Salvia which bears the scientific name S. divinorum is found in the southern part of Mexico and the central and southern parts of South America. The active ingredient of this member of the mint family is salvinorin A. It is taken by directly chewing the fresh leaves or drying the leaves and smoking or inhaling them. The juice of the salvia can also be extracted and taken orally.
Unlike other drugs like crystal meth, salvia is not a party drug. Rather it is used individually by persons who want to experience the effects brought about by this herb. Individuals get to know about salvia through the Internet and videos about drugs. It is also known by its street names Maria Pastora, Sally-D, Sage of the Seers, Diviner’s Sage and Magic Mint.
Citing the Monitoring the Future survey, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) revealed that two years ago (2012), there were 1.4 percent of eighth graders, 2.5 percent of tenth graders and 4.4 percent of twelfth graders used salvia in the past year.
Salvia is often used to produce hallucinogenic effects which are intense yet happens only for a short time. It alters the user’s visual perception and makes a person feel detached from his body. It also plays a role in modifying how the user perceives reality, both with himself and the world around him. Salvia also changes mood and makes the user experience emotional swings. Although the Controlled Substances Act has not yet regulated salvia, concern about the individual’s modified perception of reality may pose risks when the user is driving while under the influence of the herb which was utilized for healing and ritual divination purposes by the Mazatec Indians.
Salvinorin A works by activating the kappa opioid receptors which are nerve cell targets. Although salvia is considered a hallucinogen, its active ingredient doesn’t bind to the same receptors that are affected by other hallucinogens like heroin, morphine, LSD and psilocybin. In fact, it even produces different effects. So far, the addictive potential of salvia and the consequences of continued use are not yet determined. No study has even determined what the physical and mental side effects are of salvia’s long-term use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, experiments done on rats have shown that salvinorin A can be detrimental to memory and learning. So far, however, no evidence has shown that salvia can lead to addiction in people.