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There are many cacti in several genera that produce mescaline and similar phenethylamines in varying amounts. Cacti with a history of human use include Peyote (Lophophora williamsii), San Pedro (Trichocereus/Echinopsis pachanoi), Peruvian Torch (Trichocereus peruvianus/Echinopsis peruviana), Bolivian Torch (Trichocereus bridgesii/Echinopsis lageniformis), and Trichocereus/Echinopsis scopulicola. Mescaline also occurs in other common cacti in trace amounts. The concentration of mescaline and other alkaloids varies considerably between between species and individual plants. Other alkaloids found in psychedelic cacti include 3,4-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenethylamine, 3-hydroxy-4,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-hydroxy-3,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, anhalonidine, anhalinine, hordenine, tyramine, and 3-methoxytyramine. The green skin of the cactus is where the majority of psychoactive alkaloids are located.
Peyote (Lophophora williamsii) is the most well known and potent psychedelic cactus, although the smallest and slowest growing. Instead of growing upward to form a column, it grows as "buttons" low to the ground. It has been used by Native Americans for over 5000 years. Unlike other psychedelic cacti, the peyote plant and its seeds are controlled substances in the USA; however, federal and state religious freedom restoration acts allow its use in religious ceremonies. In addition to mescaline, it contains the the alkaloid hordenine (N,N-dimethyltyramine). Hordenine is a selective MAO-B substrate and thus may function as a competitive inhibitor, preventing the breakdown of mescaline to some extent.
Other Lophophora genus cacti
Other Lophophora cacti such as Lophophora diffusa, Lophophora fricii, Lophophora koehresii... are low in Mescaline and high in Pellotine; so they produce different psychoactive effects than Lophophora williamsii.
San Pedro (Echinopsis pachanoi) contains mescaline, 3,4-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenethylamine, 3-hydroxy-4,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-hydroxy-3,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, anhalonidine, anhalinine, hordenine, tyramine, and 3-methoxytyramine. Although relatively common in garden centers as a decorative plant, the potency can vary greatly between individual plants and garden store strains are not bred for high mescaline content. Sometimes they are bred to minimize mescaline content. In the USA, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Germany, New Zealand and Norway it is legal to cultivate for decorative purposes, though illegal to use for its mescaline content. It has been used by indigenous South Americans for over 3000 years.
Peruvian torch (Echinopsis peruviana) is more consistently psychoactive than San Pedro, though potency still varies greatly. It has a higher ratio of mescaline to other alkaloids than San Pedro. Its history of use by indigenous people goes back 2000-3000 years. Many regional varieties and hybrids exist. Peruvian Torch is one of the least well-defined and most varied species in its genus. Because of this, and because it is generally considered more desirable than San Pedro, San Pedro and hybrid cacti are often represented as Peruvian Torch. Like San Pedro, growing it without the intent to utilize its psychoactive properties is legal in many areas. In South America it is sometimes referred to as San Pedro, as are various psychoactive cacti in the same genus.
Bolivian torch (Echinopsis lageniformis) is widely regarded as the most consistently psychoactive and potent columnar cactus. It is faster growing than San Pedro or Peruvian Torch, though it is thinner than either. It is believed to have more hordenine relative to mescaline than Peruvian Torch. The monstrose cultivars are slower growing forms which branch into many sections. The two monstrose cultivars are the long form clone A which has longer sections that are smooth and spineless except for the base, and the short form clone B with small sections that grow long spines. There are also crested variants. Despite being one of the most consistently potent psychedelic columnar cacti, it is not commonly grown for its mescaline content outside of its native range.
This cactus is also native to Bolivia, and it can form hybrids with the thinner bridgesii. It shares its range and forms hybrids with the other Echinopsis (Trichocereus) cacti. The green layer of the skin contains approximately 0.82% mescaline.
This large columnar cactus is native to northwest Argentina and the western slopes of the Andes in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. The alkaloid content has been found to be anywhere from 0.005-2.375% mescaline. It is the largest of the psychoactive cacti.
These cacti are similar to psychedelic ones.
- McCleary, J.A.; Sypherd, P.S.; Walkington, D.L. (1960). "Antibiotic Activity of an Extract Of Peyote [Lophophora williamsii (Lemaire) Coulter]". Economic Botany 14: 247–249. doi:10.1007/bf02907956. Jump up ^ Bruhn JG, Lindgren JE, Holmstedt B
- C. J. Barwell et al. (1989). "Deamination of hordenine by monoamine oxidase and its action on vasa deferentia of the rat." J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 41 421-423.
- Crosby, D.M.; and McLaughlin, J.L. (Dec 1973). "Cactus Alkaloids. XIX Crystallization of Mescaline HCl and 3-Methoxytyramine HCl from Trichocereus panchanoi" (PDF). Lloydia and the Journal of Natural Products 36 (4): 416–418. PMID 4773270. Retrieved 13 December 2013.