Amanita muscaria, also known as fly agaric, is instantly recognizable with its vivid red cap, often flecked with white spots. It is the quintessential toadstool, and most people will know it from fairytales and artworks, if not the forest floor.
Amanita pantherina, or the panther cap, is Amanita muscaria’s lesser-known cousin. It is more difficult to spot due to its muted coloring and is often overlooked. However, it shares many characteristics with Amanita muscaria, and those seeking these mushrooms’ psychoactive properties say it is even more potent than its counterpart.
This article explores the difference between these two famous fungi and why it is essential to understand their effects, dosage, and safety.
What Is Amanita Muscaria?
Amanita muscaria is probably the best-known mushroom on the planet. It is easy to spot with its large, bright red and white cap and has been depicted countless times throughout history.
Humans have a special reverence for this mushroom due to its appearance and reputation as a toxic toadstool. However, when appropriately prepared, it can be safely consumed and induces dream-like, mind-altering effects.
Amanita muscaria has been used in shamanic traditions for centuries, and, more recently, it has become popular with those seeking a spiritual experience. The practice of microdosing Amanita muscaria has also become more mainstream, with proponents claiming that it reduces anxiety and aids restful sleep.
This mushroom’s unique effects are due to two chemical compounds, ibotenic acid and muscimol.
The raw mushrooms are rich in ibotenic acid, which is said to have stimulating effects, but can also cause unpleasant symptoms, such as sickness and muscle spasms. When the mushrooms are prepared in a specific way, most of this ibotenic acid converts to muscimol, which has more relaxant effects and is considered safer.
What Is Amanita Pantherina?
Amanita pantherina is potentially a misnomer, depending on where these mushrooms are found.
Amanita pantherina is a European mushroom, and specimens found growing in the United States were initially thought to be the same species. However, genetic sequencing showed slight differences, and the American version was renamed Amanita pantheroides. The two names are often used interchangeably, although it is incorrect to do so.
This mushroom is less recognizable than Amanita muscaria, but it contains similar chemical compounds and is widely known as being more potent in terms of psychoactivity. According to one report, Amanita muscaria is more likely to cause side effects such as confusion and agitation, while Amanita pantherina can cause comatose states.
Therefore, this mushroom is considered more dangerous than Amanita muscaria and is not recommended for beginners. It has a high concentration of ibotenic acid and is likely to cause unpleasant side effects, especially if consumed raw.
Amanita Muscaria vs. Pantherina: Effects, Dosage, and Safety
Both Amanita muscaria and Amanita pantherina can cause hallucinations in high doses. These hallucinations often have a spiritual element, such as dying and being reborn, visiting heaven or hell, or communicating with God.
Lower doses reportedly induce a dream-like state or cause the user to fall into a dream-filled sleep. Depending on how the mushrooms are prepared, they may have more stimulating or relaxing effects.
When using these mushrooms, it is essential to prepare them correctly to reduce the risk of side effects. This involves exposing them to heat and acidic conditions to convert ibotenic acid into muscimol, a process called decarboxylation.
The most common way to do this is by simmering the mushrooms in water for several hours and adding lemon juice or citric acid to reduce the pH to around 2.5. Some people also consume pieces of dried mushrooms to experience a mix of ibotenic acid and muscimol effects.
An appropriate dosage depends on the desired effects, preparation method, and individual biology. Therefore, it is impossible to give an accurate estimate. However, most experienced users recommend starting with a minimal 0.5g (500mg) of dried Amanita muscaria mushrooms and working up from there. Because Amanita pantherina is much more potent than Amanita muscaria, the dose should be reduced accordingly.
The safest way to enjoy these mushrooms is to try amanita gummies. These products are becoming widely available as more people learn about the potential of amanita mushrooms.
Well-manufactured gummies should be safe and reduce the risk of unpleasant side effects. They contain a pre-measured amount of muscimol and minimal ibotenic acid. Therefore, Amanita muscaria gummies’ dosage and effects are far more predictable than fresh mushrooms.
They also take the hassle and risk out of foraging and preparing these mushrooms, offering a perfect solution for those hoping to experience their unique effects for the first time.