A Guide To San Pedro

San Pedro (Echinopsis Pachanoi)
Adam Parsons
Adam Parsons
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With a deep and rich history in shamanic practice, San Pedro is a great addition to any psychonaut’s hallucinogenic garden.

When it comes to psychedelics, there is a whole world of trippy life out there. One such example is the San Pedro cactus, a traditional South American hallucinogen that has been used for thousands of years during shamanic rituals. This mescaline containing cactus has held a place in the hearts of many seasoned psychonauts for a long time, so we thought we would put together a brief guide to everything you need to know about it.


The San Pedro cactus, known scientifically as Trichocereus pachanoi, is one of several mescaline-bearing cacti used by various cultures for thousands of years. Dried San Pedro is estimated to contain up to 2.375% mescaline by volume, though it also contains other alkaloids such as tyramine, hordenine, 3-methoxytyramine, anhalaninine and anhalonidine.



Mescaline is a hallucinogen with effects that range from euphoria to full-blown, vivid hallucinations. While today the San Pedro is enjoyed around the world as a natural psychedelic, indigenous Andean cultures long used the cactus in for divination purposes. As such, the cactus is used in both a recreational and spiritual context up to this very day.

Although the effects of psychedelic substances can be hard to accurately quantify, common effects experienced on San Pedro include: return of long-forgotten memories, extreme sensitivity to light and colour, synesthesia, altered perception of time, and open and closed-eye visuals. This last one is of particular interest to many mescaline users as the substance can elicit visual patterns of various types.

Overall, the experience is likened to that of other hallucinogens due to the sense of spiritual insight and connectivity that pervades. Effects kick in about 1–2 hours after ingestion and peak for another 2–4 hours before tapering down for another 8 or so hours.

The effects of San Pedro are, compared to peyote, said to be much more pleasant; the peak is less mind-boggling and not nearly as physical. San Pedro tastes only slightly bitter, and the obligatory nausea that goes hand-in-hand with peyote is not as likely to occur.

However, San Pedro can still make users feel nauseous and even cause vomiting before the trip kicks in. This is traditionally seen as a form of “cleansing” that ensures your body and spirit are “clean” for the trip ahead. 

Growing San Pedro At Home

Growing San Pedro

The plant only needs water and some nutrients. San Pedro likes it warm and bright. The hills it usually grows on have nutrient-rich soil, so add some every now, but not too much, because after all it still is a cactus. When cultivating this cactus indoors, make sure it receives direct sunlight - the best place for it is a window sill on the south-side. On really hot days it will appreciate a bit of extra water.

If you grow from a cutting, you will have to dry it first - until its cutting wound has "healed" - and then let it root in the ground before it starts growing; this can take up to a year. Growing from seeds requires a lot of time and effort, but can be very rewarding!


History Of The San Pedro

History Of The San Pedro

The San Pedro cactus has been with us a long time. Being native to the Andes Mountain range, it is estimated that it has undergone continual shamanic use in Peru for over 3’000 years. The earliest depictions of the San Pedro cactus can be found in an ancient Chavín temple in the northern reaches of Peru, in which a mythical creature is shown holding the cactus – archaeologists have dated the drawing to roughly 1’300 BC! Backing up the notion was the discovery of a Chavín refuse site, which had archaeological remains of cigars made from San Pedro.

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Fortunately, unlike other hallucinogens, the practice of using San Pedro for its psychoactive content remains as strong today as it ever was – for whatever reason, it largely managed to avoid the attention of Catholic settlers, which nearly wiped out the use of other hallucinogens in the region. 

Adam Parsons
Adam Parsons
Professional cannabis journalist, copywriter, and author Adam Parsons is a long-time staff member of Zamnesia. Tasked with covering a wide range of topics from CBD to psychedelics and everything in between, Adam creates blog posts, guides, and explores an ever-growing range of products.
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