Peyote is a small, spineless cactus, Lophophora williamsii, whose principal active ingredient is the hallucinogen mescaline. From earliest recorded time, peyote has been used by natives in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States as a part of traditional religious rites. Mescaline can be extracted from peyote or produced synthetically. The word “peyote” comes from the Nahuatl (Aztec) word “peyotl.”
Peyote grows extremely slowly. Peyote is native to southwestern Texas and central Mexico and is found primarily in the Chihuahuan Desert. It often grows among scrub, especially where there is limestone. For thousands of years, peyote has been used during the religious ceremonies of various Native American tribes. Today, recreational use of the drug is prohibited, but members of the Native American Church are allowed to use it in spiritual contexts.
While the predominant use of mescaline is in Native American ceremonies, it was at the forefront of popular culture during the 1960s. This was in part thanks to the publication of The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, a book by anthropologist Carlos Castaneda that focused on peyotism. The authenticity of the book is now under serious suspicion by most researchers. Still, the book managed to bring thousands of people into the realm of peyotism.
Any use of this drug outside of religious ceremonies is prohibited by federal law, but that does not prevent thousands of Americans from using peyote for personal recreation. Some recreational users enjoy consuming peyote at parties, while others prefer using it in the privacy of their own homes. Most Native Americans frown on recreational use of peyote. The drug is meant solely for religious practice; any other usage perverts its spiritual intent. One anonymous quote looks at peyote as separate from other drugs in that it is not meant for recreational purposes: “Compared to other hallucinogens, mescaline is a very focused and concentrated fire, an inner fire that causes an increase of energy, giving spiritual insights.”
Short term effects of mescaline
When a person first ingests peyote, nausea and vomiting as well as anxiety are common. After these initial peyote effects have been described as very dream-like, drifting, almost a delirium type of state during the first couple of hours. The sensation is similar to LSD but less edgy. While both auditory and visual hallucinations occur, many users say that a peyote high is more suitable for inner reflection and contemplation. Much depends on the potency of the peyote and the blend of mescaline and the fifty or some odd alkaloids contained in cactus.
Other effects can include
- increased body temperature
- heart rate
- blood pressure
- loss of appetite
Peyote can be dangerous. Some users experience lowered blood pressure and difficulty breathing. Other common side effects include nausea and vomiting about 30 to 60 minutes after ingestion, as well as intense feelings of anxiety and paranoia throughout the experience.
While direct deaths from mescaline are uncommon, any injuries or deaths are more likely to be a result of accidents that occur because of the distorted perception that is the drug’s major effect. If you do decide to try peyote or mescaline, avoid moving around too much and make sure someone who is not using the drug is there to help you if you need it.
Peyote long term effects
Much research has been done on the potential long-term effects of using peyote on a regular basis. This research found that most people using peyote in religious settings fail to experience any negative effects, other than occasional short-term nausea and stomach pain. The lack of lasting phsycial and mental trauama is one of the things that distinguishes mescaline from other hallucinogens. However, there are a few reported cases of users developing hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (hppv). HPPV is also seen in frequent users of LSD, acid and other hallucinogens. The condition causes sufferers to experience flashbacks of hallucinations a long time after taking the drug. The biggest danger of HPPV is that the sufferer may experience a flashback while he or she is operating a moving vehicle or engaging in some other potentially life-threatening activity.
Heavy users of mescaline may develop a tolerance to the drug. Although it takes a really large amount of mescaline the cause an overdose, the built-up tolerance to mescaline poses a risk in that it can be transferred over to other hallucinogens. This means that a person with a high tolerance for mescaline will also have a high tolerance for LSD and angel dust, even if he or she has never used those drugs.
The biggest risk in using peyote or mescaline in recreational setting is that drugs sold on the street and billed as mescaline almost always contain other drugs, such as LSD, ecstasy and angel dust. While mescaline is not necessarily harmful in and of itself, the other drugs commonly found in mescaline tablets certainly are.