‘Magic Mushroom’ Lookalike is a Not Safe Alternative, Could Kill 

'Magic Mushroom' Lookalike is a Not Safe Alternative, Could Kill. Credit | Getty Images
'Magic Mushroom' Lookalike is a Not Safe Alternative, Could Kill. Credit | Getty Images

United States: The modern trend for “magic” psilocybin mushrooms that has almost become a fashionable method of treating depression is one reason for the rising interest in another method of using psychedelic mushrooms – a recent study revealed. 

More about the case 

However, this second type of shroom – Amanita muscaria – can be much worse for an individual than fentanyl, cocaine, and PCP, according to scientists. 

Promoting the two types of mushrooms as one type is not only wrong but also poses risks to human health, according to Eric Leas, the senior researcher and an assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science. 

Leas stated, “Companies who are making these products are pushing the limits of our regulations. They are getting away with making a buck until someone tells them they can’t,” reported US News. 

“Given the substantial risks associated with using Amanita muscaria products, it is a buyer-beware marketplace where consumers are at risk and are not accurately informed,” and “The time for a public health first response is now,” as Leas added. 

'Magic Mushroom' Lookalike is a Not Safe Alternative, Could Kill. Credit | Getty Images
‘Magic Mushroom’ Lookalike is a Not Safe Alternative, Could Kill. Credit | Getty Images

Growing Popularity of Amanita muscaria 

Searches for the Amanita muscaria mushrooms on Google increased by 114 percent between the years 2022 and 2023, the researchers said on June 10, 2021, in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 

New products used in the form of gummies and chocolates have chemical substances that come from Amanita muscaria mushrooms, including muscimol and ibotenic acid, and are advertised as products that help to alleviate anxiety, depression, and other problems, the researchers explained. 

Phycoactively, Amanita muscaria produces similary as psilocybin mushrooms which include the feeling of weightslessness, have sensitization of the visuals and audios, feelings of spatial distortion, lack of feel for time and ones colored hallucinations. 

However several points have been highlighted by the reseachers that Amanita muscaria works on the brain and the body in a way much different from how psilocybin works. 

Psilocybin is an antidepressant that directly ends up on serotonin receptors in the brain that control the pathways of ‘feeling good’ and being positive. 

In contrast, Amanita muscaria, which is a depressant that targets the central nervous system like alcohol and benzodiazepines, experts said. 

Consumption of raw Amanita muscaria mushrooms leads to some effects such as dizziness, muscle spasms, loss of coordination, agitation, Coma, and even death, but some researchers claim that they are harmless. 

In the prior year, a 44-year-old man passed away after he consumed four dried caps of Amanita muscaria mushrooms, the authors of the paper pointed out. 

'Magic Mushroom' Lookalike is a Not Safe Alternative, Could Kill. Credit | Getty Images
‘Magic Mushroom’ Lookalike is a Not Safe Alternative, Could Kill. Credit | Getty Images

One of the cases was that of a 46-year-old woman who developed some complications that led to her being hospitalized after she tried to “microdose” the mushrooms for two weeks to treat her anxiety. 

The woman bought a 20-gram Amanita muscaria mushroom over the internet from a website that she came across on social media. 

Researchers conducted a study that revealed that the chemicals in these mushrooms are poisonous at concentrations that are way lower than the concentrations of those found in illegal and prescription drugs such as diazepam, cocaine, codeine, fentanyl, mescaline, and alcohol. 

Leas said, “In my view, if a manufacturer wanted to develop a dietary supplement from Amanita muscaria, the application probably would not be approved because of muscimol and ibotenic acids’ inherent risks,” US News reported. 

“But right now, it is the ‘Wild West,’ and companies are profiting from delayed enforcement while putting consumers at risk,” Leas added. 

No FDA support for Amanita muscaria mushrooms 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved psilocybin as a ‘breakthrough therapy,’ and in 2023, it made it possible for companies that develop drugs and scientists to carry out tests involving the psychedelic with a human subject. 

This, however, is not the case with Amanita muscaria mushrooms, researchers said, which have not been backed by the FDA in any way. 

However, some are selling Amanita muscaria in the same way as psilocybin, interchangeably. 

Leas added, “For example, some manufacturers are calling Amanita muscaria products ‘magic mushroom gummies’ and not disclosing what mushroom they contain, or not making it clear Amanita muscaria is a different mushroom than psilocybin and has essentially no clinical evidence supporting its use as a therapy,” as US News reported. 

“There may be some pharmaceutical potential to Amanita muscaria, but muscimol does not have the same effects on the body as psilocybin, so it probably would not have the same treatment applications if it ever went through drug development,” Leas said. 

“For this reason, it is misleading not to clearly distinguish between muscimol and psilocybin,” he added. 

Overall, the scientists have recommended that authorities be urged to control Amanita muscaria sales. 

Otherwise, regulators must control the mushroom’s use by adults and create accurate dosing standards.