Pachanoi Retreats


Sacred Medicine

“Ancient remains of the cactus dating from 6800-6200 BCE have been found in these caves, making Wachuma one of the oldest psychoactive plants used by humans.”


Wuachuma, also known as San Pedro is a cactus native to South America that has been used by indigenous people of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador for medicinal and religious purposes for many thousands of years.

Wachuma or Huachuma means “to be without a head, to cut one’s head, to cut rational thought, to cut the ego”. It is a Quechua word that is divided into Waqcha whose meaning is “absence of” and Uma, which means “head”. We prefer to use the name Wachuma instead of San Pedro to honor the indigenous and ancestral roots of this sacred plant.

The earliest evidence of Wuachuma cactus has been found in the Guitarrero cave of the Callejón de Huaylas valley, in the Ancash Region in the north-central highlands of Peru. Ancient remains of the cactus dating from 6800-6200 BCE have been found in these caves, making Wachuma one of the oldest psychoactive plants used by humans.

Wachuma has been considered a sacred plant by many indigenous groups for millennia. At the Chaving the Huantar site in Peru, representations of the cactus have been found engraved in stones, wall paintings, textiles, and ceramics. These objects date from the year 1300 BCE, and it suggests that its use was already well understood and practiced. Ceramics have also been found with representations of the cactus and archaeological evidence of the use of Wachuma by the Nazca, Cupisnique, Chimú, Lambayeque, and Moche cultures. In colonial times, the use of Wachuma cactus was well documented by the Spanish, and even though the colonizers and the Catholic Church fought against it and tried to suppress its use, the ritual use of Wachuma continued and blended with some elements of Christianity. In this merge of cultures, the cactus was renamed San Pedro after Saint Peter the guardian of the gates of Heaven.

Nowadays, indigenous and mestizo people in Peru and Ecuador continue the use of Wachuma for the same reasons their ancestors did: for prayer, communing with nature, accessing the spirit world, acquiring wisdom, expanding consciousness and healing the body, mind and spirit.

Wachuma is considered one of the most sacred master plants, highly revered for its therapeutic and healing powers, as well as its ability to connect us with the divine that is in and around us. The primary psychoactive compound in both the Wachuma and Peyote cactus is mescaline which is responsible for its psychoactive effects and many of its healing properties.

Similar to Ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms and other psychoactive medicines, Wachuma helps remove physical, mental and emotional blockages. It brings the unconscious to the surface to be acknowledged and released. Ayahuasca is often referred to as the Grandmother and Wachuma is considered the Grandfather, both are equally powerful and profound sacred plants.  

Wachuma cleans and detoxifies the body, and treats mental and emotional issues. After a Wachuma ceremony, we can often feel inspired and more creative, experience deep love and connection, heal trauma, and be free from depression, PTSD, anxiety, grief, chronic pain and addiction.

In indigenous cosmovision, Wachuma is an earth spirit that connects us with the land and with our bodies. Wachuma opens the heart, allowing us to experience emotions like love, joy, forgiveness and compassion. Playfulness and wonder are often part of the journey. Wachuma heals the wounds of the heart with gentleness helping us to live a more vibrant and joyful life.

The Wachuma cactus is seen as a benevolent spirit that brings protection and peace to homes, families and marriages, for this reason, it has been widely cultivated close to houses in gardens for countless generations and remains to this day a popular ornamental plant in South America.


A Wachuma ceremony is typically held outside in nature, in the daytime or at night. The medicine is prepared by cooking the cactus for many hours in water. After taking the medicine, most people start feeling the effects within 20 – 40 minutes, the experience usually lasts 10 -12 hours.

Even though everyone’s journey is unique and different, some general themes are part of the ceremony. Wachuma is known for being an empathogenic, bringing a sense of love, expansion and connection with all beings. It produces a dream-like feeling that can be accompanied by visions, heightened senses and waves of emotions. During the ceremony, it is common for the participants to receive guidance, insight, deep healing, inner peace and connection to their higher selves.

Wachuma often brings a higher sense of love and compassion, which can be the inspiration to heal and repair broken relationships.

As a powerful master plant, Wachuma can also be challenging and confronting, as everything that needs to be healed will come out to the surface to be released. For some people, it can be physically demanding, dizziness, nausea and purging can be present at some point in the journey, this is an important part of the healing process.

Wachuma usually leaves a lasting afterglow and a sense of clarity, peacefulness and joy.

We, the Pachanoi team, have been blessed to be working with Wachuma, receiving personal physical, emotional, and mental healing, as well as being witness to the healing of many people.  It is an honor for us to share with you this powerful medicine that has the potential to change your life!  

There have been several medical studies on the therapeutic effect of mescaline, the main healing agent in Wachuma cactus.

If you are interested in learning more about the clinical studies please visit the following links:


Wachuma is a medicine that many people will benefit from. Wachuma is completely safe for healthy adults to consume, however, there are some things to consider:

– People with a history of cardiovascular diseases should refrain from using Wachuma, particularly those who are taking medication to control these pathologies and who have medical conditions for which reduced amounts of physical activity have been indicated.

– People with a history of psychiatric conditions such as psychotic disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and suicidal thoughts should refrain from using Wachuma.

– Even though there are no contraindications regarding the use of medications, it is highly advised to be free of any chemical substance before journeying with Wachuma, including any prescription, over-the-counter and recreational drugs. We will review your medication history during the application process.

– Wachuma has slightly stimulating effects, so it should not be combined with other stimulating substances such as coffee.

– To receive the full potential of the medicine we advise not to take other plant medicines before and during the retreat, including marihuana.

– Alcohol and recreational drugs must be avoided before and after the retreat. A good guideline is to stop all substances a week before and a week after the retreat.

– We recommend following a clean, healthy diet before the journey. Abstaining from eating processed food, milk products, pork, and red meat will be beneficial.

Our booking process includes an in-depth medical and psychological screening to ensure that each person staying at Pachanoi is able to retreat safely. We also require every guest to fill out a health questionnaire prior to their stay. This helps us ensure that we can provide our guests with the best possible experience.