Salvia divinorum is not an unknown or new herb. It has been used extensively for centuries by the Mazatec Indians of Mexico in shamanic rituals. The shamans chew the leaves or make an infusion as a way to lead them towards spiritual enlightenment.
At the 2008 World Psychedelic Forum in Basel, Switzerland, ethnobotanist Kathleen Harrison described her experiences with the Mazatec Indians and stressed that according to them, the leaves must never be heated. This is in stark contrast to how it is used here in the US.
Smoking salvia has been gaining in popularity since the '90s. Type “salvia” into Google's search engine and, at last count, you'll get over seven million listings. Videos of adolescents and young adults smoking salvia are common on YouTube, with over 400 as of this month. In one video, a salvia user believes his couch is eating him. In another, a user is unable to recognize a cat sitting on the hood of his car.
Hysterical laughter, silly antics, and bizarre, altered visual perceptions seem to be the norm in most of these segments. The high appears to be easily obtained in less than a minute after inhaling, but is somewhat short-lived, lasting only a few minutes for some users, a bit longer for others, but almost always less than a half hour.
The fastest growing population using "The Purple Drug," "Sally-D," or "Magic Mint" are white males aged 18 to 25. The herb is easily obtainable from Internet sites and head shops. It is relatively inexpensive, about $11 to $20 per ounce.
Salvia's leaves are often crushed and smoked, or a tincture is made from the leaves. There are many websites touting the “mind-altering” benefits of this herb. One website is devoted to construction of a “gravity water bong” designed to get a more easily obtained and longer-lasting high. Based on the messages on the forums and the blogs, there appear to be few negatives. However, it is possible that one could cause physical harm to oneself or others by using salvia, as in the case of Brett Chidester, who committed suicide after smoking the drug. Operating any kind of machinery under its influence would be very dangerous.
Little is known about overdosing on this herb, or about what constitutes a lethal dose. Many pieces written about salvia are by those who wish to keep it legal, and according to the majority of reports they cite, there appear to be no long-lasting detrimental effects from smoking it. However, scattered through these pro-salvia messages are postings by a few mothers who share stories of how the herb has adversely affected a son or a daughter.
Nine states have banned the sale of salvia: Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia. Other states are considering the same. In July 2008, US News and World Report reported on states considering banning the herb.
Diviner's sage (another name for salvia) does not appear to be physically or psychologically addictive, but it seems that more research is needed before this can be confirmed. The active hallucinogenic substance is Salvinorin A, a potent k-opioid receptor agonist. The effects that have been reported include increased insights, obtaining a higher level of consciousness, euphoric feelings, a sense of peacefulness, out-of-body experiences, and a feeling of connection with nature and the universe. In terms of adverse affects, headaches have been the most common symptom.
Daniel Siebert, a medical botanist, has spent over two decades studying the herb. He has a large website devoted to the benefits of salvia, including research articles, and is a proponent of keeping it legal but using it in a responsible manner.
As the mother of a teenage daughter who is about to go off to college in less than a year, it seemed important to me to share with others this information about what is becoming a quite popular hallucinogenic. LSD and “magic mushrooms” were the most popular mind-altering substances when I was in college. Many argue that salvia is not the same type of substance as these two. Society has yet to determine what ought to be done with salvia divinorum.Powered by Sidelines