AskDefine | Define mescaline

Dictionary Definition

mescaline n : the hallucinatory alkaloid that is the active agent in mescal buttons [syn: peyote]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ˈmeskəlɪn/


the drug

Extensive Definition

confuse mesclun Mescaline (3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine) is a naturally-occurring psychedelic alkaloid of the phenethylamine class. It is mainly used as a recreational drug, an entheogen, and a tool to supplement various types of practices for transcendence, including in meditation, psychonautics, and legal psychedelic psychotherapy, whether self administered or not.
It occurs naturally in the peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii), the San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi) and the Peruvian Torch cactus (Echinopsis peruviana), and in a number of other members of the Cactaceae. It is also found in small amounts in certain members of the Fabaceae (bean family), including Acacia berlandieri. Mescaline was first isolated and identified in 1897 by the German Arthur Heffter and first synthesized in 1919 by Ernst Späth.

History and Usage

The use of peyote in Native American religious ceremonies has been noted since the earliest European contact, notably by the Huichols in Mexico, but other cacti such as the San Pedro have been used in different regions, from Peru to Ecuador.
Aldous Huxley experimented with the use of mescaline. So did Aleister Crowley as reported in his diary, as well as the famous sex psychologist Havelock Ellis.
In traditional peyote preparations, the top of the cactus is cut from the roots, and dried to make disk-shaped buttons. It is chewed to produce its effect or soaked in water for an intoxicating drink. However, the taste of the cactus is bitter, so users will often grind it into a powder and fill them in capsules to avoid having to taste it. The effective human dosage is 300–500 milligrams of pure mescaline. Hallucinations occur at 300–600mg, which is the equivalent to approximately 20 mescal buttons.


Although the ED50 is variable with dosage and individual, the LD50 has been measured in various animals and is reported as follows:
  • 212 mg/kg i.p. (mice)
  • 132 mg/kg i.p. (rats)
  • 328 mg/kg i.p. (guinea pigs)
It is reported that mescaline is 1000-3000 times less potent than LSD, and 30 times less potent than psilocybin. About half the initial dosage is excreted after 6 hours, but some studies suggest that it is not metabolized at all before excretion.
Tolerance builds with repeated usage, and it is suggested that a cross-tolerance can be developed with LSD and psilocin.

Behavioral and Non-behavioral Effects

Hallucinations produced by mescaline are somewhat different from those of LSD. Hallucinations are consistent with actual experience, but are typically intensifications of the stimulus properties of objects and sounds. Prominence of color is distinctive, appearing brilliant and intense. Unlike LSD, mescaline does not induce distortions of form or kaleidoscopic experiences. However, like LSD, synesthesia can occur. It was prohibited internationally by the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and is categorized as a Schedule I hallucinogen by the CSA. Mescaline is only legal for certain natives (such as those involved in the Native American Church). Penalties for manufacture or sale can be as high as five years in prison and a fine of $15,000, with a penalty of up to one year and fine of $5000 for possession. In the UK, mescaline is a Class A drug (in powder form, although dried cactus can be bought and sold legally, unlike raw "magic" mushrooms, which are now illegal), and so carries the following penalties. For possession: up to seven years in prison or an unlimited fine or both. For dealing: up to life in prison or an unlimited fine or both.


Mescaline has a number of analogs, featuring the methoxy groups altered to include thio groups or to be extended. Examples include, but are not limited to, isomescaline, thiomescaline, escaline, thioescaline, proscaline, isoproscaline, buscaline, thiobuscaline, thioisomescaline, phenescaline, symbescaline, asymbescaline, thioasymbescaline, allylescaline, methallylescaline, metaescaline, and thiometaescaline. Its has an active amphetamine homolog, 3,4,5-trimethoxyamphetamine.

See also


  • Pharmacological constituents of mescaline and salvinorin-A

External links

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Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

DET, DMT, LSD, Mary Jane, STP, THC, acid, antidepressant, ataractic, diethyltryptamine, dimethyltryptamine, gage, ganja, grass, hallucinogen, hash, hashish, hay, hemp, joint, kava, marijuana, mescal, mescal bean, mescal button, mind-altering drug, mind-blowing drug, mind-expanding drug, morning glory seeds, peyote, pot, psilocin, psilocybin, psychedelic, psychic energizer, psychoactive drug, psychochemical, psychotomimetic, reefer, roach, stick, tea, tranquilizer, weed
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