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The peyote cactus contains mescaline as its primary active chemical, but also contains 50-60 other alkaloids. The alkaloid content (potency) of peyote buttons can vary greatly based on age, location, and season at harvest. Winter (January) is prime season with summer (June) showing lower levels. Though it has been suggested that some mescaline degrades as buttons dry, generally the same number of buttons are consumed, whether fresh or dried.

The above chart is based on average potency, mid-sized buttons (greater than 1 inch/2.5 cm in diameter when dried).

Mescaline content in dried buttons can reach 5-6% of total weight, but is more commonly now reported as 1-2% or less, perhaps because of a decrease in the average age of buttons at harvest. A dried peyote button may weigh 2-5 grams (2.5 grams for a dried mid-sized button approximately 1 inch/2.5 cm diameter). Mescaline accounts for approximately 30% of the alkaloids present. The percentage of mescaline content by weight in fresh buttons is much lower than in dry buttons because of the higher water content. Mescaline content in fresh buttons is approximately 0.2-0.3%.

The alkaloid content appears to be highest at the top of the cactus, with the top half of the button reportedly somewhat more potent than the bottom half. The alkaloid content of fresh roots is approximately one quarter that of fresh whole buttons/tops. It is considered inappropriate to harvest and consume the roots because a root can regrow a new button after a button is harvested.

Traditional peyote ceremonies continue for an entire night, with additional pairs of buttons eaten over time. Following are approximate single dosages (not including re-dosing) for fresh and dried peyote.

Every individual reacts differently to every chemical.

Erowid's dosage information is a summary of data gathered from users, research, and other resources. This information is intended to describe the range of dosages people report using. It should not be construed as a recommendation of any sort. Individuals can respond very differently to the same dosage. What is safe for one can be deadly for another.
Trout K. Trout's Notes on Sacred Cacti: Second Edition. Better Days. 2001.
Erowid Experience Reports.