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What is a Cactus Hallucinogen?

Hallucinogen drugs come in a variety of types and forms, from plants, to mushrooms to pills with each drug producing its own unique effects. Cactus hallucinogens belong to the psychedelic class of drugs, most known for their ability to open up new worlds of sensory perception in users.

Many varieties of these cactus plants exist, though peyote remains the most popular for recreational purposes. Hallucinogens play important roles in medicine, recreation and religious traditions; however, these drugs can produce certain adverse effects when abused on a regular basis.

According to Mount San Jacinto College, cactus hallucinogens share a similar chemical structure to dopamine and norepinephrine, both essential brain neurotransmitter chemicals. These similarities enable these plants to alter the brain’s chemical system over time.

Cactus Hallucinogens

hallucingenic cactus

Up to three dozen types of cacti have hallucinogenic effects.

“Out of this world” experiences most characterize hallucinogen drug effects. As a group, hallucinogens include three different categories: dissociatives, deliriants and the cactus hallucination category, psychedelics.

Peyote, Prickly Pear and the San Pedro Cactus exist as the most commonly known cactus hallucinogens, though as many as three dozen varieties of cacti produce hallucinogenic effects. These plants can be found growing in desert regions in northern Mexico, South America and southeastern Texas.

Due to the unpredictable effects brought on by this class of drug, cactus hallucinogens fall under the Schedule I class of narcotic drugs, the most dangerous drugs in existence. Normally, Schedule I class drugs are considered illegal under all circumstances; however, the use of peyote in Native American religious ceremonies allows this one exception under federal law.

Hallucinogenic Compounds

Among the three commonly known cactus plants (peyote, Prickly Pear and the San Pedro Cactus), mescaline alkaloid compounds account for the hallucinogenic effects these plants produce. Other varieties of cacti contain different types of alkaloid compounds, two of which include N-methyltyramine and hordenine.

Unlike opiates and stimulants, where certain key ingredients account for a drug’s unique effects, the various compounds that make up a cactus plant’s chemical structure all contribute to the types of effects it produces. It’s the synergy of compounds found in cactus plants that account for their ability to produce hallucinatory effects. Since hallucinogen effects can vary each and every time a person uses, the physiological interactions between the user’s biochemistry and plant’s compounds also influence the type of drug “high” a person will experience.

Cactus Hallucinogen Effects

According to Columbia Health, the most pronounced effect of cactus hallucinogens works to distort a person’s perception of reality. Distortions in perception may take the form of –

  • Seeing visions
  • Hearing things, hearing voices
  • Seeing expansive spectrums of color
  • Smelling imaginary odors or scents
  • Feeling sensations or textures along the skin
  • Distorted sense of time and space

With peyote, a .3 to .5 gram dosage amount can produce this array of effects, which can last for up to 12 hours.

These experiences can be exhilarating or horrifying depending on any number of factors, some of which include –

  • How often a person uses the drug
  • Mood state
  • Environmental factors

When used on a regular or frequent basis, cactus hallucinogens can cause long-term brain damage with users experiencing random flashbacks from drug states for up to a year after their last drug use.

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