Mescaline (chemical name 3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine) is a naturally occurring substance, primarily found in several different types of cacti, most notably (and in highest concentration) in Peyote, the most well-known plant when it comes to abuse of this drug. However, this substance is also found in some amount in the Peruvian Torch and San Pedro species of cactus.
The History of Mescaline
The history of Mescaline as a psychoactive substance dates back several thousand years. The earliest known use occurred among indigenous people of Mexico and South America, where Peyote and Peruvian Torch cacti were common. These psychoactive plants were most often used in religious rites and ceremonies, which usually involved chewing the bitter cactus or ingesting the ground-up powder.
The use of hallucinogenic cacti among Native Americans was noticed by early European settlers in North America, and continues among some tribes today (Native Americans who use the plant in ceremonies are the only Americans who can legally possess Peyote).
Mescaline is considered a “serotonergic hallucinogen,” in the same class as psilocybin and LSD. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and is often tied to mood control and feelings of well-being. Serotonergic psychedelics bind to the serotonin 5-HT2A receptor and antagonize this neurotransmitter in a way that is not completely understood, but the result is a drastic change in perception and thought processes.
Although it is illegal in much of the world, Mescaline is sometimes used recreationally as a drug only to get high.
Effects of Mescaline
The effects of Mescaline begin about one to two hours after ingestion. Nausea and vomiting are extremely common, especially when cactus is used. During the “come up” phase of the experience, the user will start to notice mild to extreme changes in perception. This occurs in the visual field as colors are distorted and depth perception is completely thrown off, as well as aurally as sounds also become distorted and auditory hallucinations can take place. Thought patterns can change severely in a very short period of time, and this can be disconcerting to many users.
Mental and Visual
As the experience progresses, these mental and visual effects begin to evolve and intensify. Visual hallucinations become very complex and intense. It becomes extremely difficult for the user to focus or concentrate on anything. During stronger experiences, the user may feel their “ego,” or sense of self begin to slip away. Some of the physical effects of Mescaline include the aforementioned nausea, loss of appetite, changes in body temperature (chills or sometimes sweating), and insomnia. The effects last about six to eight hours with some lingering effects lasting for a few hours afterwards.
Mescaline is not as common as some hallucinogens, but it is still found and used in the world of recreational drugs.