Salvia divinorum: A legal trip

Salvia — also referred to as Sally D, Magic Mint, Shepherdess’ Herb, Ska Maria Pastora, Diviner’s Sage or Sage of the Seers — is a powerful hallucinogenic herb that has been used by Shamans for centures for spiritual purposes and which is now gaining popularity in modern Western culture, particularly among teenagers.

The active ingredient in the salvia herb — commonly found in Mexico, Central and South America — is Salvinorin A, one of the most potent naturally occurring hallucinogenic chemicals.

How is Salvia used?

The traditional method is to chew the leaves, and although this is still practised today, the most popular form of ingestion is to smoke the dried leaves using a water pipe, with the drug taking effect almost immediately and the high lasting between one and five minutes. It can also be consumed as a liquid extract.

What are the effects?

Users may experience uncontrollable laughter, merging with or becoming objects, visual distortions, overlapping realities, disorientation and dizziness. Synesthesia is also possible, where physical sensations become intertwined and it is possible to ‘hear’ or ‘taste’ colors and ‘smell’ music.

Although the media often compares the effects of salvia with LSD, there are two essential differences: LSD is a synthetic compound and the effects can last for hours, whereas Salvia is a natural herb and the effects last only a few minutes to an hour.

The  Salvia divinorum User’s Guide emphasizes that the herb is not a “party drug” and goes on to say: “Salvia is not ‘fun’ in the way that alcohol or cannabis can be. If you try to party with salvia you probably will not have a good experience.

“Salvia is a consciousness-changing herb that can be used in a vision quest, or in a healing ritual. In the right setting, salvia makes it possible to see visions.

“It is an herb with a long tradition of sacred use. It is useful for deep meditation. It is best taken in a quiet, nearly dark room; either alone, or with one or two good friends present.”

Is it legal?

Salvia divinorum is legal in most countries.

Although it is not regulated by the United States Government, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regards the herb as a “drug of concern”, and is monitoring reports of abuse.

Read here about the video circulating the internet which shows Miley Cyrus smoking Salvia.

Images: Wikimedia Commons