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Peyote contains the hallucinogen mescaline and occurs naturally in the world as a spineless cactus named lophophora willamsil. The buttons of the cactus are typically chewed by themselves or submerged in water to create a liquid form of the intoxicant. Since records have been kept, peyote has been used by natives in the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico as part of religious rites.[1]

Peyote is classified by the DEA as a Schedule I hallucinogen, and is referred to on the streets under various names such as mesc, cactus, and buttons. The effects of the drug typically last 12 hours, with intense visual hallucinations that were once considered an important part of native peyote cults.[2]


Flickr: Christian Frausto Bernal
Street names Mesc, buttons, cactus[2]
Active chemicals Mescaline[1]
Delivery method Chewed or ingested in liquid form[1]
Side effects Visual hallucinations, heightened senses, distortion of space and time, sweating, chills, nausea[3] [4]
US DEA Classification Schedule I[1]
Disclaimer The information provided by is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Do not take any action based on the information on this page without consulting a physician.
Author Allison Hughes


Physiologic Effects of Peyote

Peyote belongs to the phenethylamines family of compounds, separating it from other hallucinogenic drugs in the indole family. Because the structure of peyote's primary ingredient, mescaline, is similar to the human neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, peyote may interfere with brain actions. Some of the physical effects associated with using peyote include loss of appetite, sweating, chills, dilated pupils, increase in heart rate or blood pressure, and nausea. Psychological effects include distorted vision, mental images of a vivid nature, joy, altered perception of time and space, heightened senses, and blending of past and present experiences. Long-term effects of peyote use may include flashbacks, even after an individual stops taking the herb.[3] [4]

Peyote Legal Status

Although peyote is a classified Schedule I hallucinogen by the DEA, the Native American Church is able to possess and use the drug in certain situations as laid out by the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. The legal use of peyote in these instances typically involves the use in ceremonial religious rites.[5]

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Also See: Controlled Substances and Illegal Drugs, Drug Side Effects, Ketamine, Rohypnol, Cocaine, Heroin, Ecstasy, Psilocybin, LSD, GHB, Khat


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