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ARCHIVE:  November 14, 2001

Peyote and MAO Inhibitors

Dear Dr. Shulgin:

I have just started a course of Jumex/Selegeline - 5mg daily for the last 3 days. Now I have an opportunity to attend a peyote ceremony in four weeks time. If I stopped taking the Jumex now, do you think it would be safe to take the peyote? Would it actually be necessary to stop taking the Jumex? I have followed the discussion on MAPS regarding this subject, but would appreciate some clarification.


Dear Luke:

I do not know of any specific human study that has explored this combination. The primary active component of peyote is mescaline, and this alkaloid is known to undergo oxidative deamination in man. Jumex (Selegeline, l-deprenyl) is known to be an inhibitor of monoamine oxidases. It is a weak reversible inhibitor of the MAO-A and a strong irreversible inhibitor of MAO-B.  

In man, a major metabolite of mescaline is the pharmacologically inactive compound 3,4,5-trimethoxyphenylacetic acid. This is a product of oxidative deamination, and it is certainly possible that Jumex could inhibit its formation. It is reasonable, then, that less mescaline would be inactivated and thus there would be a higher blood level from a fixed dose. Thus a normal dose might constitute an overdose if there was inhibition of the formation of this metabolite. Further, there are a couple of other phenethylamines known to accompany mescaline in the peyote cactus. Their activities remain largely unstudied in man, but if any of them are intrinsically active but remain ineffective due to the amine oxidases, they might well complicate your experience.

This is speculative but it is logical. It takes at least a week for the body to rid itself of this irreversible inhibitor, and I would strongly recommend that you remain Jumex-free for at least that length of time before attending the ceremony.

-- Dr. Shulgin

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