Don’t let the name of this potential killer
fool, you. The mescal bean is not mescaline, nor is it the alcoholic beverage
mescal. Rather than make you high, it can put you 6 feet under.

These dark-red beans come from the Sophora
secundiflora shrub, or Texas mountain . laurel, which grows wild on the
limestone hills of northern Mexico and in the southwestern United States. Once
used for ritual purposes by Indians, mescal beans have since been replaced by
peyote. Nowadays, even the Indians won’t touch this drug with a 10-foot peace

The kicker in mescal beans is a toxic
pyridine called cytisine, a pharmacological cousin of the deadly poison

A ritual dose used to be a quarter of a
bean or less, first roasted, then crushed, chewed, and swallowed. The drug is so
toxic, however, that even a fraction of a bean too; much can throw the user into
convulsions and cause death from respiratory failure.

This is one hallucinogen that is just not
worth the chance. Even if it doesn’t kill you, the trip won’t be much fun-unless
your idea of fun includes unpleasant effects such as a disturbing level of
excitement, nausea, vomiting, a heavy drunk feeling, damaging heart
palpitations, and unconsciousness. Effects can last up to three days following
ingestion, during which the user may experience long periods of deep sleep.

Do yourself a favor. Unless you’re looking
to take a trip to the happy hunting ground, keep away from this psychedelic.


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