Amanita Muscaria: The Most Famous Mushroom of All
The images used in the Mario Brothers world have become a well-known mainstay of culture in the decades since it was released—a world of turtle shells, green pipes that can be a portal to another world, conniving dinosaurs, and perhaps most famously, red and white mushrooms that made Mario big and strong when he ate them.
Those iconic red-capped, white-spotted psychedelic mushrooms that populate the Mario Brothers world are none other than Amanita Muscaria, a beautiful mushroom native to the roots of pine and conifer forests in the northern hemisphere. These majestic fungi figure heavily in the Mario Brothers universe, but they have also appeared in art and human culture since ancient times. Indeed, the famed mushrooms are among the oldest friends and allies of humanity, with beneficial properties for healing and general wellness. Few ingredients in nature promote relaxation quite like the famous Amanita.
A Fantastic, Fascinating Fungus
Amanita Muscaria is also called the fly agaric, or fly Amanita. The Amanita mushroom is referred to as the fly agaric because it has been used all over the world, throughout antiquity, to kill flies. Mixed in with a bit of milk, the mushrooms attract flies—some people even think that it's the psychoactive effects of Amanita that actually attracts flies. The natural toxicity of the mushroom then kills them! (Though toxic in its natural form, when properly processed and handled, Amanita Muscaria mushrooms become safe for consumption).
Interestingly, the Latin prefix “musca” from muscaria, means “fly”. The fly-attracting / insecticidal qualities of the fly agaric were known in various regions of the world, and many local dialects used their version of the word “fly” to describe the mushroom.
Amanita mushrooms have been a sacrament for shamans since ancient times, as indicated by cave art and other historical artistic representations. The psychedelic qualities of Amanita at higher doses are mildly intoxicating, producing something like drunkenness. Ingesting large amounts can induce visual and auditory flares, peripheral visuals, euphoria, and a heightened state of consciousness.
Historically, indigenous peoples would wait for reindeer to eat the mushroom, then they would drink the reindeer pee to get the psychoactive effects of the mushroom with no toxicity, having been filtered by the livers of reindeer. Luckily, humans have since learned to boil the mushroom down in order to remove the toxicity, so we don't have to do that any more.
Amanita Muscaria's association with the pine tree—coupled with the drying process which often had people picking mushrooms then leaving them in the pine trees to dry out—is believed to have given rise to the idea of Christmas trees with hung ornaments. Maybe it's no coincidence that Santa Claus dresses in red and white.
Amanita is terrific for an ecosystem, being classified as a mycorrhizal mushroom—meaning it creates a spongy underground network of mycelial connectivity that helps soil retain water and nutrients. This symbiotic relationship that Amanita shares with conifers helps forests thrive.
Amanita for Humans
The active ingredients in Amanita muscaria are muscimol and ibotenic acid, which interact with cell receptors in the human body. The enjoyable benefits include a deepened sense of relaxation, a euphoric boost, and a calming, anti-inflammatory effect. Amanita muscaria are psychoactive, psychedelic mushrooms.
Studies have shown that therapeutic functional mushrooms promote cell growth in the brain, in a process called neurogenesis. The benefits of neurogenesis can help with issues like depression, anxiety, and stress response. The brain grows new gray matter, helping open or re-open neural pathways, which can help users gain perspective, often helping us to resolve issues in our lives. Mushroom's inherent neurogenetic properties can fundamentally improve our physical, mental, and spiritual lives.
HempLucid is proud to work with natural ingredients that serve a healing purpose. Our belief as a company is that nature provides the solutions to unlock our creative, physical, and spiritual potential. Amanita Muscaria is another great addition to the toolbox—a naturally-occurring therapeutic powerhouse with tremendous potential for healing our lives.
Mushrooms for the Win
Amanita is certainly the most featured mushroom in the arts, and the most memorable power-up from the world of Super Mario. The caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland is perched atop a giant Amanita. The Smurfs live in Amanita houses. Pop culture has many, many examples of Amanita Muscaria. Amanita features prominently in Christian and Victorian artwork. This beautiful species lives beside us and continues to hold a deep influence within our culture.
While it may seem like a brand new trend, or an innovative supplement that hasn't been tried before, humans have a venerable relationship with Amanita which underlies much of our civilization. The psychedelic state it produces, plus the benefits for health, have served humanity at a fundamental level since our earliest ancestors began an agricultural way of life—maybe even longer than that!
Amanita Muscaria can help us feel a deeper connection with the earth, history, and with ourselves.
We anticipate that HempLucid will someday create an Amanita muscaria product. For now, we hope you will consider trying Functional Mushroom gummies featuring other fantastic fungal allies like lion's mane, cordyceps, reishi, and more!