The San Pedro cactus is a native South American plant from the Andes. Like the peyote cactus, a similar cactus from North America, the San Pedro contains mescaline, a psychedelic alkaloid. Mescaline is among one of the longest used and most researched psychedelic compounds in the world. In doing so, it has strong euphoric and empathogenic effects. It is also known for its “life-changing” introspections and hallucinations.
5 Sandwich Stories About The San Pedro Cactus Debunked
It should come as no surprise that many tabloid stories have been generated by the exotic origins and hallucinatory effects of this compound and the cacti that produce it. Here are 5 tabloid stories about San Pedro and mescaline, debunked.
1. PERUVIAN TORCH CONTAINS 10 TIMES MORE MESCALINE THAN SAN PEDRO
People have long thought that Echinopsis peruviana (Peruvian Torch) contained more mescaline than Echinopsis pachanoi (San Pedro). This was first claimed in 1977 by Adam Gottlieb in his book Peyote And Other Psychoactive Cacti and has continued to emerge ever since. However, Gottlieb is said to have claimed this without supporting evidence. He may also have missed facts indicating the opposite. Research from 2010 shows that the opposite may be true. Here, the plant tissue of Peruvian Torch contained 0.24% mescaline per dry weight, compared to 4.7% for San Pedro. Although mescaline content varies from plant to plant, these data indicate that San Pedro is actually often stronger than Peruvian Torch.
2. MESCALINE IS ADDICTIVE
Although further research is needed to determine exactly what addictive effects mescaline has, it appears that it is not a threat. There is no evidence linking mescaline to either physical or psychological dependence. However, the human body is known to build up a tolerance to it. In doing so, it takes about a week after use for the body to return to its original state. In addition, mescaline tolerance is believed to attenuate the effects of other psychedelics, such as LSD. When building up tolerance, you need more mescaline than before to feel the intended effect. However, this is not a sign of addiction.
3. MESCAL AND MESCALINE ARE RELATED
Mescaline is sometimes referred to by people as “mescal.” Because of this, many make the mistake of confusing it with “mescal,” a Mexican alcoholic beverage. However, mescal is made from agave, not cacti, and has no psychedelic effects. Some also say that the mescal beans of the Sophora secundiflora contain mescaline, but this is also false. The word “mescal” is said to have been wrongly used for peyote in the first place and then stuck.
4. MESCALINE IS AVAILABLE IN MICRODOTS OR MICRODOSES
Mescaline is sometimes said to be sold as “microdots” or small pellets 1-3mm in size. However, it is unlikely that anything of this size actually contains mescaline. This is mainly because microdots are too small to contain both mescaline and fillers needed for pill form. Instead, the substance is often sold in larger capsules. So if someone wants to sell you a microdot containing mescaline, you should be wary. Chances are, it’s LSD.
5. MOST MESCALINE IS IN THE OUTER SHELL OF THE CACTUS
While it is true that the outer shell of the cactus contains the highest concentration of mescaline, expressed by weight, this shell contributes only a fraction to the total weight of the plant. This is because the inner tissue has a greater mass. Therefore, ⅔ of the alkaloids are probably in the inner tissue, rather than the outer shell. This urban legend arose because people assumed that the packed outer shell must contain the most mescaline. So long, misconception!