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Visionary Cactus Guide


Several species of Cacti contain the alkaloids hordenine (peyocactin) and tyramine, both of which have antiseptic properties due to their phenolic function. Several Indian groups use the juices of different Cactus to cleanse the skin and as an anti-bacterial agent. For millennia the Huichol have rubbed the juice of the crushed Peyote into wounds to prevent infection and promote healing. It has been shown that hordinine shows an inhibitory action against at least 18 strains of penicillin resistant Staphylococcus bacteria.

Many Indians use Peyote to maintain good health as well as ritually. Folkloric medicine has used Peyote to treat influenza, arthritis (rubbed on the skin for painful joints), consumption, diabetes, intestinal disorders, snake and scorpion bites and Datura poisoning. The Tarahumara have been known to consume small quantities of Peyote to combat hunger, thirst and exhaustion while on a long hunt. After eating Peyote, they have been rumored to have been able to run after a deer for days without food, water or rest.

Woman of the Menomini tribe carry a basket of Peyote to be used for child-birth, earaches, or to be inspired to weave intricate spiral patterns. In fact in many Indian languages, their word for medicine is the same as for Peyote, so great is the healing power of this plant.

At least one Indian group is known to use the juice of Peyote on the scalp, and as a hair tonic.

After witnessing its effectiveness on the Indians, nineteenth century physicians soon became aware of Peyotes healing gift. An Aug. 22, 1896 Medical record reported that the " effect of the drug was little less than marvelous." It was recommended for color-blindness, as an anti-spasmatic, for general nervousness and insomnia. It was also prescribed for maladies such as asthma and "softening of the brain".

Peyote has also been reported to help poor eyesight and even blindness. It has been shown to help near-sightedness and astigmatism.

Peyote is prescribed in current times as an emetic (induces vomiting), as a cardiac stimulant, and as a narcotic (reduces or alleviates pain).

The Seri Indians of the Sonora desert are known to use the juice of the Saguaro Cactus to combat rheumatism.

In more modern times, researchers at the University of Arizona isolated a water soluble, crystalline substance from Peyote that exhibited " antibiotic activity against a wide spectrum of bacteria". They named it peyocactin.

Pellotine, an alkaloid present in several genus of Cacti, has been marketed commercially as a sedative in 1920's Germany. It also has antiseptic qualities.