Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

If there’s any mushroom that has dominated fairy tales of all times,it is the Amanita Muscaria. Not only Amanita Muscaria is the most recognizable mushroom on the planet, it also is the only mushroom with such wide pictorial depiction in Christmas cards, children’s books, cookie jars, cartoons and even in architecture.What else do you think was responsible for Alice’s trip to Wonderland? With its vibrant red cap and white spots, there is no other mushroom that can be equally striking and attractive. The mushroom is also known as fly agaric.
Who knew that fungus could be that beautiful! There could be only one word to describe bright red toadstool called Amanita Muscaria – gorgeous. The young adult mushrooms are red, and with age they fade to orange or yellowish orange. There is a white universal veil that entirely covers the youngest mushrooms. On adults, this veil stretches out to make the fluffy white spots of Amanita Muscaria.
The stem of Amanita Muscaria has a bulbous base tapering towards the cap. The diameter of the cap ranges between 8 to 10 cm and the height of the stem from 8 to 18 cm. There are other species two which are yellow or white or brown. However, here we are going to particularly talk about the red Amanitas.

Amanita Muscaria are widely distributed in North America and parts of Asia and Europe. With pine trees imported from Europe, the mushroom was introduced to Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. In North America, It blooms from June to October; in Europe it blooms from August to November.
Amanita Muscaria are ectomycorrhical fungi and thus it forms an intimate relationship with the roots of the host tree. This relationship is mutually beneficial to both of them. They can be easily observed to grow under pine, fir, birch, spruce, live oak or madrone.
Amanita Muscaria are observed to grow solitary as well as in scattered groups.

History at a Glance
In modern times, Amanita Muscaria was first described by Swedish botanist and father of modern taxonomy, Carl Linnaeus in 1753. Linnaeus was the first to use the Latin term ‘musca’ meaning fly to describe it. Significance of ‘fly’ comes from the fact that since long amanita muscaria is used as a fly killer. It is broken in milk and kept at a place to lure in flies. After consuming this milk, flies would become inebriated and crash into the walls or objects and die.
In 1968, R Gordon Wasson wrote about Amanita Muscaria in his book “Soma – The Divine Mushroom of Immortality.” Wasson proposed that Amanita Muscaria is the mystical ‘Soma’ of ancient Rig Veda text of India (which plays an important role in Hindu culture). His theory has been both accepted and rejected since.
In many parts of Europe, Amanita Muscaria is associated with Christmas as it among the favorite food of reindeers. It is also used across the midwinter festivals in Siberia. A popular theory is that Amanita Muscaria might have inspired some features of Santa as depicted in popular culture today, like his red and white robe and his association with reindeers. Shamans in Siberia also believe that this mushroom is a way to speak to and communicate with gods.
Another use of Amanita Muscaria as given in history is that its consumption was prevalent among Vikings. Vikings were said to take it just before they set out to invade a land. This mushroom’s consumption altered their minds in such a way that felt fearless and ruthless.

Chemical Make Up
Amanita Muscaria is potent source of ibotenic acid and muscimol. Both of these are psychoactive and hallucinogenic in nature. They act on nervous system as neuropeptide receptors.Also after ingestion, ibotenic acid decarboxylates into muscamol causing intoxication in body.Other noted effects are ‘talking to god,’ expanded perception, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth and macropsia. Another interesting feature is that the chemical makeup of Amanita Muscaria does varydepending on seasons, climate and location.

Amanita Muscaria has been considered sacred and has been used traditionally by Shamans for their spiritual as well as physical healing. Kamchatkan medical lore considers eating few fresh pieces of fly agaric as a remedy for sore throat. Other anecdotal uses are for arthritis and as an analgesic. For use in arthritis, young amanita muscaria pieces are kept in an airtight container. This container is placed in a cool dark place so that it starts leaving its water. This water is also squeezed by hands and the pulp of fly agaric is placed and bandaged overnight on the arthritis affected area.
Apart from that, it is consumed for experiencing psychedelic state as well. Many also assert that Amanita Muscaria’s oral administration can also help in treating psychotic conditions.

Amanita Muscaria can be consumed fresh, dried or in drinks depending upon the strength of one’s body (how much can your body endure). It is better to start with minimum and then observe how your body reacts to it. When consuming fresh, it is recommended to boil them in good quantity of water with a dash of salt and vinegar. This process helps in extracting toxins and thus gives you a toxin-free Amanita Muscaria to enjoy.
Preparing tea from crushed dry amanita muscaria or its powder is also a good way to enjoy its benefits. Fair dosage to feel effects will be around 3 to 10 grams or 1 to 3 caps. But again, start with the minimum and see where you go.

Side Effects
It is highly recommended against eating amanita muscaria raw or picking one whose cap hasn’t fully opened. Their consumption can lead to physical exhaustion, nausea, and feeling of dissociation, euphoria and sedation. It also alters senses, particularly that of vision, hearing and taste.
Jonibek Raimkulov-Alam alam | Жонибек Раимкулов-Алам алам 2016 Uzbek music