Echinopsis panchanoi or Huachuma (Materia Prima*) is extracted from the San Pedro cactus. Named after Saint Peter, as the visionary means to find the keys to heaven.
It contains the psychedelic compound known as mescaline. It is a phenethylamine as opposed to the tryptamine found in psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and the ergoline found in LSD (acid).
What this means is that this compound has an affinity for the dopamine receptors,either as a selective reuptake inhibitor or as a dopamine receptor agonist. Similar to how some SRRI anti-depressants work.
Many psychedelics work on serotonin receptors and thus should be used cautiously with those individuals taking SRRI's and avoided in those taking MAOI's (Monoamine oxidase inhibitors are a class of drugs that inhibit the activity of one or both monoamine oxidase enzymes: monoamine oxidase A and monoamine oxidase B. They are best known as powerful anti-depressants, as well as effective therapeutic agents for panic disorder and social phobia - wikipedia). For more information on contra-indicators please refer to The Essential Guide o San Pedro. All drugs should be avoided if one's health is compromised, especially, the liver, that processes and detoxifies our system.
My experiences with this plant medicine have made this one of my favourite compounds to use, when available and the set/setting** is right.
I always prefer to fast before taking psychedelics, especially mescaline due to the purging effect some of them have. The first time I took peyote extract, it acted like aloe vera infused with anthelmintic (deworming medicines) on a toxic system. Needless to say, i spent the night on the toilet clearing out my gut. But the next day i felt amazing and for weeks after my digestive system was very responsive and effective. Christian Rätsch, a Catholic missionary, made the following remark in his writings:
“It is a plant with whose aid the devil is able to strengthen the Indians in their idolatry; those who drink its juice lose their senses and are as if dead; they are almost carried away by the drink and dream a thousand unusual things and believe that they are true. The juice is good against burning of the kidneys and, in small amounts, is also good against high fever, hepatitis, and burning in the bladder.”
What i love most about this compound is the ecstatically ethereal feeling, like floating on a rainbow path and also how colours are so rich and enhanced. Magic is tangible!
The active ingredient is found just under the waxy skin, in the dark green outer layer. There are various methods of extraction and consumption.
It is important to note that most psychedelic substances are illegal in many countries, and part of your consensual use should be an awareness of how these laws apply to you, should you be in contravention, the implications. If you wish to see these substances made legal, then get involved in the various programs locally, and internationally, to make a positive difference.
* Prima Materia in alchemy is the starting material as the primitive formless base of all matter similar to chaos.
That there abides in nature a certain pure matter, which, being discovered and brought by art to perfection, converts to itself proportionally all imperfect bodies that it touches. - Arnaldus de Villa Nova
** Set & setting refers to the 6 primary factors to consider when taking mind-altering substances such as psychedelics. These major considerations are;
Set - is the state of your mind at time of taking substance. It requires preparation (this requires at least a day before but, if using ceremoniously then preparation can take from 1 week up to 6 weeks with diet and lifestyle changes) and clarification on expectation. Psychedelics have a tendency to bring the unconscious and subconscious to the conscious surface. This means that if you have been feeling anxious or sad or depressed or happy then these are the emotions and experiences that will rise to the surface. Be clear on what you hope to achieve from the experience, to resolve a trauma, or experience a spiritual breakthrough, or whatever floats your boat. Always, but always, be open to what surfaces and remember that it is a temporary blip on the radar and you are in control.
Setting - this is where you are going to be located for the journey - the physical environment. When taking plant medicines I find they resonate best when used in a natural environment such as a forest or the mountains. Remember to be adequately prepared, as suggested above, but includes all those things that we may need to make the journey as safe and comfortable as possible. Remove hazardous objects, harmful materials, and provide adequate hydration, warmth etc, as appropriate. Remember to stimulate all senses in delightful ways e.g. burn incense, use pleasing visuals, relaxing music, and tactile objects for sensory pleasure.
Substance - this is the product you will be consuming and the amount there of (dosage). You should always be informed about what you are taking, the potential risks, anticipated effects, pharmacological action, interactions with other drugs, contra-indicated health risks, and calculate preferred dose accordingly, if at all.
Session - refers to the journey, which is usually categorized into various stages e.g. ingestion, onset, turning point, peak, plateau, come-down, recovery. How long can one expect to journey will vary according to substance & dose & set, however, each substance has a general timing experience e.g. magic mushrooms journey can last from 3-6 hours while a san pedro journey can last between 10-12 hours.
Situation - generally, this will be the debrief where one processes the experience. What are the take-aways and how the experience can be integrated into one's life.
Sitter - is a trusted individual(s) who will act as a support system while on the journey. They are there to facilitate as necessary and act in an emergency. If you choose to experience the journey alone, then it is advisable to inform someone, and ask them to be on stand by for emergencies.
This is responsible substance use. Please use cautiously, safely and wisely!