CommentaryTraditional Remedies

Wachuma, Ancient Medicine for The Body, Mind and Spirit

The wachuma or cactus of San Pedro is an important part of Andean ancestral medicine, today people from all over the world come to the imperial city of Cusco to consume it, for its great healing benefits in body, mind and spirit.

Wachuma is, in essence, a highly respected medicine throughout the Andes Mountains and around the world, used by Andean healers for healing rituals guided by the master plant.

Con el paso del tiempo, la medicina natural con sus plantas y hierbas vuelven a cobrar vida. Ahora hay muchas personas que prefieren tratar sus males con plantas que tienen un profundo sentido natural.

Over time, natural medicine with its plants and herbs comes to life. Now, there are many people who prefer to treat their ailments with plants with a deep natural sense.

What is Wachuma or San Pedro?

Wachuma or San Pedro is the same species of cactus, its scientific name is “Tricocereus Pachanoi”, it is one of the oldest ancestral psychoactive plants.

Its use in Peru dates back to the Inca empire and its predecessor cultures, thanks to its effects it can be said that our ancestors possessed great exceptional wisdom, which can be seen in the great monuments built around the entire empire.

Wachuma grows naturally in the Andean mountain ranges that are at an altitude between 1000 and 3000 meters above sea level. Hailing from Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, and Argentina, this cactus has become so important that it is now grown in other parts of the world.

The Wachuma acquired the name of Saint Peter who (according to the Catholic religion) carries the keys that open the doors of heaven, this name is because when it is consumed, one feels that it opens the doors of the soul reaching the subconscious in order to Releasing all Affections (Andean belief) also open the consciousness for self-learning.

Wachuma o San Pedro Cactus
Wachuma o San Pedro Cactus (Walter Coraza Morveli)

How is wachuma or San Pedro

This cactus is an erect columnar plant from the base, it has a cylindrical shape, it is of an intense dark green color and it does not have many thorns, this species can grow up to 6 meters more.

This plant has flowers that bloom at the top of the cactus, open at night, its petals are white and peaceful and measure about 20 centimeters, its floral life cycle is short, lasts 1 to 2 days, then it wilts and falls .

What is wachuma for?

The Andean teachers use it to perform gastrointestinal cures, to cleanse the body, cleanse the stomach, open the consciousness, expand the roots and connect with the different planes of energy.

Andean teachers or healers use wachuma for its hallucinogenic properties, since it has entheogens. It is also used to create cosmetics.

What are entheogens?

It is a plant substance or preparation of plant substances with psychotropic properties that, when ingested, causes a change in the state of consciousness, using it in a religious, ritual or spiritual context.

It also has medical and recreational uses.

What are the uses of the San Pedro cactus?

This indigenous traditional medicine is used for some therapies, archaeological studies of its use have been found dating back 2,000 years.

This cactus has recreational, hygienic, medical uses, it is also used in spiritual rituals, since it has entheogenic properties, due to the large amount of alkaloids and mescaline.

Wachuma, San Pedro, Cactus  Deshidratado
Wachuma, San Pedro, Cactus Deshidratado (Walter Coraza Morveli)

Uses of San Pedro

Its medicinal uses have been given since ancient times, since they are effective inside and outside the human body.

The external medicinal uses of wachuma are:

  • For Headaches: Used cleanly, cut into thin slices, placed on the forehead and neck, its cool effect helps relieve headaches.
  • For dandruff: it is cut into small pieces removing the middle part, then it is liquefied and immersed in cold water for about 4 hours. The substance is used as a substitute for shampoo, it gives more color and softness to the hair.
  • For swellings and scars:  the gelatinous liquid that you have when you cut is used, this liquid is applied to the affected part, in the same way as an ointment.
  • For premature skin aging: The jelly-like liquid is used to work through skin blemishes and wrinkles caused by age, this helps to lighten and smooth damaged skin.
Wachuma o san pedro, Psychoactive Plant
Wachuma, Psychoactive Plant (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

How is San Pedro consumed?

To consume this master plant orally, you should stop eating meat and heavy products for about 3 or more days, as considered by the guide or teacher. This practice connects you with different planes of consciousness and helps you clear your path in life.

In the traditional markets of Cusco, this cactus is sold in three ways: whole plant, powdered and dehydrated. The taste when consumed in all three forms is bitter and unpleasant on the palate, so it must be consumed safely

Whole plant

For this you need to wash the catus well, cut it into pieces, remove the skin, then extract the green part of the cactus where more mescaline is concentrated, only the green part is cooked for an approximate time of 8 at 11 hours, after cooking, the liquid turns a creamy brown color, is strained and the medicine can be consumed.


For its consumption you need to cut the dehydrated green part into small sizes, with a bottle of water next to it, you start taking it as if they were pills, little by little, until you reach about 100 grams (Recommended dose).


The 100 gram dose is already weighed in transparent plastic bags, it only needs to be mixed with boiled but cold water, and it is ready to heal the body, mind and spirit.

Also the powder is mixed with other plants such as tobacco for intranasal use.

Wachuma o san pedro en polvo y deshidratado
Wachuma o san pedro en polvo y deshidratado (Walter Coraza Morveli)

Recommendations before ingesting Wachuma

If you have heart conditions, if you suffer from fainting or have diabetes, if you are pregnant, with a menstrual period or other conditions, it is advisable to inform the guide or teacher with whom you will perform the ceremony.

What are the effects of Wachuma?

The effect of wachuma, in the 3 forms, liquid, dehydrated and powder is the same, after consuming it you have to wait approximately 20 to 30 minutes, then the discomforts arrive, it is not uncommon for it to cause nausea and vomiting after ingestion, the entire trance lasts about 8 to 11 hours.

After all the trance the body, mind and spirit feel light and relieved.

Psychological effects

After the ingestion, the effects arrive in the walk. (It is recommended to carry out the ceremony and the bed in open places that connect you with nature)

  • Visions with eyes open and closed.
  • Deep change in cognition, perception and consciousness.
  • Psychological experiences.
  • Spiritual experiences.
  • Changes in the perception of time and space.

Difficult experiences can occur, with anxiety and anguish at times, for that it is recommended to walk a lot until the effect wears off.

The effect is different in each person, for most the experience with Wachuma is unique and introspective in which one is subjectively with closed eyes looking “inward”. Music and singing are instruments that each teacher uses to help you in your process.

San Pedro ceremony

In the preparation, the human energy has to be connected with the energy of the master plant, for that a ceremony with songs and prayers is performed while the medicine is prepared. The duration of the entire ceremony is approximately 2 to 4 hours while it is being prepared. Palo santo and florida water are always present in the ceremony, their aromas make you connect with the energy of mother earth.

Who can perform the wachuma ceremony

Andean healers, shamans and teachers can perform this ceremony, since they accompany you and guide you with their songs and knowledge throughout the trance. They know the exact dosage one needs. That is why it is advisable to meet or contact a reliable one

Paco, quien que realiza las ceremonias de wachuama, Guias Espirituales
Paco, quien que realiza las ceremonias de wachuama, Guias Espirituales (Walter Coraza Morveli)

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