Originally Published: January 17, 2003 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: July 7, 2008
my friends and i did shrooms the other night and they mentioned "peyote." i was wondering, what is "peyote," what does it do to you, and what are the side effects? thanks!
Peyote, a small cactus (Lophophora williamsii), provides one of the oldest known drugs. Peyote produces hallucinations by means of the ingredient mescaline, though several other compounds in peyote may also contribute to the effects of the drug. Peyote is most often ingested in the form of ground up powder made from the dried cactus, but it can also be found as an alcohol-based, liquid extract. Mescaline can be synthesized as well.
Peyote's effects resemble those of LSD and other hallucinogens. Hallucinogens similar to mescaline distort reality and perspective. Hallucinations, intensified colors and images, and enhanced perceptions of touch and hearing can take up to four hours to reach their peak, and can last up to fourteen hours after ingesting the drug. To read a famous literary description of a mescaline trip, you can peruse Miserable Miracle (1956) by French Surrealist poet and artist Henri Michaux, in which he describes, in words and pictures, his experiences with mescaline. Obviously from the title, users can find the experience both pleasing and, well, miserable. The Related Q&As listed below contain more information on how hallucinogens work.
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 has long been used by Native American societies in what is Mexico and the southwestern United States today, and is native to both of these regions. The drug has been a part of Native American religious ceremonies for a long time now, and continues to be used today by the Native American Church, the only organization exempt from federal law regarding use of peyote. The U.S. government classifies peyote and mescaline as schedule I (one) controlled substances, meaning that there is no known medical use and it is illegal.