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Harmful Effects of Peyote

Traditional cultures have used hallucinogens for religious and healing purposes for centuries. Hallucinogens are also widely used today to “trip” or experience profound distortions in a person’s perception of reality. According to the NCBI, under the influence of hallucinogens, people see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but are not. Long-term residual psychological and cognitive effects of hallucinogens remain poorly understood.

What is Peyote?

Peyote is a small cactus that contains an active hallucinogenic ingredient known as mescaline. This plant has been used as a part of religious ceremonies by natives in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. Mescaline is also currently produced through chemical synthesis.

The effects of hallucinogens are highly variable and unreliable, producing different effects in different people at different times. This particularly due to the substantial variations in amount and configuration of active compounds, particularly in the hallucinogens derived from plants and mushrooms. The use of hallucinogens can be particularly dangerous because of their fickle nature.

The top of the peyote cactus, also referred to as the crown, consists of disc-shaped buttons that are cut from the roots and dried. These buttons are generally chewed or soaked in water in order to produce an intoxicating liquid. The hallucinogenic dose of mescaline is anywhere from 0.3 to 0.5 grams, and its effects last approximately twelve hours. Some individuals prepare a tea by boiling the cacti for several hours because of the bitterness of the extract.

Effects of Peyote

peyote effects

Peyote can cause frightening hallucinations, and can lead to self-harm.

Peyote, LSD, psilocybin, and PCP are drugs that cause hallucinations and effects by initially disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin. The serotonin system is a key player in the control of mood, hunger, body temperature, sexual behavior, muscle control, and sensory perception.

Peyote can cause:

  • Hallucinations
  • Intense emotional mood swings
  • Flashbacks
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Excessive flushing and sweating
  • Fetal abnormalities (in pregnant women)

According to NIDA, lack of properly controlled research studies on the specific effects of these drugs on the human brain, and the long-term residual psychological and cognitive effects of mescaline, peyote’s principal active ingredient, means that peyote remains poorly understood. Smaller studies and several case reports have been published documenting some of the effects associated with the use of hallucinogens in general. Recently, a study found no evidence of psychological or cognitive deficits among Native Americans regularly using peyote in a religious settings. However, it should be mentioned, that these findings may not make a sweeping statement concerning those who repeatedly abuse the drug for recreational purposes.

Do you know someone who repeatedly uses peyote and suffers from harmful side effects because of it? Is their life negatively affected by their abuse of peyote or do they display signs of addiction to it? Please seek professional help if you or a loved one are experiencing negative side effects from peyote abuse.

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