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Mescaline: effects of this hallucinogenic drug

Mescaline: effects of this hallucinogenic drug

June 20, 2024

There are a wide variety of substances in the nature with different psychoactive effects. Some of them have mainly activating effects, other depressants and others that are characterized by provoking hallucinations and perceptual alterations. Many of these substances have been used since ancient times, sometimes for religious purposes.

In other cases, the active principles of the plants or elements that contain them have been extracted to investigate or seek medicinal use. And in some cases, they are used for recreational purposes. One of the best-known hallucinogenic drugs after amphetamines is mescaline .

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The hallucinogens

Hallucinogens are a type of substance classified within the group of psychodysleptics. It is about drugs that generate an alteration in the functioning of the nervous system, being notorious its effect on the perception of the one who consumes them .


These effects are based on perceptual alteration, not necessarily in the form of hallucination, together with activation or inhibition of activity that can generate changes in mood. The majority of people who come to hallucinogens do so in search of mystical or religious experiences, and although they produce dependence they are not usually consumed as commonly as other types of drugs.

Its consumption is not innocuous, can cause different types of problems such as poisoning that can end up endangering the person who has consumed them, different physiological effects, psychotic episodes, depersonalization, mood disorders caused by substances and even personality changes. It is also frequent the presence of "bad trips", aversive hallucinatory experiences lived with a high level of panic and anguish.


There are numerous types of hallucinogens, many of them (and especially the best known) synthesized chemically. However, some of these substances are made from existing plants in nature; This is the case of mescaline.

Mescaline: description of the substance

Mescaline is a psychotomimetic hallucinogen . It is a phenylalkylamine alkaloid extracted mainly from two types of cactus, mezcal and the best known peyote, although there are other varieties of cactus such as San Pedro that also contain it.

Initially it generates a feeling of euphoria to later go to a sedation phase . The consumption of mescaline causes perceptual alterations among which it stands out that a vision in which the color of the objects is perceived with more intensity and brightness. They also tend to see geometric patterns.


It is also common for there to be an increase in artistic sensibility and the perception of both visual and sound art (which is why various artists have used it occasionally). Likewise, tends to generate situations of deep introspection and reflection about one's life and existence.

Visions and hallucinations may occur of a variable nature. The presence of hallucinations usually requires high doses. Sometimes there may be depersonalization and loss of the sense of space-time

The effects tend to appear around the average or three quarters of an hour, and can last between eight and twelve hours. However in some cases they have been registered up to twenty-four hours. In comparison with LSD, mescaline has been described as much less potent and with less psychedelic effect.

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Acting on the brain: mechanism of action

The mechanism of action of mescaline is based on its binding to adrenergic receptors, especially serotonergic receptors, of which it is an agonist. Specifically, there are several types of these receptors that participate in the generation of hallucination, resulting in 5-HT2C and 5-HT2A receptors closely linked to this type of symptoms .

It has also been observed that this substance causes the brain's glutamate, as well as sodium, not to oxidize.

In the case of mescaline, it has been observed that especially the hypothalamus, an important brain nucleus in which the integration of different information and coordinates the relationship between the neuroendocrine system and the limbic system . It affects the regulation of the autonomic nervous system, the perception and management of mood and behavior.

Uses given to this substance

Employed since ancient times with religious and spiritual motives by South American and Central American indigenous tribes (Peyote was already used by the Aztecs in religious rituals), has also been the subject of scientific research in relation to the exploration of the psyche, self-consciousness and perceptual phenomena. Nowadays it is often used for recreational purposes.

However, this type of substance is complicated and expensive to isolate, so you have to take into account that the version that is usually sold illegally in a large number of cases is adulterated or another substance is sold directly as such (usually LSD).

Side effects and health risks

Mescaline, like other hallucinogenic substances, can cause side effects of varying severity. The most common are the presence of nausea and vomiting.

In cases of poisoning, it is common that lack of coordination, blurred vision, hyperthermia , increased cardiorespiratory frequency and tachycardia, decreased sensitivity and pupillary dilation. It is also common for alterations in space-time perception, hallucinations and feelings of derealization to appear.

In cases of bad travel, fear, panic and anguish are frequent. You can also quickly go from fear to euphoria, hyperactivity and aggression. Flashbacks and psychotic episodes may appear . There have been no cases of abstinence, but there is tolerance and psychic dependence (although not physical).

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Bibliographic references:

  • Bussmann RW, Sharon D (2006). "Traditional medicinal plant use in Northern Peru: tracking two thousand years of healing culture". J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2 (1): 47.
  • Neff, N. & Rossi, G.V. (1963). Mescaline. Am. J. Pharm. Sci. Support Public Health, 135: 319-327.
  • Otero, L.A. (2001). Hallucinogenic plants. Editorial Paidotribo.

PEYOTE | The History & Truth of Mescaline (June 2024).


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