Peyote vs Ayahuasca | Banyan Philadelphia

Peyote vs Ayahuasca


Peyote and ayahuasca are both plant-based psychedelic drugs that alter a person’s thinking, sense of time, and emotions.

They can also produce hallucinations, such as seeing or hearing things that aren’t real. Both substances are mainly used recreationally, and users often claim they give them spiritual enlightenment and increased self-awareness. Below is an in-depth peyote vs. ayahuasca guide to better understand these two peculiar substances.

Ayahuasca vs. Peyote: How Are They Different?

What Is Peyote?

Peyote is a small cactus that contains a psychoactive alkaloid called mescaline. Parts of the peyote cactus may be chewed or soaked in water and drunk as tea for recreational use.

Despite being illegal to possess in the United States, peyote is often used in religious ceremonies of the Native American Church. In addition to recreational use, people may use peyote to experience hallucinations and treat conditions like fever, wounds, and joint pain. However, there’s no substantial evidence to support these uses.

Side Effects

The psychoactive ingredient in peyote mescaline, also known as 3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine, belongs to a drug class called phenethylamines. When peyote is ingested, mescaline is absorbed into the intestinal tract and then processed through the liver, kidneys, and spleen. Finally, it produces its side effects by binding to serotonin receptors in the central nervous system.

Within two hours, the effects of peyote kick in. These side effects may vary depending on the dosage taken and whether the person has eaten or used any other substances.

Individuals with underlying mental health problems are more likely to experience adverse psychoactive effects, such as paranoia and anxiety. Generally, however, peyote side effects include:

  • Increased body temperature
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dilated pupils
  • Shaking
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Flushed or red skin
  • Lack of coordination
  • Impaired judgment
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Altered perception of vision and colors
  • Altered perception of body in space and time
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of touch with reality
  • Inability to focus or concentrate

In some cases, the user may experience a negative peyote experience referred to as a “bad trip,” during which side effects like extreme paranoia and anxiety, intense fear, confusion, terrifying hallucinations, and panic may occur.

Despite the casual way this drug is used, its active ingredient, mescaline, does have a potential for abuse and addiction. Because of its impact on serotonin and other chemicals like norepinephrine and dopamine, long-term use can lead to dependence and addiction.

What Is Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is a psychedelic drug that’s derived from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the leaves of the Psychotria viridis shrub. It’s a concentrated liquid that’s made by boiling these two plants together.

Psychedelics such as ayahuasca alter all of the user’s senses, including their ability to think and their perception of vision, time, and space. The active chemical in ayahuasca is DMT (dimethyltryptamine). The drug also contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), known to be the first kind of antidepressants on the market, which have since been replaced by safer formulations.

DMT is another naturally occurring psychoactive drug, specifically of the tryptamine drug class. It’s also used for recreational purposes on its own and thus contributes to ayahuasca’s side effects.

Side Effects

Ayahuasca causes an altered state of consciousness, usually referred to as a “high.” An ayahuasca high is characterized by side effects like:

  • Euphoria
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Panic

Those with a history of psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, should avoid using ayahuasca, as it could exacerbate symptoms of mania. It’s also imperative to avoid taking ayahuasca with other medications or if you’re taking other medications, including antidepressants, medication for Parkinson’s disease, cough medicines, weight loss medications, and more.1

What’s more, ayahuasca is usually taken on retreats led by shamans. They’re usually in charge of how much of what is brewed to create ayahuasca, as well as determining the appropriate dosing. In this way, you’re putting your health and life in the shaman’s hands, which is risky.

What Is the Difference Between Peyote and Ayahuasca?

The main difference between peyote and ayahuasca is their ingredients, peyote being a cactus and ayahuasca being made from a combination of Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the leaves of the Psychotria viridis shrub. Peyote is also more likely to be used recreationally than ayahuasca, as the latter is most often used on ayahuasca retreats led by shamans.

Other than this, when comparing peyote vs. ayahuasca, you’ll find that both substances can have adverse side effects and should therefore be avoided. While many believe they provide spiritual enlightenment, in reality, they increase your risk of worsened psychiatric symptoms, paranoia, and physiological problems like high blood pressure.

Furthermore, ayahuasca and peyote may also be considered gateway drugs, as they may open the user’s curiosity about other, more intense drugs that provide “spiritual” experiences like LSD or acid. If you or someone you care about has developed a substance abuse problem, our drug rehab in Philadelphia can help.

Not only do we offer various levels of care for substance abuse treatment, but we also offer different forms of therapy to assist patients in mental recovery from drug abuse, as well. For more information about our Philadelphia drug treatment, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763.

Related Reading:
The Dark Side of Ayahuasca
Hallucinogens Effects

NCBI - Ayahuasca: An ancient sacrament for treatment of contemporary psychiatric illness?
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