Mescaline: History, Effects, Scientific Research

December 23, 2022

Nue Life

Nue Life

Are you looking into a holistic way to treat your mental illness or disorder? Depression and anxiety run rampant in our culture, and for those with treatment-resistant depression, there may seem to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Thankfully there are holistic ways to treat these ailments.

While reading up on it, you may have come across mescaline. Mescaline has seen some success in treating such diseases, but is it the best option available to you?

Here is a deep dive into mescaline’s history, effects, and research, along with a few other questions that may help you with your journey toward mental wellness.

What Is Mescaline?

Did you know that mescaline comes from a cactus? It is one of the primary active ingredients in a smaller-sized cactus known as Peyote. It is also in the San Pedro Cactus and the Peruvian Torch Cactus. Known to scientists as Lophophora Williamsii, the Peyote cactus is typically in regions like northern Mexico and the southwestern United States.

The use of these cacti dates way back in history and is tied to various Native American Rituals and Spiritual Pilgrimages. But what exactly was it that people got out of this small cactus?

What Does Mescaline Do?

The early Native Americans found some value in Peyote as they used it for important religious ceremonies. This is because of the otherworldly experience it can bring when ingested.

Mescaline inside the little knobs that grow on the outside of the Peyote cactus, when ingested, can alter a person’s mental state. Drastically changing the way they perceive the world around them. This can be an enjoyable experience that can be spiritually eye-opening and euphoric for many. For others, this type of experience could cause nausea, vomiting, and dizziness, and lead to frightening visual hallucinations.

Early users of this substance believed that this altered state of mind was a gateway to a new understanding of life through spiritual awakenings. Many Native Americans still use mescaline for spiritual pilgrimages to this day.

Is Mescaline a Psychedelic?

Mescaline is classified as a hallucinogen or psychedelic and is a controlled substance. With similar effects to LSD, it can cause altered states of consciousness when ingested. This means that mescaline can alter someone’s thoughts, emotions, and sense of time, causing them to see visions and hear sounds they may not even be there.

Psychedelics like mescaline are not addictive in the same ways that other drugs or alcohol are. However, a tolerance can be built up over time, which can make the user need to continually use more of the drug to achieve the same effects. Over time, a person who abuses hallucinogenic drugs can become psychologically addicted to them, causing them to ingest them daily to avoid withdrawals.

How Is Mescaline Ingested?

Mescaline can be ingested in many ways. But it all starts with the crown of the Peyote Cactus. The crown is the top of the spineless cactus, typically decorated with a colorful flower and containing multiple disc-shaped peyote buttons.

These buttons are cut off and dried in preparation for consumption. Once properly dried, they are typically either chewed or made into tea. However, people prefer to make it into a powder and consume it with various foods in some cases.

However, if you choose to do so, it is imperative that you consume hallucinogens like mescaline in a controlled and safe environment. Failing to do this could lead to a bad trip which could have severe and long-lasting adverse effects and flashbacks. Even when taken in a controlled environment, there is still a slight risk of something going wrong. Because of this, it is best to rely on FDA-approved medical psychedelic therapy if you feel that psychedelics may help you on your journey to mental wellness.

What Is the History of Mescaline?

Now that you know where mescaline comes from, what it can do, and how it’s ingested. It is time to take a deep dive into how it came to be.

The earliest known uses of mescaline have been radiocarbon dated back to the early 4000s BCE in the Rio Grande, along with evidence of other psychoactive plant uses across the world. Dating around 1000 BCE, a Peruvian cave displayed some sort of religious leader holding a San Pedro cactus. The cave is believed to be an ancient pilgrimage site where people would take part in the mind-altering cactus in search of spiritual awakening.

Mescaline use for religious purposes eventually made its way into Native American practices in North America. Today, the Native American Church is still free to conduct this practice. The scientific community has continued studying it and other hallucinogenic substances to see exactly how good or bad they can be for you.

In 1919, mescaline was synthesized from scratch in a laboratory. This opened the eyes of the scientific community and sparked quite a bit of interest in the drug. Mescaline did not behave like other synthesized drugs.

Thus, studies were relentlessly conducted all across the globe to try and figure out exactly what it does — and how — sparking the beginning of psychedelics as we know them today.

What Is Mescaline Used For?

Today, mescaline is still consumed for religious purposes.

Those who ingest mescaline or other hallucinogens are typically looking for that dream-like state. This mental state happens because mescaline enters your brain and disrupts the way your nerve cells interact with the neurotransmitter serotonin. This results in altered perception, hunger, sex drive, body temperature, muscle control, and mood.

Depending on factors like dose, weight, and height, the effects of mescaline can last from about 12 to 18 hours. Post-mescaline trip, a user may also experience an afterglow effect for several hours. This is where the hallucinogenic effects have passed, but a state of euphoria lingers.

Does Mescaline Have Side Effects?

After ingesting mescaline, psychedelic effects will begin settling in rather quickly. This can lead to euphoria, beautiful visions and colors, and an overall enjoyable mood for many. Feelings of fear, intense anxiety, and loss of control can set in for others. Some people who have a bad trip may even feel like they are dying.

There could be long-lasting ramifications for those who experience really bad mescaline trips. While the alterations of mood and perception will fade after 12 to 18 hours, a user who has experienced nightmarish visions may be traumatized by them and experience similar visions long after the drug has worn off.

Even though there have been plenty of studies regarding this, it is still unclear exactly why some people have drastically different experiences with psychedelics. Levels of anxiety and stress upon taking the drug certainly play a role in it, as well as the user’s environment.

While the above effects of mescaline are mainly psychological, there are also many possible physical effects. Here are a few examples:

  • An increase in blood pressure
  • An increase in body temperature
  • Loss of coordination and motor control
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • An increase in heart rate
  • Perspiration
  • Vomiting
  • Severe Headaches

What Risks Are Associated with Mescaline?

When you take a typical dose of mescaline, you make yourself physically and psychologically vulnerable for roughly the next 18 hours.

There are times when a bad trip is not easily preventable. If a trip is especially bad, you may have lingering psychiatric effects that will take time to undo.

Does Mescaline Have Medical Uses?

Although many use mescaline for spiritual purposes, there is one last purpose that is yet to be mentioned. You guessed it, medical use. Studies have shown that small doses of mescaline can help treat mental illnesses like treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). For some patients, it has even increased cognitive abilities.

The idea behind mescaline therapy is simple: small doses can create a significant change in the user’s mental health in the long term. While this may be true, the drug remains a Schedule I illegal substance, and more research is needed to confirm or disprove its efficacy for mental health.

What About Other Psychedelics?

Is it only mescaline? What about other psychedelics? It seems only natural that if mescaline can help people with their mental illness, other psychedelics could do the same. You are correct!

Several studies have been conducted and proven that psychedelics like lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin, ketamine, and n,n-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) can treat symptoms of mental illness. However, of these substances, ketamine has been the one that is catching the medical community’s attention.

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine, synthesized for the first time in 1956, is a dissociative drug that was originally used as a powerful anesthetic for battlefront medics. When given in large doses, it can put a patient in a dissociative state, allowing them to be free of pain and discomfort. While the patient is under these effects, they will appear wide awake and functioning as normal, with one exception: they will have no response to any type of sensory input.

These benefits, combined with the low risk of adverse effects, have contributed to ketamine’s rise in popularity in healthcare.

What Does Ketamine Feel Like Compared to Mescaline?

As a dissociative drug, the effects of ketamine may feel very similar to mescaline. The user can experience a dream-like state complete with euphoria, swirling vibrant colors, beautiful sounds, and everything else that psychedelic drugs provide. The main difference is the dissociative part. Ketamine alters reality in a way that is a bit different than mescaline.

After ingesting a larger dose of ketamine, the user may feel as though they are detached from reality. It has been described as a floating sensation or out-of-body sensation. Just like mescaline, users can experience bad ketamine trips as well. This feeling is referred to as the k-hole, in which the user feels largely disconnected from their body.

While ketamine brings a lot of the same sensations as mescaline, the medical uses of ketamine have become much more standardized.

What Is Ketamine Therapy?

Ketamine therapy entails ketamine being administered in a medical setting for people with certain mental illnesses and mood-based disorders. It treats the symptoms of these disorders at the source by affecting the brain directly.

Once ketamine is introduced to the bloodstream, it makes its way up to the brain and binds with your NMDA receptor, releasing a surge of glutamate. Ultimately it creates healthier brain pathways and restores synaptic connections.

Who Can Benefit From Ketamine Therapy?

Many people can benefit from ketamine therapy for several reasons. Nue Life offers ketamine therapy to treat anxiety, treatment-resistant depression or major depression, PTSD, or bipolar disorder.

Most healthcare professionals prescribe antidepressants like SSRIs for those with these mental illnesses. SSRIs, however, often come with many risks that make people unable to use them.

These side effects can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Restlessness
  • Sexual issues
  • Vomiting

On top of these risks, SSRIs simply don’t work for many people. In some cases, these medications even make the symptoms worse.

When antidepressants prove ineffective, ketamine therapy can be a helpful option.

How Does Ketamine Therapy Work?

The first thing you’ll need to do is identify a reputable ketamine therapy provider. While there are many providers who specialize in ketamine therapy, you’ll want to do your research and find a provider you can trust.

Once you identify your provider, you’ll give them some information about yourself and your current mental health concerns. You may also set up an initial consultation at this point.

During your consultation, you’ll discuss goals for ketamine therapy and methods of administration. Then, you’ll set up your ketamine therapy appointment and complete your recommended number of sessions. Depending on your provider, you may have follow-up consultations and integration sessions to help you get the most out of your experience.

How Is Ketamine Administered?

Some ketamine therapy is available in the form of a simple oral pill that you can take right in your own home, with virtual supervision. Other forms of ketamine therapy only offer IV infusions, which can be uncomfortable and time-consuming and can only be done in-office.

What Is Sublingual Ketamine?

Sublingual ketamine entails oral tablets that take effect when you place them under your tongue.

Each tablet contains a small and safe dose of ketamine so that you can enjoy relaxation and symptom relief. The effects of sublingual ketamine can last a couple of hours, so setting aside a fair amount of time is best.

What Are the Benefits of Ketamine Therapy?

Ketamine therapy comes with a plethora of different health benefits — it can effectively relieve tension and stress, spark relaxation, boost your mood, and provide mental illness relief. The best part is that because of the way ketamine interacts with your brain.

It can bring you real, long-lasting relief, especially when combined with our Integration Group Sessions and Health Coaching. Ketamine therapy can help set you at ease and is a great alternative option to traditional SSRIs.

In fact, some people notice improvements in their symptoms after only one session. However, some people choose to complete multiple ketamine therapy sessions. Your provider can work with you to determine which program may be the best fit so you can enjoy optimal benefits.

Here are just some of the potential benefits of ketamine therapy.

Tension Relief

If you find that your body tenses up a lot due to stress and anxiety, ketamine therapy may be the perfect treatment for you. Creating new neural pathways in a controlled and relaxed environment allows your brain to learn how to let go of stress and tension. This effect begins during the treatment but lasts long after the ketamine wears off.


The same goes for overall relaxation. Taking oral ketamine treatments is a very relaxing experience. We recommend that you play mellow music for a very light euphoric experience. All the while, your brain is learning how to help you relax.

Mood Support

Mood support is a big one. For those who struggle with mental illness, controlling your mood and ensuring that you are happy and relaxed can be very difficult. Ketamine therapy can help you achieve and maintain a more positive mental state.

Mental Illness Relief

Lastly, ketamine helps relieve symptoms of mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and even addiction.

Unlike SSRIs, ketamine therapy can provide long-lasting relief from these severe mental illnesses, including treatment-resistant depression. For some, all it takes is one treatment to start seeing results. Others may need the standard six treatments with an occasional follow-up treatment. Either way, ketamine therapy is a great way to find relief from your mental illness.

Is Ketamine Safer Than Mescaline?

While ketamine and mescaline may have similar effects, and both have proven to be helpful for people seeking relief from their mental illness, ketamine still remains a much safer option.

Ketamine has been FDA-approved for anesthetic use for years. So, on top of ongoing human studies regarding ketamine’s effects on mental illness, we already have years of proof that ketamine is safe for medicinal use in humans.

So, if you are looking to find a holistic way to treat your mental illness and trying to decide between mescaline and ketamine, ketamine will likely be much safer and much more effective.

The Bottom Line

Mescaline is a psychedelic substance found in certain species of cacti. Early civilizations used its hallucinogenic effects to aid in spiritual pilgrimages and ceremonies. While some still use it for spiritual purposes today, the real question is: Does mescaline treat mental illness? While the short answer is yes, it is much more complicated than that.

Mescaline has been tested and proven effective in many cases of mental illness. The only issue is that it is not as safe or effective as other options.

Ketamine, for example, provides a holistic way to treat mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, OCD, and PTSD with long-lasting relief. And, unlike mescaline, ketamine is FDA-approved and has numerous scientific studies backing up its success.

Treatment at Nue Life

Nue Life believes in holistic treatment, which means that what happens before and after your ketamine experience is equally as important as the experience itself. We want to ensure you have meaningful takeaways from your experiences and help you establish positive new neural pathways.

That’s why we provide one-on-one health coaching and integration group sessions with each of our programs. We’re here to help map out the mind and body connections in your brain and help you discover the insights that lead to true healing.


Mescaline: Drug Info | Narconon

Peyote (Mescaline): Risks, Warning Signs & What Parents Should Know | Partnership to End Addiction

Psychedelics | Alcohol and Drug Foundation

Peyote & Mescaline | Sutter Health

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