What is Salvia divinorum?
Salvia divinorum is a perennial herb in
the Labiatae (mint) family, native to certain areas in the Sierra
Mazateca of Oaxaca, Mexico. It is a rare plant in the wild. I
have heard some say that it is one of the rarest plants in the
world, and under considerable threat in its native habitat. There
is a good case for growing it even for those not particularly
interested in its shamanic properties. It is a strange hybrid. It
cannot usually manage to propagate itself by seed. It is killed
by extreme cold, yet does not like too much direct sunlight or
arid conditions. Fortunately however, it propagates easily from
cuttings, and is quite easy to grow indoors, making it an ideal
What are its uses?
The Mazatec Indians have used it for
centuries for curing and divination. For more detail on this see
the article on its 'ethnopharmacology' (on the Salvia Menu - back from here). - The article makes
reference to its shamanic use as an adjunct to other naturally
occurring plant allies, for example, mushrooms. It mentions
Salvia's context in shamanic training, suggesting it is
particularly appropriate for the shamanic apprentice.
What are its active constituents?
The primary psychoactive constituent is
salvinorin A (a trans-neoclarodane diterpenoid with formula C23H28O8).
Recent research has shown that salvinorin A is a remarkably potent and selective
kappa opioid receptor agonist. It has been demonstrated that the effects of
salvinorin A are blocked by kappa opioid receptor antagonists. This indicates
that the effects of Salvia can be largely, if not entirely, attributed to kappa
agonism. Salvinorin A is unique in that it is the only naturally occurring
substance known to induce a visionary state via this mechanism of action.
What are its effects?
This is too vast an area to cover in a
simple introduction. I include my own initial contributions in a separate
section and there will be ongoing expansions on the subject. I also recommend the linked
chapter from Dale Pendell's
Other aspects such as methods of ingestion and advice
as to plant care have their own pages on this site.
Is it addictive?
No, the question of dependency is a red herring. Actually it's more like a
discipline. Salvia is not a cosy experience, - it's not a fuzzy, warm
thing. It's interesting, potentially scary. It's not comforting, or escapist.
For this reason it's much less psychologically addictive than, say,
And it's certainly not physically addictive. In fact, the temptation to discontinue
is more of an issue. I think that this is something unfortunate in the human condition,
- a tendency to laxness
and complacency. Some people will excuse themselves from further Salvia
experience, "been there, done that, it has nothing new to show me." - Wrong
Salvia divinorum is still perfectly legal in the UK and most of Europe, but there are
exceptions, and situations can change. More information on laws regarding Salvia divinorum can be found at
Erowid's Salvia Law vault and at
The Salvia divinorum Research and Information Center
I am not hard selling Salvia. Bear this
in mind particularly if you are considering ingesting. It's not
something to get you 'wasted'. It's not a cure for all. You may not like it, and you may find
aspects of its revelation quite disturbing. There are perils with any venture
into the unknown. Being of sound mind and body, and inquisitive by nature,
I think that the benefits outweigh the risks. Salvia has been chewed for
centuries without any known deleterious health effects.
Having said that, the practice of smoking it is more recent. You proceed
at your own risk. You are encouraged to
find out further information. Visit other web sites and read how
other people describe the experience. Try this
linked quiz>> to test your
knowledge. At the end of the day
however, when it comes to a personal decision as to whether or
not to take it, that's yours alone.