Fly Agaric, Bug Agaric.
These synonyms arise from its variety of colour, which it often assumes according to the locality in which it is found.
French. : Fausse Orange. German. : Pliegen-schwamm. Italian. Amanita. Russian. : Moucho-more.
The Agaricus muscarius is supposed to be the black poisonous Agaric, The Agaric of Serapion and the Arabian physicians is the Boletus ignarius.
Mr. Greville, in the fourth volume. Part II., of the ” Transactions of the Wernerian Society,” 1893, has the following remarks on this fungus :
— ” As the plant commonly known by the name of the fly agaric (from its property of destroying flies when steeped in milk) has made some noise of late on the Continent, I must warn those who might feel inclined to try it in this country, of the danger they would expose themselves to. It has not been clearly ascertained whether the species which grows in this country and in the south of Europe be indeed the same as that which is found in Kamtschatka, and called Amanita muscaria Kamtschatica. At any rate, our plant is known as highly poisonous, and the Kamtschatka variety may be another species, or having partly lost its virulence from inhabiting a more northern climate.
The variety of Amanita muscaria is used by the inhabitants of the north-eastern part of Asia in the same manner as wine, brandy, arrack, opium, etc., is by other nations.
The usual mode of taking the fungus is to roll it up like a bolus, and swallow it without chewing, which the Kamtschadales say would disorder the stomach. It is sometimes eaten fresh, in soups and sauces, and then loses much of its intoxicating properties. When steeped in the juice of the berries of Vaccinium uliginosum, its effects are those of strong wine.
One large or two small fungi is the common dose to produce a pleasant intoxication for a whole day, particularly if water be drank after it, which augments the narcotic principle. The desired effect comes on from one to two hours after taking the fungus ; giddiness and drunkenness result in the same manner as wine and spirits ; cheerful emotions of the mind are first produced ; the countenance becomes flushed ; involuntary words and actions follow, and sometimes at last an entire loss of consciousness.
It renders some remarkably active, and proves highly stimulant to muscular exertion ; with too large a dose violent spasmodic effects are produced. So very exciting to the nervous system in many individuals is this fungus, that the effects are often very ludicrous. If a person under its influence wishes to step over a straw or small stick, he takes a stride or a jump sufficient to clear the trunk of a tree ; a talkative person cannot keep silence or secrets, and one fond of music is perpetually singing.
The most singular effect of the Amanita is the influence it possesses over the secretion of the kidneys. It is said, that from time immemorial, the inhabitants have known that the fungus imparts an intoxicating quality to this secretion, which continues for a considerable length of time after taking it.
This fungus is the Moucho-more of the Russians, Kamtschadales, and Koriacs, who use it for intoxication. It is often immersed in a liquid made from the Epilobium (Rosebay Willow herb) ; and when this liquor is drunk, the drinkers are seized with convulsions in all their limbs, followed
with that kind of raving which attends a burning fever. They personify this mushroom ; and if they are urged by its effects to suicide or other dreadful crime, they pretend to obey its commands. To fit themselves for premeditated assassination, they recur to the use of the Moucho-more.
It was recommended in early times as a remedy for epilepsy, and later employed externally to strumous, phagedenic, and fistulous ulcers.
The Agaric was proved by Hahnemann and others, and the results recorded in his work on ” Chronic Diseases,” under the article Agaricus muscarius. This remedy has been successfully employed in convulsions and tremors, and some kinds of epilepsy. It is proposed for Paralysis of the upper and lower extremities, arising from incipient softening of the central portion of the spinal marrow. For the peculiar symptoms indicating its use,
the reader is referred to Hahnemann’s Chronic Diseases, Jahr’s Manual, Noack and Trinks’ Homoop. Arzneimittellehre, etc.