Medical Significance

Peyote consists of over 30 alkaloids. The primary alkaloid is mescaline. Mescaline, or 3,4,5-trimethoxy-ß-phenethylamine, is a non-addictive, hallucinogenic drug that has been described to have the same effects as LSD.

Within the first hour after digestion of 350mg of the drug, nausea and vomiting will arise. Sometimes the person may experience an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, and diarrhea. After the first hour of this type of physical distress, the person will experience the sensory phase, or actual hallucination. Visual images in enormous amounts of color may become apparent to the individual, along with auditory hallucinations. Many people have said that the drug gives them "insight" to themselves or the supernatural. For this reason, peyote is used in religious ceremonies of the Native American Church. It gives people a sort of "link to the gods".

Peyote not only serves as a spiritual remedy, it serves as a medicinal remedy as well. Native Americans are known to have used peyote to treat many types of illnesses. For example, it is used as a home remedy for tootheaches, arthritis, nerve spasms, fever, breast pain, skin disease, rheumatism, diabetes, colds, blindness, and hearing disorders. It has also been used as a psychotherapeutic drug to treat alcoholism and drug addictions, problems with stress, and acute depression. The United States Dispensatory lists peyote under the name Anhalonium which can be used in cases of neurashtenia, hysteria, and asthma. There are also antiseptic effects of the peyote plant. By cleaning open wounds with the plant, a very strong scab forms which closes up the wound; It is often described as being "better than stitches".

Extracts of peyote have been analyzed for microbial inhibition and have turned up positive. Peyocactin is the primary antibiotic substance in the peyote plant. In a study done on mice, peyocactin was observed to have inhibited Staphylococcus aureus in all mice treated with the antibiotic. The control group died within 60 hours of infection of S. aureus. The antibiotic activity of this extract of the peyote plant has been proven to inhibit a wide variety of bacteria and one species of imperfect fungi. In addition, this antibiotic exhibited inhibiting action on 18 strains of penicillin-resistent S. aureus.

Sources used for this page:

Mount, Guy. The Peyote Book. Cottonwood: Sweetlight Books, 1993.

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