Eating Amanita muscaria mushrooms, and making a tea, are pretty standard. But are there other ways to extract the main compounds? There sure are; but there are also some things to be aware of. Read on to learn more about effective ways to make an Amanita muscaria (or Amanita pantherina) extract.
Concentrates and extracts, what’s the difference?
First and foremost, let’s figure out what we’re talking about when we say ‘Amanita extract.’ We hear the word ‘extract’ a lot, but we also hear it used interchangeably with the word ‘concentrate’. And while there is some overlap here, the terms are technically different.
An extract is anything that’s taken out of something like a plant. If you’re smoking a THC vape, that’s extracted THC, or THC that was taken out of the cannabis plant, so that the rest of the plant isn’t part of it. Compounds can be extracted in different ways, like with alcohol, or oil, or propane, or even water. Whereas an extract doesn’t have to be a concentrated version of anything, all concentrates, are a form of extract.
A concentrate is a compound that is a condensed version of its regular self. So, for example, if you smoke a cannabis plant with 16% THC, you’re getting that 16%. On the other hand, if you take out the THC and formulate a product with just that, it can end up being concentrated to as high as 90% THC, or more.
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In terms of Amanita muscaria mushrooms, if you make a tea, that’s one form of an extract, because it’s allowing the compounds to come out of the plant. If you then boil the water down until it’s gone, and just the extracted material is left, you’ll have a concentrated form of muscimol. Likewise, a tincture is also a concentrated version of the compounds within, without the plant material.
A little science on Amanita compounds
Plants are complicated, and yet we often simplify them in order to speak on the parts we understand, or the parts of relevance. In the case of Amanita muscaria and Amanita pantherina, we’re mostly interested in just two of their compounds. So while the plants contain tons of other things – possibly some of value to us – right now I’m just talking about dealing with ibotenic acid and muscimol.
These are the two compounds that cause psychoactive effects. Whereas muscimol (C4H6N2O2) is known as the compound that promotes GABA release, and relaxation, it also can cause hallucinations and feelings of euphoria. It’s considered inhibitory. It’s the part of the mushroom we want. Ibotenic acid (C5H6N2O4) on the other hand is a neurotoxin, that beyond being known to cause brain legions, can also make a person sweat, have tremors, and feel generally sick. Whether naturally through time, or with heat, ibotenic acid decarboxylates to form muscimol. It’s considered excitatory.
What they both have in common, and which is pertinent for making extracts, is that they’re both water soluble. This is important. It means they’re both made of covalent bonds, and more specifically, of polar covalent bonds. Covalent bonds are either polar or non-polar, with polar representing molecules that are water-soluble, and non-polar defining molecules that are oil soluble. Basically, it comes down to the idea that ‘like’ materials dissolves in ‘like’ solutions. So a molecule of one polarity, dissolves in a solution of a similar polarity.
The point here is that both ibotenic acid and muscimol are water-soluble, and both are considered insoluble in fats and oils. This explains why some types of Amanita extract are possible to make, and some are not.
Tea is one of the most basic forms of extraction. And it’s one of the best ways to extract the muscimol as well as the ibotenic acid. What’s great about tea, is the high temperature decarboxylates the ibotenic acid into muscimol, so not only do you get an extraction of the compounds, but you decrease the unwanted one, and increase the wanted one.
Teas are best with water soluble compounds, as those compounds can be leached out in water. However, you’ve probably drank a lot of tea made with plants like ginger or cinnamon or peppermint. Their main compounds: gingerol from ginger; cinnamaldehyde, and trans-cinnamaldehyde from cinnamon; and eucalyptol, and menthone from mint, are either insoluble in water, or have extremely low solubility in it.
It’s actually explained well here, why we can still taste the flavors and get some benefits. It’s actually a testament to how strong these plant compounds are that getting only a minuscule amount can still be beneficial in some way. But the reality is that the compounds come out in tiny amounts if they do at all, and don’t technically mix with the water. Meaning if you want an extraction of something oil soluble, like gingerol, using an oil or alcohol is much more useful than making a tea.
One of the reasons I’m writing this article is because of confusion I came across on a message board about making a muscimol oil. The writer believed they had made an infused oil by putting the Amanita mushrooms in almond oil. The obvious problem here: that neither ibotenic acid nor muscimol is oil soluble. Not only that, if they were, this would mean getting all the ibotenic acid, as the lack of heat would dictate no decarboxylation; but that’s secondary to the sheer fact that the compounds can’t be extracted in this way.
Remember the whole problem of making weed edibles without a fat? We all know by now that THC is fat soluble, NOT water soluble. This makes it impossible to cook with it, without a fat like coconut oil or butter. Of course, we also know there is a huge range of edibles on the market today that have infused THC without using a fat. This is made possible with emulsion technology. This technology uses processing with a surfactant, which makes opposing liquids come together as one. Something it does by reducing the surface tension of the liquids to force them together. Without that, it can’t be done.
The reality is that, if you stick a mushroom with water-soluble compounds in an oil, they simply won’t leach out (or not much will). And in order to make an oil, it requires getting the compounds out in a different way, and then infusing them into the oil. There are different thoughts on this. Members of this forum had some great answers for how to do it.
A tincture is an extract and concentrate that uses alcohol to leach out the active compounds. And often this method works in place of other methods, because it can work on both polar and non-polar bonds. Remember how ‘like’ works with ‘like’ in covalent bonds? Well, that means, alcohol swings both ways, and can work with water-soluble or oil-soluble compounds; though how well varies by compound. It also varies if ethanol or methanol works better; though we’re less likely to make a methanol tincture, as methanol is poisonous (or rather, more poisonous).
Basically, “Ethanol is a very polar molecule due to its hydroxyl (OH) group, which forms hydrogen bonds with other molecules.” On the other end, “The ethyl (C2H5) group in ethanol is non-polar.” Therefore, “Having a polar and non-polar group, ethanol can dissolve both polar molecules, such as water and non-polar molecules such as hexane.”
The other options for tinctures are vinegar and glycerin, both of which are also polar, making them useful solvents for creating an Amanita muscaria extract. Just keep in mind, that just like alcohol, neither of these will turn the ibotenic acid into muscimol, since no heat is involved. This should be remembered in terms of the ability to decarboxylate the ibotenic acid. But there is an answer.
You can use an oven to decarboxylate the mushrooms in the same way we do with weed. Some sources say approximately 170°F, and to heat for less than an hour. Others say more like 100-150°F, and remind to break up the mushrooms like we do with weed. Still others say higher at 170-200°F, but for more like a half hour. In reality, there’s no reason not to go on the higher end with temperature, and no reason to be worried about leaving the mushrooms in for too long. After decarboxylation, you’d have the ability to simply eat the mushrooms, or make them into a tincture.
It’s not a method from history, so we have no historical reference for this. For those who want to experiment, go for it! Just remember that under-doing it might mean leaving in a lot of ibotenic acid and getting sick. According to PubChem, muscimol doesn’t melt or degrade until 347 °F, so though you might burn the mushrooms with too much time or a high temperature, unless you breach this point, the muscimol should be fine. Realistically, you probably don’t want to deal with a bunch of ash, so picking a temperature to ensure mushroom stability, and increasing time, makes the most sense.
So, there you have it. If you want to make an Amanita extract, you can use one of the above methods. Just remember, you’ll have to stick to teas, and tincturing for the best extracts; while you can also simply decarb and eat. And while some cultures in history used the Amanita pee method to decarboxylate the ibotenic acid; I think the above methods are probably a much better option, and much preferable to drinking urine!
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