What Is Mescaline?

Mescaline is an Ancient Hallucinogen

Perhaps one of the oldest hallucinogens in the world, there is evidence of mescaline (also known as peyote, the cactus from which mescaline is derived) use dating back as far as 4000 BCE. It was not always used for its hallucinogenic properties, though, as peyote actually does have some antiseptic qualities, as well. Despite this, today, mescaline is listed with the DEA’s Schedule I drugs, meaning that it has no recognized medical uses and poses a high risk for abuse and dependency.

Details – What Is Mescaline?

The peyote cactus grows in hot, arid climates and is indigenous to central Mexico, the southwestern regions of Texas, and some other areas in the southwestern United States. Mescaline is derived from the disc-shaped “buttons” that grow on the crown of the plant. These are harvested and dried, after which they may be chewed or they can be made into a tea.

A dose of mescaline is usually between 0.3 and 0.5 grams, and at about 0.1 gram of mescaline per gram of dried peyote, users will take between three and five grams of peyote to get high. This high will generally last for about 12 hours, during which the user can expect a number of intense visual hallucinations.

Also, though many users prefer “natural” mescaline, the drug may also be synthesized and will have the same effects when taken in powder form. This drug may be taken by ingestion or smoking.

The Historical Background of Mescaline

As we mentioned earlier, peyote (mescaline) is one of the oldest known psychedelic drugs in the world. Ancient Aztecs considered it a magical substance and used it in a number of religious and spiritual rituals. It was also used to treat various illnesses, and to communicate with the dead.

Because Native American people have used peyote for thousands of years in their rituals, in 1918, when their right to use the drug was threatened, they formed the Native American Church. This gave them the legal right to use the drug in their ceremonies until 1990, when the US Supreme Court passed down a decision effectively banning the drug, even in this limited capacity.

Street Names for Mescaline

There are a few different street names for mescaline, including:

  • Peyote
  • Buttons
  • Cactus
  • Mesc(s)
  • Big Chief
  • Mescalito
  • Topi
  • Mescal
  • Tops

When mescaline is combined with MDMA, it is called “snackies”.

Side Effects of Using Mescaline

Some of the most common side effects of using mescaline include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Mood swings
  • Tremors

Though it is not physically addictive, mescaline can be psychologically addictive, and prolonged use can result in permanently altered brain chemistry and physical and mental health problems. In most cases, vomiting and/or diarrhea result from the body’s reaction to the cactus, not specifically to the mescaline.

What Does the High From Mescaline Feel Like?

The high from mescaline can be compared with the high from LSD and other strong mood-altering hallucinogens. However, unlike many of these other substances, mescaline high can last up to 12 hours, and the effects of the high can continue for even longer. Hallucinations can be mild or intense and may last for several hours. Moods can change quickly, and a good trip can become a nightmare in minutes.

As a Schedule I drug, mescaline possession and/or distribution can come with serious criminal charges and extensive prison time. This drug may have been used for thousands of years, but that does not make it less dangerous to your mental or physical health.

  • Answered by:
  • Published: 09/28/2016
  • Updated: 03/14/2023
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