Salvia

Salvia (Salvia divinorum) is an herb in the mint family native to southern Mexico. It is used to produce hallucinogenic experiences.

Traditionally, Salvia, also known as Sally-D, Magic Mint, and Maria Pstora, has been ingested by chewing fresh leaves or by drinking their extracted juices. The dried leaves of S. divinorum can also be smoked in rolled cigarettes or pipes or vaporized and inhaled.

Although information about salvia is limited, its use may be driven in part by drug-related videos and information on Internet sites. Because of the nature of the drug’s effects—brief hallucinogenic experiences that mimic psychosis—it is more likely to be used in individual experimentation than as a social or party drug.

Signs & Symptoms

Subjective effects of salvia use have been described as intense but short-lived, appearing in less than 1 minute and lasting less than 30 minutes. They include psychedelic-like changes in visual perception, mood and body sensations, emotional swings, feelings of detachment, and a highly modified perception of external reality and the self, leading to a decreased ability to interact with one’s surroundings.

  • Confusion
  • Tremors
  • Numbness
  • Memory loss
  • Nausea
  • Mood swings
  • Hallucinations

Effects of Use

The main active ingredient in salvia, salvinorin A, is a potent activator of nerve cell targets called kappa opioid receptors. (These receptors differ from the receptors activated by commonly known opioid drugs such as heroin and morphine.) Although salvia is generally considered a hallucinogen, it does not act at serotonin receptors that are activated by other hallucinogens like LSD or psilocybin, and its effects are reported by experienced users to be different from those drugs.

The psychological or physical health effects of salvia use have not been investigated systematically, and consequences of long-term use are not known. Experiments in rodents demonstrated deleterious effects of salvinorin A on learning and memory.

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