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Mescaline comes from button-shaped seeds found in the peyote cactus and also from some other members of the Cactaceae plant family and from the Fabaceae bean family. Mescaline has a bitter taste so some people grind peyote buttons into an off-white powder that is put into capsules. Mescaline has been used for thousands of years and is best known as a drug used by some Native Americans in Mexico as part of their religious ceremonies. Peyote buttons are most often chewed, but they can also be mixed with water and swallowed. Sometimes mescaline is made into a powder and put into capsules and swallowed. These can happen with your eyes open or closed.
Mescaline is a hallucinogen, which is a substance that produces hallucinations.
Use and effects
Such hallucinations cause the user to experience strange sights, sounds, or other perceptions of things that are not actually present. Mescaline is a naturally occurring alkaloid that is produced by certain types of cactus plants. The best known of these plants is the peyote cactus.
The natural ingredients that cause hallucinations in people can also be produced artificially in a laboratory. For many thousands of years, various Native American groups in the present United States and Mexico have consumed peyote in religious rituals. In fact, some native peoples still do.
They believe that the hallucinations they experience are visions, or messages from spirits who can help them understand themselves and their place in the world. During the twentieth century, mescaline was studied as a possible treatment for mental illness, but no medical use was found for it. Some abuse of mescaline as a recreational drug occurred during the last half of the twentieth century, but not in any widespread way. Recreational users are those who take a drug for the high it produces, not for any medical reason.
Peyote use is not widespread because both natural and artificial forms of it are expensive and hard to find. Much of what may be sold on the street as "mescaline" is actually some other substance that is probably more dangerous than the real thing. Mescaline is considered the oldest known hallucinogenic drug. Its strange qualities were most likely discovered accidentally, by ancient people who were experimenting to find out which plants made good food. Mescaline was not a good food. In fact, it usually causes people to have intense stomachaches if they eat it. Also Known As: Big chief, blue cap, buttons, cactus buttons, cactus head, chief, mesc, mescal, moon, topi.
Despite causing pain and vomiting, however, mescaline-containing plants rarely cause death.
What is mescaline?
Intense, colorful, often terrifying. These vivid pictures and sounds, which exist only in the user's mind, appear to be completely real to the mescaline user. The people who lived in regions where mescaline-producing plants grew believed that the hallucinations were messages from spirits and gods, so the plants became very important in their culture. Archaeologists in Coahuila, Mexico, found a skeleton with a beaded necklace of dried peyote buttons that dates back 1, years.
In Peru, a carving of a peyote cactus on a stone tablet dates back to bce.
What is mescaline?
One archaeological dig in Shumla Cave in Texas uncovered dried, mescaline-containing plant matter that appeared to date back to 5, bce. The earliest written information about mescaline use comes from Fray Bernardino Sahagun —a Spanish missionary who lived among the Indians of Mexico and studied their culture. He stated that the buttons of the peyote plant were sometimes eaten when fighting was likely, because it took away sensations of hunger, Facts about mescaline, and fear. Francisco Hernandez, the personal doctor to King Phillip II of Spain, was the first to describe the peyote plant itself.
He noted that in addition to peyote buttons being used for spiritual purposes, the root of the plant could be ground up and applied as a paste for the relief of pain in the ts. When the Spanish began to take control of Mexico in the s, they tried to stamp out the use of peyote and other mescaline-producing plants. Most Spanish people of that era were devout Catholics and regarded mescaline use as a pagan ritual. Paganism is used to describe non-Christian religions that worship many gods.
The Spanish did not accept paganism and believed that those native peoples who used peyote and related plants were calling on evil spirits. Bya law had been passed in Mexico outlawing the use of peyote. Still, followers of the peyote cults continued to conduct their ceremonies in secret. As European settlements spread across North Americaso did the use of mescaline-producing cacti.
The first recorded use of peyote in the United States was in By the time of the American Civil War —some Native American tribes were very familiar with the plants and had developed rituals around their use. The Kiowa and Comanche Indians drew attention for their peyote ceremonies around the year They had probably learned about peyote when they carried out raids on the Mescalero Indians of northern Mexico.
The Kiowa and Comanche Indians may have embraced the peyote rituals because such practices seemed to offer them some hope of holding on to their traditional way of life.
Understand the risks
During this era, the Indians' lifestyle was being drastically changed as the U. Quahadi Comanche chief Quanah Parker c. Parker was the son of a Comanche man and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians as. Inthe Native American Church NAC was founded, giving an official framework to the ritual use of peyote in religious ceremonies.
At the same time, a long debate began about whether. The debate continues to unfold. For Native Americansthe issue is one of religious freedom. During the late nineteenth century, the Western world began to take a scientific interest in hallucinogenic substances. InGerman chemist Arthur Heffter — became the first person to identify mescaline as the essential chemical in peyote that caused hallucinations.
It was the first hallucinogenic compound to be synthesized, or removed from its parent plant in that way. Shamans, or medicine men, in native cultures had long used peyote and other mescaline-producing plants to treat a variety of ailments, both physical and spiritual.
Since the effects Facts about mescaline these substances seemed to create states similar to insanity, Western scientists hoped that they might be somehow useful in treating mental illness. They also thought they might get a better understanding of mental illness if they could learn more about the ways in which hallucinogenic substances alter the brain's activity. For many years, serious research was done on mescaline and other hallucinogens, both natural and human-made. Even as research went on, some states passed laws to make the use of peyote and related substances illegal.
Rehab for mescaline addiction
InNew Mexico was the first state to do so. Mescaline was rarely used outside of native cultures until the mid-twentieth century, when British novelist Aldous Huxley — wrote a book called The Doors of Perception, which described his personal experiments with peyote. Huxley's book, published inwas popular reading during the s and s, a period when experimentation with drugs was widespread. Timothy Leary —a professor at Harvard Universityalso undertook many personal experiments with mescaline and LSD lysergic acid diethylamidea human-made hallucinogen.
Leary's writings further promoted interest in hallucinogens, especially on college campuses.
Street use of these substances became more common at that time. Many people believed that research on hallucinogenic drugs, or psychedelics as they were also called, had gone on for long enough, Facts about mescaline that no helpful information had been learned. However, the abuse of psychedelics was spreading, with dangerous.
Often users had what were called "bad trips," or experiences that were depressing or terrifying. It was also reported that users might have "flashbacks," or recurrences of their drug experiences even when they were not taking the drug. Organizations concerned with public health and safety warned that heavy use of hallucinogens, including any form of mescaline, could result in damage to blood vessels, convulsions, and permanent brain damage. Inthe U. Inthe Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act defined peyote, mescaline, and every other hallucinogen as a Schedule I drug, meaning that they have no known medical use.
At that time, legal research on mescaline came to an end. Street use of peyote and other forms of mescaline declined sharply and was virtually nonexistent at the end of the twentieth century.
Whether peyote and other hallucinogenic plants can be used legally as part of the religious ceremonies of Native Americans is still hotly debated. The Ghost Dance religious movement began in but quickly died out.
It was revived in by Wovoka c. In his dream, Jesus Christ came to help Native Americans save their way of life, which was rapidly being destroyed by white settlers and the U. The dance was supposed to bring back the dead, hence the name Ghost Dance. Leaders from many tribes were interested in learning about the religious movement. Its rituals included five nights of dancing and intense shaking. Those taking part in the dance would enter a trance-like state. Dancers soon began wearing specially made shirts that they believed would protect them from the white man's bullets.
Representatives of the U. Army massacred more than Sioux, including men, women, and children.
The Ghost Dance shirts offered no protection against the army's guns. After the incident, the Ghost Dance movement faded.
Forced to live on reservations, many Native Americans experienced poverty and depression. Some turned to alcoholism.