The Long-Term Effects of Peyote Use on the Brain

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The Long-Term Effects of Peyote Use on the Brain

Peyote has been used for entheogenic practices for thousands of years - but what effect does such use have on the brain?

In recent years, science has been working tirelessly to discover the long term effects, good and bad, of certain drugs and hallucinogens. Well, you can now tick peyote of the list, as initial reports suggest that there is nothing to worry about when it comes to the hallucinogenic cactus. 

What Is Peyote?

To put it very simply, peyote is a species of cactus that produces the hallucinogenic compound mescaline. Of all of the species of mescaline producing cacti, it is peyote that is the most renowned. It has a history dating back thousands of years, and is a regularly used as an entheogen in Native American religious and spiritual practices.

The popularity of peyote has dramatically risen in the last 50 years or so, thanks to the emergence of more Western demand for new spiritual and hallucinogenic experiences.

As such, academics have turned to investigating the effects of peyote over the last few decades, to see just what it does.

Peyote use leading to better mental health?

Research into the matter has shown that regular peyote use as part of spiritual and religious practice appears to have no long-term negative effects on either cognition or psychological health. The research in question was conducted using a group of Navajo Native Americans, some being regular peyote users, and the others not. Each participant was subjected to a number of interviews and tests to establish cognitive and psychological health.

Not only was it found that the peyote users had no measurable cognitive deficit, they actually scored higher on several indicators of mental health than the non-peyote users.

Quite understandably, prominent Native American figures were delighted with the news. Up until this point, many had faith that no damage was being done, but had never had solid confirmation. Victor J. Clyde, a judge within the Arizona state court system, and vice president of the Native American Church of North America said the news was “heart-warming”. He goes on to say that "Our elders told us that this beauty is good for us, and will never do us harm. The government never really took their word, and even prohibited peyote for a while."

Applying The Findings To Recreational Use

Historic academic research into peyote has been rather sparse, so such a definitive conclusion is good to see. However, the authors of the research do warn that these finding do not necessarily apply to the recreational use of peyote, as its spiritual use is conducted under the watchful eye of elders, and is safely controlled.

Saying this, the peyote used in religious ceremony and the peyote used for recreational purposes are no different. They are physically and chemically the same thing. The only difference is the assured safe surroundings the religious use of peyote is often conducted in. If anything, this simply drives home the point that drugs should be used responsibly when enjoyed, to ensure the continued safe use for everyone.