Psychedelic drugs have remained popular in the United States since first achieving widespread recognition in the 1960’s with the counterculture movement. In 2016, for example, hallucinogens were reported to be the 4th most popular drugs of abuse in the United States by person’s aged 12 and over. (1)
Here we take a look at one of the oldest used psychedelics: peyote.
What is Peyote?
The cactus grows mostly underground, and ranges in size from approximately the size of a golf ball to a softball.
The main alkaloid responsible for the hallucinogenic effects of peyote is mescaline.
Peyote is used by eating the inner flesh of the cactus, which is described as having an extremely bitter taste. (2)
What are the effects of Peyote?
The effects of peyote use typically start approximately 45-90 minutes after first consuming the cactus. These effects typically peak at around 2-4 hours, and last for approximately 8 hours.
The effects of taking peyote and other psychedelics typically vary from user to user, but often times include the following effects (3):
- Loss of physical coordination and control
- Some visual hallucinations, such as shifting environment, bright colors, and patterns
- Intense emotions, ranging from fear to euphoria
- Perspective shift
- Auditory hallucinations
- Time distortion
- Memory loss
What is the history of Peyote use?
The use of peyote for its psychedelic effects by humans has likely occurred for thousands of years. For example, archaeological examples of peyote prepared for consumption were dated to approximately 3780-3660 BC. (4)
More recently, Native American cultures have used peyote in various religious ceremonies for many generations. (5)
What is the legal status of Peyote?
Recreational use of peyote and mescaline extracts is illegal in the United States. Federal laws, however, currently protect the use of peyote in Native American religious ceremonies. (6)
This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.
Stewart, O.C. (1987). Peyote Religion: A History. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.