Magazine article The Christian Century

Study Finds No Ill Effects of Peyote Use among Navajos

Magazine article The Christian Century

Study Finds No Ill Effects of Peyote Use among Navajos

Article excerpt

Native Americans who use peyote as part of a religious ritual show no long-term negative health effects and actually fare better than recovering alcoholics, according to Harvard researchers.

A five-year study at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, also found that Navajo Indians who used peyote scored better on mental health tests than Navajos who did not use the hallucinogenic cactus.

"We found no evidence of psychological or cognitive deficits among Native Americans using peyote regularly in a religious setting," the researchers said in the November 4 issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry.

A 1994 law allows some 300,000 members of the Native American Church to use peyote in religious ceremonies, and 1997 guidelines allow its use among an estimated 10,000 Native American members of the armed forces.

The use of peyote was scrutinized by the U.S. Supreme Court November 1 as part of a case that involved the importation of a hallucinogenic tea used by members of a small New Mexico religious sect. …

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