San Pedro is a fast growing cactus that contains the psychedelic substance mescaline. It has been used for thousands of years for spiritual purposes. In Quechua this cactus is also called huachuma. Originally this cactus originates from South America, especially Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina. It is possible to grow your own San Pedro from seed, or take care of a cactus yourself.
History of the San Pedro cactus
San Pedro, official Echinopsis pachanoi (also called Trichocereus pachanoi) is a mescaline-containing cactus from the Andes Mountains. This species grows at altitudes from 2000 to 3000 meters. It is a very strong species that can withstand severe weather conditions. This cactus grows fast and can grow meters high. On average it grows half a meter a year (in the wild). Adult cacti have multiple branches. It grows until it collapses and falls over under its own weight. Then new shoots appear that form roots and that's how the San Pedro spreads. San Pedro is often used in 'landscaping', so you will regularly encounter this cactus species in certain areas, such as desert areas. It is also regularly used as a grafting strain, grafting other, more difficult to grow cacti on a San Pedro.
San Pedro usually has 4 to 9 ribs, of which 6 to 7 are the most common. Very rare is the species with 4 ribs. Among indigenous peoples this San Pedro is very highly praised. San Pedro has been worshipped for thousands of years by tribes in South America and used in rituals. As a divine medicine this psychedelic cactus is used to detect diseases, communicate with gods and the deceased, find lost objects and to penetrate the soul.
Wherever Ayahuasca is also called the grandmother, San Pedro is seen as the grandfather. Often an Ayahuasca ceremony is seen as a way to turn deep inside yourself and heal yourself from within. A San Pedro ceremony can then be a logical follow-up, because it usually focuses more on the world around you. In this way the inner lessons can be integrated with the outside world. Ceremonies are held worldwide with San Pedro and the original tradition in Peru is still alive and kicking.
The alkaloids found in the San Pedro cactus are mainly found just under the skin, in the first centimeter. The green part (where most foliage or chlorophyll is located) contains most of the active substances. The white part is the lowest in active substances and sometimes contains nothing at all. The hard middle, woody part, the heart, also generally contains no alkaloids. For consumption it is therefore important to use the green part.
Growing a San Pedro cactus
It is possible to grow your own San Pedro cactus from seed. Unlike many other cacti, including the slow growing Peyote cactus, the San Pedro grows fast and you don't have to wait years and years to use it. Still, it's advisable to take enough time and let it become as healthy and large as possible. Sirius sells San Pedro seeds that you can use yourself. Growing a cactus requires a slightly different view than other plants. Over time cacti have lost their leaves and often got spines in their place. This is because leaves allowed too much moisture to evaporate in the desert. Their round shape developed to handle space optimally and store water as efficiently as possible. Because of this you only have to give a cactus very little water.
If you grow a San Pedro yourself, one of the biggest pitfalls is that you water too much and drown your cactus. The chance of them dying from dehydration is much smaller, although of course they need to get attention and get their dose of water at the right moments. On average this is once every two weeks for a San Pedro. During the winter months the cactus goes into 'hibernation' and you don't have to water it at all, as long as it's indoors (about 10 degrees Celcius) with enough daylight. Cacti prefer to grow in a well-drained soil, in a mix of different minerals and rocks and only very little compost and soil.San Pedro's can get beautiful flowers, although this does not happen very often. When it happens you are the lucky spectator of beautiful flowers that usually don't bloom for more than a day and spread a wonderful aroma.
Sirius sells San Pedro cuttings of different sizes. These can easily be planted in a (ceramic) pot. Make sure the pot is not too big, but also not very narrow. Choose a commercial cactus soil mix or make your own mix, consisting of: 1 part compost, 1 part (aquarium) sand, 2 parts perlite, 1 part limestone or dolomite (available at agricultural stores). Possibly 0.5 part pulverized egg shells can be used as a replacement. Finish this off with 1 part gravel. Using less compost means that your cactus will grow less fast but will have a nicer, natural look.
Tripping with mescaline
Mescaline is a substance related to other psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD. An average dose of mescaline makes for a trip that for many can be a spiritual experience from which one can learn and connect better with nature, among other things. The visual effects are usually very strong. This substance therefore mainly connects to the parts of our brains that have to do with vision. Effects occur after about one to two hours and can last for about ten hours. What often happens is that during a trip with mescaline one is much more sensitive to light. During a trip, things and people can spread a radiant light. Mescaline is found in several psychoactive cacti including Peyote, San Pedro and Peruvian Torch. In terms of effects, it is reported that San Pedro is generally less intense than Peyote. The chance of nausea, for example, is smaller. Still, nausea and vomiting is certainly not abnormal during a trip with San Pedro and can be seen as purifying body and mind.
Microdosing with San Pedro
Like other psychedelic substances such as psilocybin, mescaline is suitable for microdosing. However, it takes more time and effort to get started, than for example with Magic Truffles where you can immediately start microdosing. San Pedro will first (if necessary) grow until it is big enough and then process it into microdoses. To be able to microdose with San Pedro you'll need enough material. For about two months of microdosing you'll need a large piece of San Pedro of about 70 centimeters. As mentioned before, the highest concentrations of active ingredients are just under the skin of the cactus, in the green part. When the spines are removed, this outer green layer is cut away from the inner white part. This is then boiled with some water to separate the skin from the green flesh. This is then pureed using a hand blender. The green pulp is dried, e.g. by smearing it over a surface and passing it through a solid blower for several hours - until the substance has completely dried and cured. This flaky, green remnant is a highly concentrated final product with the alkaloids present. When crushed into powder it can then be weighed and stored in capsules, for example. Per microdose you use 1 to 2 grams of powder.
It is important to mention that cacti contain different levels of mescaline. This has to do with many factors, including age and living conditions. The older a cactus gets, the more mescaline it contains. When you use different cacti it is wise to mix the end result with each other so that you get as even a content of active substances as possible.
Note: processing mescaline containing cacti is prohibited in the Netherlands.
In comparison with a microdose of magic mushrooms or truffles it is noted that San Pedro generally works longer (and takes longer to emerge), the effect is more soothing and the sense of smell intensifies.
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