Peyote, in danger of extinction due to illegal extractions

Peyote, in danger of extinction due to illegal extractions

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Peyote (lophophora williamsii) is a cactus native to the desert of northern Mexico and the southern United States whose medicinal and entheogenic properties have been widely debated, demonized, but also studied and exploited for hundreds of years by the Huichol and Tarahumara nations, among many others. It measures about 12cm in diameter and its color ranges from dark green to bluish-gray, presenting white villi similar to cotton feathers and sometimes a white or pink flower that grows in its center. Its root is conical and sinks deep into the ground, while the cactus pokes just a few inches out of the ground.

Its medicinal applications are numerous: macerated for 1 week in alcohol, it is a powerful remedy for rheumatic pain thanks to its analgesic action, as well as for arthritis, bone pain, bruises, bruises, and even as an agent against poison. of viper and scorpion. Its intake in fresh or dry form also helps against constipation.

Peyote in danger

Wirikuta, sacred territory of the Huichol community in San Luis Potosí, covers the municipalities of Real de Catorce, Charcas, Matehuala, Villa de Guadalupe, Villa de La Paz and Villa de Ramos. It is a site where an impressive endemic biodiversity is protected, mainly that of peyote.

Unfortunately in recent decades, the region has been strongly affected by the illegal extraction of peyote, leaving this species in danger of extinction. In the words of Yvett Salazar Torres, head of the Secretary of Ecology and Environmental Management –Segam–, “On one occasion we had the report that whole trucks loaded with the cactus left, they have also detectedhippies that come out with sacks. " For this reason, explains the owner, there is no estimate of the amount of peyote that is periodically extracted from the region; however, and on more than one occasion, they have had to report the illegal extraction to the Attorney General's Office –PGR–.

Due to the growing "mythical tourism" to the Real de Catorce area, many anthropologists, botanists and healers have asked that at least those who consume it in a non-ritual context know how to deal with the plant to prevent its exploitation, since it takes approximately 15 years to reach maturity. It is necessary to cut it flush with the ground, preferably with a flat stone found in the place (according to the ritual) or with a knife, so that the deep root remains buried and another button can grow in its place.

In view of the complaints, the PGR has asked Segum to work hand in hand with Profepa in order to “implement operations aimed at the conservation of the cactus”; as well as with the Huichol community, since they have requested to avoid the burning of peyote, “that instead, after a confiscation, a kind of agreement is made in favor of the community so that they have the opportunity to return these specimens. " However, there is an issue in the Law that does not allow this type of species to be reforested or reintroduced to its place of origin, since “The Health Law, on drugs, indicates that after a seizure they must be incinerated like any other drug."

Despite this, Salazar Torres urges: “We want to find a way for the PGR to carry out an analysis through researchers, so that the benefits of this cactus can be seen, which in addition to being in danger of extinction, is all that it represents in as for tradition. We must continue to promote the historical preservation of this route and preserve the tradition of the Wirrárikas. " Especially taking into account that the illegal extraction of species, however minimal, represents a negative impact on the environment, “generating arid zones, fragmentation and imbalances; situations that we must address together with the ejidos and the indigenous community. " Furthermore, "It is totally illegal to carry this plant, if it does not belong to the Huichol community."


Video: Cactus Drug. National Geographic (July 2022).


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