Last Editorial Review: 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Devil's Root, Dumpling Cactus, Lophophora williamsii, Magic Mushrooms, Mescal Buttons, Mescaline, Pellote, Peyotl, Sacred Mushroom.


Peyote is a small cactus. The cactus crown has disc-shaped buttons that are cut from the plant, sliced, and dried. The dried buttons may be chewed. Or the buttons are soaked in water and the resulting liquid is used as a medicine.

Despite serious safety concerns, peyote is used for treating fevers, joint pain (rheumatism), and paralysis.

People apply peyote to the skin for treating fractures, wounds, and snakebite.

Peyote is also used as a recreational drug because it can cause hallucinations. It contains a chemical called mescaline that has effects that are similar to LSD, but less powerful.

In the US, it is illegal to possess peyote.

How does it work?

There isn't enough information available to know how peyote works as a medicine.


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Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Fever.
  • Joint pain (rheumatism).
  • Bone fractures.
  • Wounds.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of peyote for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Peyote is UNSAFE for use. It can cause nausea and vomiting, anxiety, paranoia, fear, and emotional instability. It can also raise blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration rate. Changes in vision, drooling, headache, dizziness, and drowsiness may also occur. Although it is rarely fatal, peyote can cause homicidal, psychotic, or suicidal behavior related to the hallucinations.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It is UNSAFE to use peyote if you are pregnant. The mescaline in peyote can cause birth defects.

Surgery: Peyote acts like a stimulant. Doctors worry that it might interfere with surgery by increasing heart rate and blood pressure. Stop taking peyote at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.


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Stimulant drugsInteraction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.

Stimulant drugs speed up the nervous system. By speeding up the nervous system, stimulant medications can make you feel jittery and speed up your heartbeat. Peyote might also speed up the nervous system. Taking peyote along with stimulant drugs might cause serious problems including increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Avoid taking stimulant drugs along with peyote.

Some stimulant drugs include diethylpropion (Tenuate), epinephrine, phentermine (Ionamin), pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), and many others.


The appropriate dose of peyote depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for peyote. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


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