Can You Eat San Pedro Cactus Raw?

The San Pedro cactus (Trichocereus pachanoi)  is a type of cactus that is native to certain parts of the Americas. The fastest growing cactus variety is known for religious healing sessions and is eaten for addressing certain conditions.

If you are wondering if you can eat San Pedro cactus raw, the typical answer would be an emphatic YES. It can be eaten raw as it tastes like cucumber. However, it should be noticed that only certain varieites of the c actus can be eaten raw.

Before we get into the details about can you eat San Pedro Cactus raw, let’s know about this amazing San Pedro Cactus plant.

What is San Pedro Cactus?

San Pedro is a famous, widely cultivated, fast-growing and columniform cactus in desert areas and is immune to many diseases. The cactus belongs to the Cereus family. It is a fastest growing cactus and is native to  the Andes Mountains at 2,000–3,000 m in altitude. 

Different Trichocereus varieties are dispersed all over the Andes mountains, But the San Pedro (Echinopsis Pachanoi) cactus is found to be more widespread in  Bolivia, Ecuador, the South American countries of Argentina, Peru and Chile.

The Trichocereus and Echinopsis genera were combined by H. Friedrich and G. D. Rowley in 1974.

San Pedro has 25 different prevalent  Spanish names like huachuma, andachuma, wachuma and giganton. It has been used for therapeutic and spiritual purposes for over 3000 years. Trichocereus pachanoi name is derived from the hairy (tricho) flower tube and there are five pachanoi species. 

The san pedro cactus can reach a height of up to 20 feet. They grow to a size of up to six feet wide. The cactus has green or blue-green stems and can get a little darker with the age. The plant has edible fruits that are called Pitahaya, are sweet and red-skinned. The flowers are white and thick and they are quite fragrant.

Can You Eat San Pedro Cactus Raw

Always remember that  Trichocereus peruvianus (Peruvian torch cactus) resembles Trichocereus Pachanoi (San Pedro) so much that both are indistinguishable from each other.  

The plant has 4 to 8 ribs with clusters of 1 to 4 tiny, yellow to brownish spines growing at the nodes across the ribs and is greenish light to emerald or aqua in colour. 

San Pedro can be up to 5 meters tall with many branches that emerge near the bottom of the plant. The fruits of San Pedro can be consumed and has a moderate taste.

San Pedro has various alkaloids, like mescaline ( from 0.053% to 4.7% of mass of dry cactus), and 3-hydroxy-4,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 3,4-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenethylamine,  4-hydroxy-3,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 3-methoxytyramine, hordenine, anhalonidine, anhalinine, and tyramine.

Mescaline (3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine) is a hallucinatory drug, also present in some Echinopsis species like Echinopsis scopulicola, Echinopsis lageniformis, and Echinopsis peruviana, and in Peyote (Lophophora williamsii).

Circumstantial evidence has proven that the active ingredients are more condensed under the skin in the photosynthetic flesh. 

The excess alkaloid part is related to the darker green colour of cactus,   darker green cactus means more alkaloid part which can be attained by keeping the cactus indoors or in shade by distressing the cactus with limited sunlight. 

Keep a cut part indoors for a time period of 6+ weeks without any water and inoculate dopamine (or tyrosine and levodopa mixed together) into the plant.

Is San Pedro Cactus psychedelic? 

The cactus San Pedro contains mescaline,  which is known to be a psychedelic compound. It works on the serotonin and dopamine receptors which can produce a host of psycheddelic and hallucinogenic effects. The mescaline is not a drug or compound that you can take and forget. it can have a huge list of effects that can last really longer. 

Some of the effects that can be caused due to the use of mescaline can include altered thinking processes, an altered sense of time and self-awareness, and closed- and open-eye visual phenomena. Experts assume that mescaline can induce the symptoms that look almost similar to the symptoms shown by the use of LSD and psilocybin.

Can You Eat Raw Cactus?

You can eat raw cactus, but only certain varieties of cactus can be consumed raw, but there are a few precautions that you need to check out. You need to remove aall the spikes of the cactus and then remove the waxy hard skin. Once that done, cut the small fleshy pieces and consume them raw. 

Since the taste of the cactus can be ungent, it is advisable to swallow it immediately. You can also mix it wiht lemon juice or any other flavour enhancer to improve the taste or make it consumable. It may also be noticed that some animals consume certain types of cactus, it is also important to check out the effects of these cacti on the human or animal health or wellbeing.

Different Ways to Extract Mescaline

  • simply boil in water for 5 to 7 hours 
  • complex methods like an acid-base extraction by which you can get more mescaline.

San Pedro can be easily grown usually, and it is found at higher altitudes with lots of rain. It can resist much lower temperatures compared to other cacti and it has the same growing needs as plants other than cactus plants.

San Pedro needs rich, well-draining soil. They are prone to fungal infections when over-watered. They can be suntanned and become yellowish on getting more sun. In hot regions during summers, keep San Pedro cactus away from the direct sun. 

During winters, in low sunlight, plants become feeble and slender and can be broken easily due to stormy weather. To prevent your San Pedro from getting broken during winters, allow your plant to undergo winter dormancy by stopping watering( also avoid fertilizing) it altogether.

Propagating San Pedro

San Pedro can be propagated easily from stem cuttings and seeds.

Propagation from Stem Cuttings

You can propagate San Pedro can from cuttings. Cut the aerial end of the cactus and allow it to dry for two weeks so that a callus is formed. 

Dip the callus part in rooting hormone (optional) and put it into the soil having sand and vermiculture. You can also grow San Pedro from seeds.

Propagation from seed

Propagation of San Pedro from seeds is very easy as the seeds easily germinate. They need more moisture, a well-draining and nutrient-rich potting mix, sufficient water, and sunlight. Use sieved river sand and you can also add jute or moss. You can also sterilize the soil.   

In certain countries like the USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, and Sweden, owning mescaline is prohibited and growing San Pedro for eating is banned. You can cultivate San Pedro only for ornate purposes.

Benefits Of Eating San Pedro Cactus

The benefits of eating San Pedro cactus are:

Traditional Medicine:

San Pedro is a hallucinogenic cactus with phenylethylamine alkaloids like mescaline. Echinopsis pachanoi has antibacterial qualities and is used to cure neurological problems, heart disease, high blood pressure, and drug abuse.

  • Wounds: The stem is used to heal injuries.
  • Skin Diseases: You can apply the cut sections or crushed stem to the infected portion.
  • Inflammation:  The stem can be used on the inflammations.
  • Dandruff: Take off the skin from the stems, chop or squeeze the inner part, then immerse in cold water with the root husk of tuscana, rub it on the head for 5 minutes, then wash it. 
  • Washing your Tresses: You can also chop the flesh of the stem after removing thorns and skin, and allow it to ferment for longer and use it to wash your tresses.
  • Fungal skin infections: Apply crushed stem on the infected part  till it heals.
  • Scars: Scars can be healed with pound stems.
  • Sinusitis:  Keep a heated slice of stem on the forehead to cure sinusitis.

Veterinary Uses

San Pedro cactus has many veterinary uses like:

  • Antiparasitic: San Pedro cactus stem is boiled along with alum and lemon to get rid of tinea from cattle and goats.
  • Foot and mouth disease: The cactus stem is pounded to extract a liquid and animals suffering from foot and mouth disease are given this liquid to heal it.

Other Uses:

Detergent: The stem is cut and immersed alongside the salt or alum or even sans it and is then sieved. Use it to wash wool to make it voluminous.

Side Effects Of Eating San Pedro Cactus

The San Pedro is psychoactive. If you use it as part of your San Pedro celebration, it can have both positive and negative effects. the effects experiecned can be individual in nature and differ from person to person. 

Some of the possible effects would include

  • San Pedro starts showing its effects of drowsiness or dizziness in about 15 to 40 minutes and will be electrifying along with sweating, 
  • It set in the feeling of nausea at its utmost in three hours.
  • It will take the next three hours to decline and the entire event can continue for 10 hours. 

San Pedro gives an exhilaration effect making it hard to sleep even after its repercussions begin to diminish. 

San Pedro can have a relaxing effect, even if you’re intoxicated badly.  

San Pedro usually gives sights of swirls of colorful lights, horizon glares, polychromatic designs, and white, ghastly formations encircling people.  Listening to music and viewing colours in mind (synesthesia), feeling unrealistic things and conceptual distortions, etc. is quite common wiht the San Pedro cactus. Excitement, Self-actualization, and compassion are experienced at times, but freaking out and depression can also be observed at times. 

San Pedro ceremonies

San Pedro can be practiced in a ritual conducted by a skilled healer called curandero and is gaining popularity in the West.

These rituals are repeated many times and keep going overnight. Many plants like datura, Hippobroma longiflora, lycopods (clubmosses), and brugmansia  along with San Pedro are used by curandro in this ceremony.

Partakers are given a bath to cleanse them before consuming San Pedro.


Although it is not possible to tell how much mescaline is present in the cactus, usually 50g dried cactus may have only 150mg of mescaline. San Pedro dosage differs greatly from person to person depending on the way of eating. 

Is San Pedro Legal In The United States? 

It is legal to grow San Pedro cactus in the United States. You can grow it as an ornamental plant, but it is illegal to extract mescaline from it. If you possess any of the preparations made from this cactus, it would be considered to be equivalent to possessing any form drugs made from mescaline. You will be liable to punishment of one year in jail or $5000 in fines or both.

The possession of the San Pedro plant is not illegal in any way. As per the Controlled substances act, the substance mescaline is an offence. Make sure that you are not on the wrong side of the law.

Bonus Reading – A good list of Edible Cacti 

The fruits of the majority of cactus species can be eaten raw by human beings and animals. Also, the stem( also called the pads) and fruits of genus Opuntia and the flowers of some species of cactus plants can be consumed raw.

Edible cacti varieties that can be safely eaten are:

  • Cholla Cactus: Cholla cactus has flower buds that are edible along with Cholla fruits. Cholla buds have plentiful calcium, important for the growth of bones and muscles. Cholla buds can be easily prepared for consumption by first separating the thorns and adding them to beans or eating a salad.
  • Dragon Fruit Cactus: Dragon Fruit Cactus has eatable fruits, flowers, and stems that are very popular among Latin Americans.  It is better to make the stem soft by either grinding them in a mixer or boiling them as they are hard to bite.  It has a bland taste, but can be mildly sweet. You can fry or make soup with Dragon Fruit flower buds. Dry the flowers to make hot drinks from them. Fruit can be eaten by taking out the fleshy part that has vitamin A and C.
  • Prickly Pear Cactus: Prickly pears have 180 cacti species included in the genus Opuntia, with edible pads and fruits. Prickly pear pads are available as ‘nopales’ in the market.  Pads have piercing, small spines that should be removed before eating. Wash and peel the skin and cook as you like or consume raw as salad. Prickly pears fruits when ripe are red and sweet. Separate the glochids and skin to eat the pulp.
  • Barrel Cactus: Barrel cactus flowers, fruits, and stems all are edible. The fruit of the Barrel cactus has black seeds with a nutty texture that can be removed and roasted to add to toasts or pancakes to relish them. The red flowers of the Barrel cactus can be added to the recipes. The fruits of Barrel Cactus have a sour, lime flavor and are without thorns.
  • Saguaro Cactus: The saguaro cactus has edible fruits and seeds that can be consumed fresh or made into juice. You can eat the fresh fruit or blend it to drink the juice or even dry it to consume it later. The saguaro fruit is consumed in many ways like by making jam, juice or wine. Dry the tiny black seeds and make flour to prepare porridge. Saguaro seeds can be used to obtain oil from the seeds.

The Parting Thoughts

This information above should beone of the excellent options to help you in terms of understanding if you can eat San Pedro cactus raw. While you can eat it raw, the best option is to boil it so that your system can consume and digest it properly. In any case, consuming it either raw or boiled should help you enjoy it for the effects that you desire from it.

A few FAQs

What kind of cactus is safe to eat?

There a few varieties of cacti that can be comfortable and harmless to eat. A few of the cactus species that can be eaten would include

  • Opuntia (Prickly Pear) Cactus. …
  • Saguaro Cactus. …
  • Organ Pipe Cactus. …
  • Barrel Cactus. …
  • Hoodia Gordonii. …
  • Harrisia

Are any cactus poisonous?

It should be advisable to check out the varieties of cacti that are not posononous. prickly pear cactus, peyote cactus, San Pedro cactus, cholla cactus, and barrel cactus are five poisonous cacti to keep away from children and pets.



Nikita is a Succulent lover. She really enjoys planting and nourishing them. She loves to share information about various Succulents on this blog to aware people more about these awesome plants.

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