Salvia is a Mexican herb that has ancient usage for visions, its affects on the out of body divine experience, it induces dissociative effects.
The plant is indiginous to the Sierra Mazateca cloud forest in Oaxaca, Mexico. It grows in shady and moist locations.The plant grows to over a meter high, has hollow square stems, large leaves, and occasional white flowers with violet calyxes. Botanists have not determined whether Salvia divinorum is a cultigen or a hybrid; native plants reproduce vegetatively, rarely producing viable seed.
First used by the Mazatec people living in the area and was used by Mazatec shaman to stimulate hallucinogenic visions during spiritual healing and divination.
The shaman also used the plant medicinally in smaller doses for the treatment of diarrhea, anemia, headaches.
The plant does not readily reproduce but can be propagated via vegetative reproduction. his is why their seeds are so priceless. Propagated plants do not produce any seeds.
The active ingredient in the herb is salvinorin A, a diterpene alkaloid and kappa opioid agonist
Salvia is the only hallucinogen to act on opioid receptors in your body. The exact mechanism underlying classic hallucinations is not known but a property common to most hallucinogens is their ability to bind 5-HT2A receptors (a specific seratonin receptor in the brain), especially those expressed in one specific type of cell in the brain – neocortical pyramidal cells. Salvia is the only hallucinogen that does not act on this receptor.
The plant is the most potent naturally occuring hallucinogen, triggering its charcteristic effects at doses as low as 200 micrograms (in contrast, LSD, a synthetic hallucinogen, causes effects at doses of only 20-30 micrograms).
How to use Salvia
The herb is both smoked (usually via a water pipe or bong) and chewed with the onset and duration of the effects varying by method of ingestion. The “usual dose” (if there is such a thing when referring to a recreational hallucinogen) is 10 to 20 fresh leaves chewed or 2 to 5 dried leaves smoked. The hallucinogenic effects of Salvia divinorum normally last about one to two hours when chewed and about 15 minutes when smoked.
In terms of other medicinal effects, Salvinorin A has also been shown to inhibit gut motility in an inflamed intestinal tract by acting on the opiod receptors there (it appears the Mazatec shamen were on to something) but has no effect on an intact gut (i.e. it only works if your gut is irritated). Additionally, one small study showed that it provides some analgesic effects although we don’t recommend replacing your go-to analgesic with a hallucinogenic herb. Uncontrollable giggling occurs.
Research into the hallucinogenic effects of Salvia divinorum revealed a myrid of unique experiences including uncontrollable laughter, conjuring of past memories, sensations of motion, visions of membranes, merging with or becoming objects, and overlapping realities, such as the perception of being in several locations at once. Users also commonly report a sense of calm, elevated mood, and introspection. In a survey of salvia users, 38% described the effects as unique in comparison to other methods of altering consciousness and 23% said the effects were like yoga, meditation or trance (maybe we’ve been doing yoga incorrectly all these years, but we have yet to hallucinate while perfecting the downward dog).
While the hallucinogenic effects are short-lived, there are some lasting effects.
- Increased insight: 47%
- Improved mood: 44.8%
- Feelings of calmness: 42.2%
- Weird thoughts: 36.4%
- Things seeming unreal: 32.4%
- Increased sweating: 28.2%
- Mind racing: 23.2%
- Feeling lightheaded: 22.2%
- Increased self-confidence: 21.6%
- Increased concentration: 19.4%
- Difficulty concentrating: 12%
- Worsened mood: 4%
The most profound effects of smoking Salvia, including speech and coordination loss, occur almost immediately and last about eight minutes. Essentially, if you have a bad reaction, it will all be over soon.
Is it dangerous?
The simple answer is: Not really. There are some documented adverse effects including dysphoria, lack of coordination, dizziness, and slurred speech. The typical sympathomimetic symptoms seen with hallucinogens are mild with Salvia (this is a fancy medical way of describing a constellation of symptoms caused by your sympathetic nervous system which include a fast heart rate, fever, high blood pressure, and dilated pupils).
Severe vital sign abnormalities are uncommon with hallucinogens in general. No deaths or cases of severe toxicity have been reported.
There also appears to be little potential for addiction. The previously mentioned study by the University of California found that only 0.6% of respondents felt addicted to or dependent on salvia at some point and 1.2% reported strong cravings. As with all smoked substances, the inhaled smoke can cause irritation to your respiratory tract and, if smoked repeatedly, can increase your risk of lung cancer.
Salvia divinorum, like all hallucinogenic substances, brings with it risks, albeit few in number. As long as it is used safely and not used in excess, it seems to have few adverse effects and minimal if any long-terms consequences.
Flowering Salvia Divinorum
Flower detail, showing violet calyx and white corolla. Salvia divinorum has large green ovate (oftentimes also dentate) leaves, with a yellow undertone that reach 10 to 30 cm (4 to 12 in) long. The leaves have no hairs on either surface, and little or no petiole. The plant grows to well over 1 metre (3 ft) in height, on hollow square stems which tend to break or trail on the ground, with the plant rooting quite readily at the nodes and internodes.
The flowers, which bloom only rarely, grow in whorls on a 30-centimetre (12 in) inflorescence, with about six flowers to each whorl. The 3-centimetre (1.2 in) flowers are white, curved and covered with hairs, and held in a small violet calyx that is covered in hairs and glands. When it does bloom in its native habitat (Mexico), it does so from September to May.
Salvia divinorum produces few viable seeds even when it does flower—no seeds have ever been observed on plants in the wild. For an unknown reason, pollen fertility is also comparatively reduced. There is no active pollen tube inhibition within the style, but some event or process after the pollen tube reaches the ovary is aberrant. The likeliest explanations are inbreeding depression or hybridity. All of the Mazatec populations appear to be clonal. The plant’s square stems break easily and tend to trail on the ground, rooting easily at the nodes and internodes. It was very difficult for us to find an unpropagated strain to breed from to obtain seeds, and we are usually sold out of Salvia Seeds.
Salvia divinorum was first documented in 1939, but it was many years before botanists could identify the plant due to Mazatec secrecy about the growing sites. Flowers were needed for a definitive identification of the species. In 1962, the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, and ethnomycologist R. Gordon Wasson, traveled throughout the Sierra Mazateca researching Mazatec rituals and looking for specimens of the plant. They were unable to locate live plants. Eventually, the Mazatec provided them some flowering specimens.These specimens were sent to botanists Carl Epling and Carlos D. Játiva, who described and named the plant as Salvia divinorum, after its use in divination and healing by the Mazatec. By 1985, up to fifteen populations of the plant had been found.
Until 2010, there were differing opinions on whether Salvia divinorum is an interspecific hybrid. The plant’s partial sterility was suggestive of a hybrid origin, though no two parent species have been found with an obvious affinity to Salvia divinorum. One other possibility for the plant’s partial sterility is that long-term cultivation and selection have produced an inbred cultigen.
In 2010, a molecular phylogenetic approach by DNA sequencing of Salvia divinorum and a number of related species strongly suggest that the species is not a hybrid. One earlier proposed parent was Salvia cyanea (a synonym for Salvia concolor), which Epling and Játiva believed to be closely allied to Salvia divinorum. The 2010 study demonstrated Salvia divinorum’s closest relative to be Salvia venulosa—a rare and endemic Salvia that is native to Colombia, growing in shaded, wooded gullies at 1,500 to 2,000 m (4,900 to 6,600 ft) elevation. It also showed that Salvia divinorum does not belong to the Salvia section Dusenostachys, as believed earlier. The genetic study also indicated that Salvia venulosa was likely misplaced into Salvia section Tubiflorae, and that it may not be related to other Colombia Salvia species, though further tests are needed.
The origin of Salvia divinorum is still a mystery, one of only three plants in the extensive Salvia genus (approximately 900 species) with unknown origins—the other two are Salvia tingitana and Salvia buchananii.
The traditional method of chewing the leaves has continued in modern use. However, salvinorin A is generally considered to be inactive when orally ingested, as salvinorin A is effectively deactivated by the gastrointestinal system. Therefore, in what’s understood to be a modern innovation, the ‘quid’ of leaves is held in the mouth as long as possible in order to facilitate absorption of the active constituents through the oral mucosa. ‘Quid’ refers to the fact that at the end of this method the user spits out the leaves rather than swallowing them because ingesting the leaves has no known effect. Chewing consumes more of the plant than smoking, and produces a longer-lasting experience
Effects of Salvia Divinorum
- Uncontrollable laughter
- Past memories, such as revisiting places from childhood memory
- Sensations of motion, or being pulled or twisted by forces
- Visions of membranes, films and various two-dimensional surfaces
- Merging with or becoming objects
- Overlapping realities, such as the perception of being in several locations at once
- There also may be synesthetic experiences. Glossolalia (speaking in tongues) has been reported by Reason.
- A survey of salvia users found that 38% described the effects as unique in comparison to other methods of altering consciousness. 23% said the effects were like yoga, meditation or trance.
- An experienced salvia user who is chewing a quid, may often choose to do it alone, and may be quite safe in doing so. But having a pleasant, sensible, sober sitter is an absolute must if you are trying vaporization, smoking high doses of extract-enhanced leaves, or using pure salvinorin.