Have you ever been curious about the psychedelic effects of a San Pedro cactus? Well, if so, then you’re in luck! Today we’re giving beginners an insider’s guide to navigating their first San Pedro cactus experience. This is no easy task and definitely requires some prior research—which is why we’ve put together this comprehensive explainer. Excited? Let’s jump right in and explore how this ancient plant can take your spiritual journey to the next level!


What is San Pedro?

The San Pedro cactus is native to the Peruvian Andes mountain ranges in South America, where it was originally known as “Huachuma” in Quechua – the language of the Indigenous people of this region. Historians have found evidence that suggest this cactus has been cultivated since 200-600BC and used for ritualistic purposes among the Chavin culture, where they would consume it inside tunnels beneath pyramids. The San Pedro cactus derives its psychedelic effects primarily from the psychedelic drug mescaline, which is part of the phenethylamine family.

How to consume the San Pedro cactus?

To start off, make sure your set and setting are good to consume any psychedelic. Your mindset should be good, and you shouldn’t take any psychedelic while under severe stress or duress. Secondly, make sure your setting is good, too. Plan to be somewhere where you will be comfortable, but most importantly safe. Have someone who is sober to trip sit you, if this is your first time consuming a mescaline-containing cactus. Even if you have past experience with other psychedelics, you should always have someone around when trying something new.

If you are interested in consuming this cactus, there are a variety of ways of consuming it. First, you need approximately a foot in length from the cactus to trip.  You can consume it raw by removing the spines and eating the green flesh that surrounds the white core. This is the easiest way to consume it, but it may cause some nausea.

What is most common and recommended is simply to make it into a tea, which is the traditional way of consuming it. To do so, you simply despine and take the skin off, cut the flesh from the core, and cut into 1-2” chunks. Afterward, simmer your chunks in a pot of water with some lemon juice over several hours. Then decant, strain, and reduce down until you have about a cup’s worth of your tea. Be aware that many report the taste being a little harsh. There are many other methods of consuming, from drying it into a powder, to alcohol extraction. Do your due diligence and find a method you find best fits your abilities.

Read also: A Step-by-Step Guide: Making San Pedro Cactus Mescaline Tea

San Pedro cactus
Image of a field of San Pedro cacti. Source: CactusCulture.com.au

How does a San Pedro experience feel?

How does a San Pedro experience feel?
How does a San Pedro experience feel?

It is important to be patient when consuming San Pedro. It can take 2-3 hours for the full effects to be felt. The experience generally will last longer than other psychedelics, with the average being about 15 hours, but very high doses can last up to 20 hours. Anecdotal evidence suggest that the trip is similar to that of an LSD trip in terms of visuals, but less disorienting.

Mescaline has been reported to have MDMA-like euphoric  effects that come in waves and are gentle on the user. Unlike with other psychedelics, people suggest that a mescaline trip keeps the user in a more coherent headspace but with bigger time distortions. Overall, it seems there is a consensus that mescaline feels like a combination of LSD/acid and MDMA with a calmer, more peaceful headspace.

What should I expect after coming down?

San Pedro Cactus Experience

Considering the length of a mescaline trip, you will more than likely be sleep deprived after coming down. Do not drive, go to work, or have any plans the day after taking San Pedro, as you may be too tired to properly function. Get a good night’s sleep and you will be good to go afterward.

There are various reports that San Pedro produces long, pronounced afterglow effects. You can expect to feel a sense of calmness, happiness, and serenity after taking it. The length of this and the time it take to return to your baseline state depends on how intense your experience was and your dose.

After any psychedelic trip, make sure you integrate your experience into your life. It is very possible you may have a life-changing experience while on your trip, so it would be good to seek advice from someone who has experience in psychedelic compounds, specifically mescaline. An integration guide will be able to help you make sense of your trip and allow you to integrate all the teachings you received during your San Pedro experience.

What effects can I expect?

San Pedro Cactus psychedelic effects

The effects of San Pedro are predominantly caused by mescaline with a mixture of other alkaloids. Mescaline is a psychedelic, but of a different class than psilocybin and LSD. Do not mix mescaline with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or Tramadol. There are many positive effects that mescaline brings that have been found to possibly improve the mental health of a user profoundly.

You can expect the following effects:

  • Time distortions
  • Increased color perception
  • A sense of calmness and feeling interconnected with everything
  • Geometric-like visuals, similar to mandala patterns.
  • Open- and closed-eye visuals that lead to profound spiritual experiences

Some negative side effects:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Changes in temperature regulation
  • Disorientation or dizziness
  • Vomiting (similar to the purging of ayahuasca, but it is rare)
Is san pedro legal
Source | Terracotta Tropic

The San Pedro cactus is in a bit of a gray area. The cactus itself is legal, and it is actually sold in many places such as nurseries and even home improvement stores. But it is only legal to own for ornamental purposes, meaning it cannot be cut or prepared in any way. In the United States, the cactus becomes a Schedule I drug the moment it is cut for consumption purposes, such as despining it, removing the skin, or cutting it up into chunks for preparation.

The use of it is legal only for religious purposes and can carry severe consequences for anyone using it outside of those parameters. All US states with the exception of Idaho and Texas allow usage by non-native non-enrolled persons in the context of ceremonies of the Native American Church. Seattle decriminalized noncommercial activity around non-peyote-derived mescaline in October 2021.


In conclusion, the San Pedro cactus offers a unique psychedelic experience predominantly caused by mescaline. The experience could be compared to a mixture of LSD and MDMA, but be aware that effects can vary per person. Overall, San Pedro cactuses will offer spiritual experiences over longer periods of time compared to other psychedelics. If you are planning on consuming the San Pedro cactus, or any other mescaline-containing cacti, make sure you do the proper research before consuming and be aware of what to expect. Consume responsibly, make sure your set and setting are good, and be around someone who is sober and can provide support during your trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the length of a San Pedro experience?

  • San Pedro cactus trips are longer than other psychedelics. Expect a 12+ hour trip, with an average trip lasting 15 hours. Some trips can last well over 24 hours. The length of a trip depends on how much you consumed.

How long is the come up?

  • Unlike other psychedelics, the San Pedro cactus requires patience as the come up can take around 2 – 3 hours for effects to be felt.

How do I consume a San Pedro cactus?

  • There are a variety of ways to take the cactus. The most common is to brew a tea from it by letting it simmer over the course of a couple of hours. Other methods include eating it raw, drying it into a powder and mixing it with tea, or crystalizing it.

Can I combine other drugs while taking San Pedro?

  • It is not recommended to combine other drugs with mescaline-containing cacti. You may smoke marijuana, as it combines well just like with other psychedelics, but if you are inexperienced with this, it is best to not do it. Do not combine mescaline with drugs like cocaine or heroin. Do not combine mescaline and alcohol. Do not take MAOIs or Tramadol when consuming mescaline. If you are on an SSRI antidepressant, be aware that they may attenuate the effects of mescaline.

Is it illegal to own a San Pedro cactus?

  • The San Pedro cactus is legal to own for ornamental purposes but not for recreational use. You may buy a San Pedro cactus just to have, but the moment you cut it and prepare for consumption, it becomes a Schedule I drug in the United States, which comes with severe consequences with the law.

I’ve never done any psychedelic. Should this be my first?

  • Considering the length of a trip, the San Pedro cactus may not be suited for beginners. San Pedro could be your first psychedelic experience, but just make sure you take the proper steps before consuming and are not taking it alone. It may be a good idea to get a sense of the psychedelic experience first through the use of classical psychedelics like mushrooms or LSD, but this is not completely necessary.

Will I experience nausea?

  • People have reported feeling nauseous during their come ups. The nausea depends on the consumption method. Eating it raw can be harsher on the stomach. Tea is thought to lessen the nausea by letting it reduce longer and drinking it slowly. Anecdotal evidence suggests that drinking ginger tea before consuming mescaline, or adding fresh ginger to a mescaline tea, can help reduce the chance of nausea.

Want to Learn More?

Psychedelic Spotlight’s Bonfire division offers a FREE Psychedelics for Beginners course where you can learn everything about the different psychedelic compounds, the importance of mindset, how to prepare for your psychedelic experience and how to integrate it.

Disclaimer:  Psychedelic Spotlight does not condone the use of illegal substances. The purpose of this article is for educational and harm reduction purposes only. If you suffer from a medical or mental condition, please consult with your doctor before taking any substance.

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