Health22 Nov 2010 05:41 pm
Peyote, or Lophophora williamsii, is a small mescaline-containing cactus that grows naturally in the Southeastern regions of the United States and in Mexico. It is found primarily in the Chihuahuan desert and in the states of Tamaulipas and San Luis Potosi among scrub, especially where there is limestone.
The psychoactive substance in peyote, mescaline, typically has a duration of between ten to twelve hours and produces vivid hallucinations as well as increased wakefulness. The cactus has been considered a sacred sacrament by numerous Native American tribes for well over a thousand years and is still used in religious ceremonies. Well known for its psychoactive alkaloids, particularly mescaline, it is used world wide as an entheogen and supplement to various transcendence practices including meditation, psychonautics, and psychedelic psychotherapy. It flowers from March through May, and sometimes as late as September.
Unfortunately, in one case, the increased wakefulness caused by mescaline did not just last between ten to twelve hours; it lasted for two weeks.
According to a case report published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, in 2003 a 54-year-old Native American man experienced two weeks of psychosis after a traditional Native American ceremony involving peyote. Not long after ingesting peyote, “he became convinced that he was hunted by animal spirits, which prevented him from getting any sleep for the next 2 weeks,” as the authors of the case report explain.
The man had previously suffered from alcoholism and combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but had not experienced any symptoms for twenty years. Eventually, he was persuaded to seek medical care from a hospital. After being given the tranquilizer trazodone by the hospital staff, he slept uninterrupted for 15 hours, which completely resolved all of his psychotic symptoms.
Interestingly, it appears that this two week episode of psychosis was induced by the sleep disruption caused by mescaline, not because of its hallucinatory effects.
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