An increasing number of teenagers and adults are considering and taking-in salvia for its mind-altering effects is it cast away loads of tension in their mind, thereby giving a subtle state of mind. Salvia is becoming so problematic in some areas of the country that one province in New York is considering a law to make it illegal for anyone younger than age 18 years to sell or possess the plant. Salvia’s popularity among teens is due to its potent neuropsychiatric actions, which produce feelings of depersonalization, laughter, levitation, and self-consciousness.
Salvia Divinorum, a flowering plant in the mint family is also referred to as diviner sage, magic mint or purple sticky. Salvia Divinorum was originally used in religious rituals by the holy men of the Mazatec Indian tribe in Mexico. Salvia is a perennial herb that grows to a height of about 3 ft tall. The plant’s flowers are strikingly white and purple. Unlike many ancient herbs, salvia does not thrive in the wild, only in cultivated settings in Mexico and (more recently) southern California. In addition to its ceremonial uses, Salvia divinorum was also used in its native culture to treat a wide variety of ailments, including diarrhea, headache, and rheumatism. Today, the substance is widely available for sale internationally via the Internet.
Psychedelics – Meal for the mind
Although the data regarding the abuse and illicit use of this herb initially cast it in a very negative light. However, medical and neuropsychiatric researchers are keenly interested in its potential for the treatment of a wide variety of neurologic and mental illnesses. Current ongoing studies are exploring salvia’s ability to alter the human mind, mental perception and cognition and they later found that it could be of use in cases of refractory depression, anxiety, Alzheimer disease, and schizophrenia.
This interest is a result of salvia’s unique mechanism of action. Unlike marijuana and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), which act through serotoninergic pathways, salvia’s active metabolite—salvinorin A—is a potent but pure selective kappa-opioid receptor agonist. To date, animal studies have shown salvia to have a rapid onset of action with a short elimination half-life as well as a notable lack of evidence of toxicity. Most monitored cases of use show complete resolution of action within 30 minutes of ingestion.
Non Addictive and curative
Medical proponents of the therapeutic potential of this herb are quick to point out that salvia’s specifically selective action means it is free of addictive properties and does not produce euphoria. Although large-scale clinical trials are currently lacking, interesting case reports abound. In one such report, a young adult woman with a long history of severe, refractory depression was studied while using salvia. Of note, this trial was somewhat accidental in that the patient obtained the salvia and discontinued pharmacologic therapy without informing her therapist.
During the woman’s routine therapy sessions, her Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) scores were consistently in the moderately depressed range (19-21). However, after six months of using small amounts of salvia three to four times per week, her HAM-D scores were down to 0-2, indicating near total reversal of symptoms.
Safety, interactions, and dose
It should be noted that salvia in any form has a very rapid onset of action, crossing the blood-brain barrier almost instantaneously. Salvia may cause bradycardia, chills, and loss of muscle control, as well as hallucinations and perceptual distortions. Dizziness, slurred speech, nausea, and bizarre actions have also been documented if abused or taken in the wrong proportion. Therefore, a dosage is really important in using salvia. Interaction should be assumed with any other psychoactive medication, but specific drugs and herbs have not been studied. An allergic reaction is also possible.
While salvia may one day be proven as a lifesaving drug for people suffering from a variety of neurologic and psychiatric diseases, its use is currently a very daring experiment. But as researches keep advancing, lights with be shed on the use of salvia and psychedelics as a whole.