Hallucinogens and dissociative agents naturally growing in the United States

Pharmacol Ther. 2004 May;102(2):131-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2004.03.003.


It is usually believed that drugs of abuse are smuggled into the United States or are clandestinely produced for illicit distribution. Less well known is that many hallucinogens and dissociative agents can be obtained from plants and fungi growing wild or in gardens. Some of these botanical sources can be located throughout the United States; others have a more narrow distribution. This article reviews plants containing N,N-dimethyltryptamine, reversible type A monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI), lysergic acid amide, the anticholinergic drugs atropine and scopolamine, or the diterpene salvinorin-A (Salvia divinorum). Also reviewed are mescaline-containing cacti, psilocybin/psilocin-containing mushrooms, and the Amanita muscaria and Amanita pantherina mushrooms that contain muscimol and ibotenic acid. Dangerous misidentification is most common with the mushrooms, but even a novice forager can quickly learn how to properly identify and prepare for ingestion many of these plants. Moreover, through the ever-expanding dissemination of information via the Internet, this knowledge is being obtained and acted upon by more and more individuals. This general overview includes information on the geographical range, drug content, preparation, intoxication, and the special health risks associated with some of these plants. Information is also offered on the unique issue of when bona fide religions use such plants as sacraments in the United States. In addition to the Native American Church's (NAC) longstanding right to peyote, two religions of Brazilian origin, the Santo Daime and the Uniao do Vegetal (UDV), are seeking legal protection in the United States for their use of sacramental dimethyltryptamine-containing "ayahuasca."

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dissociative Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Dissociative Disorders / psychology
  • Fungi / chemistry
  • Fungi / growth & development
  • Hallucinogens / adverse effects*
  • Hallucinogens / chemistry*
  • Hallucinogens / isolation & purification
  • Ibotenic Acid / chemistry
  • Ibotenic Acid / isolation & purification
  • Ibotenic Acid / pharmacology
  • Muscimol / chemistry
  • Muscimol / isolation & purification
  • Muscimol / pharmacology
  • N,N-Dimethyltryptamine / chemistry
  • N,N-Dimethyltryptamine / isolation & purification
  • N,N-Dimethyltryptamine / pharmacology
  • Plant Development
  • Plants / chemistry
  • Plants / classification
  • United States


  • Hallucinogens
  • Ibotenic Acid
  • Muscimol
  • N,N-Dimethyltryptamine