By Sara de Waal
Imagine. A beautiful balmy summer day, everything is in full bloom. Everyone is in a sunny mood, but with a little help from the right substances, you are able to bring this splendid day to a new level. Like in a dream you are floating through a magical world, where everything is even more brilliant than you could imagine. This is how the world is supposed to be, you think peacefully. Sounds attractive? Get acquainted with the somewhat less known little brother of the peyote: the psychoactive cactus San Pedro.
The San Pedro has many similarities with the peyote. Both cacti grow in the Andean region and have been used for thousands of years for religious rituals by indigenous tribes. The columnar San Pedro is known in South America under the names Wachuma, Huachuma and Gigantón. The rarest variant has four ribs instead of seven, and is called the cactus of the Cuatro Vientos, the four winds. In the mythology of the Andes, the number four is a special number, and this cactus has the reputation to possess healing and supernatural powers.1
San Pedro is an elegant phallus-shaped cactus, and many green lovers cherish it as an ornamental plant in the windowsill or garden. Even though the looks of this cactus are not its most interesting features to most of us, its beautiful appearance has the advantage that the cactus is sold in almost all countries. There is one condition to buy cactus in countries like America, Canada and Germany: you are not allowed to eat it! I imagine that you have to promise this at the checkout, with your hand on your heart.
The trip of the cactus
Fun facts. However, of course, you would like to know by now what this heavenly plant can do for you. Like peyote, the most important active ingredient in the San Pedro is mescaline, a psychoactive alkaloid. Many cosmonauts actually prefer the San Pedro over the peyote, because San Pedro is somewhat milder for you in several ways. First, the taste - although still bitter - is less pronounced than that of peyote. Also, the chance of nausea is slightly less. The trip itself is also a bit more gradual and is generally less intense and overwhelming than when using peyote. Yet San Pedro is certainly not a dull drug: prepare yourself for a strong, dreamy, visual trip.
The trip starts after about one to two hours, and in addition to the fairytale feeling, it entails an increased perception of details and light. A spiritual or loving feeling for people and the world around you takes a hold of many cactus eaters. This imaginative journey can take about 8 to 15 hours.
Assume to consume
The San Pedro can be eaten fresh as well as dried, preferably on an empty stomach. You start by cutting the thorns of the cactus and peeling it thinly (not too thick, because most active ingredients are located just under the skin). Then you cut the flesh of the wooden core. You can now choose to devour the flesh immediately, but you can also process it further to make the experience more pleasant. Drinking is a popular option. For example, you can puree the edible parts (you can’t eat the wooden core inside) with a dash of water, and drink it. For a better flavour, it’s nice to add some juice.
You can also make San Pedro tea, by cooking the pieces of cactus for a few hours on a low heat. Another option to consume the San Pedro is in its dried form. You can do this by cutting the cactus into slices and drying it for a couple of hours, simply in the sun or in the oven at a low temperature.
Do you really dislike the taste? Then making mescaline capsules might be for you. It’s a bit of a hassle, but if you succeed you feel like a real pro! First, you purée the cactus, with a dash of water. Then you boil the puree very gently for a very long time. After that, you sieve the resulting pulp and cook it again. What remains on the bottom of the pan is a sort of paste that you can push into a capsule. On wikiHow you can find a detailed explanation of the process.2
Photo by Forest & Kim Starr
The San Pedro dosage is difficult to prescribe, because the mescaline content varies per cactus. For a mild to average dose, you want about 200 to 300 mg mescaline, for a strong trip 300 to 500 mg. Most sources on the internet report a San Pedro mescalin content of around 0.1%. That means that for a mild dose you need about 200 - 300 grams of cactus, which corresponds to an average cactus of about 20 cm high. If you want to take a really vivid trip you can take two cacti of that size, but because the mescaline content can’t be determined in advance, it is always better to begin with half that dose. Wait one to two hours, then decide if you want to take the other half.3
A few more tips: make sure you have a sober buddy keeps you company, and don’t do anything stupid like taking part in traffic (or calling your mother).
Grow that cactus
San Pedro is a grateful cactus to grow yourself, because in contrast to some species of cacti it’s a fast grower! Moreover, because the San Pedro originally grows in the high Andes, where it can be very cold and wet, it’s quite sturdy and can take a beating. To get the most out of your cactus, you have to provide enough heat and light. The safest place for it is a well-lit spot in the house. We sell everything you need, whether you want to order a live cactus or want to grow an army of cacti from seeds. If you want to play safe, you can get to work with our ready-made San Pedro grow kit, including breeding tray, soil, sand, gravel, and of course seeds!
- 1 https://www.elmundomagico.org/huachuma-wachuma-achuma-san-pedro-cactus-of-the-four-winds/
- 2 https://www.wikihow.com/Brew-San-Pedro-Cactus
- 3 https://www.mescaline.com