To Amanita or to Psilocybin; that is the question. From the active ingredients to the effects on your body and psyche, the differences between these two types of mushrooms are wild.
We're diving into all the distinctions so you can get to know both shroom types like the back of your hand!
What is Amanita Muscaria?
Amanita muscaria, otherwise known as Fly Agaric or Fly Amanita for its anecdotal ability to ensnare and kill flies, is a psychoactive mushroom growing along the northern hemisphere.
It has a huge red cap with white spots and white gills. Picture the quintessential fairytale "toadstool," and that's the Fly Agaric!
The main active ingredients are ibotenic acid and muscimol, which together produce hallucinogenic effects (but we'll get into that more a bit later). Since it doesn't contain psilocybin or psilocin, some people believe it isn't hallucinogenic. But that isn't the case.
Despite being classified as poisonous, reports of human deaths from ingestion are incredibly rare. In fact, when it's processed correctly (like all of our Amanita Muscaria products), the risk of toxicity is minimal.
What are Psilocybin Mushrooms?
When people talk about magic mushrooms, they are usually referring to those that contain psilocybin and/or psilocin — the active ingredients that create psychedelic effects.
Psilocybin mushrooms tend to belong to the genus Psilocybe, but others from the Conocybe genus and Panaeolus genus also have these compounds.
The term "psilocybin" derives from the Greek words "psilo" (bald) and "cybe" (head).
While there are many types of psilocybin mushrooms (some are stronger than others), they tend to have off-white or caramel-colored caps with white or brown stems. As they age, they may also appear to turn blue, which is a tell-tale sign many foragers use to decide whether a shroom is a true magic mushroom.
Some specific psilocybin mushrooms include the following:
- Psilocybe cubensis
- Psilocybe semilanceata
- Psilocybe pelliculosa
- Psilocybe mexicana
- Psilocybe cyanescens
- Panaeolus subbalteatus
- Psilocybe baeocystis
However, that isn't an exhaustive list! There are bucketloads of magic mushrooms growing around the world.
The Effects on Your Body and Psyche
Muscimol, one of the active ingredients in Amanita muscaria, produces feelings of euphoria, drowsiness, pupil dilation, muscle jerks, and hallucinations. It's also known to increase tear formation, so some Amanita muscaria users report excessive tearing.
You will feel the effects after 30 to 90 minutes following ingestion. However, the symptoms reach their peak after two or three hours.
According to some Amanita muscaria users, you'll get blurred vision, loss of motor skills, physical relaxation (think sedative-like effects), euphoria, and a "dream-esque" state of sentience.
The experience is said to be extremely different from the effects of psilocybin mushrooms. Some people fall into a deep sleep, and others say ingesting Amanita muscaria is similar to alcohol intoxication.
Psilocybin works by triggering serotonin receptors in the brain, specifically in the prefrontal cortex. This region of the brain affects perception, mood, and cognition. However, the chemical also affects the parts of the brain that handles panic responses and arousal.
The effect it has on your body and psyche depends on the potency of the mushroom and how much you take.
The trip levels of magic mushrooms are as follows:
- Level one — You could feel lighter and have a few short-term memory impacts. You may see some visual enhancements and believe nature is more beautiful than normal and colors are brighter. Due to the changes psilocybin makes to your brain's communication pathways, music could sound "wider."
- Level two — You'll see colors brighter than normal, and you may experience a few visual distortions, like walls appearing to move or breathe. According to some users, you might become confused or have destructive thought patterns. Your creativity will vastly increase too.
- Level three — At this point, visuals will be apparent, with things appearing warped or seeing kaleidoscope patterns on faces or walls. You could get mild hallucinations at this point, especially when you close your eyes. Your senses start to confuse themselves, causing you to hear colors or see sounds.
- Level four — You might see objects transform into other things, and your ego will begin to disappear. Loss of reality is moderate here. Although, expect time to be meaningless and out-of-body experiences.
- Level five — The final trip level will ensure your senses cease functioning normally and your ego disappears completely. There's no visual connection to reality here, and you'll be so far removed from your environment that it defies explanation.
The Effects on Your Nervous System
Ibotenic acid and muscimol seem to activate the GABA neurotransmitter system. The latter activates the GABA receptors on your neurons, which are responsible for regulating your inhibitions. So, Amanita muscaria may prevent these neurons from activating.
Psilocybin and psilocin have a similar chemical structure to serotonin. There is some evidence to suggest that psilocybin reduces the uptake of serotonin by your brain's neurons, meaning the neurotransmitter has more time to exist in the synapse.
To Amanita or To Psilocybin? The Question, Answered
The differences between Amanita muscaria and psilocybin mushrooms are clear. Despite what you may have believed prior to reading, they're exceptionally distinct shrooms.
The type of shroom you do depends on the effects you want. However, Amanita muscaria is much more regulated than their psilocybin-containing cousins. You can purchase the former from trusted, properly strained and processed sources like ours to ensure toxicity is minimal!