Agaric, or Amanita muscaria, is a basidiomycete mushroom. Hallucinogenic effects occur upon consumption of the fungi. Fully grown, the cap is usually around 12cm in diameter (up to 30cm) with a distinctive blood-red color (crimson, fading to yellow with age), scattered with white to yellow, removable flecks (warts). It is often referred to as fly agaric due to European use as an insecticide, and its ability to stun or kill flies.
Agaric has traditionally been used in rituals as a hallucinogen. Religious and ceremonial usage of agaric has been documented in Buddhist, Native American, Japanese, Siberian, ancient Greek, and proto-Hindi texts. Gathering and consuming mushrooms and other plants containing psychoactive substances have become increasingly popular among some people experimenting with drugs.
Agaric is considered poisonous, though rarely fatal. Several studies document the toxicity and neurological effects of taking agaric by mouth. No formal trials regarding agaric toxicity or therapeutic benefit are currently available.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
* Key to grades
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use B: Good scientific evidence for this use C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work) F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)
Tradition / Theory
The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to basidiomycetes.
Side Effects and Warnings
In general, fly agaric is not recommended because of potential adverse effects. Taking agaric may cause visual and auditory hallucinations that appear after 60 minutes, peak within three hours, with certain effects lasting for up to ten hours. The effect per volume consumed is highly variable and individuals can react quite differently to the same dose.
In a moderate dose, agaric acid may have no effect upon the central nervous system, except to paralyze the nerves of the sweat glands. In higher doses, central nervous system dysfunction has occurred. Agaric may cause alternating central nervous system depression and stimulation. Symptoms usually begin with drowsiness followed by a state of confusion, with ataxia (loss of coordination), dizziness, euphoria resembling alcohol intoxication and may proceed to increase activity, illusions, or even manic excitement. These periods of excitement may alternate with periods of somnolence, deep sleep or stupor.
Given in large doses, fly agaric first increases, and then decreases blood pressure. Increase in respiratory rate, followed by a decrease in respiratory rate has also been noted. Skin may be warm and flushed. Fly agaric toxicity is characterized by nausea, heavy vomiting, and severe diarrhea. In near fatal doses, Amanita muscarina causes swollen features, rage and madness, characterized by bouts of mania, followed by periods of hallucination.
Theoretically, airborne agaric may cause chronic sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses) or other respiratory conditions.
Liver damage, liver failure, and death have occurred in people taking related mushroom species, namely Amanita phalloides (death cap) or Amanita virosa (deadly agaric). There are no available reports of liver damage from Amanita muscarina.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Agaric is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women because of potential adverse effects.
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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.