PEYOTE, or mescal, is the common name of the small spineless cactus Lophophora williamsii, found in the southwestern United States and north-central Mexico. Peyote is used in Native American religious rituals, primarily for its HALLUCINOGENIC effects. At the end of the nineteenth century, Arthur Heffter demonstrated that MESCALINE (3,4,5-tri-methoxyphenethylamine) was responsible for peyote's pharmacological effects. Mescaline is related to the Amphetamines. When ingested, it can produce HALLUCINATIONS, frequently of a visual nature, characterized by vivid colors, designs, and a distorted space perception. It stimulates the auto-nomic nervous system and can cause nausea, vomiting, sweating, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), pupillary dilation, and anxiety. The use of peyote in Native American ritual, referred to as Peyotism, was documented by Europeans in the sixteenth century. The modern practice of the peyote-based religion began in the late nineteenth century, was widely practiced by Native Americans in the southwestern United States, and was incorporated as the Native American Church in 1918. This church claimed more than 200,000 members in the 1960s. From the church member's point of view, peyote symbolizes spiritual power; the peyote ''button''— the dried top of the cactus—is eaten as a sacrament to induce a hallucinogenic trance (of a few hours duration) for communion with God.

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