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Amanita Muscaria vs. Psilocybin Mushrooms: What You Need to Know

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Recent research has shown that so-called “magic mushrooms” have a range of potential benefits for mental health and contribute to personal and spiritual growth. They contain the hallucinogenic compound psilocybin, which has potent psychoactive effects and causes lasting changes in the brain.

Another psychoactive mushroom that has been garnering interest is Amanita muscaria. Its chemical makeup and effects are quite different from those of psilocybin-containing mushrooms. However, many claim that it can have similar benefits when prepared and used in a specific way.

Moreover, Amanita muscaria is legal in most states, whereas psilocybin is federally illegal. This has made it a popular choice among those wishing to experience the benefits of psychoactive fungi first-hand.

This article explores the similarities and differences between these two famous mushroom varieties. Read on to learn more.

What Is Amanita Muscaria?

Amanita muscaria is also known as fly agaric. It is a common mushroom throughout temperate regions worldwide and is easily recognizable by its bright red cap dotted with flecks of white.

This mushroom has a reputation as a poisonous toadstool and can cause extreme sickness if it is consumed raw. However, when prepared in a specific way, it becomes safe to consume and may even have some benefits.


This peculiar feature occurs because raw Amanita muscaria mushrooms contain a chemical called ibotenic acid, which causes side effects like nausea, confusion, and muscle spasms. In high doses, it can also cause hallucinations.

When the mushrooms are exposed to heat, acidic conditions, or high pressure, their ibotenic acid converts to another chemical called muscimol. This reaction is called decarboxylation. Muscimol is considered safer than ibotenic acid and primarily has relaxing effects. It acts as a sedative in high doses, and many people report vivid or lucid dreams while under its influence.

What Are Psilocybin Mushrooms?

Psilocybin mushrooms, or magic mushrooms, are any mushroom species that contain the active compounds psilocybin and psilocin. There are many varieties, including Psilocybe cubensis, Psilocybe cyanescens, Psilocybe azurescens, and Psilocybe semilanceata, to name a few.

These mushrooms vary in potency, but all cause similar effects, including hallucinations and altered emotional states, including euphoria and anxiety. In high doses, they can cause a phenomenon called ego death, whereby a person temporarily loses their sense of self and feels separate from their identity.

While this can be frightening, individuals who have experienced ego death often report long-term benefits such as increased spirituality and a greater sense of connection with others. Ego death and other mystical experiences are considered key to many of psilocybin’s benefits.

Effects on the Body and Psyche

Mushrooms are unpredictable and affect everyone differently. Their precise effects will depend on their potency and dosage, the individual taking them, and the environment in which they are taken.

The most common effects of Amanita muscaria and psilocybin mushrooms on the body and mind are as follows:

Amanita Muscaria

Physical Effects:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Excess salivation
  • Sweating
  • Muscle twitches
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Disorientation
  • Drowsiness
  • Inability to stay awake

Psychological Effects:

  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Increased introspection
  • Altered sense of reality
  • Time loops
  • Repetitive thoughts
  • Rapidly shifting emotions
  • The feeling of having died or being dead
  • Out-of-body experiences
  • Vivid or lucid dreams
  • Increased sense of spirituality

Psilocybin Mushrooms

Physical Effects

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Changes in body temperature
  • Sweating
  • Shivering

Psychological Effects

  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Increased introspection
  • Altered sense of reality
  • Rapidly shifting emotions
  • Euphoria
  • Anxiety, paranoia, or fear
  • Increased sense of connection
  • Increased sense of spirituality
  • Ego death

Effects on the Nervous System

Amanita muscaria and psilocybin mushrooms exert their effects by influencing the nervous system when their active compounds bind with specialized cell receptors in the brain. Although the mechanism of action of the two active compounds is similar, the receptors affected are very different, hence Amanita muscaria and psilocybin mushrooms’ disparate effects.

Amanita Muscaria

Recall that the Amanita muscaria contains ibotenic acid, which converts to muscimol. Ibotenic acid acts on glutamate receptors and mimics the effects of the neurotransmitter glutamate.

Glutamate speeds up signals in the central nervous system and has stimulating properties. Ibotenic acid produces similar effects. Those who consume small amounts report increases in energy and attention. However, both glutamate and ibotenic acid are potentially neurotoxic in high concentrations.


Muscimol acts on GABA receptors, mimicking the effects of the neurotransmitter GABA.

GABA slows down signals in the central nervous system and has relaxant properties. Muscimol produces similar effects. Those who consume muscimol in low doses report calmness and a sense of general well-being. Higher doses are sedative and can lead to deep and dream-filled sleep.

Because ibotenic acid is potentially neurotoxic, muscimol is considered much safer. In fact, it may have neuroprotective properties and several other neurological benefits. This is why preparing Amanita muscaria properly before use is strongly recommended.

Psilocybin Mushrooms

Psilocybin is actually a pro-drug, and in the body, it is converted to another chemical called psilocin. Some psychedelic mushrooms contain psilocin too. Psilocin binds with serotonin receptors in the brain. Many believe this is why magic mushrooms can sometimes have antidepressant effects.

However, in reality, psilocin’s mechanism of action is far more complex than this and is still not fully understood. Scientists have discovered that it affects several brain networks, including the default mode network (DMN), which is associated with several psychological disorders. Psilocin also appears to increase global connectivity in the brain, possibly accounting for its long-term effects.

Best Choice: Amanita or Psilocybin? Answered by VidaCap Experts

Choosing between Amanita muscaria and psilocybin mushrooms comes down to personal preference, desired effects, and legality.

Research into Amanita muscaria is in its infancy, and there is far more evidence relating to psilocybin’s benefits. However, anecdotal reports suggest that the two mushroom varieties could have similar benefits, despite their differing effects.

Amanita muscaria may be more desirable for some, as it is legal in most states (Louisiana being the exception) and is easy to recognize and identify. However, it could cause some very unpleasant side effects, and must be correctly prepared to avoid them.

Products like VidaCap Amanita Gummies offer a safe and effective way to experience this mushroom’s unique effects. Each gummy contains a pre-measured amount of muscimol and undetectable levels of ibotenic acid. Moreover, we provide lab reports for each batch to confirm their potency and purity.

If you choose to try Amanita muscaria or psilocybin mushrooms, please check the relevant laws in your area and consult a medical professional before use. Always use psychoactive mushrooms responsibly and start with a minimal dose to see how it affects you before taking more.

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Published on: October 2, 2023

Lynn Marie Morski

Reviewed by Lynn Marie Morski, MD, JD, who is a president of the Psychedelic Medicine Association and host of the Psychedelic Medicine Podcast. She sits on the advisory boards of Psychedelics Today, Cybin, VETS, Inc (Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions), the Oxenberg Foundation, and the Ketamine Task Force. Dr. Morski is also a Mayo Clinic-trained physician in family medicine and sports medicine, as well as an attorney and former adjunct law professor.

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