The salvia drug has become a popular recreational substance among adolescents and young adults. It’s fast-acting and thought to produce less severe side effects compared to other drugs. It’s also easily obtainable and not considered highly toxic, but is this true? Today our Pennsylvania rehab is looking into the effects of salvia and whether claims of its benefits are actually true.
What Is Salvia?
Salvia is a psychoactive plant, formally known as Salvia divinorum, or the ‘diviner’s sage.’ Salvia is specifically part of the mint family (Lamiaceae; formerly Labiatae) and is native to limited areas of the highlands of the Mexican Oaxaca state. There, the Mazatec Indians would ingest its fresh leaves or leaf preparations for divinatory rituals, healing ceremonies, and medicinal purposes.
The Mazatec Indians refer to the leaf as the “Herb of Mary, the Shepherdess.” They believe that the plant is an incarnation of the Virgin Mary. People have even reported visions of a woman or sacred objects when they’re under the influence of salvia. Mazatec shamans brew tea from salvia leaves and drink the hallucination-inducing mixture during religious ceremonies.
The Mazatec may also roll fresh salvia leaves into a cigar-like “quid,” which they chew and suck on without swallowing. This allows them to absorb the drug into the bloodstream from the mouth lining. Once the drug is swallowed, the gastrointestinal (GI) system deactivates salvinorin A (the active ingredient in the salvia plant).
However, since the late 1990s, salvia plants have been used as a “legal” herbal hallucinogen, and its abuse has been increasing. Smoking salvia as dried and crushed leaves provides short-lived but intense side effects, including hallucinations. The effective dose of salvinorin A is similar to synthetic hallucinogens lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or dimethoxy bromoamphetamine (DOB).
Common street names for salvia include:
- Diviner’s sage
- Maria Pastora
- Ska pastora
- Hierba (yerba) Maria
- Magic Mint
- Shepherdess’s herb
- Leaf of Prophecy
- Lady Salvia
- Lady Sally
- Sage of the seers
- Purple sticky
- The female
- Incense special
Due to the increase in its abuse, researchers are showing concerns that salvia may affect a person’s thinking, decision-making abilities, and mental health. The long-term impact of the drug also remains a mystery.
Salvia Drug Effects
Recreational users may inhale salvia through water pipes known as hookahs, smoke it in cigarettes, or chew the leaves while holding the juice in their mouth. The body eventually begins to absorb the drug and its psychoactive components, the mucous membranes. Salvia drug users usually experience the most intense salvia high within 2 minutes after smoking, with side effects lasting no longer than 20 minutes.
Because salvia is a hallucinogen, it causes the user to see, hear, feel, smell, and even taste things that aren’t real. Some of these hallucinations and sensations are dream-like and can feel very real to the individual. A person may not be able to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not.
Common salvia effects include:
- Visual distortions of bright lights, vibrant colors, and odd shapes and patterns
- Cartoon-like imagery
- Improved mood
- Feelings of detachment or disconnection from one’s self and their environment
- Uncontrollable laughter
- Increased empathy
- Recollection of memories
- Sensations of motion or being pulled, twisted, stretched, or tossed
- Distortion of time and speech
- Out-of-body experiences
- An overall sense of uneasiness
- Loss of touch with reality
Some users have even claimed to have had contact with entities or other dimensions. As you can imagine, these hallucinations can be highly disturbing, especially for someone who’s using the drug simply to get high.
Additional side effects of salvia that can pose more risks include:
- Lack of coordination
- Difficulty concentrating
- Slurred speech
- Loss of memory
- Spatio-temporal dislocation
Spatio-temporal dislocation is where the user feels transported to an alternative time and place or experiences a sensation of being in several locations at once. Disruption of one’s sense of time and space can be a frightening experience and can lead to serious psychotic disturbances and even increase the risk of injury and accident as the person may act out.
Furthermore, while many claim that salvia has healing purposes, this isn’t true. Salvia does not currently have a medical use, so it’s not advised that it try to be used for medicinal or healing purposes.
Help for Substance Abuse
Salvia is just one of the many experimental drugs that often open the gateway to other, more hardcore substances. If you or a loved one is battling drug or alcohol addiction, our detox in PA can help. This is usually the first step of care at our facility, as it clears the individual’s system of drugs as they receive 24-hour care and medical support to recover from withdrawals.
Our facility also administers various inpatient rehab programs in Pennsylvania for all kinds of substance use disorders. This way, we’re able to help as many people as possible get and stay sober.
For more information about our addiction services, call Clearbrook Treatment Centers today at 570-536-9621.