What is Peyote

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

In popular culture, peyote is best known as a psychedelic drug that gives its users mystical visions, but its use as a proven medicine may surprise you.

What is Peyote?

Peyote is a small cactus found in Mexico and the southwestern United States that has been used for centuries by Native American people as a medicinal element and hallucinogen. More specifically, peyote is a powerful form of mescaline. The taste of this cactus plant is very bitter and it is usually only administered medicinally as a liquid, making it easier to swallow. [1]

This herb/drug is illegal in several countries, including the U.S., although exceptions are granted for religious use by Native American tribes. The effects of peyote when taken can last up to twelve hours and should be consumed with great caution. [2]

Peyote Benefits

Many people believe that this herb is helpful for both physical and mental disorders. Let us take a look at them in detail below.

Three fresh peyotes

Peyote belongs to the cactus family. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

  • Peyote is believed to make people happier by stimulating serotonin production.
  • It is often given to help people experiencing mental health issues [3]
  • It also helps with problem-solving and anxiety
  • Peyote is known for lowering suicidal thoughts and boosting mood
  • It is often used to help alcoholics or people suffering from other addictions
  • As a medicine for physical issues, this powerful plant is used as both an aphrodisiac and analgesic
  • It can be used topically to reduce pain caused by a bad tooth or small wounds
  • It also helps in alleviating the discomfort caused by bone fractures and more serious injuries


  • The small buttons of the plant are picked, dried, and then sliced
  • Many people prefer to soak the buttons in water and then drink the infused liquid

Side Effects

When first ingested, the users of this substance often experience the following side effects:

  • Vomiting
  • A severe headache
  • Decreased heart rate

It should neither be taken during pregnancy or breastfeeding nor should it be taken two weeks before any surgery. While there are certain benefits to consuming and utilizing peyote, the effects can be extremely powerful, so only consume proper dosages. [4]

If preparing your own dose of this drug, be sure to speak to someone who is experienced in dosage and handling of this potent plant.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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