Salvia divinorum is a herb of the mint family. It falls under the category of hallucinogens because it produces sensory distortions.
It has gained popularity because it is available for purchase over the internet, yet can prove to be a dangerous substance since so little is actually known about it.
In this blog piece, we will discuss what salvia divinorum is, how it is made, how it works and the effects it has on the body.
What is salvia divinorum?
Salvia divinorum comes from a plant, specifically a plant of the mint family.
Because of the effects it has on the body when ingested, salvia is classified as a hallucinogen.
This plant can be ingested by chewing or smoking and when it is ingested it induces hallucinations.
For this reason, the plant is thought to have psychoactive properties.
Salvia divinorum has unfortunately become a drug some teenagers like to experiment with because it is available for purchase on the internet and falsely advertised as being a “safe drug”.
What gives the plant its psychoactive properties, is a component of the plant called salvinorin A.
It acts on similar receptors in the body that opioid drugs act on. Unlike many drugs, salvia divinorum is not illegal according to federal law in the United States.
Some local governments have made it illegal, however and others have passed laws to regulate the use of salvia divinorum.
That being said no one really knows how toxic salvia can be.
Because the effects it has on the body is very similar to that of illegal drugs, however, it can be assumed that salvia divinorum is not exactly safe.
In fact, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists salvia divinorum as a drug of concern.
Some states and countries have also made it illegal. Australia and several European countries for instance categorize salvia divinorum as a controlled substance.
How is salvia divinorum made?
Salvia divinorum is a plant grown in the northeastern Sierra Mazateca mountain region of Mexico.
Natives of this part of Mexico, the Mazatecs, have used this plant as part of traditional ceremonies for centuries.
Salvia is also cultivated in areas of the United States. After it is grown, the fresh leaves can be chewed on themselves.
The leaves can also be used to make an extract. This extract can then be vaporized.
The leaves themselves can also be rolled into cigarettes.
How does salvia divinorum work?
Salvia divinorum, as many drugs do, has an active ingredient. This active ingredient is known as salvinorin A.
The human brain consists of many receptors. The human body creates certain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, that can bind to these receptors and literally transmit information to them.
The brain can then listen to these neurotransmitters and carry out the functions it is being told to do.
The brain can also listen to chemicals not created by the human body.
For example, drugs contain chemicals and when the chemicals bind to the receptors in our brain, they can also tell our brain to perform certain functions.
This is what salvia divinorum does. Its active ingredient, salvinorin A binds to certain receptors in our brain.
The signal this chemical sends to the brain causes the brain to hallucinate.
It causes the brain and body to feel disoriented and can lead to difficulties with interpreting what is real life and what is not.
Again, this is why salvia divinorum is considered to be a hallucinogen.
What are the effects of salvia divinorum?
Salvia divinorum, because of the chemistry described above, is considered to be a hallucinogen.
As other hallucinogens, it causes the individual to quite literally hallucinate.
Individuals may become confused on what is reality versus what is the hallucination.
This leads to a lot of disorientation, confusion, and many times fear.
In fact, many individuals who have tried salvia divinorum express that the experience was not at all euphoric.
Instead, they describe it to be frightening and disturbing.
Effects of taking salvia divinorum include:
· visual distortions
· elevated mood
· inability to control your emotions, ex. Continuous laughing
· vivid memories
· a feeling that your body is malleable, that someone is able to twist you or flip you
· an unsettled feeling
· out of body experience
· confusion as to what is real and what is not
· synesthesia: mixing up your senses, people report “hearing colors” or “seeing smells”
What are the side effects of salvia divinorum?
Not enough research is available to determine the long term side effects of salvia divinorum.
This is why this drug cannot be considered a safe drug, since no one really knows what effect it can have on an individual down the line.
In addition to the hallucination effects of the substance, there are also a variety of side effects that can occur during the high.
Side effects of taking salvia divinorum are:
· slurred speech
· inability to walk straight
· loss of memory
· the feeling that you are in a different time or place than you actually are
· dysphoria: a feeling of discomfort after the drug’s use
How long do the effects of salvia divinorum last?
The effects of salvia divinorum noted above come on about two minutes after ingestion of the substance, and last for about twenty minutes.
The amount you ingest, how often you use the substance, your age, and your weight may very well affect this timeline.
How do you suspect whether or not someone is using salvia divinorum?
There is a lot of controversy about salvia divinorum. Many websites advertise it as a quick, legal, and safe high.
That is why some teenagers purchase it and experiment with it. The truth is that we cannot possibly call this substance safe.
The effects it has on the body is very similar to that of illegal drugs, even though the effects may last longer.
There is also not enough research available on the long term effects it has on your body.
Furthermore, there is not enough research on whether or not the substance is addicting, and whether or not individuals experience withdrawal from it.
Without the scientific evidence, we cannot say salvia divinorum is safe, and it is therefore illegal in many countries and listed as a drug of concern by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
If you suspect use of this substance by your loved one, look out for these behaviors:
· a change in behavior
· a change in mood
· signs of depression or anxiety
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Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Salvia Divinorum:
Is Salvia Divinorum illegal?
Salvia Divinorum is considered illegal in many countries.
Many European countries consider it to be a controlled substance. There are no federal laws in the United States that make salvia divinorum illegal.
There are however, individual state laws, and some states have outlawed it.
Others have set age restrictions.
In yet other states, however, there is no regulation on salvia divinorum.
Salvia divinorum is also not approved for medical use in the United States.
2. Is Salvia Divinorum safe?
Though it is not considered to be a controlled substance in parts of the United States, it is listed as a drug of concern.
Salvia Divinorum has profound effects on the brain, body, and mind, very similar to many drugs that are considered to be controlled substances.
There is also not enough research to show what the long term effects of salvia divinorum are, how toxic it really is, whether or not it leads to addiction, and whether or not it leads to withdrawal.
Because of all of these things, it is difficult to call salvia divinorum a safe substance.
If you are using the substance or plan to, make sure to see your state’s regulations on it.
Also, tell your doctor about it to see if any of your health conditions or medication can interact with the substance.
3. Is Salvia Divinorum addicting?
The long term effects of salvia divinorum are not yet known due to limited research.
Therefore, it is unknown whether or not salvia divinorum is addicting.
As with anything, an individual’s risk of addiction is predisposed if someone in their family has suffered with addiction, or if they themselves have suffered from addiction to other substances.
4. Does Salvia Divinorum lead to withdrawal?
The long term effects of salvia divinorum are not yet known due to limited research.
Therefore, it is unknown whether or not salvia divinorum leads to withdrawal symptoms.
5. Is Salvia Divinorum the same as marijuana?
Salvia Divinorum is an herb and can be smoked. It is not the same thing as marijuana and the two have very different active substances.
The two also have different side effects.
. Is Salvia Divinorum the same as Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)?
alvia divinorum is not the same drug as LSD. It is, however, the same type of drug.
Both are considered hallucinogens and cause an individual to hallucinate and have out of body experiences.
What does it mean when someone says that salvia divinorum is a hallucinogen?
Drugs and substances fall into different categories.
These categories allow people to group drugs, substances, and even medications that share similar properties.
Hallucinogens are a class, or category, of drugs and substances.
Hallucinogens usually have specific properties that act on an individuals’ brain, causing them to hallucinate.
Some other properties hallucinogens have is to make the individual experience an altered reality which can lead to disorientation.
Salvia divinorum has these capabilities and because of its active substance is considered to be a hallucinogen.
8. How long is the high of Salvia Divinorum?
Salvia Divinorum does lead to a high.
Through its active component, it acts on the brain’s receptors, causing the brain to respond through hallucinations and other effects.
Salvia divinorum can be ingested, via chewing, smoking, or vaping. It gets into the bloodstream rather quickly and an individual can begin to experience the effects within two minutes.
The effects then can last up to around twenty minutes.
The frequency with which a person uses salvia divinorum, the amount that they ingest, their weight, and their age can all have a difference as to how long the high actually lasts.
9. Is Salvia Divinorum approved for medical use in the United States?
Salvia Divinorum is not approved for medical use in the United States.
Though some studies are looking to see if any part of salvia divinorum can be used in analgesics or in certain therapies, no research has yet approved it for medical use.
10. How many teenagers have used Salvia Divinorum?
In a study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens, in 2019 0.8% of eight graders, 0.9% of 10th graders, and 0.7% of 12th graders experimented with salvia divinorum.
Have more questions about Salvia Divinorum? Post Below!
Want to learn more about Salvia Divinorum? Try these recommended readings!
Shamanic Plant Medicine – Salvia Divinorum: The Sage of the Seers
This book discusses how salvia is used in certain cultures for healing and spiritual purposes.
Salvia: Salvia Divinorum – A User’s Guide; Preparations, Experiences, Entities and Conclusions.
Alfred Freeman shares tips and tricks on how to use this “potent and highly misunderstood psychedelic”. This book also lays out the history and current scientific research on salvia.
What to Know About Salvia Divinorum Use Verywellmind.com 2020
Salvia Divinorum National Institute of Drug Abuse for Teens 2019
Salvia Divinorum MedicalNewsToday.com 2019
Salvia Divinorum Center for Substance Abuse Research 2013