I tried gummy shrooms without psychedelics that promised to get me focused like a natural Adderall. Here's what it was like. (2024)

Gwella, a Toronto-based wellness startup founded in 2020, is one such company.Last year, Gwella launched a gummy derived from ingredients in lion's mane, one of a handful of functional mushrooms used in traditional Chinese medicine along with reishi and turkey tail.

Peter Reitano, the founder of Gwella, said he's been growing functional mushrooms for about a decade. He said Gwella's chief science officer, Daniel Sanders, began experimenting with lion's mane while he was in school to replace Adderall as a "study aid." It gave them the idea to explore the potential of lion's mane as a natural alternative to improve cognition and increase focus, Reitano added.

Adderall is a widely prescribed drug that combines amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, two stimulants, to improve focus for people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. While stimulants seem to be effective for about 70% of patients, Adderall can come with serious risks like addiction and worsening of existing heart conditions.


"We wanted to create a really healthy product that had short-term benefits — i.e., focus, cognition, energy — but also had these long-term compounding benefits with regular use through functional mushrooms like lion's mane," Reitano said in an interview with Insider.

I tried Gwella's gummy product, called Mojo, to see if it would help my focus, and asked an external expert to assess whether they thought the short-lived effects I felt were caused by the lion's mane, other ingredients, or a placebo effect.

Research is limited, but appetite is big for functional mushrooms

Gwella is a newcomer in the growing functional-mushroom industry, which generated $7.98 billion in 2020 and could reach a whopping $19.33 billion by 2030, according to a November report from Allied Market Research.

Other big players include Bella Hadid's new "functional beverage," Kin, a nonalcoholic spritz that uses reishi mushrooms, and Moon Juice, a buzzy Los Angeles-based wellness company that started as a single juice shop in 2012 and now makes $20 million in annual sales on products including powdered chaga mushrooms.

Research on the effects of mushroom-derived supplements like adaptogens are inconclusive, but Chris D'Adamo, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine who studies wellness and dietary supplements, described lion's mane as the "all-star" of functional mushrooms due to its positive effects in animal studies and some small human studies.

I tried gummy shrooms without psychedelics that promised to get me focused like a natural Adderall. Here's what it was like. (1)

A 2009 study in Japan with 30 elderly participants suggested people who consumed 3 grams of lion's mane extract for 16 weeks performed slightly better on cognitive tests than a placebo group, but the study has not been replicated. Multiple studies in mice have suggested lion's mane improved short-term memory.

According to D'Adamo, while more research is needed on the effects, the appetite for functional mushrooms is propelled by the long tradition of mushroom use in Chinese medicine. "If you look at mushrooms, in particular, there are a tremendous amount of studies and thousands of years of history on utilizing and capitalizing on the medicinal properties that they have," D'Adamo said in an interview.

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Gwella also adds about 90 milligrams of nootropics to the functional-mushroom gummies. Nootropics are substances that potentially improve cognitive functioning and are found in caffeine, tea, and creatine.


Dr. David A. Merrill, a psychiatrist and director of the Pacific Neuroscience Institute's Pacific Brain Health Center at Providence Saint John's Health Center near Los Angeles, previously told Insider nootropics provide the most benefit when a person is already having trouble focusing. Furthermore, Merrill said factors like sleep, stress, diet, and exercise might have greater long-term effects on cognitive functioning,

I took my first Mojo gummy at 11:30 a.m.

According to Gwella's website, the functional-mushroom gummy takes about one hour to begin having an effect. The company told Insider the timeline comes from its in-house science team, which used third-party research and data from community product testing. The company did not share details of the people and sample size involved in those studies.

On the Mojo label, the company recommends taking half of a gummy to start. Unfortunately, I skimmed the instructions and assumed one gummy was the starting dose.

The taste was bearable, but I wouldn't say I particularly enjoyed it. It was a "wild strawberry and zesty tangerine" flavor, but it left an aftertaste in my mouth for about 15 minutes that felt like an artificial sweetener.


About 45 minutes in, I started to feel relaxed, not shaky or panicky as if I've had too much coffee but still focused and able to work. While I have never taken Adderall, users typically feel "energetic, focused, excited, or self-confident" immediately after taking the pill, according to Medical News Today. I felt only slightly more focused and didn't notice any other changes to my mood or attention.

12:30 p.m.: Ifelt a bit more focused

I tried gummy shrooms without psychedelics that promised to get me focused like a natural Adderall. Here's what it was like. (3)

That slight buzz I felt went away within 10 minutes. I was left still feeling focused, but I couldn't feel any other sensation. The focused feeling was slight, and I wondered whether it had come from the tea I drank.

When I described my experience taking Mojo to D'Adamo, the epidemiologist said it's "probably likely" Mojo had a subtle effect on my increased focus. People can feel the effects of Red Bull or coffee more intensely than they would feel the effects of lion's mane, D'Adamo added, but he said there is some evidence that extended use of lion's mane can result in increased focus in the long term.

D'Adamo said consumers would need to take at least 3 grams of lion's mane to get the short-term cognitive benefits from the mushroom. Gwella said there is 52.5 milligrams in each gummy, or just 0.05 of a gram — far less than D'Adamo's suggested dose.


At about 10 minutes into the second hour, I felt a slight sensation on my tongue, as if it were going a bit numb. Then I felt the tingling sensation return even stronger, and I felt it in my fingertips. I would describe the sensation as a dulled-down version of the 15-minute tingling I get from a pre-workout 300-milligram caffeine supplement. Gwella said this is not a common reaction to the gummy, based on the company's research.

1:30 p.m.: I ate lunch and could no longer perceive any effects of Mojo

I tried gummy shrooms without psychedelics that promised to get me focused like a natural Adderall. Here's what it was like. (4)

I ate around this time to see how that would affect my experience. Usually after lunch, I feel fatigued and am in a slump and need at least 30 minutes to get productive again, but today I was able to get to work right away after I ate. I'm not sure whether it's because of the mushrooms or if I got good sleep the night before, but D'Adamo said while sleep is an important factor in cognition, the lion's mane could have had a subtle effect on my improved focus.

2:30 p.m.: The perceived effects of Mojo had worn off completely

Whatever effects I felt I had were over by now, so I took two more just to see what would happen. Gwella recommends taking between a half gummy to two when dosing because users will react to the mushroom differently.

I was pleasantly surprised at my focus in the hour after I had my first gummy but disappointed that the effects seem to have dissipated rather quickly. I hoped that by taking two I would feel the effects longer and stronger.


I felt the same effects taking two Mojo gummies compared with one: I felt slightly more focused 45 minutes after consuming the supplement, but the feeling went away within an hour after that.

Overall, I would say I enjoyed my experience taking the Mojo gummy and would use it again if I had a big deadline coming up as an alternative to a cup of coffee.

I tried gummy shrooms without psychedelics that promised to get me focused like a natural Adderall. Here's what it was like. (2024)


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