- Diviner’s sage
- Maria Pastora
Basics: Salvia divinorum is a perennial herb native to regions in Oaxaca, Mexico. Over the last decade, salvia has become more popular as a recreational drug.
Salvinorin-A has been identified as the primary psychoactive chemical in Salvia divinorum. Unlike LSD and other classic hallucinogens, salvinorin-A doesn’t act on serotonin receptors. Instead, salvinorin-A interacts with kappa-opioid receptors, which play a role in pain perception.
The method of consumption can affect the duration of the experience. Users typically vaporize the dried, crushed salvia leaves through a pipe or bong, which causes a nearly immediate, intense hallucinogenic experience that lasts only fifteen to twenty minutes. Users also drop a small amount of salvia-containing tincture under the tongue. This method takes up to ten minutes to produce effects, but the entire experience can be prolonged for up to two hours.
History: The Mazatec people have used salvia leaves for centuries as a treatment for illnesses, including headaches and gastrointestinal problems, and as part of their divinatory and spiritual practices.
Traditionally, the Mazatec consumed salvia by rolling fresh leaves into a thick wad and chewing or sucking on it, absorbing it through their cheeks, which results in a milder and longer-lasting experience. The Mazatec would also grind the leaves and mix them into a drinkable infusion.
Potential Benefits: Studies on participants who smoked salvia report intense visual and auditory effects similar to those of LSD and psilocybin, though with unusual hallmarks, such as feeling like a two-dimensional shape or perceiving the world as flat, like a coat of paint. At higher doses it also caused participants to disconnect from reality and dissociate, reducing their ability to control or feel their bodies.
Potential Risks and Side Effects: More research is needed to determine Salvia divinorum’seffects on a broad population. There are case reports of users experiencing prolonged psychosis after ingesting Salvia divinorum.
Therapy: Because salvinorin-A works on receptors involved in perception, researchers hypothesize that derivatives of this molecule might be useful in the treatment of disorders characterized by perceptual distortions, like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Researchers have also conducted a pre-clinical exploration of salvinorin-A and other chemical derivatives based on it for the treatment of cocaine abuse.
Legality: In the United States, Salvia divinorum and salvinorin-A are not federally controlled substances but are illegal in some states.
- Researchers identified which receptors are affected by salvinorin-A.
- Salvinorin-A’s affinity for opioid receptors could make it a good candidate for treating pain, mood and personality disorders, substance abuse, and gastrointestinal issues.
- Salvinorin-A shows moderate anti-inflammatory properties in mice.