Amanita Muscaria (or fly agaric or fly amanita) will not kill you that easily. When ingested directly, a fatal dose should be about 15 caps.
But, you can also vomit yourself to death – if it comes back up after the original poisoning, be careful not to swallow back or inhale some of your vomit.
If you’re already at the puking stage (or someone in your vicinity is), do everything you can to not lay on your back. If you’re too weak to sit somewhat upright and hug the porcelain throne (or a close-by tree trunk), at least lay on your side. Also, whenever possible, rinse your mouth out well with some plain water.
How toxic are Amanitas?
A single Amanita muscaria contains enough psychoactive substances to intoxicate an adult human. Two substances of note are muscimol and Ibotenic acid, both of which are known to be very potent opiates and hallucinogens.
The exact amount of both in each cap depends on numerous factors, from the season to their geographical location. However, you can also expect the spring and summer crops to have up to 10 times more of these compounds than the ones you can find in fall.
So, if one cap can get you high, how many can get you sick? Well, the answer is just one as well. Even if you pick them in the fall, chances are that muscimol, Ibotenic acid, or any other present biologically active agent may cause you to have a bad reaction – from a bad trip to numerous physical symptoms.
Symptoms and treatment
There’s no universal set of symptoms to Amanita poisoning since they will all depend on both your location and yourself and your medical history. However, some things you should watch out for are nausea, drowsiness, sweating, salivation, twitching, low blood pressure, vision and sound distortions, vertigo, euphoria, ataxia, etc. Even more serious symptoms can be delirium, hallucinations, seizures, and even coma.
The bad news, we don’t have an antidote, The best way to deal with it is to get it out of your system ASAP. Making yourself (or the other affected person) vomit is a decent form of first aid, though you will still need to seek proper medical attention.
Active charcoal is most often given to the patients so they can empty their stomachs, but when that’s not working, there’s also stomach pumping.
Previously, the syrup of ipecac was on the first treatment list, but it was proven not to be effective in helping the body get rid of the toxic substances.
So, why is anyone taking this thing?
Mostly for the high, though Amanitas were used as food in certain parts of Siberia.
One of the effects is lucid dreaming – the state that has been credited for centuries as a path to inspiration and enlightenment. Even today, many influential people admit to taking magic mushrooms and credit their success to the insight they gained through them.
It’s easy to imagine that some kids go foraging for Amanitas because they are trying to unlock the mystical genius of Jim Morrison or the Beatles, but what would you say if I told you that in Silicone Valley they are micro-dosing the psychedelics to boost productivity?
As of now, none of the compounds are actively being used to make medicine, even though some psychologists believe in the use of psychedelics in the treatment of various mental illnesses.
Just like Alex Hoffman (the man who synthesized LSD) thought that psychedelics can unlock our mental barriers and speed up the treatment of numerous psychological disorders, some doctors believe that consumption of Amanitas in a controlled environment can be beneficial as well. And even though they are not approved for this use, you will find some therapists using them in their treatments.
Shamans, Berserkers, and revelations
But before there were hippies and stoners, there were shamans and berserkers.
All around the world, the consumption of mushrooms was related to religious practices and worship. In most of those cultures, they were considered to be mediums that help them communicate with the gods or foretell the future.
One of the most famous prophecies in human history is the Book of Revelations from the Bible. It was written on the island called Patmos which is not only steeped in toxic fumes but can also boast an abundance of Amanitas. And speaking of prophecies, Nostradamus who was first an apothecary before he started predicting the winners of the 2032 Olympics, was no stranger to the magic of mushrooms as well.
Though shamanism and divination are rather obvious, there’s also a fascinating possibility that Vikings used to use shrooms to induce their famous berserker rages. Considering that the effect of psychoactive substances depends on the environment and other stimuli, it is very possible that Berserkers would take them to enhance their anger.
Can I consume Amanita Muscaria without knowing?
Yes. When it’s very young, it resembles another species of edible mushrooms known as Puffballs. If you’re out foraging for mushrooms, cut your “Puffball” in half to make sure it’s not an Amanita. You’re trying to see if there is a smaller mushroom inside of it (like a Kinder Surprise or a Russian nesting doll).
If you don’t see that mushroom, you have a Puffball and it’s safe to eat as is. But if you see one, it’s an Amanita “egg” and either leave it be or treat it properly before cooking.
Does Amanita Muscaria have a culinary use?
If detoxified, it can be used in cooking just like any other mushroom. One of the methods that have been sticking around since the 19th century is to parboil it then soak in vinegar.
Contemporary guides recommend to just boil it for 15 minutes after it was cut into thin slices. Some of those guides also recommend for it to be classified as an edible mushroom, but followed with a detailed explanation on how to detoxify it and what are the consequences if you don’t do it properly.
Is it safe to dry Amanitas?
Only if you want to increase the potency of the psychoactive substances. If not, detoxify them before drying.