Psychoactive cactus

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Many cacti are known to be psychoactive, containing phenethylamine alkaloids such as mescaline.[1] However, the two main ritualistic (folkloric) genera are Echinopsis, of which the most psychoactive species is the San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi, syn. Trichocereus pachanoi), and Lophophora, with peyote (Lophophora williamsii) being the most psychoactive species. Several other species pertaining to other genera are also psychoactive, though not always used with a ritualistic intent.[2][3][4]

Ethnic Use[edit]

Several world regions have historically used psychoactive cacti for their properties, particularly Indigenous peoples from Central and South America, such as in Mexico and the Andes region. For this purpose (which includes commercial harvesting) cacti plants are specifically grown in the millions.[5] Lophophora williamsii (peyote) is used by the Native American Church (aka Peyotism).



Peyote with flower

Other "peyotes"

Other North American psychoactive and/or medicinal cacti-

  • Carnegiea gigantea
  • Echinocereus salm-dyckianus (var. scheeri); triglochidiatus; and other species
  • Pachycereus pecten-aboriginum; pringlei


San Pedro with flower

Other South American psychoactive and/or medicinal cacti

  • Armatocereus laetus
  • Browningia spp.
  • Epostoa lanata
  • Matucana madisoniorum
  • Neoraimondia macrostibas
  • Trichocereus terscheckii
  • Stetsonia coryne


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bruhn, Jan G.; Hesham R. EI-Seedi; Nikolai Stephanson (2008). "Ecstasy Analogues Found in Cacti". Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. 40 (2): 219–222. CiteSeerX doi:10.1080/02791072.2008.10400635. PMID 18720674.
  2. ^ Bruhn, Jan G. (1973). "Ethnobotanical Search for Hallucinogenic Cacti1". Planta Med. 24 (8): 315–319. doi:10.1055/s-0028-1099504. PMID 4789553.
  3. ^ Bruhn, Jan G.; Catarina Bruhn (1973). "Alkaloids and ethnobotany of Mexican peyote cacti and related species". Economic Botany. 27 (2): 241–251. doi:10.1007/BF02872994.
  4. ^ Pummangura, S.; J. L. McLaughlin; R. C. Schifferdecker (September 1981). "Cactus Alkaloids. XLVII. β-Phenethylamines From the "Missouri Pincushion", Coryphantha (Neobessya) missouriensis". J. Nat. Prod. 44 (5): 614–616. doi:10.1021/np50017a022.
  5. ^ Gottlieb, Adam (1997). Peyote and Other Psychoactive Cacti. Ronin Publishing. p. 96.

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