Other Names

Mescalin, meskalin, mezcalin, mezkalin, 3,4,5-trimethoxy-

benzolmethanamine, 3,4,S-trimethoxyf3-

phenethylaminePhenethylamine (PEA) is a natural monoamine alkaloid, trace amine, and psychoactive drug with stimulant effects. In the mammalian central nervous system, phenethylamine is believed to function as a neuromodulator or neurotransmitter., 3,4,5-trimethoxyethyl- phenylamine,

TMPFA, 2-(3,4,S-trimethoxy-phenyl)ethylamine

Empirical formula: CllH17N03

Substance type: lophophora alkaloid, f3-phenethylaminePhenethylamine (PEA) is a natural monoamine alkaloid, trace amine, and psychoactive drug with stimulant effects. In the mammalian central nervous system, phenethylamine is believed to function as a neuromodulator or neurotransmitter.

Mescaline was first isolated in 1886 from "mescal

buttons;' the aboveground parts of the peyote

cactus (Lophophora williamsii), and was named

after them. Mescaline is the most thoroughly

studied of all psychoactive plant constituents. In

the period between 1886 and 1950, more than one

hundred mescaline research studies were published

in the German language alone (Passie

1994). This alkaloid was found to be a component

of numerous cacti (see the table on page 847). And

it is possible that mescaline is produced from

dopamineA neurotransmitter associated with movement, attention, learning, and the brain’s pleasure and reward system. in vitro (Paul et al. 1969; Rosenberg et

al. 1969).

Arthur Heffter was the first person to initially

test an isolated plant constituent on himself (Heffter

1894). The classic Heffter dosage consisted of 150

mg mescaline hydrochloride (HCL). A psychedelic

dosage is now considered to be 178 to 256 mg of

mescaline HCL or 200 to 400 mg of mescaline

sulfate. The highest measured dosage reported in

the literature was 1,500 mg. Taken orallyRoute of administration in which the subject swallows a substance.,S mg/kg

of pure mescaline is regarded as a hallucinogenic

dosage. In the toxicological literature, there is no

known lethal dosage of mescaline when it is

ingested orallyRoute of administration in which the subject swallows a substance. (Brown and Malone 1978, 14).

Western psychiatry has been aware of

consciousness-altering drugs since the nineteenth

century. Mescaline was the first substance to be

tested and applied in psychiatry. At the time,

researchers regarded the effects of mescaline on a healthy subject as inducing a state that was otherwise

known only in psychopathic patients. This

led to the idea of pharmacologically induced

"model psychoses" (Leuner 1962*). The effects of

mescaline (and also of psilocybin) were described

as "intoxication, toxic ecstasy, clouding of consciousness,

hallucinosis, model psychosis, drug

intoxication, emphasis, daydream;' et cetera

(Passie 1994). Only in recent years has there been a

shift in thinking away from the model psychosis

concept and a recognition that psychedelic states

and psychoses do not have a common origin

(HermIe et al. 1988*, 1992*, 1993*).

The predominant effects of mescaline are a

"reveling of the individual senses and primarily

visual orgies" (Ellis 1971, 21). The mescaline

inebriation was first systematically described by

Kurt Beringer in 1927. To date, there have been

many encounters with the substance, and the most

commonly reported experiences are ecstatic and

visionary in nature:

My awareness of subject and object

disappeared, and I felt dissolved, rising in an

orchestra of sounds. This ecstatic state was

accompanied by an indescribable sensation of

happiness. (Ammon and Gotte 1971,32)

It has often been suggested that pure mescaline

can be taken in place of Lophophora williamsii.

"However, most peyote users are of the opinion

that synthetic mescaline cannot be compared with

the effects of peyote" (Harp 1996, 16).

On the Cultural History of Mescaline

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) made the psychedelic

effects of mescaline famous in his two essays "The

Doors of Perception" and "Heaven and Hell:'

Usually the person taking mescaline will

discover an inner world that is so obviously

something given, so enlighteningly eternal

and sacred, as the transformed outer world

that I had perceived with my eyes open.

(Huxley 1970,32*)

It is very likely that Hermann Hesse also had

contact with mescaline, and that it may have

inspired his novel SteppenwolJ, one of the cult

books of the hippie generation. The psychedelic

rock band Steppenwolf took its name from the

book, and the novel also became a motion picture

starring Max von Sydow (USA 1974).

Nationalgalerie, a German New Wave band,

sings on its album Mescaline, "To be transformed by a trickster fairy. My lawyer advised me to take

some mescaline" (Sony Records, 1995).

The French novelist and artist Henri Michaux

(1899-1984) studied mescaline during the 1960s

and ingested it to see what effects it might have

upon his creativity. Like many other FrenchJmen,

however, he summarized his experience as an

"accursed miracle" and scribbled his experiences of inner turmoil on paper (Michaux 1986). Today,

these "drawings" are still reproduced in publications

as an example of the "psychosis-like"

effects of mescaline.

Cacti Containing Mescaline

(from Doetsch et al. 1980; La Barre 1979; Mata and McLaughlin 1982*; Shulgin 1995*; Lundstrom

1971; Pardanini et al. 1978; Ott 1993*; Turner and Heyman 1960)

Species Occurrence Use
Gymnocalycium gibbosum (Haw.) Pfeiffer Argentina  
Gymnocalycium leeanum (Hook.) Br. et R. Argentina, Uruguay  
Islaya minor Backeb. southern Peru  
Lophophora diffusa (Croizat) Bravo Mexico peyote substitute
[syn. Lophophora echinata]    
Lophophora jourdaniana [nom. nud.]    
Lophophora williamsii (Lem.) Coult. Mexico entheogen
[syn. Lophophora fricii Habermann]    
Myrtillocactus geometrizans (Mart.) Cons. Mexico  
Opuntia acanthocarpa Engelm. et Bigel.    
Opuntia basilaria Engelm. et Bigel.    
Opuntia cylindrica (Lam.) S.-D. Chile inebriant502
Opuntia echinocarpa Engelm. et Bigel.    
Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill. Mexico, Egypt503 food
Opuntia imbricata (Haw.) DC. Arizona  
Opuntia spinosior (Engelm.) Tourney Arizona  
Pelecyphora aselliformis Ehrenb. Mexico peyote substitute
Pereskia corrugata Cutak Florida  
Pereskia tampicana Web. Mexico  
Pereskiopsis scandens Br. et R. Yucatan  
Polaskia chende (Gossel.) Gibs. California  
Polaskia sp. California  
Pterocereus gaumeri (Br. et R.) Mac-Doug. et Mir. California  
Pterocereus sp. California  
Stenocereus beneckei (Ehrenb.) Buxbaum California  
Stenocereus eruca (Brand.) Gibs. et Horak Baja California  
Stenocereus stellatus (Pfeiffer) Rice California  
Stenocereus treleasei (Br. et R.) Backeb. California  
Stenocereus sp.    
Stetsonia coryne (SD.) Br. et R. Argentina  
Trichocereus bridgesii (SD.) Br. et R. Peru, Bolivia entheogen
Trichocereus cuscoensis Br. et R. Peru  
Trichocereus fulvinanus Ritt. Chile  
Trichocereus macrogonus (SD.) Ricc. Peru  
Trichocereus pachanoi Br. et R. Peru, Ecuador entheogen
Trichocereus peruvianus Br. et R. Peru entheogen
Trichocereus spachianus (Lem.) Rice. Indiana (cultivated)  
Trichocereus strigosus (SD.) Br. et R. Argentina  
Trichocereus taquimbalensis Card. Peru  
Trichocereus terscheckii (Parm.) Br. et R. Peru, northwestern  
Trichocereus validus (Monv.) Backbg. Argentina  
Trichocereus werdermannianus Backbg. Peru, Bolivia  

Commercial Forms and Regulations

Mescaline is available primarily as a hydrochloride

or sulfate. In Germany, it is considered a "narcotic in which trafficking is prohibited." In the United

States, the Controlled Substances Act lists mescaline

as a Schedule I substance (Korner 1994,38*).


See also the entries for Lophophora williamsii,

Trichocereus pachanoi, Trichocereus spp., and ~phenethylamines.

Ammon, Gunter, and Jurgen Gotte. 1971. Ergebnisse

fruher Meskalin-Forschung. In

BewuBtseinserweiternde Drogen aus

psychoanalytischer Sicht, special issue,

Dynamische Psychiatrie, 23-45.

Beringer, Kurt. 1927. Der Meskalinrausch. Berlin:

Springer. Repr. 1969.

Blofeld, John. 1966. A high yogic experience achieved

with meskalin. Psychedelic Review 7:27-32.

Doetsch, P. W., J. M. Cassidy, and J. L. McLaughlin.

1980. Cactus alkaloids. XL: Identification of

mescaline and other phenethylamines in Pereskia,

Pereskiopsis and Islaya by use of fluorescamine

conjugates. Journal ofChromotography 189:79.

Ellis, Havelock. 1971. Zum Phanomen der MeskalinIntoxikation,

Bemerkungen zum Problem der

Meskalin-Intoxikation. In

BewuBtseinserweiternde Drogen aus

psychoanalytischer Sicht, special issue,

Dynamische Psychiatrie, 17-22.

Frederking, W. 1954. Meskalin in der Psychotherapie.

Medizinischer Monatsspiegel, 3:5-7.

Harf, Jurgen C. 1996. Meskalin und Peyote. Grow!

6/96: 15-16.

Heffter, Arthur. 1894. aber zwei Kakteenalkaloide.

Berichte der deutschen Chemischen Gesellschaft


Kluver) Heinrich. 1926. Mescal vision and eidetic

vision. American Journal ofPsych0 logy 37:502-15.

---. 1969. Mescal and mechanisms of

hallucinations. Chicago: The University of

Chicago Press.

La Barre, Weston. 1979. Peyotl and mescaline.

Journal ofPsychedelic Drugs 11 (1-2): 33-39.

Lundstrom, Jan. 1971. Biosynthetic studies on

mescaline and related cactus alkaloids. Acta

Pharm. Suecica 8:275-302.

Michaux, Henri. 1986. Unseliges Wunder: Das

Meskalin. Munich and Vienna: Carl Hanser.

Pardanani, J. H., B. N. Meyer, and J. L. McLaughlin.

1978. Cactus alkaloids. XXXVII. Mescaline and

related compounds from Opuntia spinosior.

Lloydia 41 (3): 286-88.

Passie, Torsten. 1994. Ausrichtungen, Methoden und

Ergebnisse fruher Meskalinforschungen im

deutschsprachigen Raum (bis 1950). In Jahrbuch

des Europiiischen Collegiums fur

Bewufltseinsstudien (1993/1994), 103-11. Berlin:


Paul., A.G., H. Rosenberg, and K. L. Khanna. 1969.

The roles of 3,4,5-trihydroxy-~-phenethylaminePhenethylamine (PEA) is a natural monoamine alkaloid, trace amine, and psychoactive drug with stimulant effects. In the mammalian central nervous system, phenethylamine is believed to function as a neuromodulator or neurotransmitter.

and 3,4-dimethoxy-~-phenethylaminein their

biosynthesis of mescaline. Lloydia 32 (1): 36-39.

Rosenberg, H., K. L. Khanna, M. Takido, and A. G.

Paul. 1969. The biosynthesis of mescaline in

Lophophora williamsii. Lloydia 32 (3): 334-38.

Turner, W. J., and J. J. Heyman. 1960. The presence of

mescaline in Opuntia cylindrica. Journal of

Organic Chemistry 25:2250.

Wallraff, Gunter. 1968. Meskalin-Ein Selbstversuch.

Berlin: Verlag Peter-Paul Zahl.

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