Mescaline, a hallucinogen of religious origin

Mescaline, a hallucinogen of religious origin

Mescaline is a hallucinogen obtained from a small, spineless cactus, called Peyote. Specifically, it is extracted from small appendages that grow on top of the cactus.


  • 1 What is mescaline
  • 2 Brief history of mescaline
  • 3 Effects of mescaline
  • 4 Prevalence of consumption
  • 5 Toxicity

What is mescaline

Mescaline is a hallucinogenic drug, the same class as the LSD, the psilocybin, the PCP and dimethyltryptamine (DMT).

Mescaline occurs naturally in the peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii), and also in other cactus species such as the San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi), the Peruvian torch (Echinopsis peruviana) and the Cactaceae Plant and Fabaceae bean family.

Peyote has been used since ancient times (more than 5,000 years) by natives of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States as part of their traditional religious rites. It is consumed as a ritual prior to religious worship and to cause spiritual "cleansing." Some tribes are still allowed to use mezcalin in these rituals. It is not legal for any other use.

The upper part of the cactus, also known as the crown, contains disc-shaped appendages or buttons that are cut and allowed to dry. These buttons are usually chewed or soaked in water to produce a heady liquid. The hallucinogenic dose of mescaline is approximately 0.3 to 0.5 grams (equivalent to about 5 grams of dried peyote) and lasts about 12 hours.

Mescaline produces visual hallucinations that have traditionally been an important part of native cults, but the full spectrum of effects has served as a model of chemically induced mental illness.

Mescaline is currently used primarily as a recreational drug and is also used to favor various types of meditation and psychedelic therapy.

Unlike most highly banned substances, the medical and research community does not consider mescaline to have a particularly dependent or addictive power. However, the Unpredictable adverse reactions such as anxiety, paranoia, delusions and psychosis they can always occur, particularly among those predisposed to psychiatric disorders. While these negative reactions or "bad trips" can often be attributed to factors such as user inexperience or improper preparation for the process, it is known to occur spontaneously, even among more experienced users.

Brief history of mescaline

Mescaline was isolated and first identified in 1897 by German chemist Arthur Heffter, it was synthesized in 1919 by Ernst Späth.

This particular substance was an important source of inspiration for the work and life of Alexander Shulgin as a chemist and psychedelic researcher. Mescaline was part of the so-called "half magic dozen" that refers to the most important phenethylamine compounds that Shulgin studied with psychedelic activity, all of them (except mescaline) he developed and synthesized himself in a laboratory.

Mescaline effects

Users usually experience visual hallucinations and altered states of consciousness, often experienced as pleasurable and illuminating, but occasionally accompanied by feelings of anxiety or disgust.

Abuse of this drug results in significant alterations in perceptions, including the perception of complete hallucinations. A person, one day, can take mescaline and enjoy the altered effects of consciousness in a pleasant way, and then, at another time, have a terrible experience.

Physical effects

  • Faster heart rate
  • Elevation of blood presure
  • Tachycardia
  • Higher body temperature
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Appetite suppression
  • Changes in motor reflexes
  • Shaking hands or feet
  • Perspiration
  • Salivation
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness
  • Contractions of the intestines or uterus
  • Increased libido
  • Headache

Some researchers think that the abuse of mescaline could cause long-term effects such as damage to blood vessels, seizures and permanent brain damage.

Cognitive effects

  • Inability to differentiate reality from fantasy
  • Euphoria
  • Creativity enhancement
  • Visions and hallucinations
  • Acceleration of thought
  • Anxiety
  • Wakefulness
  • Feeling of floating
  • Lack of motivation
  • Panic
  • Terror
  • Uncontrolled moods
  • Psychosis
  • Altered time perception
  • Hallucinations of death or frightening experiences

Effects that may appear after prolonged abuse of this drug

  • Increased risk of psychological problems
  • Memory problems
  • Drug tolerance, that is, more should be used to obtain the same effects
  • Psychological dependence of the drug

The Mescaline effects can be intense for two hours, but the general residual effects of the drug can last up to twelve hours. Retrospective scenes with mescaline are likely to occur, as is the case with LSD. This means that a person can re-experience a mescaline trip months or years after the medication was taken.

Cacti that contain mescaline can cause severe vomiting and nausea, which is an important part of traditional Native American or shaman ceremonies, as it is considered a cleansing of the body and spirit.

Prevalence of consumption

The majority of people who abuse hallucinogens are young people. In 2009, there were more than 1,800 people who entered drug treatment programs due to a primary drug problem with hallucinogens. About 40% of those admitted were under 21 years old. Sixty percent were 25 years old or younger. Three out of four of them were men.


The toxicity and long-term health effects of recreational use of mescaline have not been studied in any scientific context and the exact toxic dose is unknown. This is because the lethal dose for humans has not been formally studied and no fatal overdoses are known in the literature. Anecdotal tests of people within the community of psychonauts who have tested mescaline suggest that there are no negative health effects attributed simply to testing the medication itself at low to moderate doses and using it in moderation (but nothing can be fully guaranteed ).

Tolerance and addiction potential

Mescaline itself does not create habit and the desire for continued consumption may actually decrease with use. It usually regulates itself.

Tolerance to the effects of mescaline is generated almost immediately after ingestion. After that, it takes about 3 days for the tolerance to be reduced by half and 7 days for it to return to the baseline (in the absence of increased consumption). Mescaline has cross tolerance with all psychedelics, which means that after the consumption of mescaline all psychedelics will have a reduced effect.