From functional mushroom supplements to psilocybin laced bars, mushroom chocolate is a rapidly growing industry
Few foods engender as much passion or popularity as chocolate. Dense, decadent, and creamy: chocolate has left an indelible imprint on human civilization. So too have mushrooms, with their mind-bending, medicinal properties. But what kind of transcendental magic takes place when you combine the two to make mushroom chocolate?
That’s a question that creative chocolate connoisseurs and shroom enthusiasts are currently rushing to answer. Right now, mushroom chocolate is having a serious moment. The emerging creations lean towards both the legal and illegal ends of the spectrum.
Mycophiles can choose between hot chocolate and bars laced with medicinal mushrooms such as Lion’s Mane, or deluxe chocolate crafted with psilocybin mushrooms. The growing popularity of both speaks to a trend first triggered by cannabis edibles: good things happen when plant medicine is presented as a delicious treat.
Medicinal Mushroom Hot Chocolate and Chocolate Bars
For those keen to experiment with mushrooms who aren’t yet ready for a psychedelic experience, functional or medicinal mushrooms represent a nourishing, non-intoxicating alternative. Mushroom hot chocolate is formulated by blending cacao or carob with adaptogenic mushrooms such as reishi, cordyceps, chaga, turkey tail and lion’s mane.
These hot, wholesome beverages are increasingly popular among individuals ready to give up coffee jitters in favor of drinks that alleviate stress and enhance mental function. Medicinal mushrooms each boast their own collection of therapeutic properties, but all are believed to be adaptogenic. Adaptogens support the body in adjusting to physical, chemical, or biological stress, helping bodily systems return to a balanced state known as homeostasis. These powerhouse plant compounds can also support the body in maintaining metabolic functions more effectively and boost mental and physical performance.
Woodland Mushroom Hot Chocolate Super Adaptogenic Blend, for example, combines reishi and lion’s mane to elevate immune and brain function, reduce anxiety and lower inflammation. In addition, the brand opts for carob to provide chocolate flavor rather than cacao (which contains caffeine). For those looking for a stronger chocolate fix, however, Buoyant Chocolates have crafted milk and dark chocolate bars with powdered lion’s mane and cordyceps. This functional dessert is touted to enhance focus, concentration, memory, and physical stamina.
However, for those seeking a chocolate hit with a side of psychedelics, other options abound.
Psilocybin Mushroom Chocolate
For Cheyenne Dehier and Paul Marlow of STEM Chocolate, combining dried psilocybin mushrooms with Callebaut chocolate from Belgium represented a modern take on a sacred, ancient medicine.
“Traditionally, the combination of psilocybin and cacao is known as the Aztec combo,” explains Dehier. “Cacao’s name is derived from the scientific name Theobroma cacao meaning food or nourishment of the gods. The Aztecs referred to the psilocybin mushroom as Teonanácatl which translates to flesh of the gods.”
The two entrepreneurs developed STEM to craft psilocybin-infused chocolate that could open people’s minds to the diverse benefits of safe medicinal mushroom consumption.
“We’re dedicated to dismantling the stigma surrounding this magnificent species,” says Dehier. “We were driven to create STEM to disrupt the industry as we know it, by presenting this medicine in a more elevated and approachable way.” STEM’s chocolate is not your run-of-the-mill dark/milk/white variety. Think instead of exotic flavors such as cardamom, Provence lavender, and yuzu.
“STEM’s most popular mushroom chocolate bar flavors are Cookies & Cream Dreams, Caramel Gold Rush, and our premium Passionfruit Triptych made with Penis Envy mushrooms, Valrhona chocolate, and genuine 23K gold,” says Dehier.
The benefits of blending cacao and psilocybin
Dehier points out that the tradition of combining cacao and psilocybin is actually thousands of years old, dating back to ancient medicinal ceremonies.
“Their strong synergy has been known to enhance the effects of psilocybin and guide the spirit through the journey,” says Dehier. “Together, psilocybin mushrooms and cacao give more depth to a psychedelic experience. Traditionally, it is said that psilocybin mushrooms open the mind, while cacao opens the heart.”
There’s evidence that teaming the two does offer unique benefits. Although cacao is not a psychedelic, it is a stimulant of sorts. Cacao contains MAO-inhibitors, anandamide, and other potent natural compounds that help to elevate mood and feelings of pleasure. Dehier adds that these features help to enhance the effect of psilocybin. What’s more, cacao is rich in natural fats (here’s looking at you, cacao butter), which increase the absorption of psilocybin.
Dehier suggests thinking of cacao as a liposomal carrier for cacao. “The fat particles make it easier for the body to absorb while allowing the psilocybin to transfer to the blood and brain,” she explains. In short, teaming psilocybin and cacao seems to make for an elevated psychedelic experience.“Food of the gods and flesh of the gods is the perfect balance, and a match made in heaven,” reflects Dehier.
Edibles for microdosing
The genius of the shroom chocolate bars is that they can easily be divided into microdosed-sized pieces, so consumers can control how much psilocybin they swallow with each bite.
“The bar is divided between 15 pieces. Each piece contains 200 mg of psilocybin mushrooms,” says Dehier. “We suggest cutting each piece in half (100 mg) or quarters (50 mg) for a scheduled psilocybin microdose routine. One bar should last you between 1-2 months, depending on your dosing schedule.”
For those new to psychedelics, or those seeking to harness their benefits regularly, microdosing represents an easy and effective way to dip one’s toes in the proverbial psychedelic pool. Microdosing allows the individual to lean into an altered mood and perspective rather than venture into outer space on a hero’s journey.
Yes it’s delicious… but is it legal?
The rise of psilocybin chocolate and other psilocybin-infused edibles raises legal questions. Although the decriminalization of psychedelic substances is on the rise, psilocybin is still illegal in most locations. However, police regulate psilocybin more rigorously in some places than others.
“STEM is very fortunate to be based in Vancouver, Canada, which seems to be leading this industry by allowing these activities to continue without fear of legal repercussions,” commented Dehier. “Vancouver seems to have a trend of pushing these industries forward as it was the same with cannabis a few years ago, prior to legalization. Today, several mushroom-only dispensaries are operating within Vancouver that offer a variety of mushroom-specific products.”
Dehier believes the current push for legalization in Canada (symbolized most recently by British Columbia’s decision to allow small quantities of drugs for personal use) enables STEM and other psilocybin entrepreneurs to operate in a “gray area”. In other words, psilocybin is not legal, but nor is it being rigorously policed either.
In states in the US, however, activity involving magic mushrooms is more stringently controlled. The recent case involving Indiana nurse Jessica Thornton, who is awaiting sentencing for growing her own supply of psilocybin, represents a case in point. In other states, psilocybin chocolate artisans operate within a black market, churning out bars quickly and surreptitiously to meet rising demand.
Dehier remains optimistic, however, that the legal landscape will soon shift. “With this new re-surge of evidence-based research being conducted, the medical industry can no longer ignore the many benefits psilocybin treatment has to offer,” she says. “As more individuals seek new alternatives to medicines that can aid them in their health journey, legislation will have to change.”