pharmaceutical products for anxiety and depression which can have addictive properties or potentially harmful side effects, Calm Tincture alters mood in a very gentle way, offering a light buzz with no hangover. When the recommended serving size is taken, there are no psychedelic effects. 

Can the effects of Amanita muscaria be harmful?

Like any psychoactive mushroom product, Amanita muscaria benefits from mindful use. 

The effects of Amanita muscaria are not harmful when it’s consumed in a safe, non-toxic delivery format, adhering to the recommended dosage. It’s vital to emphasize here that the toxicity and adverse effects for which the mushroom was once reputed only arise if the mushroom is consumed raw with ibotenic acid still present. In the 2023 study of Amanita users, 236 admitted that they had experienced adverse effects after consuming the mushroom, experiencing symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting and lethargy. In some cases, consumption of the toxins within the mushroom may even lead to renal failure. According to the researchers who wrote the article, a host of other factors can also contribute to potential toxicity–Amanita mushrooms that are harvested in close proximity to roads, for example, may contain higher levels of harmful heavy metals such as mercury. 

The risk of harm can intimidate many potentially curious consumers from trying this mushroom. That’s why Psyched Wellness created AME-1, our proprietary, lab-tested, detoxified Amanita muscaria extract. After undergoing extensive toxicological testing, this unique extract received GRAS certification, confirming that a panel of independent experts found AME-1 to be safe for adult consumption as a supplement. Calm tincture allows you to enjoy the mood-elevating, calming, sleep-supporting benefits of the unique Amanita muscaria mushroom, without any fear of harm from dangerous toxins. 

For Dr. Gordon A. Walker, PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and board member for the Sonoma Mycology Association (SOMA), Calm Tincture represents the easiest, and safest way to experiment with Amanita muscaria.

“If you want to try Amanita Muscaria this is by far the safest way. It’s also the easiest. All you have to do is take a dropper, put it under your tongue, and wait a little."