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The Rise Of The Mushroom Moms

Should we all be tripping?

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The first time it came up was at book club. One mom was curious, so another dropped a baggie at her house on the drive home from daycare. Another friend texted me about being the only one not tripping on a girls trip. Then, all of a sudden, mushrooms were everywhere. In glossy mags — the mushroom moms! They’re microdosing! My husband’s co-worker was growing them. Let me know if you need any!

After asking around — friends of friends, and friends of friends’ friends — I can say definitively, that yes, a mom you know is probably dabbling in psilocybin, the psychoactive compound in psychedelic mushrooms. And no, it’s probably not who you think it is. Yes, like the trend pieces say, she might be consuming psychedelic mushrooms in microdoses (about .1 gram that, by definition, doesn’t make you trip.) She’s maybe hoping to be more patient with her kids, to drink less, to wean off her antidepressants or her ADHD meds. Or maybe she’s using trip-inducing “macro” doses (usually 2 grams or more) to process trauma or maybe just to party. No, she’s probably not tripping while on childcare duty.

Even the dabblers talk like true believers. Moms will tell you that mushrooms helped them reconnect with their partners, get off their meds, quit drinking, or just be a happier, calmer parent. Many psilocybin advocates see microdosing as an ideal way for parents to enjoy the benefits of mushrooms without stepping out of their lives in the way taking psychedelic trips requires. “The culture of motherhood doesn't make a lot of room for moms to go and journey,” says Mikaela de la Myco, a mother, facilitator and advocate. “The microdosing mom is prevalent because Mom is still involved in family life, she's not taking like six hours off to go process her trauma. She’s making dinner, she’s still functioning. I think [microdosing while parenting is] the perfect practice of how can I be better, as a parent? Show me how I parent right here, right now, as I parent. Show me who my child is, now that my brain is in a childlike state.”

Psilocybin mushrooms are powerful psychoactive plants best experienced in a guided setting, and are not safe for everyone.

Whether you want to dip a toe into psychedelics or completely trip out, no one suggests embarking on a psilocybin experience — macro or micro — without guidance. In a clinical setting, you’d be screened before you’d be enrolled in a psilocybin study. In a folk medicine environment or with an indigenous healer as your guide, you’d be similarly guided and supported before, during and after your psychedelic journey. Everyone I spoke to agrees that psilocybin mushrooms are powerful, psychoactive plants best experienced in a guided setting, and are not safe for everyone. The need for awareness and care that psychedelic mushrooms demand means parents are perfectly primed for what shrooms have to offer, says Sunny Jackson, a doula and psilocybin educator. “Parents are truly some of my favorite people to talk to, because they understand the depths of safety and protection, while also understanding the extreme need for change in order to encourage development,” she explains.

This is why “mushroom moms” bristle when you hint at any comparison to “wine moms.” Ask your local neighborhood mushroom enthusiast what psilocybin does for them, and conversations get deep, fast. It’ll be a bit like talking to an animate self-help poster from your guidance counselors’ office, except more earnest and you’re actually buying it. You’ll hear a lot of “ten years of therapy in a single trip.” The same, frankly moving themes come up again and again: Unlocking joy they thought was long out of reach, deeper connection with their children, freedom from baggage and the ability to move through harmful past experiences. Quickly, you’ll find yourself thirsty enough to drink the Kool-Aid. Needless to say, a far cry from rehashing a drunken night out.

“It changed my life. It made me feel more empathetic and connected to every person on earth. It brought me so much peace,” says “Lindsay,” a mom in Portland, Oregon of what psychedelic mushrooms do for her.

“It gives an overwhelming sense of contentment,” says Madeline Ervin, a mom of two, of taking psilocybin mushrooms. “It has helped me to slow down and evaluate what is important. I’m much more patient and calm while with my family, and our interactions have felt more intentional and meaningful.”

“I tend to be reactive. I can be judgy, aggressive in traffic. I just kind of felt it all falling away,” says Tracey Tee, a mother, podcaster and performer who now runs a community for moms called Moms on Mushrooms (M.O.M). “In a weird way, it’s almost like good clean fun. It’s like, the real fun.”

“I had the realization that nothing in my life really matters [while on mushrooms]. And I mean that in the most liberating way possible,” says Tay Foreman, a doula and new mom in Los Angeles. “When we are caught up in my anxieties, or my baby’s crying, I know it’s always going to be OK and I can just kind of let sh*t go. Life is beautiful, life is great.”

“Women who have talked to me about mushrooms often talk about it in terms of breaking intergenerational patterns. The best-case scenario of parenthood is that it thrusts you into this experience where you really have to examine the implications of what it means to be the way that you are, because you are affecting someone else,” says Michelle Janikian, a journalist and author of Your Psilocybin Mushroom Companion. “Psychedelics are not a cure-all, but they can offer you a deep look at yourself. If you take it with the intention of learning about yourself, you’re gonna learn something.”

“...the silo of recreational and therapeutic is quite arbitrary,” says Rebecca Kronman, a licensed clinical social worker and co-founder of Plant Parenthood, a community for parents who use mushrooms.

To be sure, it’s not all about meeting god and being a better person. Many moms are choosing mushrooms because they want to drink less (or not at all) but still want to have joy, pleasure, and release on a night out — ideally sans hangover. And if a little revelation comes from all that partying? Even better. “We tend to stigmatize those experiences as being less valuable. But the silo of recreational and therapeutic is quite arbitrary,” says Rebecca Kronman, a licensed clinical social worker and co-founder of Plant Parenthood, a community for parents who use mushrooms. “Both of them have value.” If you happen to meet god while on the party bus, or work through some sh*t, that’s just a bonus.

Talk to anyone in the psychedelic industry (yes, it’s an industry) and they’ve been banking on psilocybin going mainstream for a while now. A few months ago, I saw an Instagram ad for Alice Mushrooms. I clicked and my cursor became a cartoon toadstool that trailed sparkles as I dragged it around the screen. Psychedelic mushrooms are still illegal, right? As I browsed, I saw that Alice Mushrooms’ “functional” mushroom products — made with stress-managing “adaptogenic” mushrooms like cordyceps and lion’s mane instead of psychedelic ones — were on backorder. “We are gonna keep developing functional mushroom products. But, obviously our future sights are set on the legalization of psilocybin,” Alice Mushrooms co-founder Charlotte Cruze told me on the phone a few weeks ago. “We wanna be ready to plug-and-play when that starts.”

For now, though, psilocybin mushrooms are most definitely still illegal. Psilocybin mushrooms are a Schedule 1 drug, meaning federally controlled at the very strictest level. Despite decriminalization in many states across the country, a mom — or anyone — who uses them “could get arrested by the FBI, because it’s illegal. No matter where she is,” a lawyer told me.

From clinical research psychologists to grassroots activists and folk healers who never stopped using mushrooms (or “the medicine” as it’s often called), people on all sides of the psychedelic renaissance agree that some form of re-categorization is expected on a federal level in the next 18 months, give or take. And it’s long overdue. “Most people in this country have grown up in a society where they’ve been told their entire lives that psilocybin and other psychedelics are the most dangerous drugs that exist. And it’s just never been true,” says Dr. Alan Davis, a clinical psychologist and the Director of the Center for Psychedelic Drug Research and Education at Ohio State University. “It didn’t fit the science at the time that decision was made by the government [in 1970], and it certainly doesn’t fit the science now.”

In recent decades, clinical psychologists like Davis have fought hard to revive the work of studying what psychedelics — including psilocybin — do in the brain and the potential they have to help with mental health issues like depression, OCD, and PTSD. The studies, and the buzz around them, have sparked a culture shift, and fueled the psychedelic renaissance that so many parents around the country are participating in. “The exciting thing about psychedelics, particularly psilocybin, is that they can provide the opportunity to tap into a mental state that very much allows you to see life-changing events from a different perspective,” says Dr. Steven Nomura, chief resident physician at Harbor-UCLA Department of Psychiatry.

Researchers know that psilocybin mushrooms work by stimulating a specific serotonin receptor in the cortex of our brains. Without getting overly technical, Nomura tells me to think of what psilocybin does to the brain — and to our sense of self and reality — as the snow in a snow globe. “All of the snow inside the globe is settled. Think of that as one of the ways that someone’s brain might be seeing the world,” Nomura says. “Psychedelics allow you to pick up that globe and shake it up, letting all the snow come up and resettle. That’s where people believe the change in how one can see themselves — that ego disillusion — can happen.”

Some call this particular psychedelic experience “ego death.” Though at first, that sounds terrifying actually, thank you very much, this loss of selfhood begins to appeal when you think of it as a chance to start fresh. Imagine all of the noise in your brain — the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, and the ruts we dig alongside them — quieted.

“There are a lot of people out there that are susceptible to negative outcomes. Psychedelics are really not for everyone,” adds Nomura.

So far, researchers have found that only macrodoses — doses between 2 and 5 grams — induce this experience of rewritten selfhood and the psychological benefits that come along with it. And while macrodoses have been studied in clinical settings for decades, minimal research has been done on microdoses (doses of about .1 gram or less), and what has been done has thus far shown a placebo or “expectancy” effect. “To me, does it matter that it’s a placebo effect? If people are reporting that it’s helpful to them, great,” says Davis.

Most importantly, researchers have found that when, where, why, and how a person takes psychedelic mushrooms really matters. “There are a lot of people out there that are susceptible to negative outcomes. Psychedelics are really not for everyone,” adds Nomura. “I’m a big believer in the idea of set and setting; the idea of establishing the right framework of the mind going into a psychedelic experience.” And every expert emphasized that anyone with family or personal history of bipolar disorder or psychosis should not take psychedelics.

While there are many paths to mindfulness and feeling whole, mushroom-assisted mindfulness is simply faster than most. For parents, who are famously squeezed for time, this comes up again and again as part of the appeal. And while it is tempting to imagine a hierarchy of mindful states — the most virtuous being those induced by things like exercise, deep breathing, or meditation — clinical research suggests there isn’t really a distinction. “I don’t see the difference between someone who decides to have a regular yoga practice and utilize that as the mechanism by which to be embodied and connected to themselves, versus someone who decides that they want to incorporate psychedelics into their journey in life and utilize that as the mechanism,” says Davis. “Meditation or breath work, or yoga, or anything that taps into a present, embodied, centered, awareness — from my perspective as a scientist, they all are different mechanisms to get to the same place.”

“My healing is done in between doctor’s appointments and ballet practice. Like, I don’t get two weeks in Bali,” agrees Tee, whose M.O.M. community is mainly focused on microdosing. “You can call it a trend, like make it kind of this pithy thing — ‘Oh, look at these cute playground moms now taking shrooms.’ But, why can’t we just allow moms to heal? Have some sacred understanding, have some context, give yourself some space to do it in community. Like, do that! Do it right.”

It’s the book club moms, the playground moms, the very moms that brought me into this conversation — my peers — who have the power to move cultural understanding. Mothers have a unique power to move the cultural dial. Moms normalize. “Mothers have been largely left out of the conversation of psychedelics from the beginning. We are an integral part of the conversation and must be. We are the bridge to the past in the future, and we are raising children. Mothers have to be included in this conversation because we will change the way we raise our kids around the concept of drugs,” says Tee.

It matters that moms are doing this because, after federal approvals come, there will be “an uphill battle in terms of changing people’s minds about what these drugs are and their safety and utility, which is backed up by scientific evidence. It’s going to take decades of culture shift,” says Davis. “People will judge things and oppress people for doing things that are different from them when they don’t understand. Having people who feel safe in their communities and in their families be able to say what their experiences are with something absolutely will go a long way in changing the narrative.”

There’s a lot to learn, and whether you’re swapping alcohol for ‘shrooms at girls’ night or hoping to process the baggage that keeps you from being who you want to be with your kids, newbies should respect psilocybin as a powerful plant medicine. Psychedelics are not meant to be taken in a void. Whether in a clinical setting, or with an indigenous or folk healer as your guide, find a supportive community before you begin. Thankfully, if you are curious, there are multitudes of enthusiasts ready to explain the finer points of .7 grams of Golden Teacher versus 2.5 grams of Penis Envy to you. I won’t tell you how and where to find it, but I will tell you that it’s abundantly there for the finding. Just tread lightly, and with awareness. “Above all, psilocybin helps us remember our humanity, our grace, our interconnectedness with the earth and with all life. It’s really the antidote to our modern woes and ways of being,” says Liz Chernett, a mom and psychedelic integration coach. “And, it’s magical. What parent doesn’t need a little more magic in their life?”


Dr. Alan Davis, a clinical psychologist and the Director of the Center for Psychedelic Drug Research and Education at Ohio State University

Dr. Steven Nomura, chief resident physician at Harbor-UCLA Dept. of Psychiatry

Tracey Tee, a mother, podcaster and performer who now runs a community for moms in Denver called Moms on Mushrooms (M.O.M)

Sunny Jackson, a doula and psilocybin educator

Rebecca Kronman, a licensed clinical social worker and co-founder of Plant Parenthood, a community exploring the intersection of psychedelics and the family

Michelle Jainkian, a journalist and author of Your Psilocybin Mushroom Companion

Heidi Nymark, herbalist, clean beauty make up artist, and cultivator

Charlotte Cruze, Alice Mushrooms co-founder

Liz Chernett, a mom and psychedelic integration coach in New York

Tay Foreman, a doula in L.A.

Mikaela de la Myco, mother, facilitator and advocate

Studies cited:

Carhart-Harris, R.,Giribaldi, B., Watts, R. (2021) Trial of Psilocybin versus Escitalopram for Depression. New England Journal Of Medicine,

Stevenson, Richard J. (2019) A systematic study of microdosing psychedelics. Plos One,

Other references:

Dr. Matthew Johnson at Johns Hopkins describes general principles of psychedelics (YouTube).

COMPASS Pathways video explaining the proposed psilocybin mechanism involving the 5HT-2A receptor (YouTube).

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