What Is Peyote? Popular Uses, Legality Questions and Risks - Dr. Axe (2022)

Dr. Axe > Nutrition > Articles

Fact Checked

This Dr. Axe content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure factually accurate information.

With strict editorial sourcing guidelines, we only link to academic research institutions, reputable media sites and, when research is available, medically peer-reviewed studies. Note that the numbers in parentheses (1, 2, etc.) are clickable links to these studies.

The information in our articles is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.

(Video) Dr. Matthew Johnson: Psychedelics for Treating Mental Disorders | Huberman Lab Podcast #38

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by our trained editorial staff. Note that the numbers in parentheses (1, 2, etc.) are clickable links to medically peer-reviewed studies.

Our team includes licensed nutritionists and dietitians, certified health education specialists, as well as certified strength and conditioning specialists, personal trainers and corrective exercise specialists. Our team aims to be not only thorough with its research, but also objective and unbiased.

The information in our articles is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.

By Annie Price, CHHC

March 1, 2019

(Video) Fat Chance: Fructose 2.0
What Is Peyote? Popular Uses, Legality Questions and Risks - Dr. Axe (1)

Have you ever heard of peyote before? It’s actually one of the oldest psychedelic agents on earth. Ancient civilizations like the Aztecs were some of the first people to use the peyote cactus as a divine substance and some Native Americans are still using peyote today.

So is peyote legal? In the U.S., it is completely illegal to possess or use peyote. However, according to a 1994 update of the The American Indian Religious Freedom Act (1978), the Native American Church can legally use and transportpeyote for ceremonial purposes in connection with the practice of traditional Indian religion. For the Native American Church, also called Peyotism or Peyote Religion, peyote is a central part of traditional religious rituals still practiced to this day. (1)

In addition to its use by Native American, peyote is also generally well-known for its hallucinogenic effects somewhat similar to LSD, which is why some people use it as a recreational drug.

Are there any actual health benefits to the peyote drug? It’s supposedly been used for the treatment of some common health concerns like fevers and wounds, but I recommend avoiding peyote entirely because: 1) it is illegal; and 2) it has a laundry list of potential negative side effects is downright terrifying as you’ll see later in this article. (2)

What Is Peyote?

Peyote (Lophophora williamsii) is a type ofhallucinogenic cactus that belongs to the Cactaceae family. Peyote, also called mescal button, only grows naturally in the limestone-rich soils of theChihuahuan desert of southern Texas and northern Mexico.A peyote cactus has a color somewhere between blue-green to gray-green with pink to white flowers in summer and fruit that ripens a year later. It’s typically only about two inches tall and three inches wide across.The name peyote comes from the Aztec name “peyotl” for a cactus.

The crown of the peyote cactus crown has disc-shaped buttons. These peyote buttons contain psychedelic alkaloids primarilymescaline, which is an alkaloid drug that has hallucinogenic effects on humans. People slice these buttons off of the cactus and dry them so they can be chewed or used to make a psychoactive tea.Peyote can also be smoked by rolling it in tobacco or a marijuana leaf. Slang terms for peyote include bad seed, britton, hikori, hikuli, half moon, hyatari, P, and nubs while slang terms for mescaline includecactus buttons, cactus joint, mesc, mescal, mese, mezc, moon, musk, and topi.

There’s also something called false peyote (Lophophora diffusa). Unlike peyote (Lophophora williamsii), the false namesake does not contain mescaline yet it is sometimes consumed as a hallucinogen. It looks different from regular peyote with a yellow-green body and white to yellow flowers.(3)

(Video) Sleep Is Non-Negotiable: Dr. Matthew Walker | Rich Roll Podcast

In the U.S., peyote and mescaline are listed as Schedule I hallucinogens under the Controlled Substances Act. It is possible to find peyote seeds online, but typically a reputable company will not send the seeds to someone who resides in a region of the world where their cultivation is outlawed.The limited growing area of the peyote cactus is said to limit its sale as a drug, but other illegal drugs such as LSD or PCP are sometimes sold as mescaline.(4)

Popular Peyote Uses

Some people are said to use peyote for health concerns like fevers, joint pain, paralysis, fractures, wounds and snake bites. (2) However, for all of these health concerns, there are much safer natural remedies that can be employed so I would never recommend using peyote medicinally for any these concerns. There are also no solid scientific studies to back up any of these uses.

Religious Ceremonies

As I mentioned earlier, peyote is used to this day in the Native American Church.The ritualistic use of peyote is typically an all-night ceremony that occurs ina tepee around a fire and is led by a peyote “chief.” When eaten as part of a traditional ceremonial practice, peyote is believed to allow the user to “commune with God and the spirits (including those of the departed) in contemplation and vision and so to receive from them spiritual power, guidance, reproof, and healing.”

In addition to sacramental consumption of peyote, there is also singing, prayer, and contemplation. Songs and chants used during the ceremonies can differ depending on the tribe. (5)

Members of the Native American Church do not consider their use of peyote recreational.Most Native Americans do not support the recreational use of peyote; they believe it should only be used for religious/spiritual purposes.

Hallucinogenic Drug

One of the other most common uses of peyote is as a mind-alteringhallucinogenic substance. This personal recreational use takes place in the U.S. even though using peyote outside of religious ceremonies is prohibited by federal law.

Peyote is sometimes intentionally (and illegally) taken, like LSD and other psychedelic drugs, to produce a temporarily altered state of existence. The effects of ingesting peyote are both physical and psychological and users often describe their experience as either a good or bad “trip.” The effects of peyote or a peyote trip can start within 20 to 90 minutes after ingestion and can last up to 12 hours, depending on how much is taken by the user. I’ll tell you more about the risks of peyote consumption in the next section, but in general a peyote trip is an extremelyunpredictable and potentially dangerous experience. (6)

(Video) How and When to take Viagra (Sildenafil) | What Patients Need to Know

Substance Abuse and Addiction (Possible Use)

John H. Halpern, M.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, has been visiting the Navajo Nation for several years to study the effects of peyote. While he admits that psychedelics like mescaline are toxic substances, he also believes that the “mind-revealing power” of psychedelics could be used to help people suffering from alcoholism and addiction.

“There are medicines here,” he says, that could prove to be “fundamentally valuable.” Dr. Halpern’s opinion of peyote’s helpful potential for alcoholics and drug addicts is said to be based upon both his own personal observations of the Native American Church and the research of others. (7)

An article published in 2015 inThe American Journal of Psychiatry titled “Peyote in the Treatment of Alcoholism Among American Indians” took a look at the use of peyote in treatment programs for American Indians struggling with alcoholism. These treatment programs include occupational and cultural therapy, which include peyote meetings conducted by the Native American Church.

According to the article, “During these meetings, participants often ingest peyote (mescaline), which, like LSD, facilitates cathartic expression and enhances suggestibility. Although the authors do not propose that the peyote meeting is a cure for alcoholism, they feel it offers some specific advantages in the treatment of the unique problems of the Indian alcoholic.” (8)

Related:Salvia — Dangerous Hallucinogen or Beneficial Herb?

Risks and Side Effects

Without a doubt, peyote is generally considered unsafe for use. Thismescaline drug can cause homicidal, psychotic or suicidal behavior due to its hallucinogenic effects. It can also cause birth defects and should never be used by pregnant or nursing women. Using peyote prior to surgery can be very dangerous since it can raise heart rate and blood pressure.Stimulant drugs are also known to interact dangerously with it as well. (2)

Possible physical side effects of peyote are known to include: (4)

(Video) Hot Topics in MS: Cannabinoids and Gut Microbiome

  • Numbness
  • Tension
  • Anxiety
  • Rapid reflexes
  • Muscle twitches and weakness
  • Impaired motor coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Trembling
  • Dilation of the pupils
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Intense nausea and vomiting
  • Appetite suppression
  • Elevated body temperature and sweating
  • Chills and shivering

Potential psychological side effects of peyote include: (4)

  • Vivid mental images and distorted vision
  • Synesthesia (the perception of seeing music or hearing colors)
  • Altered perception of time and space
  • Joy, exhilaration, panic, extreme anxiety, or terror
  • Distorted sense of body (users can feel either weighed down or weightless)
    Heightened sensory experiences (i.e. brighter colors, sharper visual definition, increased hearing acuity, more distinguished taste)
  • Difficult focusing, maintaining attention, concentrating, and thinking
  • Loss of sense of reality; melding past experiences with present
  • Preoccupation with trivial thoughts, experiences, or objects
  • Highly adverse reactions (“bad trip”), including frightening hallucinations, confusion, disorientation, paranoia, agitation, depression, panic, and/or terror
  • A documented long-term effect of a peyote trip is a possible prolonged psychotic state similar to that of paranoid schizophrenia, which may only affect those who were previously diagnosed as mentally ill.

Peyote emetic (vomit-inducing effects) are known to be very strong and at least one death of a Native American with a history of alcohol abuse has been attributed to esophageal bleeding caused by vomiting after peyote ingestion. (9)

Final Thoughts

  • What is peyote?Peyote (Lophophora williamsii) is a type ofhallucinogenic cactus that belongs to the Cactaceae family.
  • Peyote buttons contain psychoactive alkaloids, especially mescaline. These buttons can be sliced off from the plant and chewed or used to make a psychoactive tea. Peyote can also be smoked.
  • Peyote is illegal in the U.S.. However, the Native American Church (also called Peyotism or Peyote Religion)can legally use and transportpeyote for ceremonial purposes in connection with the practice of traditional religious beliefs.
  • Some researchers believe that peyote and other psychedelic drugs have the potential to be used in the treatment of alcohol and addiction, but there are clear risks involved.
  • The possible psychical and psychological side effects of ingesting peyote are extremely dangerous and even potentially fatal.

Read Next:12 Dangers of Psychoactive Drugs (They’re Significant)

FAQs

How do you identify peyote? ›

Peyote is found only on limestone soils of the Chihuahuan desert of southern Texas and northern Mexico. Averaging about eight centimetres (three inches) wide and five centimetres (two inches) tall, the body of the peyote cactus is spineless, soft, and, in most cases, blue-green to gray-green in colour.

Is peyote endangered? ›

Does peyote grow in Australia? ›

This includes but is not limited to the peyote, the San Pedro and the Peruvian torch.
...
Contents.
CountryAustralia
PossessionIllegal
SaleIllegal
TransportIllegal
CultivationLegal depending on Territory
19 more columns

Is it legal to grow peyote? ›

Although some states and Federal Law allow the cultivation and use of peyote for certain Native American religious ceremonies, this exemption does not exist in California. Thus, cultivation of peyote is illegal in California even if it is intended to be used for religious ceremonies permitted in other states.

What is the scientific name of peyote? ›

Is peyote legal in the United States? ›

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the use, possession, or transportation of peyote by an Indian for bona fide traditional ceremonial purposes in connection with the practice of a traditional Indian religion is lawful, and shall not be prohibited by the United States or any State.

What is peyote used for in medicine? ›

Various Indigenous cultures that revere the plant believe that it has a vast number of health benefits for the body. For example, they may use peyote to treat a number of ailments, from snake bites and wounds to systemic problems such as diabetes, skin conditions, and general pain.

How do Native Americans use peyote? ›

Native Americans have used peyote as a religious sacrament for thousands of years (Jones, 2007; Stewart, 1987). In the late 1800s, the modern-day Native American Church (NAC) was formed, a key part of which is the ingestion of peyote as a religious sacrament during all-night prayer ceremonies (Jones, 2007).

How do you cut peyote? ›

a) Cut the plant at the base of the crown, at the ground level, leaving the subterranean stem, b) Harvested crown (green tissue), subterranean stem (bark-covered tissue underneath) capable of regenerating new crowns, tapering root, c) Two peyote “pups” regenerating from the stem of the plant that has been harvested 7.5 ...

How do you water peyote? ›

Peyote is a drought-tolerant plant that does not require frequent watering. Water thoroughly when the soil is completely dry. When potted, water slowly, wait for water to flow out the bottom, and then pour the excess water from the tray to avoid water accumulation. Spring, summer, and fall are its growing seasons.

What cactus is edible? ›

There are five main varieties of cacti that are sought after as culinary delights, either for the fruit, the plant itself, or both: dragon fruit, prickly pear, barrel, cholla, and saguaro.

When was peyote made illegal? ›

' By 1930, over a dozen states in the United States had outlawed possession of peyote, and in 1967, peyote was banned nationwide by the federal government.

How much light do you need for peyote? ›

Peyote requires abundant, bright and direct light. Place it less than one foot from a window to ensure it receives enough light to survive 💪.

How often do you water peyote? ›

Restrict water after seedlings establish. Water Peyote every two weeks or so throughout the sunnier and warmer months, ceasing to do so as the seasons cool, bringing the plant's dormant season.

Is peyote a narcotic? ›

While peyote is perhaps most accurately classed as a stimulant, it does contain depressant as well as stimulant alkaloids (Henry 1949:160-161), so it would be pedantic and misleading to insist on these grounds alone that it cannot also be considered a narcotic.

Who discovered peyote? ›

Ancient history

Archaeological evidence suggests that the use of these cacti in rites of long-vanished cultures goes back at least 5,000 years. Europeans first came across peyote after Spain conquered Mexico in the early sixteenth century.

What elevation does peyote grow? ›

Habitat: Found in the Chihuahuan Desert and mountain scrublands of northern Mexico, peyote prefers gravelly clay and loam soils on gentle slopes and can live at elevations of up to 1,900 meters (6230 feet) above sea level.

Is peyote a Schedule 1 drug? ›

Peyote and mescaline are Schedule I substances under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning that they have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.

Is peyote used for pain? ›

In the US, it is illegal to possess peyote. However, peyote can be used in religious ceremonies of the Native American Church. People use peyote to cause hallucinations, and for conditions such as fevers, wounds, and joint pain, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

How do you activate peyote? ›

How to turn into an Animal in GTA Online - Peyote Plants Guide

Is peyote legal in Colorado? ›

Federal law now permits peyote use among members of the NAC, and to non-Native Americans in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon.

What culture uses peyote? ›

Although Indians in central and northern Mexico, peyote's natural habitat, have ingested it for spiritual purposes for thousands of years, only in the last century did this practice spread to tribes throughout North America in the form of rituals of the Native American Church.

How do you get seeds from peyote? ›

How to Pollinate a Peyote & Harvest its Seeds (Lophophora Williamsii)

How do you grow peyote seeds? ›

Propagating Cacti from Seed - Lophophora 'The Peyote Cactus '

How do you get peyote out of cactus? ›

How to Harvest Cactus seed - Lophophora - The Peyote Cactus

How do you make cactus potting soil? ›

One common cactus soil recipe includes three parts potting soil, three parts sand, gravel, or grit, and two parts perlite or pumice. Mix this ratio of ingredients thoroughly in a large container before using it to plant your cacti.

How often should I water lophophora? ›

From March to October we suggest watering only when the soil is perfectly dry, every 7-10 days, depending on the weather; during the winter months we suggest watering thinly; if the plant is grown in cold green houses avoid watering.

Can you drink cactus juice? ›

Most cactus waters are made by squeezing the juice from the bright pink fruit of the prickly pear, or nopal, cactus. For this reason, cactus water is pink rather than clear. The drink is naturally low in calories and sugar and rich in health-boosting nutrients and antioxidants.

What cactus can you not eat? ›

It is safe to eat the fruit of all true cactus. Some varieties such as prickly pear, cholla, and dragon fruit cactus are edible as vegetables after removing the spines. However, some other types of cactus including peyote, Bolivian, and San Pedro cactus are toxic and should not be eaten.

What are the benefits of eating cactus? ›

A study found that eating cactus can reduce body fat, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Incorporating cactus fruits into your diet can help reduce the risk of diseases like stroke, coronary heart disease, and peripheral vascular diseases.

How do Native Americans use peyote? ›

Native Americans have used peyote as a religious sacrament for thousands of years (Jones, 2007; Stewart, 1987). In the late 1800s, the modern-day Native American Church (NAC) was formed, a key part of which is the ingestion of peyote as a religious sacrament during all-night prayer ceremonies (Jones, 2007).

Is peyote legal in the United States? ›

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the use, possession, or transportation of peyote by an Indian for bona fide traditional ceremonial purposes in connection with the practice of a traditional Indian religion is lawful, and shall not be prohibited by the United States or any State.

Is peyote a narcotic? ›

While peyote is perhaps most accurately classed as a stimulant, it does contain depressant as well as stimulant alkaloids (Henry 1949:160-161), so it would be pedantic and misleading to insist on these grounds alone that it cannot also be considered a narcotic.

Where does San Pedro grow? ›

Trichocereus pachanoi

Trichocereus pachanoi
Achuma (Aymara for large cactus plants such as Echinopsis lageniformis, Echinopsis pachanoi or other species, also the name of a drink, also spelled Achoma) is a mountain in the northern part of the Kimsa Cruz mountain range in the Bolivian Andes, about 4,960 metres (16,273 ft) high.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Achuma_(Bolivia)
)—known as San Pedro cactus—is a fast-growing columnar cactus native to the Andes Mountains at 2,000–3,000 m (6,600–9,800 ft) in altitude. It is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru, and it is cultivated in other parts of the world.

What culture uses peyote? ›

Although Indians in central and northern Mexico, peyote's natural habitat, have ingested it for spiritual purposes for thousands of years, only in the last century did this practice spread to tribes throughout North America in the form of rituals of the Native American Church.

What is peyote used for in medicine? ›

Various Indigenous cultures that revere the plant believe that it has a vast number of health benefits for the body. For example, they may use peyote to treat a number of ailments, from snake bites and wounds to systemic problems such as diabetes, skin conditions, and general pain.

Where does peyote come from? ›

Peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii) is a small spineless cactus that grows in the Southwestern part of the United States and Mexico. The top of the Peyote cactus, known as the “crown,” contains the psychoactive compound mescaline.

Is peyote a Schedule 1 drug? ›

Peyote and mescaline are Schedule I substances under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning that they have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.

How long do peyote plants last? ›

However, players can only gain 5,000 RP through the plants every 48 minutes. Peyote Plants are only available for limited periods in GTA Online and will disappear once again after this week.

Who discovered peyote? ›

Ancient history

Archaeological evidence suggests that the use of these cacti in rites of long-vanished cultures goes back at least 5,000 years. Europeans first came across peyote after Spain conquered Mexico in the early sixteenth century.

What is a Schedule 1 drug? ›

Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote. Schedule II.

How cold is too cold for San Pedro? ›

Easy to grow, San Pedro Cactus

San Pedro Cactus
Achuma (Aymara for large cactus plants such as Echinopsis lageniformis, Echinopsis pachanoi or other species, also the name of a drink, also spelled Achoma) is a mountain in the northern part of the Kimsa Cruz mountain range in the Bolivian Andes, about 4,960 metres (16,273 ft) high.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Achuma_(Bolivia)
pups from the base, and is reported to be cold-hardy down to 10°F (-12°C) for short periods. Adding long-lasting beauty to the landscape, this eye-catching columnar cactus is planted worldwide in tropical climate gardens.

How do you make cactus potting soil? ›

One common cactus soil recipe includes three parts potting soil, three parts sand, gravel, or grit, and two parts perlite or pumice. Mix this ratio of ingredients thoroughly in a large container before using it to plant your cacti.

How many ribs do San Pedro have? ›

Ribs - The San Pedro cactus

San Pedro cactus
Achuma (Aymara for large cactus plants such as Echinopsis lageniformis, Echinopsis pachanoi or other species, also the name of a drink, also spelled Achoma) is a mountain in the northern part of the Kimsa Cruz mountain range in the Bolivian Andes, about 4,960 metres (16,273 ft) high.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Achuma_(Bolivia)
always has 6 to 8 rounded ribs.

Videos

1. Sugar: The Bitter Truth
(University of California Television (UCTV))
2. Eurozone Reforms
(Room for Discussion)
3. What is MSG, and is it actually bad for you? - Sarah E. Tracy
(TED-Ed)
4. VRising: insert funny joke about twilight here: (●'◡'●) first time playing v rising! #sponsored
(zagboo)
5. Asking Celebrities If They Remember Me (using fake photos)
(Ryan Trahan)
6. DO THIS DAILY To Reduce Inflammation & PREVENT DISEASE Today! | Andrew Weil
(Dr Rangan Chatterjee)

Top Articles

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Ouida Strosin DO

Last Updated: 12/01/2022

Views: 6337

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (76 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Ouida Strosin DO

Birthday: 1995-04-27

Address: Suite 927 930 Kilback Radial, Candidaville, TN 87795

Phone: +8561498978366

Job: Legacy Manufacturing Specialist

Hobby: Singing, Mountain biking, Water sports, Water sports, Taxidermy, Polo, Pet

Introduction: My name is Ouida Strosin DO, I am a precious, combative, spotless, modern, spotless, beautiful, precious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.