Encased in their iconic scarlet red-and-white-spotted caps, Amanita Muscaria mushrooms have long piqued the interest of spiritual explorers and wellness enthusiasts. People have used this psychoactive species since ancient times. Today, mainstream culture is again curious about Amanita’s psychotropic properties and how the therapeutic potential compares to other mind-altering compounds like THC and psilocybin.

This article examines Amanita muscaria’s unique active ingredients, comparing their effects with THC and other psychoactive compounds. 

Amanita muscaria’s Psychoactive Ingredients

Amanita Muscaria contains three main psychoactive ingredients, or alkaloids: muscimol, muscarine, and ibotenic acid. Learn more from Qwin’s Amanita muscaria effects blog.


Muscimol, the primary psychoactive compound in Amanita muscaria, offers a range of potential benefits by activating the brain’s GABA-A receptor. This action reduces the overall excitability of the brain, promoting relaxation and calmness by dampening neuronal activity and balancing the neurotransmitter signaling in the brain.

Muscimol’s soothing properties can induce deep relaxation even in small doses. It offers a sense of tranquility, which may contribute to:

  • Stress reduction
  • Anxiety relief
  • Pain relief
  • Promoting restful sleep

Ibotenic Acid

Less potent than muscimol, ibotenic acid possesses mild psychoactive properties that can have interesting effects on the brain. 

Ibotenic acid stimulates specific receptors in the brain, particularly the glutamate receptors. This action can lead to euphoria and enhanced cognitive function. However, excessive stimulation can also cause excitotoxicity, which can cause inflammation and damage to nerve cells.

When mushrooms contain more ibotenic acid than muscimol, people often describe a mix of confusion, agitation, and euphoria


Muscarine is a natural alkaloid that occurs in trace amounts in Amanita muscaria mushrooms. It acts as a “cholinergic agonist,” meaning it stimulates the activity of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the nervous system. While it is not considered a potent hallucinogen, muscarine can produce various neurological and psychoactive effects when ingested.

Muscarine effects:

  • Increased salivation, sweating, and tearing.
  • Gastrointestinal activity, including nausea and vomiting.
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Pupil constriction
  • Mild hallucinations

Muscarine’s interaction with acetylcholine receptors could have cognitive benefits for people struggling with memory loss. But the compound can also be toxic, so Amanita extracts typically filter out this compound. 

Comparing Amanita muscaria to THC and Psilocybin

Amanita muscaria’s key ingredients act differently than THC and psilocybin in the brain. Overall they produce distinct psychoactive experiences with a few notable therapeutic similarities. 

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC):

THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system. 

When THC binds to CB1 receptors predominantly found in the brain, it alters neurotransmitter release, leading to psychoactive effects like sedation, euphoria, and altered perception. This interaction also affects memory, coordination, mood, and pain perception. 

When THC activates CB2 receptors primarily located in the immune system, it can improve immune responses and reduce inflammation. 

THC’s CB1 and CB2 action could support:

  • Better sleep
  • Reduced pain perception
  • Appetite stimulation
  • Neuroprotective properties
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Nausea relief 


Psilocybin, found in “magic mushrooms,” is a potent psychedelic compound with unique neurological and psychoactive effects. Once ingested, psilocybin converts to psilocin, which interacts with serotonin receptors in the brain, particularly the 5-HT2A receptor

Psilocybin’s serotonin action leads to altered perception, intense visual and auditory hallucinations, and changes in thought patterns and emotions. Research indicates that brain networks begin interacting in novel ways, leading to a profound sense of unity and ego dissolution. Users may experience introspection, spiritual insights, and increased creativity. 

The neurological effects of psilocybin may contribute to potential therapeutic applications for:

  • Depression, and anxiety
  • Addiction
  • End-of-life distress 
  • Pain 

How Amanita, Psilocybin, and THC Compare

The main differences between Amanita muscaria, THC, and psilocybin’s psychotropic and therapeutic effects lie in their chemical properties and target receptors. The experience is very different across these potent compounds; however, similarities also exist. 

The experience 

  • Amanita’s main psychoactive compound, muscimol, often causes sedation, muscle relaxation, and motor impairment alongside dream-like visions. 
  • Psilocybin often causes intense hallucinations and emotional experiences with potential spiritual insights. 
  • THC notably leads to euphoria and mood alterations, with sedative effects in indica-dominant cannabis strains. 

Potential therapeutic benefit 

Users sometimes compare Amanita’s relaxing effects to indica cannabis strains, typically used at night for sleep support. These reports indicate Amanita could share THC’s stress and insomnia-relieving qualities.  Amanita mushrooms may also relieve pain, thanks to their muscimol content, similar to THC and psilocybin effects. 

Unfortunately, scientists have not conducted significant Amanita clinical research, so its therapeutic applications are not well-established. 

Potential Risks of Amanita Muscaria

Consuming raw Amanita muscaria mushrooms can be dangerous because high ibotenic acid and muscarine content can cause toxic effects such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, confusion, and delirium. In the most extreme cases, Amanita poisoning can cause seizures, organ failure, and death,

To avoid such outcomes, consumers should avoid ingesting raw Amanita muscaria and instead seek high-quality extracts that have been properly filtered and processed to contain high muscimol and low ibotenic acid and muscarine levels. Extracts include capsules, edibles, and beverages. 

How to Use Amanita Muscaria Safely

  • Avoid consuming Amanita muscaria raw because of its intense toxicity.
  • Begin with a small dose to gauge your body’s reaction to the substance.
  • Allow ample time between each dose to fully experience the effects as they can appear.
  • Be aware that combining Amanita muscaria with other substances, including alcohol, can increase the risk of adverse reactions.

The Bottom Line

Overall, Amanita muscaria’s effects, derived from muscimol, ibotenic acid, and muscarine, are distinct from THC and psilocybin. However, the reported sleep-support and pain-relieving properties indicate this iconic mushroom could provide similar therapeutic benefits. Consumers who want to explore Amanita mushrooms should speak with a qualified medical professional and only ingest high-quality extracts at low doses to determine the right protocol for their needs. 

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