The Heart of Amanitas: What is Muscimol?

The Heart of Amanitas: What is Muscimol?

Ever wondered what makes Amanita Muscaria give you euphoric or dissociative effects? Well, it's you're lucky day! Muscimol is the compound found naturally in the storybook mushroom that produces these sometimes-hallucinogenic states of mind. 

You can find everything you need to know about muscimol and its properties right here. So, without further ado, let's jump right into the magic (well, science) that is muscimol!

What Is Muscimol?

Allow us to give you the super science-based description before breaking it down — according to the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience published in 2009, muscimol is a confrontational restricted analog of GABA wherein GABA's carboxyl group is swapped by a hydroxyisoxazole moiety.

Forgive us; we warned you it would be science-y. But let's look at what that means in layperson's terms. 

Muscimol is potent and is considered a "selective orthosteric agonist" for the GABAa receptors in your brain.

These receptors (subdivided into GABAa and GABAb groups) respond when GABA is released into your system (specifically, into your brain's post-synaptic nerve terminal). You can consider them the main inhibitory receptors (i.e., regulators) of your central nervous system. 

Muscimol, being the orthosteric agonist that it is, binds to the GABAa receptors inside your brain at their orthosteric site. Essentially, it attaches to where the neurotransmitter or hormone would otherwise bind. 

Suppose you've consumed the iconic fairytale mushroom Amanita Muscaria (otherwise known as Fly Agaric). In that case, you will only feel the effects once muscimol (the primary psychoactive constituent in the mushroom) has attached to your brain's GABAa receptors. This process can purportedly take anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour to begin and can last up to 24 hours

Speaking of effects, let's move on to how muscimol could make you feel. 

Muscimol's Effects

Some people consider muscimol's effects to be similar to those experienced by psilocybin. However, psilocybin is a psychedelic compound, whereas muscimol is a psychoactive compound — and there is a difference.

Psychedelic compounds are a subclass of hallucinogenic drugs which trigger non-ordinary mental states. Psychoactive compounds, on the other hand, are any substance that alters your brain in any way (i.e., they do not necessarily produce hallucinations or non-ordinary states). 

That said, sources who've used both psilocybin and muscimol mention that some effects are the same. 

So, what should you expect to feel after consuming muscimol? Well, here are a few of the most commonly reportedly effects (but do keep in mind that this is only based on anecdotes from those who've used it):

  • Euphoria — It's characterized as the experience of excitement, pleasure, or intense feelings of happiness and well-being. 
  • Dream-like states of mind — Many people report having lucid dreams after ingesting muscimol. During lucid dreams, you're aware you're dreaming and may be able to control the characters, narrative, or environment of the dream. Scientists have studied the lucid dreaming phenomenon for years, so much so that it has made its way into pop culture as of late. 
  • Synesthesia — This perceptual phenomenon occurs when one sensory or cognitive route is redirected from its typical path, resulting in hearing colors or seeing sounds. 
  • Dissociation — If you dissociate from muscimol, you might feel disconnected from your body, thoughts, and environment. Some people reportedly enjoy the feeling, while others find it scary. Your reaction is wholly based on your genetic makeup and mindset before heading into muscimol consumption. 
  • Sedation — You may feel heavy, tired, or highly relaxed. Anecdotal evidence shows that people often fall into deep sleeps while under the influence of muscimol, causing the lucid dreaming we mentioned earlier.

Amanita Muscaria's Popularity Stems from Muscimol

As you've probably gathered by now, muscimol is why many report feeling the above effects after consuming Amanita Muscaria — and thus, the popularity the mushroom is gaining. 

Of course, the intensity of muscimol's effects when consuming Fly Agaric depends on the amount you take. Between 1g and 5g of the mushroom is considered a low dosage, with 5g to 10g being the most commonly taken amount. 

Naturally, you aren't taking this much muscimol, as Amanita Muscaria is made up of other compounds besides the selective agonist. And it's worth noting that the muscimol content can vary from mushroom to mushroom, depending on growing conditions and preparation. 

Muscimol Is Finding Its Way into Medicine

Interestingly, muscimol isn't just notable in the recreational world; it's making a name for itself as a therapeutic tool in certain treatments for various conditions.

Psyched Wellness, a Canadian-based life sciences company, has been working to find non-mainstream compounds that can be distilled and purified for treatment purposes, and muscimol is one of them.

In an interview with Technology Networks, Jeff Stevens, the CEO of Psyched Wellness, explained that the selective GABAa receptor agonist has been shown to treat anxiety and stress, promote high-quality, restful sleep, and ease muscle pain. 

Due to its effects on these particular receptors, Stevens mentions that the scientists at his company suggest muscimol could have positive effects on a range of physical and mental health issues, such as:

  • Addiction
  • Chronic pain
  • Insomnia and other sleep-related disorders
  • Anxiety

With this in mind, muscimol is joining a whole host of psychoactive (and even psychedelic) compounds that are joining the list of potential treatments in mainstream medical and healthcare facilities. It's certainly an exciting time for the Amanita Muscaria-derived compound!

Muscimol: The Naturally Occurring Psychoactive Constituent

We've covered a lot here, but you're now bolstered with all the information you need about muscimol, the compound in Amanita Muscaria mushrooms that deliver euphoric, sedative, and potentially dissociative effects!

As a little recap, we'll say this:

Muscimol is a selective agonist for the GABAa receptors in your brain. Once they attach themselves to these receptors, you'll feel its effects. 

It occurs naturally in Fly Agaric mushrooms and is currently being isolated and explored for its potential to treat sleep disorders, anxiety, chronic muscular pain, and more. 

If you're interested in trying Amanita Muscaria to experience muscimol's effects for yourself, always obtain it from trusted sources. That way, the risk of toxicity is minimal as it will be correctly strained and processed. 



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