Herbs & Plants

Lophophora williamsii

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Botanical Name : Lophophora williamsii
Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Genus:     Lophophora
Species: L. williamsii
Tribe: Cacteae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Caryophyllales

Synonym(s): Echinocactus williamsii, Lophophora lewinii, Lophophora echinata, Lophophora lutea, Lophophora fricii, Lophophora jourdaniana

Common Name(s): Peyote, Cactus Pudding, Devil’s Root, Diabolic Root, Dry Whiskey, Dumpling Cactus, Indian Dope, Mescal, Mescal Button, Turnip Cactus, Whiskey Cactus, White Mule

Habitat :Lophophora williamsii is native to southwestern Texas and Mexico. It is found primarily in the Chihuahuan desert and in the states of Coahuila, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas and San Luis Potosi among scrub, especially where there is limestone. Texas – United States : San Luis Potosi – Mexico (North America)

The various species of the genus Lophophora grow low to the ground and they often form groups with numerous, crowded shoots. The blue-green, yellow-green or sometimes reddish green shoots are mostly flattened spheres with sunken shoot tips. They can reach heights of from 2 to 7 centimeters (0.79 to 2.76 in) and diameters of 4 to 12 centimeters (1.6 to 4.7 in). There are often significant, vertical ribs consisting of low and rounded or hump-like bumps. From the cusp areoles arises a tuft of soft, yellowish or whitish woolly hairs. Spines are absent. Flowers are pink or white to slightly yellowish, sometimes reddish. They open during the day, are from 1 to 2.4 centimeters long, and reach a diameter from 1 to 2.2 centimeters.
The cactus produces flowers sporadically; these are followed by small edible pink fruit. The club-shaped to elongated, fleshy fruits are bare and more or less rosy colored. At maturity, they are brownish-white and dry. The fruits do not burst open on their own and they are between 1.5 and 2 centimeters long. They contain black, pear-shaped seeds that are 1 to 1.5 mm long and 1 mm wide. The seeds require hot and humid conditions to germinate. Peyote contains a large spectrum of phenethylamine alkaloids. The principal one is mescaline. The mescaline content of Lophophora williamsii is about 0.4% fresh[7] (undried) and 3-6% dried. Peyote is extremely slow growing. Cultivated specimens grow considerably faster, sometimes taking less than three years to go from seedling to mature flowering adult. More rapid growth can be achieved by grafting peyote onto mature San Pedro root stock

The top of the cactus that grows above ground, also referred to as the crown, consists of disc-shaped buttons that are cut above the roots and sometimes dried. When done properly, the top of the root will form a callus and the root will not rot. When poor harvesting techniques are used, however, the entire plant dies. Currently in South Texas, peyote grows naturally but has been over-harvested, to the point that the state has listed it as an endangered species. The buttons are generally chewed, or boiled in water to produce a psychoactive tea. Peyote is extremely bitter and most people are nauseated before they feel the onset of the psychoactive effects.

Medicinal Uses:
Part Used: The tops, consisting of blunt leaves round a tuft of short, pale yellow hairs.

Constituents: Four alkaloids have been separated: Anhalonine, Mescaline, Anhalonidine, and Lophophorine, and two other bases, pellotine and anhalamine.

Pellotine is said to be found only in the Williamsii variety, but this is always present in the commercial drug.

Cardiac, tonic, narcotic, emetic. The value of the drug in practice is uncertain, but it is stated to be useful in neurasthenia, hysteria, and asthma, and has been recommended in gout, neuralgia and rheumatism.

Four to five buttons, or 215 to 230 grains of the drug will produce a strange cerebral excitement with visual disturbance, the visions being at first of varied beauty and later of gruesome shapes and monsters. The physical effects include dilatation of the pupil, muscular relaxation, loss of time sense, partial anaesthesia, wakefulness, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. The mental symptoms in some ways resemble those of Indian Hemp.

Pellotine, in doses of 1/3 to 1 grain, has been used in hypodermic injection in cases of insanity, producing sleep without undesirable reactions. Care is needed, as collapse is said to have been observed after a dose of, 7/10 of a grain. The uses of the various alkaloids are in the experimental stage.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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