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Mescaline (Peyote)

Common or street names: Big Chief, peyote, buttons, cactus, mescaline, mesc, mescalito, peyoto

What is mescaline?

Mescaline is a psychedelic hallucinogen obtained from the small, spineless cactus Peyote (Lophophora williamsi), the San Pedro cactus, Peruvian torch cactus, and other mescaline-containing cacti. It is also found in certain members of the Fabaceae (bean family) and can be produced synthetically.

People have used hallucinogens for hundreds of year, mostly for religious rituals or ceremonies. Mescaline leads to rich visual hallucinations. From the earliest recorded time, peyote has been used by natives in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States as a part of traditional religious rites. It has an effect that is similar to LSD or psilocybin (magic mushrooms), other hallucinogenic drugs.

The top of the cactus above ground, or the crown, consists of disc-shaped buttons that are cut from the roots and dried. These buttons are generally chewed or soaked in water to produce an intoxicating tea. It can be consumed raw or dried but is extremely bitter. The hallucinogen may also be ground into powder for oral capsules, or smoked with marijuana and tobacco. The hallucinogenic dose is about 0.3 to 0.5 grams (equivalent to about 5 grams of dried peyote) and lasts about 12 hours. However, different doses can affect people in various ways, and doses extracted from plants can vary widely.

Mescaline is used primarily as a recreational drug and is also used to supplement various types of meditation and psychedelic therapy. It is classified as a schedule I drug in the U.S., making it illegal in all forms (including peyote); however, it remains legal in certain religious ceremonies registered by the Native American Church 1,2, 3 Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.

Use and effects

“Trips” for the users may be pleasurable and enlightening or anxiety-producing and unpleasant (known as a “bad trip”). There is no way to know how a user’s experience may ultimately play out. Common effects after use may include:

  • visual hallucinations and radically altered states of consciousness (psychedelic experience)
  • open and closed eye visualizations
  • euphoria
  • dream-like state
  • slowed passage of time
  • laughter
  • a mixing of senses (synesthesia, such as “seeing a sound” or “hearing colors”)
  • pupil dilation

Side effects or risks

Side effects or risks of mescaline use may include:

  • anxiety, fear
  • racing heart beat (tachycardia)
  • dizziness
  • weakness
  • diarrhea
  • excessive sweating
  • tremors
  • nausea, vomiting
  • headache
  • accidental injury
  • psychosis, panic or paranoia
  • seizures
  • amnesia (loss of memory)
  • posthallucinogen perceptual disorder (flashbacks)
  • rarely, suicidal thoughts or actions

Like most psychedelic hallucinogens, mescaline is not physically addictive; however, it can cause tolerance meaning higher doses are need to achieve the same hallucinogenic effect. Mescaline-containing cacti can induce severe vomiting and nausea, which is an important part to traditional Native-American or Shaman ceremonies and is considered a cleansing ritual and a spiritual aid.

If you take prescription medications, there are no well-controlled studies to determine the overall effect of drug interactions. Medications that have an effect in the brain and may affect serotonin levels (for example: antidepressants, antipsychotic agents, medications for bipolar disorder) may have the potential for dangerous drug interactions when combined with mescaline. Drugs that affect the circulatory system, heart, or have stimulant affects may lead to rapid pulse and dangerous outcomes. Other drug interactions are also possible, although scientific data are limited.

Use in Pregnancy

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), researchers have found that mescaline found in peyote may affect the fetus of a pregnant woman using the drug. 5

Treatment

There are no FDA-approved medications to treat abuse of mescaline or other hallucinogenic drugs. Research needs to be completed to evaluate the effects of behavioral therapies for these substances. 4

Related:

  • Drug Testing FAQs
  • Drug and Substance Abuse

See Also

  • Bath Salts
  • Cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Devil’s Breath
  • Ecstasy
  • Fentanyl (Abuse)
  • GHB
  • Gray Death
  • Hashish (Hash)
  • Heroin
  • Ketamine
  • Kratom
  • Krokodil
  • LSD
  • Marijuana
  • MDMA (Ecstasy, Molly)
  • Opium
  • PCP (Phencyclidine)
  • Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms)
  • Quaaludes
  • Rohypnol
  • Speed (methamphetamine)
  • Synthetic Cannabinoids (Synthetic Marijuana, Spice, K2)
  • TCP (Tenocyclidine)
  • U-47700 (Pink)

Sources

  1. Peyote And Mescaline. U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Accessed Sept. 22, 2020 at https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/peyote-and-mescaline
  2. Harvard Drug and Alcohol Peer Advisors (DAPA). Peyote/Mescaline. Accessed Sept. 22, 2020 at https://harvarddapa.org/peyotemescaline
  3. Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs. National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). Accessed Sept. 22, 2020 at https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/hallucinogens-dissociative-drugs/what-are-dissociative-drugs
  4. Commonly Abused Drugs Charts. National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). Accessed Sept. 22, 2020 at https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs-charts#mescaline-peyote-
  5. Gilmore HT. Peyote use during pregnancy. S D J Med. 2001 Jan;54(1):27-9. Accessed Sept. 17, 2018.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Mescaline (Peyote) is a hallucinogen and is used as a recreational drug. Includes mescaline side effects, interactions and effects.

Psychedelic cacti

There are many cacti in several genera that produce mescaline and similar phenethylamines in varying amounts. Cacti with a history of human use include Peyote (Lophophora williamsii), San Pedro (Trichocereus/Echinopsis pachanoi), Peruvian Torch (Trichocereus peruvianus/Echinopsis peruviana), Bolivian Torch (Trichocereus bridgesii/Echinopsis lageniformis), and Trichocereus/Echinopsis scopulicola. Mescaline also occurs in other common cacti in trace amounts. The concentration of mescaline and other alkaloids varies considerably between between species and individual plants. Other alkaloids found in psychedelic cacti include 3,4-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenethylamine, 3-hydroxy-4,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-hydroxy-3,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, anhalonidine, anhalinine, hordenine, tyramine, and 3-methoxytyramine. The green skin of the cactus is where the majority of psychoactive alkaloids are located.

Contents

  • 1 Alkaloids in different Lophophora species
  • 2 Peyote
    • 2.1 Other Lophophora genus cacti
  • 3 San Pedro
  • 4 Peruvian Torch
  • 5 Bolivian Torch
  • 6 Echinopsis scopulicola
  • 7 Echinopsis Terscheckii
  • 8 Similar cacti
    • 8.1 Stetsonia coryne
  • 9 Legal status
  • 10 Literature
  • 11 External links
  • 12 References

Alkaloids in different Lophophora species

According to the study by Dr. Štarha, [1] all varieties of peyote contain approximately 0.7 mg of mescaline per gram of living plant. Both Lophophora diffusa and Lophophora fricii are found to be low in mescaline and high in pellotine.

Alkaloid (mg/gram of alive plant) L. williamsii L. jourdaniana L. diffusa L. fricii L. koehresii
Tyramine 0.5 – 1 0.6 0.1 0.1 0.1
Hordenine 5 – 8 2 – 9 0.5 0.4 0.4
Mescaline 15 – 30 31 1.2 1.1 1.3
Pellotine 14 – 17 17.8 86.2 65.2 88.4
Anhalonidine 14 20.1 3.8 25.9 3.5

Study by Dr. Štarha in the Grym, Rudolf (1997) book. [2]

Peyote

Peyote (Lophophora williamsii) is the most well known and potent psychedelic cactus, although the smallest and slowest growing. Instead of growing upward to form a column, it grows as “buttons” low to the ground. It has been used by Native Americans for over 5000 years. Unlike other psychedelic cacti, the peyote plant and its seeds are controlled substances in the USA; however, federal and state religious freedom restoration acts allow its use in religious ceremonies. In addition to mescaline, it contains the the alkaloid hordenine (N,N-dimethyltyramine). [3] Hordenine is a selective MAO-B substrate and thus may function as a competitive inhibitor, preventing the breakdown of mescaline to some extent. [4]

Other Lophophora genus cacti

Other Lophophora cacti such as Lophophora diffusa, Lophophora fricii, Lophophora koehresii. are low in Mescaline and high in Pellotine; so they produce different psychoactive effects than Lophophora williamsii.

San Pedro

San Pedro (Echinopsis pachanoi) contains mescaline, 3,4-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenethylamine, 3-hydroxy-4,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-hydroxy-3,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, anhalonidine, anhalinine, hordenine, tyramine, and 3-methoxytyramine. [5] Although relatively common in garden centers as a decorative plant, the potency can vary greatly between individual plants and garden store strains are not bred for high mescaline content. Sometimes they are bred to minimize mescaline content. In the USA, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Germany, New Zealand and Norway it is legal to cultivate for decorative purposes, though illegal to use for its mescaline content. It has been used by indigenous South Americans for over 3000 years.

Peruvian Torch

Peruvian torch (Echinopsis peruviana) is more consistently psychoactive than San Pedro, though potency still varies greatly. It has a higher ratio of mescaline to other alkaloids than San Pedro. Its history of use by indigenous people goes back 2000-3000 years. Many regional varieties and hybrids exist. Peruvian Torch is one of the least well-defined and most varied species in its genus. Because of this, and because it is generally considered more desirable than San Pedro, San Pedro and hybrid cacti are often represented as Peruvian Torch. Like San Pedro, growing it without the intent to utilize its psychoactive properties is legal in many areas. In South America it is sometimes referred to as San Pedro, as are various psychoactive cacti in the same genus.

Bolivian Torch

Bolivian torch (Echinopsis lageniformis) is widely regarded as the most consistently psychoactive and potent columnar cactus. It is faster growing than San Pedro or Peruvian Torch, though it is thinner than either. It is believed to have more hordenine relative to mescaline than Peruvian Torch. The monstrose cultivars are slower growing forms which branch into many sections. The two monstrose cultivars are the long form clone A which has longer sections that are smooth and spineless except for the base, and the short form clone B with small sections that grow long spines. There are also crested variants. Despite being one of the most consistently potent psychedelic columnar cacti, it is not commonly grown for its mescaline content outside of its native range.

Echinopsis scopulicola

This cactus is also native to Bolivia, and it can form hybrids with the thinner bridgesii. It shares its range and forms hybrids with the other Echinopsis (Trichocereus) cacti. The green layer of the skin contains approximately 0.82% mescaline.

Echinopsis Terscheckii

This large columnar cactus is native to northwest Argentina and the western slopes of the Andes in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. The alkaloid content has been found to be anywhere from 0.005-2.375% mescaline. It is the largest of the psychoactive cacti.

There are many cacti in several genera that produce mescaline and similar phenethylamines in varying amounts. Cacti with a history of human use include Peyote (Lophophora williamsii), San Pedro (Trichocereus/Echinopsis pachanoi), Peruvian Torch (Trichocereus peruvianus/Echinopsis peruviana), Bolivian Torch (Trichocereus bridgesii/Echinopsis lageniformis), and Trichocereus/Echinopsis scopulicola. Mescaline also occurs in other common cacti in trace amounts. The concentration of mescaline and other alkaloids varies considerably between between species and individual plants. Other alkaloids found in psychedelic cacti include 3,4-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenethylamine, 3-hydroxy-4,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-hydroxy-3,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, anhalonidine, anhalinine, hordenine, tyramine, and 3-methoxytyramine. The green skin of the cactus is where the majority of psychoactive alkaloids are located.