For a select group of moms in high-powered jobs, psilocybin has become the answer to a packed social and professional calendar with no time for hangovers.
Kiana Anvaripour, a marketing executive in Los Angeles, has a rigorous weekday-morning routine. She drinks warm lemon water, dials into a high-intensity interval training class, and then gets her kids ready for school. Before she runs out the door for work, she eats a protein-rich breakfast and takes her supplements: turmeric, vitamin D and omega-3. She tops it all off with a capsule of psilocybin—the psychedelics you might know as magic mushrooms.
“I work hundreds of hours a week, and it helps my performance,” says Anvaripour, 42, who runs her own agency. “It allows me to be my best self.”
Anvaripour says she has been microdosing mushrooms for two years now, four days a week. She started after struggling with postpartum depression and menstrual mood swings. Back in her 20s, she’d had a terrible experience with shrooms, but now many of her friends and peers seemed to be doing them. The vibe felt different to her—not trippy but focused and productive.
“It was like an attitude adjustment, where things that would infuriate me, like missing a call, or whatever was going on in your busy day as a CEO, just wouldn’t,” Anvaripour says. “It’s mental clarity.”
Some Silicon Valley executives have spoken openly about taking psychedelics, as have A-list celebrities like Julia Roberts. Now working moms in elite enclaves are singing mushrooms’ praises. Though the psychedelic drug is classified as an illegal substance by federal law and in most states, restrictions have eased in some parts of the country, making the drugs easier to procure. Women in high-powered jobs say they are taking psilocybin to treat anxiety and depression, optimize work-life balance and ease career pressures.
“It’s a way to get reinvigorated with the repetitive components of your job,” says Jessica Girard, 34, an executive headhunter in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Girard, who runs a recruiting agency, takes a low dose of psilocybin on days when she has to read hundreds of resumes. She finds that “it completely shifts my perspective, adding a level of enthusiasm, creativity and engagement.”
For people like Girard, who takes her mushrooms in gummy form, the drug has become more sophisticated and sleek. It’s now often sold in smooth capsules or as well-packaged candy rather than dried fungus shoved into dime bags.
“It’s like if you were to take a happy Advil,” says Koehl Robinson, a 41-year-old wellness entrepreneur in L.A.’s Venice Beach neighborhood. She says she likes to microdose 30 minutes before she goes out, noting that she struggles with social anxiety in big groups.
“The second a woman is doing it, she talks to her friends about it,” Robinson says, adding that, to her, it feels like “out of every 10 women I talk to, eight are microdosing.”
Even scientists who believe in psilocybin’s therapeutic benefits say the research is still in its infancy. They advise that the psychedelic be used only in a clinical setting, given its mind-altering effects and the potential for misuse and harm.
“These are still experimental drugs, not medicine,” says Dr. Michael Bogenschutz, director of the NYU Langone Center for Psychedelic Medicine.
‘It’s the New Glass of Wine’
Kelley, a venture capitalist, says psilocybin has become the substance of choice for moms in her Lower Manhattan social orbit in the last year and a half. She recalled going out one night with a group of women and finding that everyone had mushroom chocolates in their purses.
“It’s totally packaged for the 40-year-old woman who is risk-averse,” Kelley says. “It’s the new glass of wine.”
She microdoses two to three times a week to help her focus at work. “You grab a task and really sink your teeth into it,” she says. “It’s also great for a brainstorming session. If I have an open day, I get a pen and paper and get some ideas out.”
Though these women are taking psychedelics socially and speaking more openly about them, some worry about the potential consequences of certain people finding out, like employers and other parents.
A 57-year-old attorney at a pharmaceutical company in Northern California says microdosing psilocybin is helping her through menopause.
“It controls my hormone imbalance, my moods, it helps me sleep and I don’t nearly have the sweats and hot flashes I had before,” she says.
The mushrooms have also eased brain fog, another menopausal symptom. “My position is incredibly stressful, where I’m in meeting after meeting after meeting,” she says. “With the mushrooms, I stay focused, on the task and on point. It is a big deal because you’re so easily distracted as you age.”
She says she doesn’t tell people at work she uses psilocybin for fear that she might lose her job. This she finds ironic.
“I have friends who are chain smokers and alcoholics,” she says. “And I am functioning at a higher level, mentally and physically, than they ever will be.”
Psilocybe, the mushroom that contains the psychoactive chemical psilocybin, was used by ancient civilizations in Mexico and Central America for religious, spiritual and medicinal purposes.
Mushrooms were popular in the U.S. during the 1960s counterculture revolution. Under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, they were classified as Schedule I drugs, which, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, have a high potential for abuse and no currentlyaccepted medical use. Along with LSD, MDMA, also known as ecstasy, and cannabis, psilocybin was deemed illegal.
As a result, psychedelic use was mostly driven underground. But around the turn of the century, scientists began conducting studies in humans and animals on how these drugs affect brain function and mood. These were mostly small in scale and limited in scope.
In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration gave psilocybin a “breakthrough therapy” designation for treating depression based on clinical research, allowing for the expedited development and review of such drugs. An FDA spokesperson says the agency “has not approved a drug product containing psilocybin, therefore the effectiveness and the safety of psilocybin as a drug has not been evaluated by the FDA for any therapeutic indication.”
Universities have begun investing in psychedelic research, and state legislation has opened the doors for experimental treatment. Mushrooms were decriminalized in Colorado in 2022, and legal use in authorized centers began in Oregon last year.
But there are reasons for caution. In guidance issued last June for developers of therapeutic psychedelics, the FDA noted the potential for abuse of these drugs and the need for safety protocols in clinical development. Meanwhile, experts say more research needs to be done.
Greg Fonzo, a clinical psychologist who co-directs a psychedelic research center at the University of Texas at Austin’s Dell Medical School, says that while studies have shown that macrodosing—taking 10 milligrams or more of synthetic psilocybin—can provide joy and clarity, those on microdosing have found that the drug works no better than a placebo.
That hasn’t stopped people from trying it for themselves.
For high-end experimenters among what TikTok might call the “rich mom” set, a slew of psilocybin experiences offer upscale accommodations and Gwyneth Paltrow-approved healing treatments. These generally are led not by medical practitioners but rather guides and shamans.
At the Journeymen Collective, a luxury psilocybin intensive center outside of Vancouver, British Columbia, visitors swim in a saltwater pool and eat from a vegetarian menu as they partake in two psilocybin trips over four days. The experience costs $15,000.
Co-founder Rob Grover says 65% of its visitors are women, who often come for personal and professional development. Overall bookings, he says, nearly tripled in 2023 from 2022.
“Every individual we work with is experiencing high pressure, high stress,” says Grover. “As a consequence of coming on a journey, they take on tasks in a more focused way.”
Dr. Bogenschutz of NYU Langone says the risks of taking shrooms outside a clinical setting include potentially dangerous drug interactions. Certain conditions rule out study candidates, he says. “All of the modern studies with psilocybin and LSD have excluded people with high blood pressure, significant heart disease, and a personal or strong family history of psychosis,” he says.
Journeymen Collective applicants go through a psychological vetting process, Grover says. In cases of severe mental illness, he and the center’s co-founder, Gary Logan, may seek a physician’s clearance or suggest trying the drugs in a clinical setting.
The Sacred House of Eden, a psilocybin retreat in the Denver metro area, also treats women turning to psilocybin for professional insights, says the center’s coach, a psychologist. At the center, where $8,100 covers four nights in a private suite and six weeks of coaching, guests are offered a “heroic dose” of around 5 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, which is joined with a curriculum of breathwork, meditation and sound healing.
“We see a lot of women who are empty nesters,” the coach says. “They are trying to figure out, Who am I beyond a wife or a mom?”
She says she also works with women at professional crossroads, whom she vets before seeing. She recalled working with a woman who was a designer at Google and felt creatively stifled. After her psilocybin experience, she says, the woman quit her job and started her own business.
For about $1,000, psilocybin guide Elian Zach and her partner host small groups of clients around the country for a 10-hour music-based psychedelic experience. Zach, 38, says the experience is a “safe and supportive container so people can have a cathartic breakdown and invite epiphany.” Her soundscape includes music that “makes people uncomfortable and brings them to their edge,” as well as “wonderous compositions” that elicit pleasure, she says.
It’s a way to “engage in shadow work”—digging into the deeper, hidden parts of oneself—“and allow whatever it is that is unresolved to come to the forefront,” she says.
Proprietors of magic-mushroom businesses say they aren’t worried about law enforcement. Smoke shops in cities across the U.S. quietly sell psilocybin, as do a bevy of new mushroom companies that promote their psychedelic products on Instagram. These businesses say they are banking on police finding bigger fish to fry.
Still, sellers say they are trying to cover their tracks. Guides like Zach and Grover declined to share where they buy their psilocybin, but say they have vetted and personally know their growers. Asked if the resort was breaking laws, Grover equivocates: “Possibly, but we don’t give it any energy.”
Some people have psilocybin shipped directly to their homes, says a co-founder of Muse, a psilocybin company based in Denver that sells $35 chocolates and $85 capsules by referral only. Many customers, he says, are microdosing moms. Muse’s clientele includes studio executives, lawyers and two TV network CEOs, he says.
Marketing the drugs can be a challenge. The Muse founders say Instagram “shadow-banned” their account in 2023, suppressing its posts from being discovered by users. Instagram declined to comment. Its community guidelines prohibit the buying and selling of drugs of any kind, and the company says it removes content related to use of non-medical drugs. Muse’s co-founders have gotten around this by omitting the word “psilocybin” from marketing, using unusual spellings or the mushroom emoji.
Still, nearly every weekend in L.A., the co-founder says, Muse is setting up a mushroom bar at a corporate event or a birthday party, where mushroom chocolates and gummies are doled out like trendy cocktails. Over the holiday season, he says, Muse delivered 14 cases of shrooms to the office of a big digital-entertainment network. The drugs, he says he was told, were gifts for its executives.
‘I’m Clear and I’m Calm’
A 48-year-old nutritionist and mom of two on the Upper East Side says she did a therapeutic psilocybin treatment in Mexico a few months ago to determine if she could overcome her chronic depression. She says the experience left her feeling hopeful and believes psilocybin should only be used in controlled settings.
One executive at a television network who lives in upstate New York says she prefers to microdose mushrooms at parties now instead of drinking.
“I don’t have hangovers and I don’t get paranoid,” says the television executive, 56. She says she hides her mushroom chocolate deep in her freezer so her niece and nephew won’t find it when they come over.
In Utah, a 48-year-old tech executive and mother of six says microdosing mushrooms helps her maintain her composure during high-stress moments at work, like the big presentations she gives to powerful audiences. “I am on my A-game, the way I felt when I was young, just rapid fire,” she says. “I’m clear and I’m calm.”
The tech executive says she had been on antidepressants for about 13 years before she decided she was tired of feeling numb. When she got off of them, she says, she started microdosing.
“I’m a super high-functioning, detail-oriented high achiever and along with that comes anxiety, but now the anxiety curtain does not exist in the same way,” she says. “You can have a difficult conversation and still maintain your composure.”
She’s recommended psilocybin to over a dozen friends, she says. “The way one does about a new lip gloss.”
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