Salvia divinorum is an herb known to produce psychoactive hallucinations. The plant is native to southern Mexico and is part of the mint family and is most commonly used for recreational purposes.
Traditionally, Mazatec shamans chewed fresh leaves to produce visions during ceremonies. Sometimes leaves are crushed to extract the juices, which are then mixed with water to produce an infusion tea to produce the hallucinogenic effects. Modern methods for recreationally abusing the herb include chewing fresh leaves, or smoking dried leaves in a similar way to smoking marijuana.
The psychedelic effects of the herb can produce effects such as uncontrollable laughter, overlapping realities, visions, and reliving or revisiting past memories. Some users report feeling as though the body is being pulled or moved by invisible forces while under the influence of the herb.
The adverse effects of ingesting the herb can include increased sweating, difficulty concentrating, disassociation and light-headedness. The hallucinogenic effects of smoking dried salvia may only last for a few minutes.
Salvia is referred to as Maria Pastora and Sally-D, along with just salvia, really a shortening of its official name. Other more create names for the drug, sometimes depending on location, include Sage of the Seer, Diviner’s Sage, Magic Mint, Lady Salvia, Purple Sticky, Shepherdess’s Herb, Sister Salvia, ska Maria Pastora, and ska Pastora.
Like cannabis, use of salvia can vary somewhat, although it is the leaves of the salvia divinorum plant which offer the hallucinogenic effects when ingested. It is a perennial herb plant from the mint family which originated from southern Mexico. There are three basic ways for a person to take the drug. First, the leaves of the plant can be chewed without any further processing, just as the leaves of the opium poppy plant are as well. Dried leaves from the plant can be also be rolled like tobacco or marijuana or ground up and placed in a pipe and smoked. Additionally, extracts from the plant can be added to almost any drink, or even just water, and ingested that way.
Salvia is a hallucinogen and not a drug that is typically a user’s primary substance of choice, but rather one that is experimented with by recreational and habitual users of other substances. The hallucinogenic experiences are short-lived, leading to the drug not being as popular as other psychotropic substances.
Although it is a known entity in the drug using world, salvia or any substances that can be found in the plant are not currently on the U.S. List of Controlled Substances. This has led to a surge in online sales, as suppliers are pushing the drug as a legal substance that can be used in place of other illegal hallucinogens, such as mescaline. In an unsurprising move, websites are aiming their promotions at the younger crowd who are much more prone to want to experiment with a substance that produces hallucinations, especially if it is currently technically legal.
Using salvia causes hallucinations, along the lines of illicit drugs like mescaline. There is no secondary effect sought after by users, like the stimulant quality of ecstasy, or the lessening of inhibitions caused by many drugs and alcohol. Due to the fact that salvia is somewhat of a one-trick pony, it is not as popular as other “new wave” or designer drugs that have either come along or recently regained popularity.
Salvia has not reached the popularity levels of newer drugs like bath salts or ecstasy or the old guard of marijuana, cocaine, and heroin because the experience, at least for users in the United States, has not been overwhelmingly positive. Although being heavily advertised online, it has not reached the “next best thing” type of hype many new drugs receive. Basically, reviews are mixed, which is a good sign for drug enforcement agencies, as it is one less substance they need to worry about being on the street if it doesn’t catch on. There are side effects, some negative and some that would be considered neutral, that users experience. Some of the effects salvia can cause include short-term memory loss, loss of coordination, slurred speech, loss of consciousness, out-of-body experiences, uncontrollable laughter, depression, anxiety, restlessness and mood swings.
Any substance, let alone drugs or alcohol, when taken over a long period of time, will have side effects, and not necessarily negative ones. As salvia is not as popular as many street drugs, the amount of research done on the long-term negative effects has been somewhat limited. Salvia being a hallucinogen leads some to believe that there could be long-term mental impacts, but some studies that have shown a depressive-like effect have been contradicted by other research. Users of the drug have reported little or no hangover-like effects the day after using salvia, and no persistent symptoms that would be considered lingering or long-term, either.
The effects of any drug is in some part based on the person using the substance and their general tolerance for the ingredient that causes the high. As salvia is a plant and is sometimes taken directly with no change to the leaves at all, it is also hard to gauge the exact potency of any given use. Potent hits of the drug can cause loss of bodily control, and people have been known to be unable to move until the drug has worn off to some extent. Additionally, users do not typically remember the high they experienced or many times what they did under the influence of the drug, and only when they are captured by video can they know what went on during their use. Thankfully, the effects of the drug do not last very long (about 30 minutes) when taken in what would be considered an average dose.
Salvia is sometimes combined with other drugs, including alcohol and other psychedelics, like mushrooms and LSD. Users claim that this even further enhances all of the euphoric and hallucinogenic feeling and sensations and makes for the ultimate “trip.”
Like marijuana, there does not seem to be an addictive ingredient in salvia. However, a person can become a habitual user and return to the drug time and time again of their own accord. This can lead to the same problems a person can experience in their life if they were physically addicted to drugs or alcohol. When getting high is the only thing that is important in your life, other areas of responsibility will seem unimportant and not worth your time. Job loss, financial problems, family and relationship problems can all be caused by getting heavily involved with any drug or alcohol. Recreational use can lead to abuse or habitual use, and it can cause people to make poor choices that can severely impact their lives. No one is immune to addiction, no matter how strong-willed they may seem.
Not surprisingly, users of marijuana are among the highest concentration of salvia users. As with smoking pot, using salvia can cause people to partake in dangerous behaviors simply because they are high. These can include driving under the influence, engaging in unprotected sex with strangers, taking other substances that a person would not have otherwise, and other generally dangerous behaviors. Users with underlying mental disorders may find their typical symptoms exacerbated, acting out, feeling paranoid or anxious, or having panic attacks.
Salvia is dangerous solely because of its unregulated status, allowing it to be sold not only online but in shops as well. It can also be grown legally. Salvia may not be mainstream, but it can have severe negative impacts in a person’s life. If you or a loved one having been using salvia and need help from a detox and rehab treatment center, there are always addiction specialists available to speak to about getting back to a more positive place in life.
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