Mescaline is a hallucinogenic alkaloid, which is very similar to the body's neurotransmitters norepinephrine and epinephrine. Mescaline is related to the phenethylamines.

Mescaline occurs naturally only in certain types of cacti such as the San Pedro cactus, Peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii) or Trichocereus peruvianus. However it can be produced in the laboratory as well, in 1919 the Austrian chemist Ernst Späth succeeded the first total synthesis of the substance.



Mescaline Effects

Usually 1 to 2 hours after intake of mescaline most people will -regardless of the form of consumption (tea, raw cactus, cactus powder or pure mescaline)- suffer nausea and mostly severe vomiting. This can be counteracted by staying sober about 6 hours before the cactus is eaten (empty stomach so there is nothing to puke).

Until the first desirable effects on the individual’s perception occur it may take up to 3 hours. Externally the drug results in an increased heart rate, increased body temperature, hyperactivity and dilated pupils. Internally, the consumer is now in a state of euphoria, which is accompanied by a sharp change in the perception of time, space, colors, sounds and sometimes even smells. Oftentimes this shift in perception results in deep spiritual visions and the experience of ecstasy, followed by a completely new self-awareness. In addition to these effects consumers sometimes report about a reduced feeling of hunger and deficiency in concentration.

The trip can last up to 14 hours depending on the dose, the climax of the effect, however, is recorded after taking 3 to 5 hours. After-effects in the form of light-headedness can be observed even up to 1 to 2 hours after the decay of the actual effect.

If you are interested in a more detailed description of the spectrum of activity for mescaline I strongly recommend you reading the book The Doors of Perception
written in 1954 by Leonard Huxley, in which the author dares to conduct the self-experiment with the substance mescaline. In this writing, the author comes up with many deep philosophical ideas, which he continues in his supplementary work "heaven and hell".


The consumption of mescaline in the form of peyote can be traced back to thousands of years ago. Shamans of the Aztecs considered the cactus as the key to the kingdom of nature spirits and gods. This makes mescaline one of the oldest knows substances to serve humans as medicine and drug. Besides the psychoactive effects of plants like peyote or san pedro cactus there is a medical component that may have promoted the use of the plants as well. It was found that the contained Peyocactin has an antibacterial effect on staphylococcus.

In the 1960s, the use of mescaline was widely spread by adherents of the counterpoint culture of the United States. Synthetic mescaline was easy to get and alongside LSD the most used hallucinogen.


The effective dose for Oral intake is about 200 to 500 mg of pure mescaline, which corresponds to dried San Pedro in about 5 to 12.5 grams or dried peyote cactus or 10 to 25 grams.

The lethal dose is around 880 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, this equals to around 70 grams of pure mescaline or 1.7 Kg of peyote buttons for a grown man of 80 kg.

Comparison to LSD and the issue of cross-tolerance

The effect of mescaline is very similar to LSD, but differs in certain aspects. Compared to LSD the effects of mescaline occur after up to 2 hours before there is often nausea and sometimes frequent vomiting. LSD shows first effects after only 30-60 minutes. Certain symptoms often seen after an LSD trip like little panicky, irritable, or exhaustion stay away with mescaline.

Another interesting phenomenon is Cross-tolerance, this term describes a state in medicine, where a physiological tolerances against one substance results in a tolerance against another substance with a similar structure. When the body develops a tolerance to a substance A, it is automatically more resistant to the substance B, which is very similar to substance A at molecular level.

Mescaline causes cross-tolerance for LSD as well as psilocybin. This tolerance should fade away after 4 days of staying sober.

Drug test

Mescaline can be detected up to 12 hours in blood and up to 4 days in urine, but a drug test that embraces mescaline is about as likely as a dog building up stocks of pastrami. And if you're actually asked to do a drug test that includes exotic substances such as mescaline, nitrous oxide, desomorphine, adrenochrome (only a urban legend) or "Jenkem" view this as an opportunity to think about your life or quit your job…

Mescaline street names

While terms like "Cactus head", "Cactus", "Big Chief", "Buttons", "Peyote", "Peyoto", "Mescalito" and "Aztec" mostly refer to a (dried) cactus that contains mescaline, words like "Mescal", "Topi", "Mesc", "Blue cap", "Moon", "Mese" and "Great Maral" often stand for mescaline powder. Nowadays pure mescaline is very seldom sold on the streets, since the production is not very profitable.


The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention & Control Act from 1970 made the possession, consumption and trade with mescaline illegal. Same applies for cacti that are verifiably meant to be used for intoxication.

You have a san pedro or peyote cactus on your windowsill -> Everything cool

You eat your cactus -> not okay!

You cut off a piece your cactus for cloning it -> absolutely reasonable

You dry peyote cactus with the intent to use it as intoxicant -> illegal

You dry a peyote cactus for your dry cactus collection -> You have a very questionable hobby and I hope you are able to show the judge this collection

The only exception from this law displays the right that was granted to the members of the Native American Church. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act from 1993 legitimates the use of the peyote cactus Lophophora williamsii for ceremony as long as it happens with sincere religious intent.


First of all, mescaline is a drug and drugs are bad mkay? No one involved in the development of thinks that you should use drugs. Every substance that has the ability to influence the way you feel or experience the world around you should be used with caution. Undoubtedly will neither summon you to consumption, nor wants to sugarcoat the long-term effects that drugs can have to the human being.

The massive intervention of the substance into the individual's perception can trigger off a feeling of anxiety to panic (bad trip). Chances are that the consumer is not able to get rid of this emotion without the help of others. Therefore it is advisable never to use hallucinogenic alone, a so-called trip-sitter should always be ready to intervene in a situation of emergency or simply to calm down.

In addition there is a huge risk for people who are suffering from psychosis, even if it is only latent ie hidden, because hallucinogens act just like a sort of catalyst for the mind. Psychoses can be triggered or intensified, making the use of these substances an uncontrollable risk for people with schizophrenia or repressed disturbing memories (or persons under 18 years !!!).
Nonetheless other studies denied any association between mental disorders and the use of hallucinogens.

As with all drugs it gets more dangerous if you mix different substances, as this can bring unpredictable consequences. Particularly dangerous in this context is the use of mescaline while on MAO inhibitors, as this can result in a life-threatening serotonin-syndrome.