The Ultimate Guide to


The Ultimate Guide to Mescaline
Disclaimer: Mescaline is an illegal substance in some places, and we do not encourage or condone its use where it is against the law. However, we accept that illegal drug use occurs and believe that offering responsible harm reduction information is imperative for keeping people safe. For that reason, this guide is designed to ensure the safety of those who decide to use this substance.



Mescaline is the primary psychoactive alkaloid in a range of psychedelic cacti native to the Americas. In its natural state, mescaline has been used for thousands of years in Native American religious ceremonies. Some of the most popular mescaline containing cacti are:

  • Peyote (Lophophora williamsii) – A small, spineless cactus native to North Eastern Mexico whose name translates from Nahuatl to mean “glisten,” “glistening,” or “divine messenger.” Peyote has a long history of ritual use in native Mexican tribes.
  • San Pedro (Echinopsis pachanoi) – A large cactus species native to the Andes Mountains with a history of use in traditional medicines, ornamentation, and spiritual ceremonies.
  • Peruvian Torch (Echinopsis peruviana) – A close relative to the San Pedro cactus to which it shares many physical similarities. Similarly, the Peruvian Torch has been harvested and used for its natural mescaline content by natives of the Andes for generations.

In addition to its history as a shamanic tool, Mescaline was also the first psychedelic to enter mainstream Western culture, predating the widespread use of LSD and psilocybin. More recently, the extracted compound has shown promise in the medical and psychotherapeutic treatment of substance abuse and depression, among other conditions.

Pure mescaline is usually available as a white or brownish crystalline powder, either loose or packed into capsules to make a mescaline pill. It can also be found as a liquid solution or brew. However, compared to other psychedelics, mescaline extraction tends to be rare in most parts of the world.



Mescaline dosage varies, albeit only slightly, according to how the compound is extracted. For instance, 100 mg mescaline hydrochloride (HCl) is approximately equivalent to 111 mg mescaline sulfate or 85 mg mescaline freebase.[27] These are threshold doses, given as starting points for calculating your own dosage. A more common range for mescaline HCl is 200-300 mg; anywhere between 300-500 mg is considered strong, while 500-700 mg is considered heavy[28][29]

What to expect

Mescaline effects are generally felt within 45-90 minutes of consumption, peaking at two to four hours and lasting for up to eight.[28][29]

During this time, you are likely to see closed-eye visuals of colors and patterns, such as mosaics, arabesques, and spirals transforming into visions of more definite objects like architecture, animals, and humans. At the same time, ordinary objects in your surroundings may appear more interesting, beautiful, and amazingly mystical—qualities that define the mescaline experience.[30]

Your physical environment, as well as your own body, may distort in size and form. Some have reported the apparent loss of limbs, for instance, or the sense that hard objects like stones or walls have become soft and malleable to the touch. Other senses are also affected, sometimes to the point of synesthesia, whereby, sights may be “heard” and thoughts may be “smelled.” Beautiful perfumes and music, or voices speaking strange languages, have also been reported.[30]

For many, mescaline produces an experience of depersonalization or the dissolution of the ego; everything, including oneself, can therefore feel unified.[30] Accompanying this may be clear and connected thought, self-realization, empathy, and euphoria. However, “bad trips” and dysphoric symptoms may be more common among people who don’t pay attention to set and setting and/or have histories of mental illness.[29]

The subjective and physiological effects of mescaline are likely to differ somewhat from those of mescaline containing cacti, since the latter may contain a mix of other alkaloids too. Some find extracted mescaline less nauseating, for example, and perhaps more stimulating or at least clearer, mentally.[31][32]


Take care to remove hazards, including sharp objects and things you might trip over, before taking mescaline. It’s also wise to ensure easy access to drinking water, as well as a toilet or bucket in case of purging. A responsible sitter is also a good idea, at least for first timers. It is recommended to take mescaline on an empty stomach to minimize nausea and maximize absorption.

Although peyote is traditionally consumed by Huichol women during pregnancy,[33] mescaline has been linked to fetal abnormalities and should therefore be avoided by pregnant or breastfeeding women.[34]

It should also be avoided by anyone with a heart condition and/or high blood pressure, particularly in combination with blood pressure medications. Other drugs to avoid combining with mescaline include tramadol, immunomodulators, alcohol, and stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines.[34][35]  Tripsit has more information on safe drug combinations.

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Personal Growth


Most users find mescaline personally or spiritually transformative, at least for the time that they’re on it. Some emerge with a lasting appreciation for the interconnectedness of all life in the universe, and of their role within it.[48] Sometimes the mere thought of a separate identity can even seem “obscene.”[49] Others feel a deep sense of gratitude and unconditional compassion for everyone and everything around them.[50]And while these insights may seem peculiar to a Western consensus world view, they tend to reflect what Erwin Schrödinger called “the peculiarity of the scientific world view,”[51] to which our society appears to aspire.

In the 1950s and 1960s, mescaline was investigated for its psychotherapeutic potential, particularly in combination with LSD. It was found by some researchers that benefits were correlated with subjects’ willingness to engage with the experience, to face themselves and to act upon the insights received. Interestingly, some of the most significant transformations or breakthroughs came about months after the experience itself, even if the initial psychedelic therapy session seemed to be a failure. Benefits reported include a greater sense of wellbeing, inner strength, and vitality.[51] Mescaline may also be useful for reliving or recalling repressed memories in a psychotherapeutic context.

In line with Native American ritual use of peyote, mescaline can apparently help users overcome specific problems. In one study, a group of 27 men were administered the drug and asked to think about a problem they were facing at work, some of which had persisted for months. Following this single dose of mescaline, almost every participant either solved the problem for themselves or came up with new ways to approach it.[52] These findings support the prevailing view that mescaline and other psychedelics can enhance creativity. As the psychologist Stanley Krippner put it, “to invent something new, one cannot be completely conditioned or imprinted.”[53] Psychedelics like mescaline tend to dissolve preconceptions and elicit fresh perspectives on reality.

Therapeutic Use


As a psychotomimetic drug (one that produces similar effects to psychosis), mescaline has been used to understand the underlying mechanisms of schizophrenia. Historically, psychiatrists have even self-administered the compound to simulate schizophrenia for themselves.[39][40]

Mescaline (as peyote) is also used in traditional ceremonial contexts, e.g. by the Native American Church (NAC), to treat alcoholism. It’s interesting to note that while alcohol abuse rates among the Navajo and other Native American tribes are said to be roughly twice the U.S. average, they are significantly lower among NAC members.[41][42][43] This correlation isn’t conclusive, of course, but it does make sense given that Osmond was able to treat alcoholics using LSD, perhaps by reliably producing “the transcendence that is repeatedly and unsuccessfully sought in drunkenness.”[44]

Some other traditional therapeutic uses for peyote include as an antidepressant, (depression scores are also reportedly low among NAC members[43]) and for alleviating symptoms of fever, headache, sunstroke, and arthritis.[45] Actually the cactus is traditionally seen as something of a cure-all and is sometimes taken daily. According to some Native Americans, the proper use of peyote renders all other medicines superfluous.[4] While there are key differences between modern Western medicine and the medico-religious approach of Native American mystics, clinical studies have supported mescaline’s role in pain relief,[46] and in promoting the release of growth hormones.[47]



Mescaline is internationally controlled,[71] however some countries specifically exempt mescaline-containing cacti. See the peyote and San Pedro guides for details.

Where is mescaline legal?

The following information may not always reflect the latest developments, but we’ll endeavor to keep it up to date. It is only intended to cover the personal, non-medical possession and use of mescaline.

Countries where mescaline is legal

Mescaline doesn’t appear to be legal in any country at present.

Countries where mescaline is decriminalized

There appears to be no risk of a criminal penalty for the personal (i.e. “small” quantity) possession or use of mescaline in:

  • United States: Oakland, CA (in cacti)[58][59]; Santa Cruz, CA (in cacti)[63]

Important: Decriminalization isn’t a free pass to use mescaline however you want. The specifics depend on the country or region and, crucially, on the amount you have in your possession. Confiscation is common, but there may be other, more severe non-criminal outcomes such as fines, driving license suspension, and deportation.

Countries where mescaline is illegal

Although mescaline is illegal or controlled in each of these countries, there may be regional or circumstantial (e.g. religious) exceptions, as noted below:

  • Australia[64]
  • Brazil[65]
  • Canada (except as peyote)[66]
  • Ireland[67]
  • Netherlands (except as peyote)[68]
  • United Kingdom[69]
  • United States (except as peyote for some religious use)[70]

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Mescaline is a substituted phenethylamine, a molecule based on the basic phenethylamine structure. This sets it apart (alongside MDMA, 2C-B, and others) from the tryptamine class of psychedelics, which includes psilocybin, LSD, and DMT.

Receptor binding

Mescaline binds to virtually all serotonin receptors in the brain but has a stronger affinity for the 1A and 2A/B/C receptors. Structurally it is similar to LSD and is often used as a benchmark hallucinogen when comparing psychedelics.

Like nearly all hallucinogens, the psychedelic effects of mescaline are likely due to its action on serotonin 2A receptors.[19]

Mescaline also tends to bind with dopamine receptors,[20] either as a selective reuptake inhibitor or as a dopamine receptor agonist.

Safety and toxicity

Because it’s an internationally controlled substance, research into the harm potential of mescaline, especially long-term, has been limited. A lethal dose has never been identified—probably because it’s too high to be taken accidentally.[21] In other words, to the best of our knowledge, nobody has ever died from a mescaline overdose.

A 2005 study into the ceremonial use of peyote among Native American populations found there to be no detrimental long-term effects.[22] It should be noted, however, that its use in other contexts may not be as safe (remember: set and setting). Indeed, later studies have found an association between prior mental health problems and “bad trips,”[23] although mescaline appears to present little risk of flashbacks, or hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD).[24]

Mescaline has been linked to memory and problem-solving impairments in rats, but only at very high doses (30 mg/kg/day).[25][26]

There are also some specific contraindications to be aware of (see Precautions section).

History & Stats


Mescaline was isolated and identified by the German pharmacologist Arthur Heffter in 1897. It was first synthesized in 1918 by the Austrian chemist Ernst Späth.[1]

But evidence suggests that mescaline-containing cacti were in use thousands of years earlier. In fact, archaeological analysis of ancient peyote cactus specimens that had been prepared for human consumption contained an active mescaline content of around 2%.[2] It is believed that Native American populations in Texas and New Mexico originated the ceremonial use of peyote “buttons” (cactus tops) and the practice later became more widespread—especially as an expression of pan-Indian identity from the 19th and 20th centuries.[3][4]

Brief history

Mescaline was the first psychedelic to come to mainstream Western attention. It was the first substance that pioneering psychonaut Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin self-experimented with in the 1950s.[5] It was also one of two substances, alongside LSD, for which the term “psychedelic” was originally coined. In a letter to the author Aldous Huxley in 1956, psychiatrist Humphry Osmond introduced the term with a rhyme: “To fathom Hell or soar angelic / Just take a pinch of psychedelic.” Huxley had earlier suggested “phanerothyme,” from the Greek words for “manifest” and “spirit”: “To make this mundane world sublime / Take half a gram of phanerothyme.”[6][7]

Osmond had been investigating mescaline’s molecular similarity to adrenaline[8][9] as well as its potential for treating mental illness and alcohol dependency.[7] He supplied it to Huxley in 1953, who wrote The Doors of Perception about his mescaline trip the following year.[6] In 1955, he administered mescaline to British Member of Parliament Christopher Mayhew as part of a BBC documentary. Mayhew himself wanted his experience to reach as many people as possible, dismissing radio, which he said, “no one listens to,” in favor of national television. Unfortunately, while Mayhew described the effects in glowing, even mystical, terms, the footage was never broadcast.[10]

Huxley’s appraisal of the drug was similarly very positive. He exalted mescaline as a kind of window to the world as it is, not as it is perceived by humans, “obsessed with words and notions.” It was, he said, “an experience of inestimable value to everyone and especially to the intellectual.”[11]

Various governments were also interested in mescaline around the same time, but for more self-serving reasons. After discovering the Nazis were using it as a “truth serum” in concentration camps, for example, the CIA funded Project CHATTER to pick up where they left off.[8] This experiment was officially abandoned in 1953, six years after it started.[12]

In the 1960s, during his time at the Dow Chemical Company in San Francisco, psychopharmacologist Sasha Shulgin synthesized various new phenethylamine compounds from the basic mescaline molecule.[5] These included the TMAs, or trimethoxyamphetamines, which have a psychedelic stimulant effect.[13]

Peyote also became better known during the 1960s, with anthropologists documenting sacred peyote hunts with the Huichol Indians. American anthropologist and author Carlos Castaneda further popularized the cactus drug when he published his own experiences with peyote in The Teachings of Don Juan, which became a bestseller.[14] Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, another name popularly associated with the history of mescaline, wrote about his mescaline experiences in “First Visit with Mescalito” (Songs of the Doomed) and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.[15]

Current usage

According to the Global Drug Survey in 2014, mescaline and peyote were among the top 20 drugs for past month usage in Mexico, but nowhere else in the world. Peyote was taken by 6.4% and mescaline by 4.4% of 643 Mexican survey respondents.[16]

Of course, we cannot generalize current usage statistics from such limited data, but it does give us some idea of its popularity relative to other substances. Unfortunately, precise usage statistics for mescaline aren’t available because surveys tend to lump it together with other substances like LSD, psilocybin, and MDMA. Thus, SAMHSA’s 2014 finding that 0.4% of the U.S. population used “hallucinogens”[17] in the past month is fairly meaningless.

That said, we can trace the popularity of mescaline over time by looking at its appearance in publications and Google searches:

The number of publications related to mescaline and/or peyote peaked in the 1940s and 1950s, followed by a much larger spike in the 1960s and 1970s, during the “psychedelic revolution.” Interest spiked again in the 1990s, presumably due to the Mexican government’s 1991 listing of peyote as an endangered species and the 1994 amendments to the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.[18] Published mentions steadily decreased over the next decade or so, possibly because of the rising popularity of other psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin.

Google searches for mescaline have also decreased since 2004, although searches for peyote have remained relatively consistent.



“Mescaline is available in microdots, like LSD”

Genuine mescaline is rare enough on the street as it is, but it’s especially unlikely to ever be found in microdot form (tiny 2.3 mm 1.5 mm pills). This is because microdots are simply too small to hold the normal active dose of mescaline as well as the fillers and binders necessary to hold them together as pills. A 400 mg dose of mescaline typically fits into a larger, fully packed capsule without any fillers. So if you’ve been sold a “mescaline microdot,” it’s probably LSD.[36][37]

“Mescal beans contain mescaline”

Although psychoactive, the “mescal beans” of Sophora secundiflora (Texas Mountain Laurel) do not contain mescaline. Nor do mezcal tequilas made from the agave plant. The fact is, the term “mescal” was erroneously applied to peyote, or “mescal buttons,” in the first place; the word actually derives from the Nahuatl (Aztec) word mexcalli, meaning “agave.”[38]

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What is mescaline?

Mescaline is a naturally occurring alkaloid with psychedelic properties. Some native tribes of the Americas have used naturally occurring mescaline in spiritual and religious ceremonies for thousands of years.

Where does mescaline come from?

Mescaline is found in several cacti native to the Americas including: Peyote, San Pedro Cactus, and the Peruvian Torch Cactus. It can also be found in certain species of Acacia trees.

What does mescaline look like?

In the wild, mescaline is contained in certain cacti. The Peyote cactus is a small, bulbous cactus that does not have spines. It grows in clusters that are often referred to as “buttons.” The San Pedro and Peruvian Torch are columnar cacti. Their ribs are thin, yet grow tall and are often found in bunches. Other than the naturally occurring state of these cacti, you can also find mescaline in a crystalline powder form after a cactus has gone through a mescaline extraction process. The powder can range in color from white to brown based on variables in the mescaline extraction method and the presence of other naturally occurring alkaloids.

Can mescaline be detected in a drug test?

Mescaline can be detected in the urine for one to four days after use, but it’s not included in either standard or extended drug screens.[54] Virtually all labs require a specific test for the substance, so unless your employer is a real stickler and specifically worried that you’ve been frequenting peyote ceremonies, you should be fine.

Can I test my mescaline to see if it’s safe to take?

Testing your mescaline is always good practice even when you trust your supplier. Reagent test kits from Bunk Police can identify hundreds of adulterants and substitutes—offering peace of mind and potentially saving your life.

25I-NBOMe is an especially risky substance to watch out for with mescaline. The Marquis, Mecke, and Froehde reagents can help to rule it out. Simply place a tiny amount of mescaline into a sterile test tube or onto a sterile white ceramic surface and add a few drops of the reagent. Then check the color change (or lack thereof) against the supplied spectrum booklet.

Can mescaline cause psychological trauma?

If you follow the 6Ss of psychedelic use and avoid taking mescaline if you have a personal or family history of mental health issues, there appears to be very little chance of long-term psychiatric difficulties.

Of course, mescaline can make you feel crazy in the short term (acute psychosis), especially if you don’t follow the 6Ss. This is colloquially known as a “bad trip.”

Are there risks?

While mescaline by itself does not appear to have led directly to any fatalities, there are some potentially significant health risks to be aware of. It should be avoided if you have a history of mental illness, heart conditions, or high blood pressure, as well as by pregnant or breastfeeding women because of the risk of birth defects. For more information on taking peyote safely, see Precautions and Safety and toxicity.

How do I take it?

The most popular way to take mescaline is to weigh out your dose and pack it into capsules, then swallow on an empty stomach.

You could also dissolve the powder in bitter fruit juice, such as grapefruit, to mask the taste.[55]

Is it legal to grow mescaline-containing cacti at home?

See Legality section for details. In general, even where it’s legal to grow peyote, San Pedro, and other mescaline-containing plants, it is illegal to consume them and especially to extract the mescaline.

Also keep in mind that peyote has become severely endangered as a natural source of mescaline, so you might want to either avoid plants harvested from the wild or grow an alternative cactus. For reference, San Pedro contains approximately 0.3-2% mescaline (compared to peyote’s 3-6%) and Peruvian torch is thought to have a mescaline content of up to 0.8%.[56][28][57]

Can I microdose with mescaline?

Yes! For details, check out our Essential Guide to Microdosing Mescaline.

Will it produce tolerance?

Tolerance to mescaline builds up almost immediately and takes roughly seven days of abstinence to return to baseline. There is also a cross-tolerance effect with LSD and other psychedelics. This means they will have diminished effects for up to seven days after your consumption of mescaline, and vice versa.[29]

Generally, mescaline isn’t habit-forming. Many actually find their desire to use it diminishes with use.

Can I mix it with other drugs?

See the Precautions section and Tripsit’s chart for details on which drugs to avoid. It’s probably best to err on the side of caution and avoid combining mescaline with any other drug, at least for the first time you take it.

That said, it appears to be relatively low risk or even positively synergistic with LSD, psilocybin, DMT, and ketamine, among other substances.


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