Here at FOTL Headquarters we're mostly into outdoor fun, good eats, and wild foods that have more than merely survival appeal. True, we've been known to expound on the nutritional benefits of weeds and concoct the occasional tonic, but we leave the wild medicinal trade to those herbalists, shamans, witchdoctors, and other alternative health practitioners who supposedly know what they're doing.
However, like the law, there is a time to take one's own personal health and well-being into one's own hands. And so it is with my ornery lower spine, specifically the troublesome connector at L5-S1. That's the vertebra where your lumbar and sacrum meet, an intersection of misery for many a modern human that has come down from the trees only to sit at a desk or drive a car. Mine's been hassling me for about five years now and I'm looking at drastic measures, though before such measures can be implemented I'm going to try one last crazy off-the-wall treatment...
...a drop of fly agaric for what ails me. Also known by it's scientific name, Amanita muscaria, this totemic toadstool from temperate woodlands around the globe was called "fly agaric" by the Romans for its use to ward off winged pests. It hails from the dreaded Amanita genus, home to the most deadly mushrooms in the world, such as the death cap (Amanita phalloides) and destroying angel (Amanita bisporigera et al).
The fly agaric isn't deadly poisonous except in the largest doses, but it packs a wallop just the same, a hallucinogenic brain warp that is said to have inspired Lewis Carroll to send Alice down the rabbit hole. Accounts vary. Some have reported transcendent spiritual experiences, others talk of nightmarish fits and vomiting. A forager friend of mine believes the North American variety doesn't contain enough pyschoactive ingredients to do much at all.
I write about this beautiful mushroom's sketchy history in my book. Quickly: Its psychoactive compounds have been known for millennia and nomadic Siberian tradesman reputedly ate the mushroom for the buzz when their beloved vodka was in short supply. Their reindeer ate it too, and both parties apparently ate the yellow snow around them that contained traces of the excreted drug. More than a few ethnobotanists have suggested that certain forms of Christmas iconography might derive from this behavior: jolly man dressed in red, flying reindeer, and so on.
As for me, my interest was piqued after reading this page on Henriette's Herbal pages. According to Henriette: just rub "2-3 drops of tincture on the spine, when sciatica hits. Relief is pretty much instant." She posits that the tincture "relaxes the muscles around the spine, where the hurt comes from, and when those muscles are finally allowed to relax they stop clamping bone all over the pinched nerve, which means the nerve can finally relax."
I've made my tincture according to the instructions, first chopping up a bunch of nice Amanita muscaria buttons, then packing them into a half-pint canning jar and covering with vodka.
So, dear readers, should I go ahead and try a topical application the next time I feel stabbing pain down my left leg? What do you think?