Agaric (Amanita muscaria)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
AA, Agaricaceae, Agaricales, agaric acid, agaric fungus, Agaric aux mouches (French), agaricinic acid, Agaricus arvensis, Agaric basidiomycete, Agrocybe aegerita, Amanitaceae, Amanita flavivolvata, Amanita formosa, Amanita matamoscas (Spanish), Amanita muscaria, Amanita pantherina, Amanita regalis, Amanita virosa, Amanitaceae, Amanite tue-mouche (French), basidiomycete agaric, bitter fungus, brown fly agaric, Clitocybula dusenii, Coprinus cinereus, Cortinarius orellanus Fr., Crepidotus fulvotomentosus, ectomycorrhizal fungi, falsa oronja (Spanish), fausse oronge (French), Fliegenpilz (German), fly agaric, Hebeloma cylindrosporum, Hypholomafasciculare Fries, ibotenic acid, laricic, magic mushrooms, muchomor czerwony (Polish), muscarine, muscazone, muscimol, ovulo malefico (Italian), pantherina poisoning, Roter fliegenpilz (German), selenium, Soma, toadstool, tufted agaric, uovolaccio (Italian), white agaric (Fomes officinalis Neum.).
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.
No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.
*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 against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. 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 health care professional.
Antipyretic (fever reducer), hallucinogenic, insecticide, sweating, tuberculosis (intestinal).
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
Safety, efficacy, and dosing have not been systematically studied. However, due to adverse effects, use in adults is not recommended.
Children (younger than 18 years)
Safety, efficacy, and dosing have not been systematically studied. However, due to adverse effects, use in children is not recommended.
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.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. 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.
Interactions with Drugs
Based on reported adverse effects of agaric, significant interactions may occur. Patients taking any medications should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist.
Agaric may cause changes in blood pressure. Thus, patients using blood pressure lowering medications should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Based on reported adverse effects of agaric, significant interactions may occur. Patients taking herbs and supplements should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist.
Agaric is abundant in selenium and may have additive effects when taken with other herbs and supplements that contain selenium. Caution is advised.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Beavis AD. Properties of the inner membrane anion channel in intact mitochondria. J Bioenerg.Biomembr. 1992;24(1):77-90. View Abstract
Benjamin DR. Mushroom poisoning in infants and children: the Amanita pantheria/muscaria group. Journal of Toxicology: Clinical Toxicology 1992;30(1):13-22.
Falandysz J. [Selenium in selected species of mushrooms from Poland]. Rocz.Panstw.Zakl.Hig. 2003;54(3):249-254. View Abstract
Falandysz J, Jedrusiak A, Lipka K, et al. Mercury in wild mushrooms and underlying soil substrate from Koszalin, North-central Poland. Chemosphere 2004;54(4):461-466. View Abstract
Falandysz J, Lipka K, Gucia M, Kawano, et al. Accumulation factors of mercury in mushrooms from Zaborski Landscape Park, Poland. Environ.Int. 2002;28(5):421-427. View Abstract
Garcia N, Zazueta C, Pavon N, et al. Agaric acid induces mitochondrial permeability transition through its interaction with the adenine nucleotide translocase. Its dependence on membrane fluidity. Mitochondrion. 2005;5(4):272-281. View Abstract
Hajicek-Dobberstein S. Soma siddhas and alchemical enlightenment: psychedelic mushrooms in Buddhist tradition. J Ethnopharmacol. 1995;48(2):99-118. View Abstract
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Lacaz CdaS, Heins-Vaccari EM., De Melo NT, et al. Basidiomycosis: a review of the literature. Rev Inst.Med.Trop.Sao Paulo 1996;38(5):379-390. View Abstract
Madsen S, Jenssen KM. [Poisoning with deadly agaric (Amanita virosa). Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment]. Tidsskr.Nor Laegeforen. 5-30-1990;110(14):1828-1829. View Abstract
McCune SA, Foe LG, Kemp RG, et al. Aurintricarboxylic acid is a potent inhibitor of phosphofructokinase. Biochem.J 5-1-1989;259(3):925-927. View Abstract
Michelot D, Melendez-Howell LM. Amanita muscaria: chemistry, biology, toxicology, and ethnomycology. Mycol.Res 2003;107(Pt 2):131-146. View Abstract
Powers MF, Smith LL, Beavis AD. On the relationship between the mitochondrial inner membrane anion channel and the adenine nucleotide translocase. J Biol.Chem 4-8-1994;269(14):10614-10620. View Abstract
Satora L, Pach D, Butryn B, et al. Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) poisoning, case report and review. Toxicon 6-1-2005;45(7):941-943. View Abstract
Xu ZX, Smart DA, Rooney SA. Glucocorticoid induction of fatty-acid synthase mediates the stimulatory effect of the hormone on choline-phosphate cytidylyltransferase activity in fetal rat lung. Biochim.Biophys Acta 5-1-1990;1044(1):70-76. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
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.
March 22, 2017