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  • Salvia Divinorum | Facts, Effects, & Risks

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    Salvia Divinorum | Facts, Effects, & Risks

    Salvia divinorum is an herb and psychoactive drug that is native to the mountains of southern Mexico and is part of the mint family. When used, it can lead to an intense psychedelic reaction, potentially altering a person’s thinking, sense of time, emotions, and mental health.

    Salvia was used by the Mazatec Indians for centuries in spiritual divination, medical practices, and shamanism. Beyond that, it’s most often used as a recreational drug, and outside of the Mazatec, it doesn’t have any approved medical use.

    Facts About Salvia Divinorum

    Salvia divinorum is an herb that is often abused for its hallucinogenic effects. The active ingredient in this drug is called salvinorin A. It binds to and affects the kappa opioid receptor in the brain. 

    This is what makes salvia different from other hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and mushrooms that affect the levels of serotonin in the brain.

    What Does Salvia Look Like?

    Salvia divinorum can be found in the wild where it grows more than three feet tall, has hollow square stems, and white and purple flowers. It also has spade-shaped green leaves that could be confused for mint. 

    When salvia leaves are dried, it is also often confused with marijuana because it’s green, but beyond that, the two have nothing in common. 

    Besides the dried leaves, salvia can also be found as seeds or as a liquid extract. 

    Salvia Uses

    Salvia is used and abused in different ways, including:

    • smoking via  pipe, bong, vape, or joint
    • chewing or placing fresh leaves under the tongue
    • drinking the extract mixed into different beverages like tea
    • drops of extract placed under the tongue

    Salvia Street Names

    Salvia can be found under a variety of street names including:

    • Maria Pastora
    • Sally-D
    • diviner’s sage
    • magic mint
    • sage of the seers
    • shepherdess’s herb
    • Ska Maria Pastora
    • Leaf of Prophecy
    • Lady Salvia
    • Lady Sally
    • purple sticky

    Effects Of Salvia Divinorum

    Salvia can lead to both short-term and long-term effects. Effects usually disappear within an hour or less, but the higher the dose, the longer the drug will last and the more intense the side effects will be. 

    Common side effects of salvia divinorum can include: 

    • dizziness
    • slurred speech
    • confusion
    • paranoia
    • hallucinations
    • intense dissociation
    • disconnection from reality
    • disorientation
    • psychosis
    • uncontrollable laughter
    • loss of coordination
    • mood and emotional swings
    • difficulty concentrating
    • anxiety 
    • amnesia
    • detached from the body

    Risks Of Salvia Abuse

    The use of salvia divinorum can increase the risk of health issues and negative consequences. This is especially the case if it’s abused and/or used for a long period of time. Breathing problems, bad trips, and possible injury or accidental death may occur.


    It’s unclear whether there is potential for addiction when abusing salvia. However, if you or your family have a history of substance abuse and addiction, the risk of drug addiction is still relevant.

    More research needs to be done on whether salvia abuse can directly lead to addiction.

    Breathing Problems

    Smoking salvia, or any substance, over a long period of time can affect lung function and lead to breathing problems like slow breathing, COPD, and bronchitis.

    Injury/Accidental Death

    One of the biggest issues with salvia is the risk of injury or accidental death while on the drug. 

    Because of its intense psychological effects, being under the influence of salvia could impair your coordination and thought process enough that it could lead you to be a danger to yourself or others. This is why it’s important that you use salvia in a safe environment. 

    Bad Trips 

    Some people can have negative reactions to psychedelics like salvia. This is often known as a “bad trip.” A bad trip can lead to serious issues like:

    • frightening hallucinations 
    • intense anxiety
    • intense confusion 
    • paranoia

    Whether you’re using salvia or another psychedelic drug and need help, we’re here for you. For information on our substance abuse treatment options, please contact us today. 

    For more information, please call our helpline today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Article Sources

    Alcohol and Drug Foundation - Salvia
    Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) - Drug Fact Sheet: Salvia Divinorum
    Journal of Pain Research - Salvia divinorum: from recreational hallucinogenic use to analgesic and anti-inflammatory action

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