Lophophora williamsii (pronounced /loʊˈfɒfərə wɪlˈjæmsiaɪ/), better known by its common name Peyote, (from the Nahuatl word peyotl), is a small, spineless cactus. It is native to southwestern Texas and through central 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.
It is well known for its psychoactive alkaloids, particularly mescaline. It is currently used world wide as an entheogen, and supplement to various transcendence practices including meditation, psychonautics, and psychedelic psychotherapy. Peyote has a long history of ritual religious and medicinal use by indigenous Americans. It flowers from March through May, and sometimes as late as September. The flowers are pink, with thigmotactic anthers.
The top of the cactus above ground–also referred to as the crown–consists of disc-shaped buttons that are cut from the roots and dried. These buttons are generally chewed or soaked in water to produce an intoxicating liquid.
Once ingested, peyote can cause feelings of nausea before the desired mental effects appear, which are altered states of perception and feeling. Other effects can include increased body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure; loss of appetite, sleeplessness, numbness, weakness, tremors. Effects can be different during each use due to varying potency, the amount ingested, and the user’s expectations, mood and surroundings. On some trips, users experience sensations that are enjoyable. Others can include terrifying thoughts, and anxiety, fears of insanity, death, or losing control.
Some users experience “flashbacks”, or hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), which are reoccurrences of hallucinations long after ingesting the drug. The causes of these effects, which in some users occur after a single experience with the drug, are not known.