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Peyote is a small spineless, leafless, globe-shaped cactus. The mescal buttons of the peyote cacti provide a source of hallucinatory alkaloid.
Peyote is a native of the Chihuahan Desert and is annually harvested by the millions. If peyote is harvested properly, several new heads can form from the old root thereby generating new plants. Because of careless harvesting practices however, peyote is often cut too deeply, leaving little or no root remaining in the ground.
The top part of the cacti rarely rises above an inch or so about the soil. The biggest part of the peyote cactus is actually underground in the long, carrot-like root. The above ground "button" portion is cut and consumed either fresh, dried or as tea.
In addition to the damaging effects of commercial harvesting, large sections of the "peyote gardens" of Texas have been uprooted for new grazing land. Consequently, regions where peyote once flourished in commercially harvestable quantities are now lacking in any significant cactus growth.
Peyote produces over 50 chemically related compounds. The effects experienced after consuming this unique medicine range from a feeling of physical energy and well being (when taken in small amounts, though this is often preceded by a brief period of lethargy), to actual visionary experiences when larger quantities are consumed. Individuals have been known to experience stomach discomfort (gut rot) or nausea during the first few hours though this is not always the case.
Noticeable psychoactive effects can usually last up to 10 hours. Experienced peyotists acknowledge and welcome the feeling of this medicine working with them as a spiritual and physical blessing.
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