Mescaline is a naturally occurring, psychoactive substance found in certain cacti native to South America, Mexico, and the southwest portion of the United States. Mescaline has been used in religious ceremonies for thousands of years by the indigenous peoples of the area.
Mescaline is sometimes referred to as peyote, after a type of cactus that naturally produces it. Other species of cactus that also contain mescaline are the San Pedro and Peruvian Torch. Peyote is a small cactus, without spines, that grows button-shaped discs. These discs, sometimes referred to as peyote buttons, are removed from the plant and mescaline is extracted from them. When dried or fresh, the buttons may be chewed, smoked, or ground. They can also be soaked in water to make a kind of tea.
Mescaline appears to work by binding to the serotonin 5-HT2A-C receptors. And mescaline’s chemical compound is 3,4,5 trimethoxyphenethylamine.
Mescaline was traditionally used by Native peoples in religious and healing ceremonies, and members of the Native American Church still use this substance today. Research indicates that the intoxication mescaline induces is mild, and side effects and dependence are rare.
Blind studies of Native Americans who regularly participate in mescaline ceremonies show that they demonstrate no cognitive or psychological deficits.
Modern science is looking into ways mescaline can be used to treat various mental health issues, including:
– Substance abuse
– Depression and anxiety
– Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
– Peyote and mescaline. DEA. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2022
Dinis-Oliveira RJ, Pereira CL, da Silva DD. Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Aspects of Peyote and Mescaline: Clinical and Forensic Repercussions. Curr Mol Pharmacol. 2019;12(3):184-194. doi:10.2174/1874467211666181010154139
– Mescaline. Mescaline – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics.Accessed April 20, 2022.
– Kovacic P, Somanathan R. Novel, unifying mechanism for mescaline in the central nervous system: electrochemistry, catechol redox metabolite, receptor, cell signaling and structure activity relationships. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2009;2(4):181-190. doi:10.4161/oxim.2.4.9380
– Uthaug MV, Davis AK, Haas TF, et al. The epidemiology of mescaline use: Pattern of use, motivations for consumption, and perceived consequences, benefits, and acute and enduring subjective effects. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 2022;36(3):309-320. doi:10.1177/02698811211013583
– Halpern JH, Sherwood AR, Hudson JI, Yurgelun-Todd D, Pope HG Jr. Psychological and cognitive effects of long-term peyote use among Native Americans. Biol Psychiatry. 2005;58(8):624-631. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.06.038
– Alexandra Fickenscher, Douglas K. Novins & Spero M. Manson (2006) Illicit Peyote Use Among American Indian Adolescents in Substance Abuse Treatment: A Preliminary Investigation, Substance Use & Misuse, 41:8, 1139-1154, DOI: 10.1080/10826080600692142
– Gabrielle Agin-Liebes, Trevor F. Haas, Rafael Lancelotta, Malin V. Uthaug, Johannes G. Ramaekers, and Alan K. Davis. ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science 2021 4 (2), 543-552. DOI: 10.1021/acsptsci.1c00018
– Dinis-Oliveira RJ, Pereira CL, da Silva DD. Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Aspects of Peyote and Mescaline: Clinical and Forensic Repercussions. Curr Mol Pharmacol. 2019;12(3):184-194. doi:10.2174/1874467211666181010154139