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Visionary Cactus Guide


Since the general consensus is that hallucinogenic Cacti " taste like shit", it was felt that a lengthy discussion of the different ways to prepare and eat them would be of help.

An anonymous fellow psychonaut reports:

I've tried consuming San Pedro almost every way imaginable. Through my trial and error, I feel that I've arrived at the best way to consume this plant for the best entheogenic results. I'll briefly review some of the different ways I've tried.

Eating 'like a cucumber': This method consists of peeling the cactus and eating it (chewing every bite). This seemed somewhat effective except it took so long for me to eat it (6 or more hours) that the impact of the effect was diminished, and I couldn't seem to eat enough.

Boiling down to a residue. This method consists of slicing the cactus in thin slices, and boiling for an hour, collecting the liquid, adding more water, boiling, etc, several times then taking the 'cactus juice' and boiling it down to a residue. This residue is then scraped into capsules and swallowed. This method seemed to reduce the effect by a factor of 4 or more.

Desiccating. This method consists of slicing the cactus and thoroughly drying it, then grinding it to a powder. This method was also very disappointing, seeming to take very long to come on.

Extraction. This method consists of desiccating and grinding the cactus to powder, extracting with water, then extracting with benzene washing, and recrystallizing with benzene. 1 g of crystals looking like mescaline and requiring lots of cactus, had no noticeable effect.

Boiling. This method consists of slicing in thin slices and boiling, collecting the cactus juice, adding fresh water, and repeating. The cactus juice is drunk. This method seems to reduce the effect somewhat.

Grinding and filtering. This method consists of grinding the cactus, and straining, grinding the solids more with fresh water, straining, and repeating several times until there are few solids. One problem is that grinding tends to froth the stuff up, but with time and gravity it condenses back to a liquid. This method seems to work well, with little reduction in potency.

Finally my preferred method described in some detail.

1) cutting: A cutting of the cactus is taken, leaving a viable portion to grow. This is important, especially if one later discovers this individual has special properties. It is best to take a middle section if the cactus is tall enough, leaving both the apical and rooted section to grow.

2) washing: The cutting is washed in water, running a finger up and down the grooves.

3) de-spining: The spines are cut out removing as little of the valuable green tissue as possible.

4) de-skinning: Cuts are made down the grooves. The skin is pulled up attempting to keep a piece going as long as possible. It helps to pull as much as possible from the groove outward.

5) sectioning: cuts are made from the grooves to the core and the sections are pulled away from the core. Pieces of core remaining on the sections are cut off. The core is discarded.

6) freezing: The sections are placed in a freezer for several hours until thoroughly frozen.

7) grinding: The frozen sections are chopped up and ground, and the pulp filtered to collect the liquid. The pulp is ground more and filtered, adding only a little water on the second and third grindings.

8) drinking: The collected liquids are drunk as quickly as possible without gaging or regurgitating.

9) eating: The remaining solids are consumed.

NOTES: I perfected the final method only during my most recent session, and the resulting trip was very intense (similar, at least visually, to 500 ug of LSD). I was quite convinced that a spirit inhabited that cactus, and that it came through more clearly than other sessions because I had treated it properly. Desiccation or excessive boiling seem to kill part of its spirit. Freezing seems to be a good way to 'put it to rest'. On a more scientific level, I'm not sure why this cactus is so sensitive to the way it is consumed. Perhaps it is because it contains a special synergistic mixture of alkaloids and some are destroyed more easily than others. Also freezing would break down the cell walls while not degrading the compounds as boiling might. gives us his favorite methods.

Before you prepare any San Pedro for ingestion: a word of warning. It tastes bad. It tastes gross. It is TEN TIMES worse than the worst thing you have ever tasted. It looks, tastes, feels, and smells absolutely gross. It is entirely possible to drink it, but very unpleasant. You have been warned.

Traditional preparation (method #1) of San Pedro is as follows: We are assuming your cactus is about 3" in diameter. Remove spines. Finely chop up about 6-12 inches or 1-2 pounds fresh(I've used a blender--but don't totally liquefy it for this method), depending on how deep you wish to journey.....Boil in several quarts of water for three hours. Strain it, save the water, and boil it again in a few more quarts of water for another three hours...strain again.

Both times, you may need to add water in order to keep it simmering for three hours. The pulp may now be thrown out. Combine the two extracts and boil down to a cup or two.

This will take at least another hour. ( I have some literature that says you can just eat it, but I think that it is easier to drink a cup of foul tasting liquid than to eat a foot long cactus!). Lately I have read that boiling with 25% lemon juice for only 2 hours will properly extract the mescaline. That makes sense, based on all my reading. Much quicker too! My suggestion is chop fine, boil for 2-3 hours with 25% lemon juice (fresh is probably better at extracting the alkaloids), strain, and then gently simmer down to a consumable quantity (perhaps 2 cups).

The percentage of mescaline is supposed to be approximately that of Peyote, so that can be your guide when deciding how much to prepare. Having never taken Peyote, I don't really have much basis for comparison. But based on my reading combined with my experience, peyote would seem to be much more potent. I know that the first time, I took four inches and it didn't do that much....enough that I noticed it, but not much more. Then the next time I prepared 12 inches, and, to use the vernacular of my youth, "tripped my freakin' brains out". It was the first time I'd ever experienced Mescaline and it was beautiful, wonderful, spiritual, and indescribably nice.

If you are prepared for a strong psychedelic experience I would suggest 12 inches (of about 3" cactus). It is best taken in two doses, 45 minutes apart, to minimize the shock to the system. My literature suggests that it isn't nearly as physically nauseating as Peyote. I have not found it to be very bad. I warn you that it tastes TERRIBLE!, and you probably will want to cook it down to a very small amount of liquid(a cup or two total), because of this. However, one author had this to say: "In my own experience, *extensive* boiling of San Pedro produces a trip that is mellower, more sedative, and with fewer visuals, as well as reducing the potency in general". After trying his method, I have also found this to be true, so I suggest the method below. It works beautifully! Even better than method #1! Unfortunately, it requires ingestion of a MUCH larger volume of snarly tasting liquefied cactus. It's worth it, but definitely harder to do.

Method #2: Remove spines. Chop, then blend, juice or otherwise liquefy. For each foot of cactus: Add 1 cup water and the juice of two lemons to the bowl of liquid. This extract can be frozen for later use, although it may be illegal in this form. (San Pedro is legal to possess, but illegal to consume, in the USA). The liquid extract can be chilled to ice-cold temperatures before ingestion, and prepared with lemon juice, both of which make it more palatable. I don't think it makes a big difference myself. Consume 6 - 8 oz. portions 15 - 30 minutes apart until you've fully consumed your chosen dose (cactus length). Remember, San Pedro is intensely bitter, so don't savor it, just chug. This method works great, but I have found that stomach capacity will limit how far you can travel. I think future journeys will be with the boiled or dried/powdered cactus. This method works great, but I've usually gotten fairly mild but quite satisfactory results. Perfect for the first couple San Pedro voyages.

Cooking with San Pedro can easily be adopted from other techniques for Mexican food. Some recipes that can help make eating Tricocereus more palatable are as follows:

Prickly Sticks - Peel and slice Cactus, approximate size by inch and 6 inches long. Dip in Lime juice and sprinkle with salt and ground Cilantro. Eat like a carrot stick.

Pedro Hash - Chop and dice Cactus section into small 1/4 inch cubes. Soak 1/4 pound of cubes in 2 tablespoons of good cider vinegar. Mix in parsley and salt, leave in refrigerator for 2 hours.

Quick Fried - Remove spines and cut inch thick , star shaped slices. Remove and discard the woody center. Fry the Cactus slices in olive oil, over medium heat. Cook till the edge just start to brown.

Fried Delight - Chop and dice Cactus section into 1/4 inch cubes. Mix 2 cups of cubes, 1/4 cup of finely diced onions, half a clove of garlic, and salt. Brown over medium heat for 10 minutes, cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes more.

The key thing to remember is, when eating, remove and discard the waxy, outer skin. It is widely believed that this part of the plant is one of the main sources of nausea producing constituents, and should not be consumed. Be careful not to discard any green or white tissue.

Generally adding vinegar or a strongly acidic juice like Lemon, or Lime, will help to neutralize the inherent bitterness of San Pedro. From what I understand, the addition of acidic liquids probably converts some of the various free-base alkaloids into citrates or acetates.

I have also heard that putting the intended sacrificial victim in a dark place for at least a month prior to harvest can help improve the texture of the Cactus flesh, making it somewhat less gritty and crunchy. This can also help increase alkaloid levels through stress.

Note: Extensive boiling of any psychoactive Cactus during preparation will affect the resultant effects. It is said that excessive boiling reduces the potency in general, and gives a mellower, more sedative trip, with fewer visuals. Probably due to the destruction or modification of some of the constituent alkaloids.