Where Do Psychedelics Come From?

by | Nov 23, 2022 | Awareness

Do you ever wonder where psychedelics come from? In recent years, there’s been an increase in interest in psychedelics for therapeutic purposes. This is thanks to advancing research and personal testimonies from women and men who’ve benefited from them.

Like most medicines, psychedelic substances come from plants. A majority of pharmaceutical medicines are also often derived from plants before being turned into medications. Here’s a look at where some of the most popular psychedelics come from.

Where Does Mescaline Come From?

Mescaline is a natural alkaloid. It is produced in several types of cacti, including the peyote cactus and the San Pedro cactus. Peyote is native to Mexico and southwestern Texas. It’s been used ceremonially by indigenous cultures for centuries and is starting to be used more in the United States.

A research survey found that 74% reported consuming mescaline “for spiritual exploration or to connect with nature”, and “about 50% of the sample reported having a psychiatric condition (i.e. depression, anxiety, etc.), and most (>67%) reported improvements in these conditions following their most memorable experience with mescaline.”

Where Does DMT Come From?

DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) comes from a variety of plants and is the primary active ingredient in ayahuasca. A medicinal brew of plants, ayahuasca extracts DMT from plant material like tea. It was ayahuasca that legendary quarterback Aaron Rodgers recently told reporters helped him heal and contributed to his Super Bowl Wins.

Researchers have also discovered that DMT is produced naturally in our bodies. Preliminary science indicates,

“Recent research has demonstrated that DMT is present in and is released from the pineal gland of live, freely-moving rodents… New receptors for DMT have been identified and a potential role for DMT as a neuroprotectant and/or neuroregenerative agent has been suggested.”

Research on this subject is still ongoing.

Where Does Psilocybin Come From?

Psilocybin comes from more than 200 species of mushrooms. Having multiple benefits for mental health, psilocybin is thought to be one of the oldest psychedelic medicines used by humans. Colorado just made history by becoming the second state in the U.S. to legalize psilocybin.

Veronica Lightning Horse Perez, a leader of the legalization movement, told CBNC,

“I’m in awe of what we were able to accomplish. Over a million people voted yes on this. To think that many people see the value in these medicines, that many people know that these can be used for healing — that’s huge.”

Where Does MDMA Come From?

MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) was first synthesized in 1912 and is derived from safrole oil. Safrole oil can be found in sassafras roots, certain types of star anise, and the sap of some trees. Although MDMA is derived from natural plant-based sources, the chemical process to create MDMA makes it a synthetic substance.

Even though it is synthetic, research on MDMA has shown very little risk for adverse side effects, and the FDA in the U.S. has designated it a breakthrough therapy. Research says, 

“Early trial data suggest that MDMA, in conjunction with psychotherapy, may be a fruitful therapeutic for several complex treatment populations, which lends further credence to the theory that psychedelic medicines could prove to be rapid, long-lasting, novel therapeutics for mental health disorders.”

These are just a few examples of where different psychedelic substances come from. It’s important to remember that many of these substances are plant-based and are produced naturally in our environment. As interest in the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics continues to grow, more people will likely be exploring these substances as a way to improve mental health and well-being.