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Marysia Kratimenos
describes one of the
lesser-known but
important remedies

      he Fly Agaric fungus is the toad-
      stool of fairy tales, a symbol of good
      fortune and Christmas, as familiar
as Santa Claus and his reindeer. It is
described as “the quintessential mush-
room”, a potent hallucinogen of deep
shamanic and religious importance.
It is a common sight in the woods of
temperate regions of the northern hemi-
sphere. It probably originated in Siberia
before spreading throughout Europe,
Asia, North and Central America. Un-
fortunately in recent years it has been
hailed as the new “legal high”. Its psycho-
active constituents have led to its misuse
and the dried mushroom is readily avail-
able on “magic mushroom” market stalls.
                                               stem of the mature fungus. As the mush-       flies entering the mind. The term “fly”
Botanical facts                                room grows the characteristic red colour      probably also refers to the shamanic
Amanita muscaria, as the Agaricus has          develops, punctuated by the white warts.      journey between the physical world and
been renamed by botanists, is a large              Fungi are devoid of chlorophyll, the      the other worlds.
mushroom, up to eight inches in diam-          green pigment of plants, which allows             Although regarded as poisonous,
eter, and it frequently grows in “fairy        them to manufacture their food from air       the Amanita is far less toxic than many
rings”, due to its method of spore dis-        and sunlight. They belong to a separate       other fungi such as the death cap (Aman-
persal. In ancient times these rings of        kingdom from plants as they depend on         ita phalloides). It is rarely mistaken for
mushrooms were considered a sign of            organic material created by other organ-      another species except as an immature
fertility and supernatural powers. The         isms for their energy; they obtain their      button, which can look like a puffball.
fungi grow on rotting leaves beneath           nutrients by secreting digestive enzymes      Most fatalities occur in young children
beech and pine trees, in the damp of           into the food. Their cell wall is made of     and those eating the fungus for its hallu-
autumn. Unlike parasitic fungi which           chitin, a tough polysaccharide which          cinogenic properties. Approximately 1g
destroy plants, the Amanita benefits its       insects and crustaceans use in their exter-   of muscaria or 50 to 100mg of ibotenic
host tree by enriching the soil.               nal skeleton. In essence the fungi span       acid would constitute a fatal dose, equiv-
    The fungal mycelia grow deep in the        the space between plants and animals.         alent to ingesting 15 mushroom caps.
earth and the fruiting bodies, the young           The common name Fly Agaric                The potency of the fungus varies greatly
fungi, emerge enclosed in a warty veil         denotes its ancient use as an insecticide     according to season, habitat and weather.
reminiscent of a foetal cowl. In bygone        (the dried mushroom was sprinkled into        Muscimol and ibotenic acid are the psycho-
times babies born in the membrane that         milk to stun flies) and also its hallu-       active chemicals found in Fly Agaric.
lined the womb were considered witches.        cinogenic properties. In medieval times       They are close chemically to one another
The remnants of the veil are seen on the       insanity was believed to be caused by         and the brain chemicals, which explains

14 H&H Winter 2008/2009
the ability of the mushroom to alter con-      tees would drink his urine. The hallu-            Agaricus the remedy
sciousness and cause “trips”.                  cinogenic substances are reported to be           Agaricus, which was proved by Hahne-
    Following ingestion of the Fly             active after seven passages through the           mann, is a lesser-known homeopathic
Agaric, usually within 30 to 90 minutes,       kidneys. Reindeer eat Fly Agaric and              remedy, however it remains an impor-
there is often slight nausea and vomit-        sometimes the tribesmen would drink               tant one. As the fungus is native to
ing. Then the effects on the brain become      their urine to obtain the desired state.          Siberia, it grows in conditions of extreme
apparent: an initial euphoria, giggling        This is undoubtedly the origin of the fly-        cold. The rubric “ailments from frost-
and inebriation which can resemble             ing reindeer myths.                               bite” can be a vastly important key to
drunkenness. Indeed Fly Agaric was                 Amanita combined with cannabis                finding this remedy.
added to bootleg liquor to disguise the        is believed by many to be the Soma of
low alcohol content.                           the Vedas, the Ancient Greeks’ ambrosia           Other rubrics include:
    The second phase of Amanita inges-         and the manna of the Bible. Lewis                 • Ailments from frost, cold, frostbite,
tion is narcotic when one is deeply            Carroll described the effects of the com-           fright, alcoholism
moved by the wonder of the universe            bined hallucinogen. “In a minute or two           • Aggravation from motion, coitus,
and visions may occur. The effects can         the Caterpillar took the hookah out                 pressure touch
last for several days. Perception is deeply    of its mouth and yawned once or                   • Headaches with sensation head
altered, colours intensify and the senses      twice, and shook itself. Then it got off            swollen
merge together, a condition known as           the mushroom, and crawled away into               • Chorea – involuntary muscle
synesthesia. Colours have smells or            the grass, merely remarking as it went,             spasms that cease in sleep
sounds; one can taste words or musi-           ‘One side will make you grow taller, and          • Tubercular types
cal notes. Many artists have the gift of       the other side will make you grow                 • Hydrogenoid diathesesis (Grauvogl)
synesthesia: Van Gogh, Kandinsky,              shorter’.”                                        • Loquacity
Mondrian and Baudelaire to mention                 Lewis Carroll suffered from both              • Delirium, confusion
but a few. Mozart reputedly described          temporal lobe epilepsy and stammering             • Fear of cancer
his music in colours or flavours.              – two conditions for which Agaricus is            • Chilblains, redness of nose and
    Synesthesia occurs when the temp-          commonly prescribed and his works                   pinna with extreme itching
oral lobe of the brain is stimulated, either   detail a typical Agaricus epileptic state.        • Inco-ordination, muscle spasms
in the context of temporal epilepsy, with
hallucinogenic drugs or in deep religious
or spiritual experiences.
    Aldous Huxley describes the won-
drous state of shifting consciousness in
The Doors of Perception. Although
Huxley was actually experimenting with
Anhalonium Lewinii, the peyote mush-
room sacred to Native Americans, his
descriptions of that altered state of
consciousness hold true for Amanita
intoxication. “I was seeing what Adam
saw on the morning of his creation – the
miracle, moment by moment, of naked
existence … The Beatific Vision, Sat Chit
Ananda, Being – awareness – Bliss – for
the first time I understood, not by in-
choate hints or at a distance, but precisely
and completely what those prodigious
syllables referred to.” He was equally
fascinated by the great mystics. He
wanted to experience their world and
believed that mescaline was his passport
there. “Or, short of being born again
as a visionary, a medium, or a musical
genius, how can we ever visit the worlds
which to Blake, to Swedenborg, to
Johann Sebastian Bach, were home?”
    Siberian shamans revered the Fly
Agaric. The word shaman means “he or
she who knows”. Shamans underwent
spiritual journeys for the benefit of the
tribe; to traverse the axis mundi in order
to enter the spirit world and receive guid-
ance. Drumming was often deployed to
achieve the trance state. The shaman
would eat of the Fly Agaric and his devo-                                    Photo: British Library Images Online

                                                                                                                    Winter 2008/2009 H&H 15
Case one                                      problems in children. They are mis-               Despite the severity of his condition,
Christopher was a dreamy seven year-          chievous, excitable, often “away with         Jeremy was cheerful and happy in him-
old, brought to the clinic by his mother.     the fairies” and often stammer. In many       self. He could see the silver lining in
His teachers were frustrated by his inat-     cases their parents have used large quan-     every cloud. He had a deep spirituality
tention in class. He was obviously a          tities of recreational drugs or alcohol.      and bore his suffering stoically. His
bright boy, but did not do well at school.         Agaricus is a remedy that should be      arthritis had come on after he had been
He was prone to “daydreaming” and             considered for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome        camping and the weather changed sud-
could not focus in lessons. At times he       and for babies born to drug-addicted          denly. He was “frost bitten”, “frozen to
could misbehave badly.                        mothers.                                      the very marrow”, as he described it. His
    His mother said that his eyelids                                                        well-meaning friends warmed him up
would twitch and then his eyes would          Visual problems                               rapidly in a hot bath and soon after the
glaze over. He would then be unrespon-        These are frequent, both in the adults        arthritis developed.
sive for several minutes. On question-        and children. Apart from twitching of             The remedy Agaricus covered every
ing Christopher described synesthesia         the eye muscles, there are visual distur-     detail of his illness and its causation.
– he was very artistic and he could taste     bances, reminiscent of Alice’s fall into      Jeremy responded well to it and the
and smell his paintings. He’d go into a       the rabbit hole and the distortions of        spasms vanished. Slowly the arthritis
trance whilst painting. Flashing lights       perception and size, characteristic of        improved with continued treatment.
and computer games would also “trance”        temporal lobe epilepsy.
him out. The condition was worse in               The treatment of epilepsy is obvi-        Other conditions
autumn. He travelled to school by bus         ously a task for medical homeopaths           Agaricus is helpful for many psychiatric
and the light shimmering through the          who will prescribe alongside standard         conditions, again in conjunction with
trees could precipitate his attacks.          anti-epileptic medication.                    prescribed medication and only in the
    It was obvious to me this was not a                                                     hands of experienced medically quali-
simple case of inattention and so I asked                                                   fied homeopaths. It may help with alco-
for the opinion of a neurologist. He con-                                                   hol withdrawal and delirium tremens,
firmed Christopher was suffering with                                                       as well as delusional and psychotic states.
temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). His brain                                                         Agaricus is also useful for Bell’s palsy,
scan was normal. His mother was offered                                                     where a temporary paralysis of the facial
anti-epileptic medication but the neuro-                                                    muscles occurs after exposure to a cold
logist said as the condition was mild, he                                                   wind. Aconite is the remedy of choice
was happy for her to try homeopathic                                                        immediately after the exposure, but
remedies under medical supervision.                                                         Agaricus may be prescribed by your doc-
    Agaricus worked wonders. Christ-                                                        tor as a follow-on remedy particularly
opher’s “trances” stopped completely,                                                       if there is a lot of muscle spasm. This
his behaviour improved at school and                                                        condition does require a medical diag-
his grades reflected this. He still has the   Case two                                      nosis and treatment.
gift of synesthesia, which did bother him     Jeremy had a severe inflammatory arthri-
greatly. Once he learnt many great artists    tis. All his joints were hot, swollen and     Chilblains
suffered from it and TLE, he recognised       exquisitely painful. His hips were so sore    Agaricus is primarily a remedy for use
how special he was and frequently             that he walked with a staggering gait,        by medical homeopaths because its
reminded his mother of this!                  indeed people accused him of being            sphere of influence is primarily on
                                              drunk. Conventional painkillers and           the nervous system. However, in self-
Multiple sclerosis                            anti-arthritis drugs gave him stomach         prescribing, it is helpful for the treat-
Agaricus is extremely helpful in reduc-       problems: intense nausea and acid reflux,     ment of chilblains. These are a common
ing the spasms associated with multiple       so he was loathe to use them especially       problem in the winter months and can
sclerosis and related conditions, for         as they had little effect on the pain.        cause intense itching and discomfort.
which I have used it successfully on               Jeremy had striking muscle spasm,        Prevention is better than cure but, if
several occasions. The patients fre-          which ceased in his sleep. His body           chilblains do develop and are allieviated
quently have an intense fear of devel-        would contort with these spasms, and          by warmth, Agaricus 6c taken three
oping cancer. Interestingly, some of the      he had a bad tic in his left eye. The right   times a day may just do the trick.
constituents of the mushroom are pos-         shoulder and left leg gave him the most
sibly carcinogenic. Those who respond         pain. This diagonal distribution of symp-     The materia medica of the fungi is con-
to the remedy often have deep depres-         toms is characteristic of Agaricus. He        stantly being added to by homeopaths.
sion with their neurological disease, and     described the pain as if he were pierced      They are a fascinating and very useful
a morbid fascination with their own           by hundreds of ice-cold needles.              group of remedies.
demise and that of others. Treatment
with Agaricus is helpful in lifting the
mood as well as reducing the spasms.
                                                Marysia Kratimenos MB BS FRCS(Ed) FFHom is on the staff of the RLHH where
Behavioural problems
                                                she is involved in stress clinics, general medicine, paediatrics and neurolinguistic
Some individuals requiring Agaricus
                                                programming. She also teaches on the MFHom course and has a private practice.
show the loquacity and “silliness” seen
in intoxication, particularly the children.
It is a powerful remedy for behavioural

16 H&H Winter 2008/2009

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