Mescaline, or 3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine, is a psychoactive substance that occurs naturally mainly in two types of cactus, the San Pedro (Trichocereus pachanoi) and the Peyote (Lophophora williamsii). Thousands of years ago, these cacti were used by indigenous people for spiritual purposes both in Mexico and in the Andean area of South America. However, in addition to the indigenous people, mescaline is also consumed today by a small group of people, either in the form of raw preparations with some of the cacti, or purified by extraction or synthesis.
It is important to note that different substances such as 2CB or LSD are often sold as mescaline, perhaps because of their rarity and exoticism. If any substance is sold in microdots, blotters or small pills, it is NOT mescaline, since the necessary amount of mescaline does not fit in these preparations. It takes between a fifth and a half gram to get effects with mescaline.
Mescaline belongs to the phenethylamine family, and therefore it is structurally related to compounds such as MDMA, 2CB, among others. Its structure is similar to dopamine, although like other psychedelics it acts mainly on the subtype 2a serotonin receptors. Mescaline is in the form of a salt, usually mescaline hydrochloride or mescaline sulfate, as mescaline in its free base form is not solid and therefore difficult to handle and possibly less stable.
The effects of ingested mescaline take between 1.5 and 2.5 hours to rise, last between 10-16 hours, and can be described as psychedelic or visionary. Mescaline is usually less visual than other psychedelics like LSD or ayahuasca, although in high doses it also provides visions. In medium doses, the visual effect with the eyes open is more commonly described as an extra ‘glow’ in the visual field, with perception of geometric patterns, but without perceiving as many fractals in movement and objects breathing as with other psychedelics. With the eyes closed, with medium or high doses you can see colors and patterns, or also more realistic visions such as mountains, deserts, or different forms of life, among others.
Among the possible negative effects are nausea and the so-called ‘bad trip’, although these are less frequent with mescaline than with other psychedelics.