The Essential Guide to Microdosing Mescaline
Mescaline is the primary psychoactive alkaloid in a range of psychedelic cacti, most notably including peyote (Lophophora williamsii), Peruvian torch (Echinopsis/Trichocereus peruviana), and San Pedro (Echinopsis/Trichocereus pachanoi). Each of these cacti have been used for thousands of years in Native American ceremonial and medicinal contexts. In fact, some traditional healers think of peyote as something of a panacea—a folk medical cure-all that renders other medicines redundant—and prescribe it for daily use. 
Since its isolation and laboratory synthesis in the late-1800s/early-1900s, mescaline has also been of interest to Western psychiatrists and intellectuals. In the 1950s, for example, Humphry Osmond showed how it could be used to treat alcohol dependency, while Aldous Huxley called its effects “an experience of inestimable value to everyone.” A paper published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry in 1962 listed some of the mental health benefits of psychedelic therapy, including increased well-being, inner strength, and vitality—some of which came about months after the initial experience. Another paper, published in 1966, hailed mescaline as a revolutionary aid for problem-solving and creativity.
Although mescaline tends to be less popular nowadays than LSD and psilocybin, it could be a more viable alternative for microdosing. For one thing, mescaline-containing cacti are legal to buy and possess in many countries (if only for ornamental purposes) and for another, the compound has some relatively unique effects even at tiny doses.
Benefits may include:
Click here to read our full Essential Guide to Mescaline.
As a phenethylamine, mescaline falls into a different chemical class than psilocybin (a tryptamine) and LSD (an ergoline); but, like many psychedelics, it is understood to activate the serotonin (5-HT) receptors, and in particular the 2A receptor subtype. Serotonin is one of our most important neurotransmitters, affecting not only how we feel but also how we process information.
Although contemporary psychedelic research tends to overlook mescaline in favor of other substances, it was actually one of the earliest to show true therapeutic potential. In the 1960s, for example, a team of researchers (including Dr. James Fadiman, author of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide) administered up to 200 mg mescaline sulfate to human volunteers and asked them to consider a problem they were facing at work. Some of these problems—which included commercial building and letterhead designs, space probe experiments, and mathematical theorems—had been ongoing for several months. Yet, during the experiment, almost all participants were able to solve their problem or at least come up with new ways of approaching it. This was attributed to:
Interestingly, Native American peyote ceremonies commonly seek to address specific, highly individualized problems in a similar way, that is, by setting up the intention beforehand.
Another study, also carried out by Fadiman and others, linked guided mescaline therapy sessions to enhanced contentedness, creativity, relaxation, and sociability—even after six to nine months had passed. Lifestyle changes were mixed, but the reasons behind them were telling. While some became less “orderly,” for instance, less neat and tidy in their day-to-day lives, it was because they had become generally less anxious about what others might think; those who became more “orderly,” on the other hand, felt it was because things just fell into the right place more easily. At least one participant was able to kick a drinking habit and continued to abstain three years later. Another participant overcame their fear of drinking and was able to enjoy alcohol in moderate amounts, while others drank more for enjoyment than to ease tension or simply get drunk.
While neither of these studies, nor any since, looked at microdoses of mescaline specifically, their results are certainly promising. And they dovetail not only with what we’ve come to expect from other psychedelics, but also with anecdotal reports.
Mescaline is available in a variety of forms, including raw/dried cactus preparations and extracted mescaline salts. As a general rule for microdosing, 1-2 milligrams (mg) of mescaline is approximately equivalent to 1 microgram (µg) of LSD. So we’d expect an effective microdose to fall somewhere between 10-40 mg for most people, although upwards of 50 mg (in some preparations) has also been reported.
Obviously the amount of the compound in any given form will depend on a number of factors, which can make it difficult to calculate your dosage. The estimates provided here are only a very rough guide, indicating how much of a given preparation is likely to contain a 10 mg microdose of mescaline, which you can scale up (or down) based on your own experience.
Mescaline salts (hydrochloride, sulfate, citrate, acetate, etc.) and freebase tend to be rare on the street, but they’re the most reliable way to microdose. Since whole cactus preparations contain variable amounts of mescaline, not to mention other alkaloids, they cannot always guarantee consistent microdoses.
The easiest way to consume mescaline salts (which may appear as translucent crystals, waxy white clumps, or light-colored powders) is to swallow them with fruit juice or water. They can also be placed into capsules or “bombed” (i.e. wrapped in cigarette papers and swallowed) to help disguise the taste.
For optimal shelf life (potentially years), mescaline salts should be stored in an airtight container in the freezer, or at least somewhere cool, dark, and dry.
Although less reliable for consistent microdosing, whole cactus preparations contain a natural balance of alkaloids that some feel have advantages of their own. Many cactus species contain mescaline, but the best known and most widely available are peyote (Lophophora williamsii), Peruvian torch (Echinopsis/Trichocereus peruviana), and San Pedro (Echinopsis/Trichocereus pachanoi).
It is possible to microdose mescaline by chewing on fresh, raw cactus, but many find the taste off-putting. If you do go for this method, you’ll want to keep the dark outer layer on as this is where most of the mescaline is found. Just be sure to remove the spines!
You can store fresh cactus in the freezer for extended periods (months to years), and doing so may increase the bioavailability of the alkaloids. It’s best to cut it into portions first, though, since freezing tends to rupture cell walls and your cactus might end up thawing into sludge when it comes out of the freezer.
An alternative is to dry cactus pieces (the thinner the better) in the sun, an oven, a dehydrator, or on a surface in front of a fan. This should increase their shelf-life and stability whether kept in the freezer or not, as long as they’re kept somewhere cool, dark, and dry.
It’s best to remove the woody core (from Peruvian torch and San Pedro) beforehand, as it only adds to the drying time and contains little if any mescaline.
If drying in the oven, keep the temperature low to avoid charring and the door open to release the steam. How long it takes will depend on the size of your cactus pieces, among other factors—but whatever method you use, the aim is to make them as hard and brittle as possible, as well as totally dry throughout.
Dried cactus can be crushed or ground (e.g. in a coffee grinder) to a fine powder. And this may actually be the ideal way to microdose a full spectrum of alkaloids (as opposed to mescaline alone), since it ensures their even distribution and can easily be packed into capsules or swallowed with fruit juice or water.
You might prefer to pulp or juice your cactus, or boil it into a brew, adding honey or sweeteners to taste.
You’ll probably need to experiment a bit to find a microdose that works for you, perhaps using the fresh and dried dosages given above as a general guide.
As with fresh and dried cactus material, liquid preparations can be stored in the freezer in single-serving microdose portions with no need to thaw before use.
The tea can also be evaporated to leave a concentrated resin extract, which again provides a full spectrum of alkaloids as opposed to just mescaline alone.
It can then be scraped into capsules and consumed in the same way as powder, dosed according to how much cactus was used. Obviously we don’t encourage breaking the law, but if you live in a place where it’s legal, guides like this can run you through the process.
Similar to LSD, mescaline microdoses appear to have a duration of up to 12 hours and should therefore be taken in the morning to avoid trouble sleeping at night. One user even suggests getting up earlier than usual, taking the microdose, and going back to sleep.
Dr. James Fadiman suggests microdosing no more than once every three days. That means taking a microdose on Day 1 and Day 4 from whenever you start your schedule, but not on Day 2 or Day 3.
You should observe the effects throughout this process and, ideally, keep notes in a daily journal. Be sure to include both short-term, in-the-moment effects and long-term changes to your mood, energy, and social behavior. And be especially observant on the two days between microdoses, since this is when many people report increased feelings of flow, creativity, and energy.
In line with Fadiman’s protocol, the process of microdosing twice per week should continue for several weeks. But you should otherwise follow your daily routine. Don’t change what you do. The purpose is to enhance, not replace, your day-to-day lifestyle by integrating microdoses into it.
That said, when you first try microdosing it’s probably a good idea to take the day off work and avoid any social commitments, driving, use of heavy machinery, etc. This will give you a chance to observe any unusual effects and gauge their suitability for you before microdosing more routinely.
Microdosing mescaline every day is not recommended. Those who try it tend to feel jittery and burnt out before long. Like many psychedelics, mescaline also produces a tolerance effect, which means you’re likely to see diminishing returns within just a few days of daily use. This can be likened to drinking coffee for productivity; if you drink coffee every day, you’ll find you need to gradually increase the dosage to get the same effect. This is one of the reasons why Fadiman recommends taking a couple of days off between each microdose.
Safety is another reason. Although research is limited, there is a potential heart risk associated with frequent psychedelic use over a long period of time—and stimulating phenethylamines like mescaline could actually pose more of a risk. We don’t know what this means for microdosing, but it’s always best to err on the side of caution and stick to Fadiman’s protocol—for no more than a few months at a time.
For an extensive guide on how to get started with microdosing, and how to create a protocol that gets the most out of your experience, sign up to our Microdosing Course here.
Many users find mescaline more consistently reliable, as well as further-reaching in terms of personal benefit, than LSD and psilocybin.
Of course, mescaline also has a much longer history of use, and this apparently goes for microdoses too. The (Rarámuri) Indians, for example, have used small amounts of peyote while hunting, allowing them to stalk deer for days on end without rest.
Nowadays, self-experimenters around the world are reporting a much wider range of benefits. These include personal insights, mood enhancement, increased empathy and creativity, lifestyle changes, and even lucid dreams.
Some find it useful for treating the symptoms or even the underlying causes of depression, experiencing a sense of peace and calm without the “numbness” of conventional medications. In fact, it tends to have the opposite effect of actually sharpening the senses and enhancing mental clarity. One user remarked on how easy it was to enter a flow state on microdoses of mescaline, especially when playing the guitar:
“It was as if i would just be improvising and hit a couple notes that reminded me of a song and then id start with those and work my way through the rest of the riff just by memory.”
Artists in regions where mescaline cacti grow wild are said to microdose for much the same reason.
As might be expected given the traditional Tarahumara use, there’s also a definite stimulant effect (perhaps more so than with LSD or psilocybin), and this can be useful for physical endurance—for sports, hiking, manual labor, and so on. And while it may act as an appetite suppressant, mescaline tends to lack the edginess of other stimulants. Indeed some users microdose it specifically to reduce feelings of anxiety, often with great success:
“I … used to have anxiety going to the check out counter in a store, hated if anyone started small talk with me and planned out what I was going to say to the cashier, it was really bad. After I started taking microdoses of mescaline in the form of San Pedro powder, that all went away.”
Increased empathy appears to be involved here. Many feel a greater connection to others, for instance, and are often surprised at how freely conversations start to flow.
For more guidance on how to use microdosing to treat mental health conditions, join our extensive Microdosing Course and become part of a helpful and compassionate community.
It’s important to note that not all users find mescaline helps to reduce their anxiety; some find it makes it worse. A few users say it gives them “jittery” feelings and cold sweats or leaves them feeling burnt out, at least when microdosing daily.
It could also exacerbate depression in the short term. Similar to MDMA (another phenethylamine), mescaline may produce a slight “comedown” effect in the days after a full dose and potentially a microdose as well. But this can usually be offset by regular exercise and a healthy diet—especially one high in good fats and antioxidants.
Others have complained of increased light sensitivity and dilated pupils while microdosing mescaline, so it might help to wear sunglasses.
Stomach and bowel discomfort is another potential drawback, and may have you rushing to the toilet—but this tends to be associated with whole cactus preparations as opposed to mescaline extracts.
Mescaline and mescaline-containing cacti are among the safest psychedelics, with a long history of responsible ceremonial use and not one single case of a fatal overdose. However, there are some potential risks to be aware of, as well as a number of specific contraindications.
Vasoconstriction (the constriction of blood vessels and elevation of blood pressure) may be an issue, particularly during strenuous physical activity, although this is less likely to be a problem with microdosing. For the same reason, it should never be combined with blood pressure medications. In fact, anyone with high blood pressure or heart problems should avoid taking mescaline in general.
Due to the risk of fetal abnormalities and other complications, it should also be avoided by pregnant or breastfeeding women —despite the reputed traditional use of peyote by Huichol women during pregnancy.
Evidence suggests mescaline may be dangerous in combination with a number of other substances, including tramadol, immunomodulators, alcohol, and stimulants.
Also be aware of MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), present in some antidepressants (e.g. Marplan, Nardil) and foods containing tyramine (aged cheeses, cured meats, fermented soy products, beer, sauerkraut, etc.). Although not an established contraindication for mescaline, MAOIs could worsen the nausea associated with whole cactus preparations and may even be dangerous in combination.
Mescaline may or may not be safe in combination with cannabis. One user started to shake after smoking weed while microdosing mescaline, which could have something to do with vasoconstriction—although in this case heavy exercise without eating could also have been to blame.
Research into mescaline, and especially its frequent use for microdosing, is limited, which makes this section a work in progress. It’s always a good idea to consult your physician before microdosing any new substance—especially if you have an existing medical condition.
Depending on the reason you’re microdosing, you’ll need to prepare and integrate appropriately. Our extensive Microdosing Course will guide you through the various protocols for getting the most out of microdosing, specific to your needs.
Where mescaline-containing cacti are legal to possess, whether for consumption or just for display, they can usually be purchased online, in stores, or at markets. Some vendors also carry dried cactus preparations.
Of course, in some regions (including the Southwestern U.S., Central and South America), mescaline-containing cacti can be harvested from the wild. Be aware, however, that peyote is endangered, so other species (such as San Pedro) should be preferred.
Pure mescaline and mescaline salts (whether extracted or synthetic) are widely illegal and tend to be rare on the street. Guides or “teks” like this one explain how to make them at home, but they can be challenging or risky for beginners. We don’t recommend making your own mescaline at home, as the process can be dangerous or produce a sub-standard substance.
Mescaline can be detected in the urine for up to four days after use, but it requires a special test usually reserved for cases where mescaline is already suspected by employers, authorities, etc. It isn’t one of the substances routinely screened for in either standard or extended drug tests.
Obviously if you’ve extracted the mescaline yourself, you can be sure of its origin and authenticity. But given the rarity of mescaline on the street, it’s advisable to double-check anything you buy before using it.
You can do this fairly easily at home using a combination of reagent tests. Mescaline should produce a strong orange color with the Marquis reagent, a greenish-brown to brown with the Mecke, and a brown fading to colorless with the Froehde.
If you’ve bought microdots (tiny 2.3 mm x 1.5 mm pills) alleged to be mescaline, you can safely assume that they’re not. It’s a persistent myth that mescaline is available in this form, but microdots usually contain LSD. They’re just not big enough to hold a full dose of mescaline along with all the fillers and binders required to hold them together. So unless they’re microdots specifically manufactured to hold microdoses of mescaline (not a bad idea!), they almost certainly contain something else.
The consumption of synthetic or extracted mescaline is illegal in most countries, including the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., and much of Europe. However, some countries, including the Netherlands and Germany, specifically exempt some psychoactive cacti from legislation.
Generally speaking, mescaline is very safe, even at high-end “overdoses.” But frequent microdosing has never been studied in detail. We can make educated generalizations as to its long-term safety based on traditional use and anecdotal reports, but for the time being that’s all they can be: educated generalizations.
There are some who should definitely avoid mescaline, though, including pregnant or breastfeeding women and anyone with circulatory problems. Click here for other contraindications and potential risks.
There’s a lot to cover before you get started with microdosing, including the reasons you’re interested in the first place!
Sign up to our extensive Microdosing Course to gain access to curated materials that will help you design the ideal microdosing regimen for your needs. You’ll also gain access to an exclusive community of enthusiastic, helpful microdosers!
Various subreddits (Reddit message boards) and forums, including r/microdosing, r/mescaline, Shroomery.org, and DMT-Nexus should also help you get started.
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