While psychedelic mushrooms are generating tons of buzz lately, including recent media coverage about tech entrepreneurs taking them, a more legal variety of fungi is gaining traction.
So-called functional mushrooms—which don't get you high—are rising in popularity due to the health benefits touted by advocates, including a range of direct-to-consumer marketers selling them in various forms such as chocolates, tinctures and powders. These marketers are seizing on demand for a global industry that was worth $26.7 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10.8% from 2022 to 2030, according to a report from market research firm Grand View Research.
Despite that promising forecast, there have been a few bumps on the road to the ’shroom boom. DTC functional mushroom brands such as Alice Mushrooms, Fungtion, Mojo and many more say digital advertising is tricky—especially on Meta-owned Facebook and Instagram, where brand operators say their ads and sometimes entire brand accounts are being taken down.
Below, a closer look at the functional mushroom industry and the digital advertising dynamics at play.
What is the difference between functional mushrooms and psychedelic mushrooms?
Psychedelic, or “magic,” mushrooms contain the psychoactive compound psilocybin and can make the user hallucinate, among other psychedelic effects.
Functional mushrooms, on the other hand, are simply mushrooms that functional medicine advocates believe have certain nutritional or mental health benefits. They’re often added to supplements, powders or other ingestibles. The efficacy of functional mushrooms remains a subject of debate in the medical community. “Plant chemicals and components in mushrooms may exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects, but the exact mechanism is still unclear and an area of active research,” according to Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Where are mushrooms legal?
Functional mushrooms are as legal as shiitake mushrooms from the grocery store, according to Charlotte Cruze, co-founder and chief operating officer at Alice Mushrooms (a company that sells chocolates containing functional mushrooms). Despite their many advocates, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved functional mushrooms for the treatment of any medical conditions.
Psychedelic mushrooms are federally illegal in the U.S. In Oregon and Colorado, certain uses of psychedelic mushrooms have been legalized, while some municipalities have eased laws against them.