|Summary sheet: Mescaline|
|Common names||Mescaline, Peyote, San Pedro, Cactus, Buttons|
|Routes of Administration|
3,4,5-Trimethoxyphenethylamine (also known as mescaline) is a naturally-occurring classical psychedelic substance of the phenethylamine class. It occurs naturally in the peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii), San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi), Peruvian Torch cactus (Echinopsis peruviana) as well as the Cactaceae plant and the Fabaceae bean families. It is one of the oldest known hallucinogens and the parent compound of the psychedelic phenethylamines, one of the two major subclasses of psychedelic compounds (along with tryptamines).
Mescaline was first isolated from peyote in 1897 by the German chemist Arthur Heffter. The ritual use of the peyote cactus has occurred for at least 5700 years by Native Americans in Mexico and other mescaline-containing cacti such as the San Pedro have a long history of use in the South American continent, from Peru to Ecuador. Mescaline is an important part of the life's work of the American chemist Alexander Shulgin, who used it as a starting point for synthesizing dozens of novel psychedelic compounds that are documented in his 1991 book PiHKAL ("Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved").
Subjective effects include open and closed-eye visuals, time distortion, enhanced introspection, conceptual thinking, euphoria, and ego loss. Mescaline is generally considered to be one of the most gentle, insightful, and euphoric psychedelics. It is known for placing greater emphasis on bodily and tactile sensations (sometimes compared to MDMA) than psychedelic tryptamines like psilocybin or DMT, which tend to have a more frenetic headspace and dynamic visual geometry. It is considered to be one of the best agents for psychedelic therapy due to its mellow, organic, yet complex character. Synthetic mescaline is highly sought after by connoisseurs and is typically produced in limited batches, owing to its low potency and relatively high production cost.
Unlike other highly prohibited substances, mescaline has not been proven to be physiologically toxic or addictive. Nevertheless, adverse psychological reactions such as anxiety, paranoia, delusions, and psychosis can still always occur, particularly among those predisposed to mental disorders. Additionally, it should be noted that in street markets terms like "mescaline" or "synthetic mescaline" are commonly used as deceptive labels for other psychedelics (e.g. 2C-x, DOx, or 25x-NBOMe) that are typically more dangerous. It is highly advised to use harm reduction practices if using this substance.
History and culture
The ritual use of the Peyote cactus has occurred for at least 5700 years by Native Americans in Mexico. Upon early contact, Europeans noted the use of Peyote in Native American religious ceremonies. Additionally, alternative mescaline-containing cacti such as the San Pedro have a long history of use in the South American continent, spanning from Peru to Ecuador. The principal psychoactive component in both Peyote and San Pedro, mescaline, was first isolated and identified in 1897 by the German chemist Arthur Heffter and first synthesized in 1919 by Ernst Späth. It was one of the first psychedelics to be experimented with by Western intellectuals like Aldous Huxley, who famously described its effects in the 1954 essay "The Doors of Perception".
In traditional peyote preparations, the top of the cactus is cut at ground level, leaving the large tap roots to grow new 'heads'. These 'heads' are then dried to make disc-shaped buttons and the buttons are chewed to produce the effects or soaked in water to drink. In modern times, users will often grind it into a powder and pour it into gel capsules to avoid having to come into contact with the bitter taste of the cactus. The usual human dose is 200–400 milligrams of mescaline sulfate or 178–356 milligrams of mescaline hydrochloride. The average 76 mm (3.0 in.) button contains about 25 mg mescaline.
Mescaline is an important part of the life's work of Alexander Shulgin, a psychedelic chemist and researcher. Shulgin used mescaline as a starting point for synthesizing dozens of novel psychedelic phenethylamine compounds such as the 2C-x and DOx families. It is a member of the so-called "magical half-dozen" which refers to Shulgin's self-rated most important phenethylamine compounds with psychedelic activity, all of which except mescaline he developed and synthesized himself. They are found within the first book of PiHKAL, and are as follows: Mescaline, DOM, 2C-B, 2C-E, 2C-T-2 and 2C-T-7.
Mescaline, or 3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine, is a substituted phenethylamine featuring a phenyl ring bound to an amino -NH2 group through an ethyl chain. Mescaline contains three methoxy functional groups CH3O- which are attached to carbons R3, R4, and R5 of the phenyl ring.
Mescaline has a number of structural analogs, which include but are not limited to: proscaline, escaline, and methallylescaline. It is also the synthetic starting point of the 2C-x and DOx family of psychedelic phenethylamines. 2C-x compounds like 2C-B (also known as bromomescaline) produce mescaline-like psychedelic effects but with greater potency and a reduced duration. DOx compounds (e.g. DOM, DOB) have a significantly extended duration and more stimulant effects.
Mescaline acts similarly to other psychedelic agents. It binds to and activates the serotonin 5-HT2A receptor with a high affinity. How activating the 5-HT2A receptor leads to psychedelia is still unknown, but it likely somehow involves excitation of neurons in the prefrontal cortex. Mescaline is also known to bind to and activate the serotonin 5-HT2C receptor.
Disclaimer: The effects listed below cite the Subjective Effect Index (SEI), an open research literature based on anecdotal user reports and the personal analyses of PsychonautWiki contributors. As a result, they should be viewed with a healthy degree of skepticism.
It is also worth noting that these effects will not necessarily occur in a predictable or reliable manner, although higher doses are more liable to induce the full spectrum of effects. Likewise, adverse effects become increasingly likely with higher doses and may include addiction, severe injury, or death ☠.
- Stimulation - Mescaline is usually considered to be very energetic and stimulating without being forced. For example, when taken in any environment it will usually encourage physical activities such as running, walking, climbing or dancing. In comparison, other more commonly used psychedelics such as psilocin are generally sedating and relaxed.
- Spontaneous bodily sensations - The "body high" of mescaline can be described as proportionally intense in comparison to its accompanying visual and cognitive effects. It is manifested in a number of forms including an intense soft, warm glow that grows over the body and is capable of becoming extremely physically euphoric. This is most similar to MDMA and psilocin and is consistently manifested throughout the experience. This is contrasted by an intensely pleasurable yet sharp, cold electric tingling sensation which moves up and down the body. This is most similar to LSD and is also consistently manifested throughout the experience. The final physical effect noticed throughout the experience is an intense energetic pins and needles sensation that manifests itself in the form of a continuously shifting and tingling sensation that travels up and down the body in spontaneous waves. This is most similar to 2C-B and is not entirely consistent throughout the experience.
- Nausea - Nausea is commonly reported when consumed in moderate to high doses and either passes instantly once the user has vomited or gradually fades by itself as the peak sets in.
- Increased salivation - This effect, while uncommon, seems to be less pronounced than it is with psilocin and other tryptamines and usually does not persist throughout the experience.
- Tactile enhancement - Feelings of enhanced tactile sensations are consistently present at moderate levels. If Level 8A geometry is reached, an intense sensation of suddenly becoming aware of and being able to feel every single nerve ending across a person's entire body all at once is consistently present.
- Appetite suppression
- Bodily control enhancement
- Stamina enhancement
- Olfactory enhancement
- Frequent urination
- Increased heart rate
- Increased libido
- Muscle contractions
- Pupil dilation
- Seizure - A rarely observed effect but is thought to be able to happen in those predisposed to them, especially while in physically taxing conditions such as being dehydrated, fatigued, undernourished, or overheated.
- Drifting (melting, flowing, breathing and morphing) - In comparison to other psychedelics, this effect can be described as highly detailed, slow and smooth in motion, static in appearance and realistic in style.
- After images
- Colour shifting
- Scenery slicing
- Symmetrical texture repetition
The visual geometry encountered on mescaline can be described as similar in appearance to that of ayahuasca, 2C-P or psilocin in the sense that its geometry is structured in its organization as well as natural and organic in style. However, in terms of its bright colors, sharp edges and angular corners, it is more similar to that of LSD, 2C-B and 2C-I.
The geometry can be comprehensively described as:
- Organic in geometric style
- Equally abstract and algorithmic in appearance
- Intricate in complexity
- Structured in its organization
- Fast in speed
- Smooth in motion
- Equally large and small in appearance - It has a variable size that spontaneously changes between large and small in appearance.
- Multicoloured in scheme
- Glossy in colour
- Sharp and angular in its corners
- Level 8B - While the geometry produced by mescaline has yet to be fully characterized, the geometry gives off certain attributes which are significantly more likely to result in states of level 8A visual geometry over level 8B at higher doses.
Mescaline is capable of producing a full range of high-level hallucinatory states in a fashion that is more consistent and reproducible than that of many other commonly used psychedelics.
- Internal hallucination (autonomous entities; settings, sceneries, and landscapes; perspective hallucinations and scenarios and plots) - In comparison to other psychedelics such as LSD, mescaline produces a high level of hallucinations embedded within visual geometry. This particular effect commonly contains hallucinations with scenarios, settings, concepts and autonomous entity contact. They are more common within dark environments and can be described as lucid in believability, interactive in style and almost exclusively of a personal, religious, spiritual, science-fiction, fantasy, surreal, nonsensical or transcendental nature in their overall theme.
- External hallucination (autonomous entities; settings, sceneries, and landscapes; perspective hallucinations and scenarios and plots)
In comparison to other psychedelics such as psilocin, LSA and ayahuasca, mescaline is significantly more stimulating and fast-paced in terms of the specific style of thought stream produced and contains a large number of potential effects.
- Analysis enhancement - This effect is consistent in its manifestation and outrospection dominant.
- Cognitive euphoria
- Conceptual thinking
- Creativity enhancement
- Emotion enhancement
- Empathy, love, and sociability enhancement - This is commonly reported as being similar to but less prominent than with other commonly used entactogens such as MDMA or MDA.
- Euthymia - This effect manifests itself acutely for all classical psychedelics when one to three doses are combined with a psychotherapy treatment program. When comparing meta analyses, psychedelic psychotherapy greatly outperforms "gold standard" treatments for several mental health problems.
- Focus enhancement - This effect is experienced exclusively on low or threshold dosages and feels less forced or sharp than it does with traditional stimulants.
- Immersion enhancement
- Increased music appreciation
- Memory suppression
- Motivation enhancement - This effect feels less forced or prominent than it does with traditional stimulants.
- Novelty enhancement
- Personal bias suppression
- Personal meaning enhancement
- Autonomous voice communication - This effect is generally reported as being mild in comparison to tryptamines such as DMT and its related analogs.
- Suggestibility enhancement
- Thought acceleration
- Thought connectivity - Due to its mostly lucid headspace this component is significantly less intense in relation to psilocybin.
- Thought loops
- Time distortion
- Synaesthesia - In its fullest manifestation, this is a very rare and non-reproducible effect. Increasing the dosage can increase the likelihood of this occurring, but seems to only be a prominent part of the experience among those who are already predisposed to synaesthetic states.
Anecdotal reports which describe the effects of this compound within our experience index include:
Additional experience reports can be found here:
- Lophophora williamsii (Peyote), Mescaline 0.4% - Mescaline 3-6%
- Lophophora diffusa Hordenine 0.5% of total alkaloid, N-Methyltyramine 0.1% of total alkaloid, Mescaline (trace) 
- Echinopsis pachanoi (syn. Trichocereus pachanoi), Mescaline 0.006-0.12%, 0.05% Average - Mescaline 0.01%-2.375%
- Echinopsis peruviana (syn. Trichocereus peruvianus), Mescaline 0.0005%-0.12%
- Echinopsis lageniformis (syn. Trichocereus bridgesii aka Bolivian torch), Mescaline 0.025%, also 3,4-Dimethoxyphenylethylamine 1%, 3-Methoxytyramine 1%, Tyramine 1% - Mescaline 2%
- Echinopsis scopulicola (syn. Trichocereus scopulicola), Mescaline
- Echinopsis spachiana (syn. Trichocereus spachianus), Mescaline - Mescaline
- Echinopsis macrogona (syn. Trichocereus macrogonus), Mescaline 0.01-0.05%
- Echinopsis tacaquirensis subsp. taquimbalensis (syn. Trichocereus taquimbalensis), 0.005-0.025% Mescaline
- Echinopsis terscheckii (syn. Trichocereus terscheckii, Trichocereus werdemannianus) Mescaline 0.005-0.025% - Mescaline 0.01%-2.375%
- Echinopsis valida, Mescaline 0.025%
- Opuntia acanthocarpa, Mescaline
- Opuntia basilaris, Mescaline 0.01%, plus 4-hydroxy-3-5-dimethoxyphenethylamine
- Austrocylindropuntia cylindrica (syn. Opuntia cylindrica) Mescaline
- Cylindropuntia echinocarpa (syn. Opuntia echinocarpa), Mescaline 0.01%, 3-4-Dimethoxyphenethylamine 0.01%, 4-Hydroxy-3-5-Dimethoxyphenethylamine 0.01%
- Cylindropuntia spinosior (syn. Opuntia spinosior), Mescaline 0.00004%  Mescaline 0.00004%, 3-Methoxytyramine 0.001%, Tyramine 0.002%, 3-4-Dimethoxyphenethylamine.
- Pelecyphora aselliformis, Hordenine, Mescaline (trace) 
Toxicity and harm potential
The toxicity and long-term health effects of recreational mescaline use does not appear to have been studied in any scientific context and the exact toxic dose is unknown. However, there are no known fatal overdoses within the scientific literature.
Anecdotal reports suggest that there are no negative health effects attributed to simply trying mescaline by itself at low to moderate doses and using it very sparingly (but nothing can be completely guaranteed).
Independent research should always be done to ensure that a combination of two or more substances is safe before consumption.
It is strongly recommended that one use harm reduction practices when using this substance.
Dependence and abuse potential
Mescaline is not habit-forming, and the desire to use it can actually decrease with use. It is most often self-regulating.
Tolerance to the effects of mescaline is built almost immediately after ingestion. After that, it takes about 3 days for the tolerance to be reduced to half and 7 days to be back at baseline (in the absence of further consumption). Mescaline presents cross-tolerance with all psychedelics, meaning that after the consumption of mescaline all psychedelics will have a reduced effect.
Warning: Many psychoactive substances that are reasonably safe to use on their own can suddenly become dangerous and even life-threatening when combined with certain other substances. The following list provides some known dangerous interactions (although it is not guaranteed to include all of them).
Always conduct independent research (e.g. Google, DuckDuckGo, PubMed) to ensure that a combination of two or more substances is safe to consume. Some of the listed interactions have been sourced from TripSit.
- 5-MeO-xxT - The 5-MeO class of tryptamines can be unpredictable in their interactions
- Cannabis - Cannabis has an unexpectedly strong and somewhat unpredictable synergy with psychedelics.
- Amphetamines - The focus and anxiety caused by stimulants is magnified by psychedelics and results in an increased risk of thought loops
- Cocaine - The focus and anxiety caused by stimulants is magnified by psychedelics and results in an increased risk of thought loops
- Tramadol - This combination can cause seizures due to the lowering of the threshold by Tramadol and the potential of Mescaline to cause seziures.
Internationally, mescaline is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, meaning that international trade in mescaline is supposed to be closely monitored and its use is supposed to be restricted to scientific research and medical use. Natural materials containing mescaline, including peyote, are not regulated under the 1971 Psychotropic Convention.
- Australia: Mescaline is considered a Schedule 9 prohibited substance in Australia under the Poisons Standard. A Schedule 9 substance is a substance which may be abused or misused and the manufacture, possession, sale or use of is prohibited by law except when required for medical or scientific research, or for analytical, teaching or training purposes with approval of Commonwealth and/or State or Territory Health Authorities.Peyote cacti and other mescaline-containing plants, such as San Pedro, are illegal in Western Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory. In other states such as Victoria and New South Wales, they are legal for ornamental and gardening purposes.
- Brazil: Possession, production and sale is illegal as it is listed on Portaria SVS/MS nº 344.
- Canada: Mescaline is classified as a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Peyote is listed as an exemption. Other mescaline containing plants are presumably illegal to possess outside of ornamental and gardening purposes.
- Germany: Mescaline is controlled under Anlage I BtMG (Narcotics Act, Schedule I), former: Opiumgesetz (Opium Act) as of February 25, 1967. It is illegal to manufacture, possess, import, export, buy, sell, procure or dispense it without a license.
- The Netherlands: Mescaline in its raw form and dried mescaline-containing cacti are considered an illegal drug. However, anyone may grow and use peyote without restriction as it is specifically exempt from legislation.
- Switzerland: Mescaline is a controlled substance specifically named under Verzeichnis D.
- United Kingdom: Mescaline in purified powder form is a Class A drug. However, dried cactus can be bought and sold legally.
- United States: Mescaline was made illegal in 1970 by the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. The drug is categorized as a Schedule I hallucinogen by the CSA. Mescaline is legal only for certain religious groups (such as the Native American Church) and in scientific and medical research. While mescaline containing cacti of the genus Echinopsis are technically controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act, they are commonly sold publicly as ornamental plants.
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