For years, moms have joked about drinking alcohol as a way to cope with the stress of parenthood, and the concept of "wine moms" is largely accepted by society. But there's a small yet growing community of women who are turning to small doses of psychedelics to achieve the same effect — just with a more "natural" approach.
So-called microdosing moms use tiny amounts of substances like psilocybin — which is illegal in most states, with the exception of Oregon — to help them deal with anxiety and stress related to motherhood. Many swear it helps them be a better parent and to even focus more in their day-to-day.
There is a growing body of research on the impact of psychedelics like psilocybin on mental health. Studies have found psilocybin, MDMA and other psychedelics may be helpful in treating severe depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety in people who are terminally ill, although research is in its infancy.
But there's still a lot we don't know about its impact — long-term and short-term — on people, Dr. Tamar Gur, a women's health expert and reproductive psychiatrist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Yahoo Life. "Our understanding of the benefits of psilocybin is in its infancy," she says. "There is some good work going on at major medical centers focusing on why this may be an effective treatment."
However, Gur says she "has some concerns" with using it as a way of coping with stress related to parenthood. Given that this is a largely unregulated industry, Gur says she's concerned that moms may not get products that are exactly what they claim to be. "Especially if it's illegal, you are really taking a risk every time you put something into your body," she says. "That can be dangerous."
Gur also points out that psychedelics affect everyone differently. "There may be a subset of people for whom microdosing could be therapeutic, but not everyone is the same," she says. "Everyone is not built the same — genetically, physiologically — and what might be experienced as helpful by some, could cause unintended harm in others in terms of their brain and their overall health." Gur compares it to drinking alcohol. "A glass of wine for one person is not the same as for another person," she says. "The same is true for psilocybin, and there is much less research on it. I would be very cautious about it."
Still, plenty of moms swear by microdosing. But what is microdosing like, and how do moms do it safely? Ahead, three different mothers open up to Yahoo Life about their experiences with microdosing.
"It has helped me be more present and enjoy my kids even more."
Mom of two Britt Deanda tells Yahoo Life that she started microdosing earlier this year with ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic that has some hallucinogenic effects, under the guidance of psychotherapist Mike Dow as part of their therapy sessions.
"It has helped me to release feelings of [being] overwhelmed and has been extremely helpful in dealing with a lot of changes in my life post-pandemic and grief from my mom's and grandmother's passing," Deanda says. "In combination with my Kundalini yoga and meditation, it has helped me be more present and enjoy my kids even more and be able to thrive as a mother and business owner."
Deanda, who has 3- and 7-year-old girls, says she uses ketamine "in a safe setting" with Dow, "where we set an intention before each session." Deanda says most people she tells about her experiences with microdosing are curious. "They know I am very holistic and conscious about what I put in my body, so if someone isn’t educated about it, they can be surprised," she says. "Some people have some misconceptions, but all of the others want to try it themselves."
Deanda says she "used to abuse alcohol" to try to cope with stress, and she says that drinking is more accepted in society than alternative medicine. "For me, microdosing is about healing and is a spiritual experience, whereas wine is more about escaping, typically," she says. "Everyone is so different, but for me it is not comparable. I would call myself a spiritual mama, and microdosing is one of the tools I have to support me."
Deanda encourages other people to have an open mind about microdosing. "It’s something that can help you be your best self when used correctly," she says. "As mamas, I think it’s more important than ever before to have practices and therapies to release stress and support us so that we can have our cups overflowing. To raise thriving leaders in this society, we must feel our best and be able to pour out the most present, happiest version of ourselves to our children."
"We will talk about the benefits just like I do about fruit and vegetables or exercise."
Mom of five Kristin Taylor has had such a positive experience with microdosing that she has integrated it into her career as a mental health practitioner. The author of Integrate: A Three-Month Microdosing Guide tells Yahoo Life that she started microdosing in November 2021 after attending a training certification program. "They mentioned enhancement of gratitude and wonder — main topics that I speak about to my clients," she says. "I instantly knew it was part of what I was seeking for my practice and my own healing."
Taylor lives in Utah, where psilocybin mushrooms are illegal, and says a lawsuit against another single mom who spoke about how microdosing psilocybins helped her make her shift to other hallucinogens like Egyptian blue lotus and amanita muscaria. The latter "does have some toxicity" so it needs to be used with caution, Taylor says, but she swears by it for anxiety and addictive behaviors.
"When I use them, I feel more centered, clear and connected to my higher self," Taylor says. "I witness my own patterns, and I feel more empowered. When I was on psilocybin, I broke through several patterns of harmful eating behaviors and my dream state was enhanced."
Taylor says microdosing has been "huge" for her as a mom. "I still have days when I'm a terror and when I'm not the mom I want to be," she says. "But there's a lot of moving of shame — I move through those moments more quickly."
Taylor says she has spoken to her children (who range in age from 4 to 20 years old) about microdosing, noting that she's talked to her older children "in more detail ... about the health benefits of magic mushrooms and why people including myself would microdose." Taylor says her kids are fine with it. "Their response was one of, 'OK, Mom, whatever works,'" she says. She has also spoken to her children about responsible use and told them that magic mushrooms are not for kids.
"I don’t give it to my kids and wouldn’t be OK with someone else giving it to them," she says. "We will talk about the benefits just like I do about fruit and vegetables or exercise, and I desire to gift my kids all the information."
Taylor stresses that microdosing "is about being present" versus alcohol and marijuana, which are often disassociating. "Being a mom is hard. It is stressful," she says. "I want to take away the shame and fear associated with these different substances that Mother Earth has given us."
"I only do it during weekday mornings and never on weekends or days off."
Sofia Perez tells Yahoo Life that she started microdosing about six months ago to help juggle her stress levels. "As a mom, I find that stress is a huge part of the job," she says. "Without question, psilocybin has helped me manage my stress as an online businesswoman and mother."
Perez says she is "far less reactive" when parenting her 4- and 6-year-old daughters and is able to "react with patterns of self-compassion rather than frustration or guilt in those challenging situations with my kids." She adds, "Psilocybin has really helped activate my capacity for being present with love and acceptance towards myself — as well as offering up more patience when dealing with the daily ups and downs that come along with being a mom."
Perez says she will often mix one gram of dried mushroom powder into her coffee in the morning. "It takes about an hour to kick in, and then I feel more focused and clear-headed for the rest of the day," she says. "The effects last for four to six hours."
Perez says she's set some boundaries around her use. "I only do it during weekday mornings and never on weekends or days off," she says. "I also make sure to drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet."
Perez says she has spoken to her daughters about microdosing. "I explain that it's something grown-ups do to help them feel better sometimes in a safe way, while not altering their normal state of being, like drinking alcohol or other drugs do," she says. "Additionally, I make sure they understand that microdosing is not suitable at their age because they are still too young. We talk about ways to better manage emotions through constructive activities such as mindfulness activities and yoga, which helps them become more aware of the body's signals so they can take care of themselves emotionally and physically in a balanced manner until adulthood arrives."
Perez says that society "is just now starting to become more accepting of different ways of coping with motherhood and parenthood stressors." She adds, "I do think that other moms should know that there are options out there beyond wine."
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