PEYOTE AND OTHER PSYCHOACTIVE CACTI
How to use them - How to extract them
What they contain - Where to obtain them
How to cultivate them and increase their potency
35 different species discussed
For many years most of us have been aware of the psychoactive effects of
Peyote. More recently in drug-oriented literature there have been numerous
references to other cacti believed to have hallucinogenic properties. Among
these are Donana from northern Mexico, San Pedro from the Andes, three
related mescaline-bearing species from South America, and at least 15
species used by the Indians of Central Mexico as Peyote substitutes.
Botanists and Chemists are now studying the constitutes of these cacti and
are making some remarkable discoveries. In this guide we will consider each
of these cacti and bring the reader up to date on what scientists have learn-
ed about them. The various methods of using these cacti are also discussed.
Directions are given for cultivating cacti and increasing the yield of
mescaline and other alkaloids. There are instructions for extracting mesca-
line from Peyote and San Pedro, and mixed alkaloids from Donana and other
cacti. We also include a brief discussion of the legal aspects of these
hallucinogenic cacti and give the names and addresses of legitimate
suppliers from whom these plants can be obtained at reasonable prices.
MESCALINE, PEYOTE AND THE LAW
Both mescaline and Peyote are illegal under the statutes of the Federal
Government and most States. Members of the Native American Church are
permitted the ritual use of peyote because they established it as a
religious sacrement long before these laws came into existence. Members are
not permitted to use mescaline, however. Several other cacti such as San
Pedro also contain mescaline. Technically it would be illegal to possess
these, but because they are common ornamental plants it is permissable to
use these cacti for normal horticultural purposes. If a person should
attempt to use any of these plants for a psychedelic experience, prosecution
is possible. If he were to extract the mescaline from these, the alkaloid
would definitely be contraband material. It is important that this point
be made clear because the mescaline extraction process is given in this
guide. To extract the alkaloids from Donana and other non-mescaline bearing
cacti is not illegal. The information in this guide is presented for the
sake of furthering knowledge. The Author can assume no responsibility for
how anyone may apply it.
This spineless, tufted, blue-green, button-like cactus, known botanically
as LOPHOPHORA WILLIAMSII, is the most famous of the hallucinogenic cacti.
It grows wild from Central Mexico to Northern Texas. It's known history
dates back to pre-Columbian times; possibly as early as 300 B.C. During the
past two centuries the religious use of Peyote has spread northward into the
United States and Canada among many of the Plains Indian Tribes such as the
Navajo, Comanche, Sioux, and Kiowa. This cactus eventually came to replace
the hallucinogenic but dangerous red mescal bean (SOPHORA SECUNDIFLORA) as
a ceremonial sacrement. During the 1800's the North American Peyote ritual
was standardized. By 1920 the ceremonial practices of most tribes were
identical with only minor variations.
(Note: In Mexico there is a popular liquor called mescal. Many people believe
that it is made from the Peyote cactus. Actually it is fermented from the
Maguey plant, a large succulent of the Amaryllis family with sword-like
leaves. This plant does not contain mescaline or related alkaloids.)
It was in 1896 that Arthur Heffter extracted mescaline from Peyote and tested
it upon himself. This was the first hallucinogenic compound isolated by man.
About 350 mg of mescaline is required for a psychotropic experience, although
definite effects can be felt from as little as 100 mg. Mescaline may comprise
as much as six percent of the weight of the dried button, but is more often
closer to one percent. An average dried button the diameter of a quarter
weighs about 2 grams. it usually takes 6-10 of these buttons to gain the
It has been noted that the peyote experience is quantitatively somewhat
different than that of pure mescaline, the former being more physical than
the latter. This is due to several of the other alkaloids present in the
cactus. These include: HORDENINE, N-METHYLMESCALINE, N-ACETYLMESCALINE,
PELLOTINE, ANHALININE, ANHALONINE, ANHALIDNINE, ANHALONIDINE, ANHALAMINE,
O-METHYLANHALONIDINE, TYRAMINE, and LOPHOPHORINE. Not all of these
substances have psychopharmacological activity when administered singly.
Some of them in combination apparently potentiate the effects of the
mescaline and definitely alter some of the characteristics of the experience.
Two of these alkaloids - Hordenine and Tyramine - have been found to possess
antibacterial activity, presumably because of their phenolic function. For
ages the Huichol Indians have rubbed the juices of fresh peyote into wounds
to prevent infection and to promote healing. The Tarahumara Indians consume
small amounts of peyote to combat hunger, thirst and exhaustion especially
while hunting. They have been known to run for days after a Deer with no
food, water or rest. Peyote has many uses in folkloric medicine including
the treatment of arthritis, consumption, influenza, intestinal disorders,
diabetes, snake and scorpion bites and datura poisoning. The Huichol and
other tribes recognize two forms of peyote. One is larger, more potent and
more bitter than the other. They call it TZINOURITEHUA-HIKURI (peyote of
the Gods). The smaller, more palatable, but milder buttons are called
RHAITOUMUANITARI-HIKURI (peyote of the goddesses). The difference between
the two forms may be due solely to how old the plants are. Alkaloids tend
to accumulate in these cacti with age. It is possible, however, that the
goddess peyote is a different species. Until recently botanists believed that
the genus LOPHOPHORA consisted of a single but highly varible species. But
in 1967 H.H. Bravo found near Queretaro in south-central Mexico another
species which he named LOPHOPHORA DIFFUSA. This plant is yellow-green, soft,
ribless and contains a somewhat different alkaloid mixture with far less
mescaline that L. williamsi.
About half an hour after ingesting the buttons the first effects are felt.
There is a feeling of strange intoxication and shifting consciousness with
minor perceptual changes. There may also be strong physical effects,
including respiratory pressure, muscle tension (especially face and neck
muscles), and queasiness or possible nausea. Any unpleasant sensations
should disappear within an hour. After this the state of altered consci-
ousness begins to manifest itself. The experience may vary with the
individual, but among the possible occurences are feelings of inner tran-
quillity, oneness with life, heightened awareness, and rapid thought flow.
During the next several hours these effects will deepen and become more
visual. Colors may become more intense. Halos and auras may appear about
things. Objects may seem larger, smaller , closer or more distant than they
actually are. Often persons will notice little or no changes in visual
perception while beholding the world about them, but upon closing their
eyes they will see on their mind-screen wildly colorful and constant
changing patterns. After several more hours the intensity of the exper-
ience gradually relaxes. Thought becomes less rapid and diffuse and more
ordered. In the Navajo peyote ritual this change of thought flow is used
wisely. During the first part of the ceremony the participants submit to the
feeling and let the peyote teach them. During the latter part of the ritual
the mind turns to thoughtful contemplation and understanding with the
conscious intellect what the peyote has taught the subconscious mind.
The entire experience may last from 6 to 12 hours depending upon the
individual and the amount of the plant consumed. After all the peyote
effects have passed there is no comedown. One is likely to feel pleasantly
relaxed and much a peace with the world. Although there is usually no desire
for food during the experience one would probably have a wholesome appetite
METHODS OF USE
The most common method of use is simply to chew up and swallow the fresh
or dried buttons after removing the tufts and sand. This is the way it is
almost always done at Indian ceremonies. Most people find the taste of this
cactus unbearably bitter. The Indians, however, feel if ones heart is pure,
the bitterness will not be tasted. Many have found that by not cringing from
the taste, but rather letting ones senses plunge directly to the center of
the bitterness, a sort of seperation from the offensive flavor is exper-
ienced. One is aware of the bitterness, but it no longer disturbs him.
This is similar to the practice of bringing ones consciousness to the center
of pain so that detachment may occur. It is not a difficult trick, but it
takes some mental discipline. People who cannot endure the bitterness of
peyote often go to various extremes to get it into the system without
having to taste it. One fairly effective method is to drink unsweetened
grapefruit juice while chewing it. The acids in the juice somewhat
neutralize some of the bitter bases. Another method is to grind the dried
buttons in a pepper grinder and pack the pulverised material into OOO
capsules which are washed down with warm water. This is an effective
method but it can take 20 capsules or more to get a 350mg dose of mescaline.
Often people will boil the buttons in water for several hours to make a
concentrated tea. A cup of this decoction can be swallowed in a few hasty
gulps. Another preparation that is occasionally used is a jello-type dessert
made with the fresh or dried plant. If spoonfulls are swallowed whole the
gelatine serves as a sort of shield protecting the tastebuds from contact
with the bitter material. It also slows down the the absorption of the drug
in the digestive tract. This can be of value. It is generally recommended
that anyone consuming peyote or mescaline ingest it gradually during a
period of an hour or take two half doses 45 minutes apart. This is done
to reduce the shock of the alkaloid to the system. Nausea or queasiness is
sometimes experienced half an hour or so after taking peyote or mescaline.
This usually passes in less than an hour. A sip of grapefruit juice will
sometimes dispel the sick feeling. During the peyote ceremony Indians
encourage vomiting rather than restraint if the urge presents itself.
Throwing up, they believe, is apurging of both physical and spiritual ills.
Most tribes fast for at least a day before taking peyote. This can also help
to minimize gastric distress. One should not have eaten for at least 6 hours
before taking either mescaline or peyote.
A method which avoids both the bitterness and the nausea is the rectal
infusion. 8-16 grams of dried peyote is ground into a fine powder and boiled
in a pint of water for 30 minutes. It is then strained and further boiled
to reduce it's volume to one half pint. After cooling, this is taken as an
enema using a small bulb syringe and retained for at least two hours. If
there is any fecal matter in the lower bowel, a small cleansing enema should
be taken and thoroughly expelled before having the peyote infusion. Otherwise
much of the drug will be taken up by the feces and later voided.
FINDING AND PICKING PEYOTE
The peyote cactus may be found in many areas throughout the Chihuahuan
Desert from central Mexico to southern Texas. When a site is found where
peyote grows it usually does so in abundance. Sometimes it grows in open
sunlit places, but more often it is found in clusters under fairly large
shrubs, among mesquite or creosote bushes or in the shade of large succu-
The best time to harvest any cactus is after a long dry spell. The worst
time is during or after a rainy period. The plants build up alkaloids
during dry seasons and draw upon them for growth when the rains come. If
the plants are harvested during or after a wet spell, the alkaloid content
may have dropped below 50 percent. If you have a soil test kit, you can get
a good indication of the potency of cacti growing wild. If the soil is rich
in nitrogen, the plants are likely to be rich in alkaloids.
When harvesting peyote, many people uproot the entire plant. This is
unnecessary and wasteful. The roots contain no mescaline. Some of these
plants have taken a long time to reach their size. A cactus three inches
in diameter may be more than 20 years old. To collect peyote properly
the button should be cleanly decapitated slightly above ground level.
When the roots are left intact new buds will form where the old was
removed. These will eventually develop into full-size buttons which may
be harvested as before. Faulty harvesting method have seriously depleted
populations of this cactus. Because of the presence of several phenolic
alkaloids peyote cacti do not spoil easily and may be kept in their fresh
form for several weeks after harvesting. If they are to be kept longer than
this they must be refrigerated, frozen, or dried. The enzymes which cause the
harvested plant to eventually decompose also destroy the mescaline and other
alkaloids. To dry peyote buttons lay them out in the hot sun or in an oven
at 250 degrees F until completely devoid of moisture.
OTHER PEYOTE-TYPE CACTI OF CENTRAL MEXICO
There are several cacti which are used by the Tarahumares and other tribes
of central Mexico as substitutes for peyote. Many of these cacti are now
under investigation for their alkaloidal content and psychopharmacological
activity. Progress is somewhat retarded in the studies of the effects of
these plants because almost all experimentation has been conducted on
laboratory animals rather than humans. Some of these cacti have been found
to contain mescaline and other related alkaloids with known sympathomimetic
properties. Much further research is needed on these plants and their
activity. However, we will attempt to bring the reader up to date on what is
known about them at this time.
This small cactus is botanically called PELECYPHORA ASELLIFORMIS. It is
also known sometimes as the hatchet cactus because of its oddly flattened
tubercules. It is often found growing in the state of San Louis Potosi in
central Mexico. The plant contains traces of mescaline too minute to have
any effect. It also contains small amounts of anhalidine, anhaladine,
hordenine, N-methylmescaline, pellotine, 3-demethyltrichocereine,
B-phenethylamine, N-methyl-B-phenethylamine, 3,4-dimethoxy-B-pheneththyl-
amine, N-methyl-3,4-dimethoxy-B-phenethylamine, and 4-methoxy-B-phenethy-
lamine. Most of these are found in peyote but in much larger quantities.
The botanical name of this cactus is ARIOCARPUS RETUSUS. The Huichol name
tsuwiri means False Peyote. These people make long pilgrimages to the sacred
places where peyote grows in search of that sacrement. They believe that if
a person is has not been properly purified the spirits will lead him to the
False Peyote and if he partakes of it, he will suffer madness or at least a
bad trip. The plant is known among some tribes as Chautle or Chaute. These
names are also used for other Ariocarpus species. This cactus contains
hordenine, N-methyltryamine in fairly small amounts (about 0.02 percent)
and traces of N-methyl-3,4-dimethoxy-B-phenethylamine, and N-methyl-4-B-
phenethylamine. Aside from these alkaloids it also contains a flavone called
retusin (3,3',4',7-tetramethoxy-5-hydroxyflavone). Although alkaloid content
may very some at different seasons or stages of growth, from the scientific
point of view the amounts present in this plant appear insufficient to pro-
duce any psychopharmacological response.
This plant, ARIOCARPUS FISSURATUS, has been used in folkoric medicine of
Mexico and southwestern USA. It is believed to be more potent than peyote
and is used in the same manner as that cactus or made into an intoxicating
drink. Among some tribes it is known as Chaute (a generic term for Ariocarp-
us species), living rock, or dry whiskey. The latter name, however, is often
used for peyote and other psychoactive cacti. There are two varieties of
A. fissuratus: var. lloydii and var. fissuratus. Both have about the same
phytochemical makeup. The plant contains mostly hordenine, less N-methyl-
tyramine and some N-methyl-3,4-dimethoxy-B-phenethylamine. Two other species,
A. kotschoubeyanus also known as Pata De Venado or Pezuna De Venado, and A.
trigonus also contain these alkaloids.
This small cactus, CORYPHANTHA MACROMERIS, from northern Mexico has been
found to contain macromerine, a phenethylamine drug reputed to have about
1/5 the potency of mescaline. It also contains normacromerine, N-formylnor-
macromerin, tyramine, N-methyltramine, hordenine, N-methyl-3,4-dimethoxy-B-
phenethylamine, metanephrine, and synephrine (a macromerine precursor).
Other coryphantha species which contain macromerine with most of these other
alkaloids include: C. pectinada, C. elephantideus, C. runyonii and C. corn-
ifera var. echinus. Most of these alkaloids with the exception of macromerine
have also been found in other varieties of C. conifera and in C. durangensis,
C. ottonis, C. poselgeriana and C. ramillosa. Considering that there is
usually no more than 0.1 percent macromerine in Donana and that a gram or more
of this alkaloid may be needed to produce a psychotropic effect, one would
have to consume more than a kilo of the dried cactus or 20 pounds of the
fresh plant. Clearly this is not possible for most humans. If one wishes to
experiment with the hallucinogenic properties of Donana, is is necessary
first to make an extraction of the mixed alkaloids. Methods for this are
given latter in this guide.
Several tribes occasionally use any one of several species of Dolichothele
as a peyote-like sacrament. These include D. baumii, D. longimamma, D.
melalenca, D. sphaerica. D. surculosa, and D. uberiforma. Recent investig-
ations have revealed in these the presence of small amounts of the alkaloids
N-methylphenethylamine, B-O-methylsynephrine, N-methyltryamine, synephrine,
hordenine, and dolichotheline (N-isovalerylhistamine).
Several other cacti have been used by the Tarahumares as peyote substitutes.
Among these are Obregonia denegrii, Aztekium ritterii, Astrophytum asterias,
A. capricorne, A. myriostigma (Bishops cap), and Solisia pectinata. The
Tarahumares also consume a cactus which they call Mulato (Mammillaria micro-
meris) and claim that it prolongs life, gives speed to runners, and clarifies
vison for mystical insights. Another cactus similarly employed is known as
Rosapara (Epitheliantha micromeris) is believed by many botanists to be the
same species as Mulato, but at a later vegetative stage. The large cactus
Pachycereus pecten-aboriginum, known locally as Cawe, has occasionally been
used as a narcotic.
What little studies have been carried out on these cacti have revealed the
presence of alkaloids most of the other species we have discussed, but no
mescaline or macromerine. Many of these alkaloids have some psychopharma-
calogical properties, but nothing to compare with those two drugs. Further-
more, the amounts of these alkaloids are usually so small as to be insignif-
icant. For example, the species Obregonia denegrii contains tyramine 0.003
percent, hordenine 0.002 percent, and N-methyltyramin 0.0002 percent.
These are all known sympathomimetics, but the percentages are far too minute
to have any value. Several publications in recent years have mentioned the
sacramental use of these cacti. As a result thousands of people have obtained
these plants from cactus dealers and ingested them, usually with disappointing
(and sometimes nauseating) results. Sadly many of these cacti are quite rare.
If too many people destroy them experimentally, they may become a seriously
endangered species. The most suitable cacti for a true psychedelic experience
are peyote, which is for the most part illegal, and several species of Tri-
chocereus (such as San Pedro), which are still legal.
This cactus has gained considerable fame in the past five years after
numerous reports that it is hallucinogenic, contains mescaline, and is
readily available from cactus nurseries. This plant known botanically as
Trichocereus pachanoi, is native to the Andes of Peru and Equador. Unlike
the small peyote cactus, San Pedro is large and multi-branched. In it's
natural enviorment, it often grows to heights of 10 or 15 feet. It's
mescaline content is less than that of peyote (0.3 - 1.2 percent), but
because of it's great size and rapid growth, it may provide a more econom-
ical source of mescaline than peyote. One plant may easily yield several
pounds of pure mescaline upon extraction. San Pedro also contains tyramine,
hordenine, 3-methoxytyramine, anhalaninine, anhalonidine, 3,4-dimethoxyphen-
ethylamine, 3,4-dimethoxy-4-hydroxy-B-phenethylamine, and 3,5-dimethoxy-4-
hydroxy-B-phenethylamine. Some of these are known sympathomimetics. Others
have no apparent effects when ingested by themselves. It is possible, how-
ever, that in combination with the mescaline and other active compounds they
may have a synergistic influence upon one another and subtly alter the qual-
itive aspects of the experience. It is also possible that any compounds in
the plant which act a mild MAO inhibitors will render a person vulnerable to
some of the above mentioned amines which would ordinarily be metabolized
before they could take effect.
The effects of San Pedro are in many ways more pleasant than those of peyote.
To begin with, it's taste is only slightly bitter and the initial nausea is
not as likely to occur. When the full psychotropic experience takes hold it
is less overwhelming, more tranquil and not nearly as physical as that from
San Pedro may be eaten fresh or dried and taken in any of the manners describ-
ed for peyote. Cuttings of San Pedro sold in the USA are usually about three
feet long by four inches diameter. A piece 4-8 inches long will usually bring
about the desired effect. The skin and spines must be removed. The skin
should not be thrown away, however. The green tissue close to the skin con-
tains a high concentration of mescaline. Some people chew the skin until all
the juices are extracted. If you don't what to do this, the skins can be
boiled in water for several hours to make a potent tea. The woody core of the
cactus cannot be eaten. One can eat around it like a corn cob. The core does
not have much alkaloid content, but can be mashed and boiled as a tea for
what little is there.
To dry San Pedro slice the cactus into disks (actually stars) 1/2 inch thick
and dry thoroughly in the sun or in an oven at 250 degrees F. The spines must
be removed either before drying or before chewing. Also one must be careful
of the splinters from the woody core.
If a tea is made from fresh San Pedro, the cactus must be either sliced,
chopped or crushed before boiling.
San Pedro is a hardy cactus and endures cold climates quite well. It grows at
altiudes from sea level to 9000 feet high in the Andes where it is most freq-
uently found on western slopes. The soil in this region is very rich in humus
and various minerals. This helps in the production of mescaline and other
There are several cacti which look much like San Pedro and have even been
mistaken for it by trained botanists. In 1960 when Turner and Heyman disc-
overed that San Pedro contained mescaline they erroneously identified the
plant as Opunita cylindtica. A few other South American species of Tricho-
cereus also contain mescaline with related alkaloids. These include:
T. BRIDGESII, T. MACROGONUS, T.TERSCHECKII, and T. WERDERMANNIANUS.
There is evidence that the ritualistic use of San Pedro dates back to 1000
BC. Even today it is used by Curanderos (medicine men) of northern Peru.
They prepare a drink called CIMORA from it and take this in a ceremonial
setting to diagnose the spiritual or subconscious basis of a patient's
CULTIVATION OF PSYCHOACTIVE CACTI
Any cactus can be grown from either seed or cutting. Seed grown plants can
take many years to develop to a usable size, but should ultimately provide
strong, healthy stock from which cuttings may be taken. Plants have to grow
through the lengthy seedling stage. A San Pedro plant started from seed may
be no more than 1/2 inch high after it's first year and perhaps an inch high
after it's second; It's diameter being 1/8-1/4 during this time. A cutting
of San Pedro may be 2 feet high by 4 inches diameter when planted. After 6
months it might easily gain 4-6 inches in height, send forth one or two
branches 6-8 inches long by 2 inches diameter, and have sprouted several
branch buds which will do the same within the next six months. When these
offshoots are 6 inches or more long they may be broken off and planted
following the instructions below. Or they may be allowed another 6 months
growth until they deepen from pale to dark-green to give them time to accum-
ulate alkaloids and then consumed.
Live plants of any of the species mentioned in this guide - with the excep-
tion perhaps of peyote - can be purchased from suppliers named at the end
of this chapter. Freshly harvested peyote cuttings are frequently available
on the underground market for 50 cents to one dollar per button. When select-
ing peyote cuttings for planting choose ones which are firm and unbruised
with at least 1/2 inch of taproot below the top. If the bottom of the tap-
root is still delicate where it has been cut, the button should be placed
bottoms up in partial shade for a day or two until the severed area has a
dry corky texture. If this is not done, the plant will be prone to rot.
The best soil mix can be prepared from 3 parts coarse sand, 1 part loam
and 1 part leaf mold. Bake this mixture in an oven at 400 degrees F for an
hour to kill fungus, bacteria, weed seeds and insect eggs. After the soil
mix has cooled it is ready to use. The taproot of the plant may be dipped in
a rooting mixture, such as ROOTONE, before planting. This enhances root
development and hinders decay. Place the bottom just deep enough so that
the soil does not quite touch the green part of the plant. The soil should be
kept slightly moist and evenly so. If you are planting a tall cactus like
San Pedro, the cutting should be placed deeply enough in the soil that it will
have sufficient support to stand. San Pedro type cacti can also be laid upon
the ground and will send down roots from their sides while the buds grow
upwards. San Pedro can grow well in almost any soil as long as there is
Cacti tend to grow mostly during spring and autumn, to send down roots in
the summer, and to rest through winter. Although cactus cuttings may be
planted anytime of the year they stand the best chance if planted in the late
spring. They should be watered thoroughly once or twice a week depending upon
how rapidly moisture is lost. The soil an inch below the surface should
always contain some moisture. Watering can be cut back to less than half
during the winter.
INCREASING THE POTENCY OF PSYCHOACTIVE CACTI
There are several factors which influence production of mescaline and related
alkaloids in cacti. Presence of a wide variety of trace minerals is import-
ant. Occasional watering with Hoagland A-Z trace mineral concentrate provides
these minerals. Combine 1 part concentrate with 9 parts water and water cacti
with this once every two months.
Experiments conducted by Rosenberg, Mclaughlin and Paul at the University of
of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1966 demonstrated that dopamine is a precursor of
mescaline in the peyote cactus. Tyramine and dopa were also found to be
mescaline precursors, but not as immediate and efficient as dopamine.
It appears that in the plant tyosine breaks down to become tyramine and dopa.
These then recombine to form dopamine which is converted to nor-mescaline
and finally to mescaline. One can take advantage to this sequence by inject-
ing each peyote plant with dopamine 4 weeks prior to harvesting. Much of the
dopamine will convert to mescaline during this time, giving a considerable
increase in the alkaloid of the plant. Prepare a saturated solution of free
base dopamine in a .05 N solution of hydrochloric acid and inject 1-2 cc into
the root of each plant and the same amount into the green portion above the
root. Let the needle penetrate to the center of the plant, inject slowly and
allow the needle to remain in place a few seconds after injection. It is
best to deprive the plant of water for 1-2 weeks before injection. This makes
the plant tissues take up the injection fluids more readily. If dopamine is
not available, a mixture of tyramine and dopa can be used instead 6 weeks
before harvesting for comparable results. San Pedro and other mescaline-
bearing cacti can be similarly treated for increased mescaline production.
Inject at the base of the plant and again every 3-4 inches following a spiral
pattern up the length of the plant. A series of booster injections can be
given to any of these cacti every 6-8 weeks and once again 4 weeks before
harvesting for greater mescaline accumulation.
It is also possible to increase the macromerine and nor-macromerine content
of Donana cacti using tyramine or DL-norepinephrine as precursors. Injections
should be given 20-25 days before harvesting. Series of injections can be
given 45 days apart for higher alkaloid accumulation.
EXTRACTING PURE MESCALINE FROM PEYOTE OR SAN PEDRO CACTUS
The isolation of mescaline from cacti containing this alkaloid is not diff-
icult to perform and is perhaps one of the most rewarding alchemical pro-
cesses that one can attempt. The chemicals required for this process are
readily available and their purchase arouses no suspicion or interest on the
part of Government agencies. The equipment employed is not expensive or
particularly complicated or can be constructed very easily from ordinary
household items. The entire process can be carried out in any kitchen in the
matter of hours by following the instructions below and in the final stages
one can verify the success of the procedure by actually watching the crystals
of mescaline precipitate in the solution. One kilo (2.2 lbs) of dried peyote
buttons may yield between 10 and 60 grams of pure white needle crystals of
mescaline depending on the potency of the plants used. On average the yield
is about 20 grams. The usual underground price of a kilo of dried peyote
ranges between $125 and $250 (25 to 50 cents per button). From indians in the
southwestern USA the price is closer to $50 (10 cents per button). The street
price for a gram of pure mescaline is $20 to $30 - if one is lucky enough to
find it. One can obtain from a kilo of dried peyote $200 to $1200 worth of
mescaline. If San Pedro is employed on may anticipate a yield of 3 to 12
grams of mescaline per kilo of dried cactus. One can legally purchase a kilo
of dried San Pedro for $5 to $10 and from it extract $60 to $250 worth of
Grind a kilo of the dried cactus, place this in a large pressure cooker,
cover with distilled water, and boil for 30 minutes. Strain the liquids and
save them. Return the pulp to the pot, add more water and boil again for 30
minutes. Strain the liquids and combine them with the first strainings.
Repeat this process about five times or until the pulp no longer has a
bitter taste. Discard the pulp and reduce the volume of the combined strain-
ings by boiling in an open pot. DO NOT USE ALUMINUM WARE. When the liquids
have been concentrated to the thickness of cream (about one quart), stop the
boiling and stir in 400 grams of sodium hydroxide (lye). This makes the
mescaline more soluble in benzene and less in water. If a large separatory
funnel is available pour the liquids into it and add 1600 ml of Benzene.
Shake the funnel well for five minutes and let it stand for two hours.
If a separatory funnel is not available the process can be carried out in
a one gallon jug with a siphon attached.
After standing for 2 hours the water layer will settle to the bottom and the
benzene layer will float to the top. Between the two layers will be a thin
emulsion layer of mixed water and benzene. Drain off the water and emulsion
layers if you are using a separatory funnel or siphon off the benzene layer
if you are using the makeshift jug-siphon apparatus. Be certain that neither
the water or emulsion layers get into the benzene layer when separating. If
any of these layers do get into the benzene during separation pour everything
back into the separator, let it stand and repeat the separation more care-
fully. It is better to leave some benzene layer in the water and emulsion
than to get emulsion and water into the benzene. Nothing will be wasted. All
of the benzene which contains the mescaline will eventually be salvaged.
Sometimes the layers will fail to separate properly. If this is the case
immerse the funnel or jug in a deep pot of hot water for two hours. This will
break up the emulsion and bring about the separation.
Prepare a solution of 2 parts sulfuric acid and one part water. (never add
water to the acid or it will splatter; add the acid a little at a time to
the water by pouring it down the inside of the graduate or measuring cup
containing the water.) Add 25 drops of the acid solution one drop at a time
to the benzene extracts. Stopper the jug and shake well for one minute. Then
let stand for five minutes. White streaks of mescaline sulfates should begin
to appear in the benzene. If these do not appear, shake the jug more vigor-
ously for two to three minutes and let it settle for five more minutes. I
have found that when extracting mescaline from San Pedro it is sometimes
necessary to shake the mixture more thoroughly and for a longer time to get
the mescaline streaks to form. This is probably because of the lower mescal-
ine content in the plant. This would also apply to any peyote that does not
have a high mescaline content. After the streaks appear add 25 more drops of
the acid solution in the same manner, shake as before and let settle for ten
minutes. More streaks will appear. Add 15 drops of acid, shake and wait 15
minutes for streaks to form. Add 10 drops, shake and wait about 30 minutes.
Test the solution with wide range pH paper. It should show that the solution
is between pH 7.5 and 8. Allow the mescaline sulfate crystals to completely
precipitate. Siphon off as much of the benzene as possible without disturbing
the crystals on the bottom of the jug.
The next steps are to salvage any mescaline still in the water and emulsion
layer. Combine the benzene siphonings with the water/emulsion layer, shake
these well together for 5 minutes and let settle for two hours as before.
Carefully remove the benzene layer, treat it again with acid, precipitate the
crystals and siphon off the benzene as in the previous steps. Recombine the
siphoned benzene with the watery layer and repeat this again and again until
no more crystals precipitate. Siphon off as much benzene as possible without
drawing crystals through the siphon.
The next step involves removing the remaining benzene from the crystals.
There are two methods to choose from. The first is the quickest, but requires
ether, which is dangerous and often difficult to procure. Shake up the cryst-
als with the remaining benzene and pour it into a funnel with filter paper.
After the benzene has passed through the filter rinse the empty jug with
100 ml of ether to salvage any crystals in the jug and pour the ether over
the crystals in the filter. After the ether has passed through the filter
repeat the rinsing with another 100 ml of ether. Then let the crystals dry.
If ether is not available or you do not wish to use such a highly combustible
substance, the precipitate and residual benzene can be poured into a beaker.
The jug should be rinsed several more times with a little benzene and added
to the beaker so no crystals are left behind. The beaker is then placed in
a heat bath until all of the benzene has been evaporated.
The next step is to purify the mescaline sulfate crystals. Dissolve the dry
crystals in 200 ml of near-boiling distilled water. Add a pinch of activated
charcoal (Norite) and filter while still hot through number 2 filter paper.
The hot water which contains the mescaline will pass through the filter. The
Norite absorbes impurities from the mescaline. After the liquids have passed
through the filter pour a little more hot water over the filter to rinse
through any remaining mescaline which may have impregnated the filter paper.
Add 10 percent ammonia solution a few drops at a time to the hot filtrates
until the solution registers between pH 6.5 and 7. Place a boiling stone in
the solution and reduce it's volume to 75 ml by boiling. Remove the boiling
stone and allow the solution to cool to room temperature. Place the solution
in a freezer or in a refrigerator set to the coldest possible temperature
and allow the solution to cool to almost freezing. Tiny white needle-like
crystals form around the bottom and sides of the beaker. Break up the cryst-
als with a glass stirring rod while the solution is still ice cold and pour
through a filter. Mescaline sulfate is insoluable in near freezing water and
will not pass through the filter. Rinse the beaker with fresh ice water and
pour this over the filter. The crystals will now be pure white and can be
dried under a heat lamp or in an over at 250 degrees F. More mescaline can be
salvaged from the water that has passed through the filter by boiling these
liquids down to about 20 ml, adding Norite while hot, filtering through
number 2 paper as before, chilling the filterate to near freezing as once
before, filtering while cold, rinsing with ice water and drying the crystals.
This repetition should obtain at least two more grams of mescaline sulfate.
If large volume mescaline extraction is being conducted it would be worth-
while to repeat this salvaging procedure several more times.
MIXED ALKALOID EXTRACTIONS
There are numerous methods for extracting a mixture of the alkaloids from
cacti. Different methods may result in varying degrees of purity. For exam-
ple, the dried, pulverized material can be defatted with petroleum ether
or lighter fluid prior to extraction to remove lipid content; solvent
combinations such as methanol/chloroform/ammonium hydroxide can be used for
extracting; The extractions can be made acidic (pH 9.5) with 1-N hydrochloric
acid, filtered and washed in a separatory funnel or improvised siphon-jug
apparatus with diethyl ether, neutralized with ammonium hydroxide and evapor-
ated to dryness. However, most of these solvents are difficult for the non-
professional to obtain. Perhaps it is just as well since many of these
solvents are either toxic or explosive if handled improperly. Also, we do not
always know precisely what we are trying to extract. Some of the active
principles may be non-alkaloidal. Too much purification might remove some of
the active substances. The approach given here employs materials which may
be purchased inexpensively at any supermarket and are safe to work with.
This procedure extracts all of the alcohol and water-soluable alkaloids and
non-alkaloidal materials and permits only the fibrous pulp to be discarded.
Pulverize the dried cactus (tufts and spines need not be removed). Prepare
a mixture of two parts isopropyl rubbing alcohol and one part clear, non-
sudsing, unscented and untinted ammonia. Make the pulverized material soggy
with this mixture and allow it to stand covered overnight. Do not use alum-
inum or iron wares during any of these steps. After soaking, cover the mash
with isopropyl alcohol and boil in a heat bath for six hours. Strain the
liquids through muslin and press as much liquid as possible from the pulp.
With fresh alcohol repeat the boiling and straining three more times. Combine
the strained liquids. Evaporate this in a heat bath until only a tar remains.
(When evaporating a solvent use and electric range or hot plate rather than
a gas stove. Have adequate ventilation and avoid breathing the fumes.) The
tar can be further dried by spreading it thinly on a baking tray and placing
it in an oven set at the lowest possible heat. Remove the tray once every
fifteen minutes to examine the material. When it appears to be almost dry
place it back in the oven, shut the heat off, and let it stay there until
the oven cools.
DICTIONARY OF CACTUS ALKALOIDS
Anhalidine: Tetrahydroisoquinoline alkaloid (2-methyl-6,7-dimeethoxy-8-
hydroxy-1,2,3,4,-tetrahydroisoquinoline) Found in Lophophora and Pelecyphora.
B-O-methylsynephrine: Phenolic B-phenethylamine found in citrus trees and
some cacti. No data on pharmacology, but similar compound B-O-methylepin-
ephrine produces considerable CNS stimulation.
3-dimethyltrichocereine: B-phenethylamine alkaloid (N,N-dimethyl-3-hydroxy-
4,5-dimethoxy-B-phenethylamine). Found in Pelecyphora and some Trichocereus
Dolichotheline: Imidazole alkaloid properly known as N-isovalerylhistamine
or 4(5)-[2-N-isovalerylaminoethyl]imidazole. Found only in Dolichothele and
Gymnocactus species. Pharmacological action still unknown.
Homoveratrilamine: a dimethoxy form of the mescaline molecule (3,4-dimeth-
oxy-B-phenethylamine). It has no activity by itself, but may alter the
mescaline experience slightly when taken in combination. It is found in San
Pedro cactus and in the urine of certain types of schizophrenics.
Hordenine: Phenolic B-phenethylamine found in barley roots and several
cacti. Also known as anhaline (N,N-dimethyltyramine). Has mild sympatho-
mimetic activity and antiseptic action.
Macromerine: Nonphenolic B-phenethylamine (N,N-dimethyl-3,4-dimethoxy-B-
hydroxy-B-phenethylamine. Found only in Coryphantha species. Reputed to
possess 1/5 the potency of mescaline.
Mescaline: Nonphenolic B-phenethylamine (3,4,5-trimethoxy-B-phenethylamine).
main psychoactive component of Peyote, San Pedro, and several other tricho-
cereus species. Also found in traces in Pelecyphorea.
Metanephrine: Weak sympathomimetic found in Coryphantha species.
3-methoxytyramine: Pheneolic B-Phenethylamine found in the plant kingdom
for the first time in San Pedro cacti. Also found in the urine of persons
with certain types of brain disorders and cancer of the nervous system.
N-methyl-3,4-dimethoxy-B-Phenethylamine: Found in Pelecyphora aselliformis,
Coryphantha runyonii and Ariocarpus species, but not in peyote. Has slight
activity in depletion of cardiac norepinephrine.
N-methylphenethylamine: Nonphenolic B-phenethylamine alkaloid recently found
in the Dolichothele species. Also found in Acacia species and other plants.
Goats and sheeps in Texas sometimes eat Acacia berlandia and suffer a condition
known as limberleg or Guajillo wobbles. Pressor action of this alkaloid has
been shown experimentally to occur with low toxicity. Phenealanine and meth-
ionine are it's biosynthetic precursors.
N-methyltyramine: Phenolic B-phenethylamine found in some cacti, mutated
barley roots and a few other plants. Probably an intermediate phytochemical
step in the methylation of tyramine to form candicine. Has mild sympathomim-
etic action and probable antibacterial properties.
Normacromerine: Nonphenolic B-phenethylamine (N-dimethyl-3,4-dimethoxy-B-
hydroxy-B-phenethylamine) found in Coryphantha species. Shows less effect
on rats than macromerine.
Pellotine: Tetrahydroisoquinoline alkaloid (1,2-dimethyl-6,7-dimethoxy-8-
hydroxy-1,2,3,4-tetrahydroisoquinoline) found in Lophophora and pelecyphora.
Synephrine: Phenolic B-phenethylamine (N-methyl-4-hydroxy-B-phenethylamine)
found in citrus plants, some cacti, and human urine. Well known sympathomim-
etic agent. Probably an intermediary in phytosynthesis of macromerine.
Tyramine: Phenolic B-phenethylamine found in several cacti. Mild sympatho-
mimetic with some possible antiseptic activity.
The following companies are established cactus dealers. They carry San Pedro
and other cacti mentioned in this guide at reasonable prices. When ordering
from them do not inquire about the psychoactive potency or in any way hint
that you are using the plants for such purposes. Before ordering from them
request their catalog. Enclose $1.00 to cover the cost of the catalog and
mailing. If you wish to inquire about the availability of a species not
listed, ask for it by it's Latin botanical name. Do not inquire about the
availability of Lophophora williamsii or you will arouse suspicion.
Cactus Gem Nursery, 10092 Mann Drive, Cupertino, California 95014
The Desert Plant, 2519 Durant Avenue, Berkeley, California 94704
Desert Plant Company, PO Box 880, Marfa, Texas 79843
A. Hugh Dial, 7587 Deer Trail, Yucca Valley, California 92284