- Lophophora spp.
- Cactaceae (family), cactus methanolic extract, Lophophora, Lophophora williamsii, mescaline (3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine).
- Lophophora williamsii, also known as peyote, is found primarily in dry regions from central Mexico to Texas, particularly in regions along the Rio Grande. Peyote is commonly used in rituals and as a hallucinogen (due to its mescaline content). In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states may prohibit the use of peyote for religious purposes. Although peyote is illegal, the Dona Ana cactus, Coryphantha macromeris (Engelm.) Br. and R. and its runyonii (Br. and R.) L. Benson variety have been promoted as natural and legal psychedelic agents with about one-fifth of the potency of peyote.
- To date, there are no available clinical trials investigating the use of peyote for any indication. However, preliminary study investigating peyote has not found long-term cognitive deficits, although more study is needed to make any firm conclusions about peyote’s safety.
- Some experts believe that proper use of one psychoactive substance, such as peyote, within a spiritual or clinical context helps to free an individual from the adverse effects of their addiction to another substance and thus restores them as functioning members of their community or group.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
*Key to grades:
The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Adults (18 years and older):
- There is no proven safe or effective dose for peyote in adults.
Children (younger than 18 years):
- There is no proven safe or effective dose for peyote in children.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
- Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to peyote, mescaline, or members of the family Cactaceae.
Side Effects and Warnings
- There is limited available evidence describing the adverse effects of peyote. Due to the hallucinogenic activity of peyote, psychosis has been reported in case reports. Ritualistic use of peyote does not appear to cause long-term cognitive deficits, although more study is needed to clarify these findings.
- Use cautiously in patients with mental disorders, as peyote may induce psychotic episodes.
- Use cautiously in patients with high or low blood pressure, due to mescaline’s potential to alter blood pressure.
- Avoid in patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding due to the potential of fetal abnormalities.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
- Peyote is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of sufficient data in humans. Mescaline, a constituent of peyote, may cross the placenta, and has been linked to congenital malformations.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Interactions with Drugs
- The biochemical alkaloids common in the peyote cactus are thought to be pharmacologically similar to the neuroamine-derived alkaloids found in the brain during alcohol intoxification. Caution is advised when taking peyote with alcohol.
- Peyote extracts may regulate blood pressure, although the clinical significance of this is unknown. Caution is advised in patients taking agents that may also alter blood pressure.
- Peyote may stimulate lymphocytes and leukocytes. Caution is advised when taking peyote with immunomodulators due to possible additive effects.
- Chlorpromazine may affect the disposition of 8- 14 C-mescaline in fetal and maternal brain and liver. Caution is advised when taking peyote with phenothiazines.
- Due to peyote’s hallucinogenic effects, combined used with other psychoactives may cause additive effects. Caution is advised in patients with mental disorders.
- Peyote may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some drugs.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
- In theory, due to peyote’s hallucinogenic effects, combined used with other psychoactive herbs or supplements may cause additive effects. Caution is advised in patients with mental disorders.
- Peyote extracts may regulate blood pressure, although the clinical significance of this is unknown. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that may also alter blood pressure.
- Peyote may stimulate lymphocytes and leukocytes. Caution is advised when taking peyote with immunomodulator herbs or supplements due to possible additive effects.
- Peyote may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some herbs or supplements.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
- This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration ().
- Bullis RK. Swallowing the scroll: legal implications of the recent Supreme Court peyote cases. J Psychoactive Drugs 1990;22(3):325-332.
- Calabrese JD. Spiritual healing and human development in the Native American church: toward a cultural psychiatry of peyote. Psychoanal Rev 1997;84(2):237-255.
- Carod Artal FJ. [Neurological syndromes associated with the ingestion of plants and fungi with a toxic component (II). Hallucinogenic fungi and plants, mycotoxins and medicinal herbs]. Rev Neurol 5-16-2003;36(10):951-960.
- de Rios MD, Grob CS, Baker JR. Hallucinogens and redemption. J Psychoactive Drugs 2002;34(3):239-248.
- Fickenscher A, Novins DK, Manson SM. Illicit peyote use among American Indian adolescents in substance abuse treatment: a preliminary investigation. Subst Use Misuse. 2006;41(8):1139-1154.
- Franco-Molina M, Gomez-Flores R, Tamez-Guerra P, et al. In vitro immunopotentiating properties and tumour cell toxicity induced by Lophophora williamsii (peyote) cactus methanolic extract. Phytother Res 2003;17(9):1076-1081.
- Gilmore HT. Peyote use during pregnancy. S D J Med 2001;54(1):27-29.
- Halpern JH, Sherwood AR, Hudson JI, et al. Psychological and cognitive effects of long-term peyote use among Native Americans. Biol Psychiatry 10-15-2005;58(8):624-631.
- Hashimoto H, Clyde VJ, Parko KL. Botulism from peyote. N Engl J Med 7-16-1998;339(3):203-204.
- Henry JL, Epley J, Rohrig TP. The analysis and distribution of mescaline in postmortem tissues. J Anal Toxicol 2003;27(6):381-382.
- Huttlinger KW, Tanner D. The Peyote way: implications for Culture Care theory. J Transcult Nurs 1994;5(2):5-11.
- Lu BY, Woofter C, Escalona R. A case of prolonged peyote-induced psychosis resolved by sleep. J.Clin Psychiatry 2004;65(10):1433-1434.
- Nolte KB, Zumwalt RE. Fatal peyote ingestion associated with Mallory-Weiss lacerations. West J Med 1999;170(6):328.
- Padula PA, Friedmann LW. Acquired amputation and prostheses before the sixteenth century. Angiology 1987;38(2 Pt 1):133-141.
- Schwartz RH. Mescaline: a survey. Am Fam Physician 1988;37(4):122-124.
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to . Selected references are listed below.