A member of the sage family, this naturally occurring hallucinogenic plant has been used for centuries by the Mazatec Indians for spiritual divination, shamanism, and medical practices.
Salvia produces visual hallucination effects similar to hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD, including mystical and spiritual experiences.
Salvia has become popular as a recreational drug among adolescents and young adults. It is fast-acting, is thought to have a low incidence of side effects and low addiction potential, it is not considered highly toxic, and it is easy to obtain.
What is salvia?
Salvia is a hallucinogenic plant that belongs to the sage family. The plant is native to Mexico but is grown in some areas of the United States.
The KOR seems to play a main role in the regulation of human perception. Salvinorin A may also have an additional effect on the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Salvia has been used for centuries by Mazatec Indians. They refer to the leaf as "Herb of Mary, the Shepherdess," believing the plant to be an incarnation of the Virgin Mary. Visions of a woman or other objects can occur are reportedly common during hallucinations.
Mazatec shamans brew a tea from the leaves and drink the vision-inducing mixture during religious ceremonies.
The Mazatec also roll fresh salvia leaves into a cigar-like "quid." The quid is sucked or chewed without swallowing so that the drug is absorbed from the mouth lining into the bloodstream.
Once it is swallowed, Salvinorin A is deactivated by the gastrointestinal (GI) system.
Recreational users either inhale the drug through water pipes (hookahs), smoke it in cigarettes, or chew the leaves and hold the juice in the inside of the cheek.
The most intense effects are usually felt within 2 minutes after smoking and last for less than 20 minutes.
Extent of use
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for teens, 1.5 percent of 12th graders say they use salvia.
Salvia is primarily obtained through "head" or tobacco shops, and Internet sources. Individuals report using salvia for various reasons, including curiosity, for relaxation and improved mood, for getting high, and for the spiritual effects of the drug.
Street names for salvia
Salvia users can inhale the drug using hookahs. Salvia can also be smoked in cigarettes or chewed.
- Diviner's sage
- Maria pastora
- Ska pastora
- Hierba (yerba) Maria
- Magic Mint
- Shepherdess's herb
- Leaf of Prophecy
- Lady Salvia
- Lady Sally
- Yerba de Maria
- Sage of the seers
- Purple sticky
- The female
- Incense special.
In some places, salvia is considered a "legal high," a recreational drug that does not fall under any of the classifications of illegal drugs.
However, like other legal highs, it may not be safe or even actually legal. In some States, it is a schedule I drug and its sale is not permitted.
Salvia is a hallucinogen, meaning it causes the user to see or feel things that aren't really there.
Some of these hallucinations and sensations are considered dream-like, where one may not be able to tell the difference between things that are really there or not.
Effects of taking salvia include:
- visual distortions such as bright lights, vivid colors and unusual shapes and patterns
- cartoon-like imagery
- improved mood
- feelings of detachment (disconnected from self and the environment)
- uncontrollable laughter
- recollection of memories, such as revisiting places from childhood
- sensations of motion, or being pulled, twisted, stretched, or flipped
- merging with or becoming objects
- distortion of time and space such as the feeling of being in several locations at once
- out-of-body experiences
- contact with entities or other dimensions
- overall feeling of uneasiness
- loss of contact with reality
Salvia can make users feel as though they have been transported to an alternative place and time.
The most common side effects of salvia use are:
- lack of coordination
- difficulty concentrating
- slurred speech.
Additional effects can include tiredness, loss of memory, flushing, and a potentially disturbing sensation called "spatio-temporal dislocation."
Spatio-temporal dislocation is where the user feels transported to an alternative time and place, or has a feeling of being in several locations at the same time.
Disruption of space and time can be a frightening experience and can lead to serious psychotic disturbances in vulnerable people.
To date, there are no known hangover effects for salvia use once it has worn off. The drug also has a low addiction potential and no reported overdoses. However, the long-term effects of salvia are not known.
Despite a low incidence of adverse side effects and being legal in many parts of the world, salvia cannot be considered a safe drug.
Possible medical uses
Salvia does not currently have any medical use, but research is under way to investigate its potential.
Because of the way the active ingredient affects the brain, scientists believe it could have implications for developing therapy to treat schizophrenia, dementia, and bipolar disorders. This could be, for example, the development of a kappa opioid receptor antagonist, which would work in the opposite way to salvia.
Continued research is needed to determine if the drug's unique mechanism of action in the brain may prove useful as knowledge in the development of new treatments for dementia, addiction, and other central nervous system diseases.