The Salvia divinorum F.A.Q. Page
Answers to frequently asked questions



Table of Contents:

I. Salvia Divinorum Basics
II. Salvia Methods of Use
III. Salvia Dosage, Measurements and Storage
IV. Salvia Health Concerns
V. Salvia Divinorum Legal Status & Legality Issues
VI. Salvia Troubleshooting
VII. Accreditations, Links and References



Salvia Divinorum Basics


Q. What is Salvia divinorum?
A. Salvia divinorum is a plant from the mint family and a species of sage that is used for its psychoactive effects. Salvia is endemic only to the Mazatec region of the Sierra Madre mountains in Oaxaca, Mexico, also known as the Sierra Mazateca. Given the right dose, individual, set and setting, it produces a unique state of "divine inebriation" which has been traditionally used by Mazatec healers and prophets. This inebriation is quite different from that of alcohol. Salvia is both similar to, yet different from, other drugs that affect the brain and behavior. In many ways, Salvia divinorum is a uniquely "magical" herb. Salvia, along with it's active princliple salvinorin-A, is very difficult to categorize pharmacologically as it does not fit well into any existing pharmacological class. Salvia is NOT a recreational drug in the way that other drugs like alcohol and marijuana are used. It is definitely NOT a party drug. But can be the best inner party. Salvia is best used by those wishing to explore deep meditative states, spiritual realms, mysticism, the nature of consciousness and reality, or even the possibilities of shamanistic healing.


Q. What's in Salvia that is so strong and how strong is it?
A. Salvia contains a substance called salvinorin-A. Salvinorin-A is the most potent naturally occurring vision inducer. Only LSD is potent at a smaller dose however LSD itself is not present in nature. When vaporized and inhaled, doses of about 250 micrograms (that is 250 millionths of a gram) can have threshold effects and doses of 1 milligram will have extreme effects. Sensitivity varies greatly from person to person. Salvinorin is most effective when inhaled as smoke or vapor and least effective on a milligram basis when swallowed.


Q. What are the effects of Salvia?
A. It's probably not like what you expect, even if you have considerable experience with various other drugs. Salvia's effects are radically different from that of any other vision inducing psychoactive substance. Salvia will produce an effect that is unique to itself and only actual experience can help one to understand its nature. Effects vary by dose and method of use. The effects range from very light at lower doses to overwhelmingly strong at higher doses. The experience can vary from a subtle, just off-baseline state to a full-blown psychedelic experience. At moderate to high doses, users report a sense of profound understanding and peace, a feeling of being connected with the entire universe, vivid imagery, dramatic time distortion, encounters with beings, travel to other places/times/planets/dimensions, living years as the paint on a wall or experiencing the full life of another individual. Needless to say, salvia has the potential to produce a very potent experience so it should be respected.


Q. Is there a way to rate Salvia experiences?
A. There is a scale that describes six different levels of intoxication, each one more intense than the previous. The overall intensity of Salvia experience is scored according to the highest scale level attained during the course of the experience.

S-A-L-V-I-A Experience Rating Scale

  • Level 1 - "S" stands for SUBTLE effects:
    A feeling that 'something' is happening, although it is difficulty to say just what. Relaxation and increased sensual appreciation may be noted. This mild level is useful for meditation and may facilitate sexual pleasure.
  • Level 2 - "A" stands for ALTERED perception:
    Colors and textures are paid attention to. Appreciation of music may be enhanced. Space may appear of greater or lesser depth than is usual. But visions do not occur at this level. Thinking becomes less logical, and more playful; short term memory difficulties are may be noted.
  • Level 3 - "L" stands for LIGHT visionary state:
    Closed eye visuals (clear imagery with eyes closed: fractal patterns, vinelike and geometric patterns, visions of objects and designs). The imagery is often two dimensional. This level envokes phenomena similar to the hypnagogic phenomena that many people experience with the onset of sleep. If open eyed visual effects occur, these are usually vague and fleeting. At this level visions are experienced as "eye candy" but are not confused with reality.
  • Level 4 - "V" stands for VIVID visionary state:
    Complex three dimensional realistic appearing scenes occur. Sometimes voices may be heard. With eyes open contact with consensual reality will not be entirely lost, but when you close your eyes you may forget about consensus reality and enter completely into a dreamlike scene. Shamanistic journeying to other lands, foreign or imaginary; encounters with beings, entities, spirits; or travels to other ages may occur. You may even live the life of another person. At this level you have entered the shaman's world. Or if you prefer you are in "dream time." With eyes closed you experience fantasies (dream like happenings, with a story line to them). So long as your eyes are closed you may believe they are really occurring. This differs from the "eye candy" closed eye imagery of level 3.
  • Level 5 - "I" stands for IMMATERIAL existence:
    At this level consciousness remains and some though processes are still lucid, but one becomes completely involved in inner experience and looses all contact with consensual reality. Individuality may be lost; one experiences merging with God/Goddess, mind, universal consciousness, or bizarre fusions with other objects real or imagined, e.g. merging with a wall may be experienced. At this level it is impossible to function in consensual reality, but unfortunately some people do not remain still but move around in this befuddled state. For this reason a sitter is essential to ensure the safety of someone voyaging to the inner levels. To the person experiencing this, the phenomenon may be terrifying or exceedingly pleasant; but to an outside observer the individual may appear confused or disoriented.
  • Level 6 - "A" stands for AMNESIC effects:
    At this stage either consciousness is lost; or at least one is unable to later recall what one is experiencing. The individual may fall, or remain immobile or thrash around; somnambulistic behavior may occur; injuries can be sustained without pain being felt; on awakening the individual will have no recollection of what he/she did, experienced or said in level 6. People cannot ever recall what they experience in this very deep trance state. This is not a sought after level as later nothing can be recalled of the experience.


Q. What is the duration of the Salvia experience?
A. The duration of the experience depends on the method of use and the amount that is ingested. Depending on the method, it can last anywhere from 15 minutes to over 3 hours. Generally, smoked Salvia effects come on quickly, peak for 5-20 minutes and then begin to subside. The oral and sublingual methods take longer for the effects to onset and lasts considerably longer.


Q. Is there any way to extend the duration of the effects of Salvia divinorum?
A: Salvinorin-A does not produce a tolerance effect, so you can extend the experience by simply ingesting more as soon as the effects begin to fade. You can also ease into the experience by starting with a small dose and following it immediately with a "booster" dose.


Q. I have seen Salvia referred to as an "entheogen." What's that?
A. The word comes from the Greek, loosely translated as "making possible (contact with) the divine within (oneself)". Drugs (and drug plants) which can transport their user to mystical states of consciousness are often called entheogens. More properly entheogen refers to a type of drug usage, not a type of drug. Salvia CAN be used as an entheogen. It is used as such when taken as part of a serious spiritual quest, where the user is trying to learn and understand the deeper levels of consciousness, self, and existentialism.





Methods of Use


Q. How about oral use?
A. Oral use by means of chewed and swallowed leaves, or by means of a water-based Salvia drink are the traditional methods of use by the Mazatec healers. These methods have much to recommend them including safety and suitability for learning from the 'teacher plant'. When Salvia leaves are chewed and held in ones mouth a long time, salvinorin is absorbed directly by the tissues lining the mouth. Swallowed Salvia is much less effective, although the traditional Mazatec water-based drink, which is swallowed, is effective if enough leaves are used in its preparation. Sublingual use of a tinctures/elixirs, soft extracts, and hard extracts are also an effective oral method.


Q. Does sublingual absorption of Salvia work as fast as smoking?
A. Definitely not. When ingested orally, the first effects begin in 10-20 minutes. The effects build to a peak fairly quickly, reaching a plateau which can last anywhere from 30 minutes to one and a half hours. The effects then gradually subside over an additional 30 minutes to one and a half hours. From beginning to end, the entire experience can last anywhere from one to three hours. Best not to drive for at least several more hours - just in case your reflexes or judgement are impaired longer than you think they might be.


Q. What method of ingestion produces the best effects: Smoked or oral?
A: Different people have different preferences. You should experiment with both methods and find your own preference. Smoking provides a relatively short, but potentially very intense experience, whereas sublingual absorption provides a substantially longer lasting and somewhat more gentle and experience. Because of this, sublingual absorption offers the user the time to explore the deeper levels of consciousness.


Q. What is the quid method?
A. A quid is a rolled up cylinder of fresh leaves. The quid method traditionally uses fresh Salvia leaves, large ones if available. Rehydrated previously dried leaves can be used if fresh ones are unavailable; there seems to be little loss of strength due to drying and rehydration. The quid method brings about a fine trip that lasts somewhat longer than a smoking trip does. Unlike smoking, the quid method does not damage lungs. Unfortunately the quid method does not work for everyone. And some find the quid method to be unpleasant due to the bitterness of the leaves.


Q. Is there a safe way of increasing the effect of oral absorption?
A. Yes, the effect of oral absorption can be maximized and increased just by using mouthwash! Rinse your entire mouth out thoroughly (for at least 30 seconds) with a mouthwash that contains both menthol and alcohol. Cool Mint Listerine® works well. The menthol in the mouthwash is known to react with the oral mucus membranes in a way that increases and maximizes the absorption rate of salvinorin into the blood stream.

Another technique, which may be helpful, is to lightly brush the interior surfaces of the mouth with a toothbrush. This removes a layer of dead cells and consequently seems to improve absorption. If you plan to use both techniques, it is probably best to do the brushing first.


Q. What's a sublingual extract?
A. These are extracts designed for sublingual absorption (liquid tinctures/elixirs, soft extracts, and hard extracts). The are held beneath the tongue so that the salvinorin A is absorbed into the sensitive membranes in the mouth and from there into the bloodstream. The duration and quality of the experience produced is equivalent to chewing fresh leaves using the quid method. One type of extract that may be used in this manner is called a soft extract which is tar-like in texture. Various liquid extracts are also effective for sublingual use.


Q. What is an elixir or tincture?
A. These are just extract based solutions that use a high proof alcohol extraction process. It is held in the mouth for up to ½ hour to allow salvinorin to be absorbed.


Q. Will cooked Salvia have any effect?
A. Yes. For some people, but usually the effect will be quite mild, only just above threshold level.


Q. Can refined and purified salvinorin-A be used safely?
A. The primary danger in using refined and purified salvinorin-A is overdose. It can only be used safely if the dose has been measured precisely. It can be active in extremely minute quantities - so small in fact that a dose could easily fit on the head of a pin. Quantities this small can only be accurately measured using an analytical balance. NEVER ESTIMATE A DOSE OF SALVINORIN-A VISUALLY. IT SHOULD ALWAYS BE WEIGHED. Don't experiment with this material unless you are 100% certain that the dose has been measured accurately.


Q. How long does the trip last?
A. When smoked, the first effects are noticed within 1 minute, rapidly developing to a peak which lasts 5 - 10 minutes, then gradually diminishing over the next 20 - 30 minutes. From beginning to end, the entire experience lasts 30 minutes to one hour. Best not to drive for at least several more hours - just in case your reflexes or judgement are impaired longer than you think they might be.


Q. Is there any special trick to smoking Salvia divinorum?
A. It is best to smoke the leaf material in a pipe (not a joint). Salvinorin A has a relatively high vaporization temperature, and with a pipe you can draw a flame directly onto the leaf material so that it burns quite hot. It is very important to hold the smoke deeply in the lungs for a good 20 - 30 seconds before exhaling. This allows time for salvinorin A to be absorbed from the smoke. If one exhales to quickly, much of the material will be wasted. The level of effects you achieve depends on the amount of smoke inhaled and absorbed within about a 2 minute period. Within 2 minutes, you should be able to take 3 big hits (holding each one in for 20 - 30 seconds). The body metabolizes salvinorin A quite rapidly, so if you want to increase the effect by smoking several hits, you need to ingest the smoke faster than it is metabolized. If you pause too long between hits, the duration will be extended, but the intensity of effects won't increase. Read "How to achieve effects from smoked Salvia divinorum" for more details.


Q. How do I smoke extract fortified leaf? (5X, 6X, 10X, etc...)
A. The extract fortified leaf is very easy to use. Place the amount that you intend to use in the bowl of a small pipe. Since the leaf may be very finely crumbled, the pipe should be fitted with a fine-mesh screen in the bottom of the bowl to prevent small particals from getting into the pipe-stem and being inhaled. When you are ready, first take a deep breath of fresh air, then exhale to empty your lungs, then immediately apply a flame to the leaf material and inhale the whole dose of smoke in one lungfull. It is important to hold the lighter flame immediatly above the material and to draw it down into the leaves as you inhale. The leaf must be heated to a relatively high temperature in order to vaporize the active principal. As long as the flame is drawn down into the leaf, it will burn the leaves at a high enough temperature. It is very important to hold the smoke deeply in your lungs for a good 20-30 seconds before exhaling. It takes time for salvinorin-A to condense out of the smoke and be absorbed by the lungs. If you exhale too soon much of it will be wasted.


Q. I've heard talk of Salvia extracts and I'm confused. The term seems to be used in various ways.
A. It is confusing because the term is often used to refer to various preparations derived from Salvia. Technically, in pharmacy and medicine the dictionary definition of an extract is: a solid preparation obtained by evaporating a solution of a drug. There is also such a thing as a fluid extract (or tincture), which is a concentrated liquid preparation containing a definite proportion of the active principles of a medicinal substance. The solvent usually used is ethyl alcohol or a mixture of ethyl alcohol and water. However various Salvia preparations are often referred to (loosely) as extracts.


Q. What are the advantages of using extracts?
A. Extracts allow one to explore deeper levels than are available using plain leaf. This is particularly important for people who find that they are not very sensitive to Salvia divinorum. Another advantage to these products is that they are far easier to consume, since less material needs to be ingested or smoked.


Q. How safe are extracts?
A. They are safe if prepared properly and used wisely. It is highly recomended that you have a sitter present when experimenting with any enhanced or concentrated form of Salvia divinorum. Extract can be quite powerful and must be used carefully. Be sure that you know what you are doing before experimenting with extracts and extract fortified leaves.


Q. What are extracts and what are they used for?
A.

  • Extract Fortified Salvia Leaves (5X, 6X, 10X, etc...):
    When you hear of "5X extract", extract fortified leaf material is what is being referred to. An extract of Salvia is made using a solvent such as ethanol or acetone. The solvent, which now contains dissolved extracted material, is evaporated onto Salvia leaves, where the dissolved material is deposited. This final material, whose salvinorin content has been increased by this procedure, is often termed "extract," although technically it should be called "extract fortified leaves." Fortified leaves are usually smoked, although they may be active sublingually as well. The most common product currently on the market is called "5X". It is prepared by adding the extract obtained from 4 units of leaf back onto 1 unit of leaf. The resulting product is now 5 times as potent as the original leaves used to produce it.
  • Salvia fluid extracts (tinctures and elixirs):
    These are extract based solutions that use a high proof ethanol extraction process. Usually these liquids are diluted with warm water because pure alcohol can really burn the sensitive tissues in your mouth. Sometimes these liquids are also sweetened for a better taste.
  • Soft extracts:
    This is a type of true extract. This is a semi-solid material obtained by extracting salvinorin-A from Salvia leaves, with a solvent and then evaporating the solvent completely. The resulting preparation is a waxy or tar-like product that, with a little effort, can be ground into a powder. This soft extract, which may actually be fairly hard like hard wax, is quite suitable for sublingual use as a substitute for the quid method. The effects are similar to a quid but will probably be stronger, may come on a little slower and may last somewhat longer. The advantage of sublingual soft extract absorption over quid chewing is user comfort, as a far smaller amount of material must be put into ones mouth. Since the material is very concentrated (1/4 tsp. will produce a strong trip in most people) a large enough dose can be taken to guarantee a strong trip without the gagging that may accompany use of large quids. For example: if 1/4 tsp. of soft extract is ineffective, one could take 1/2 tsp. without the gagging that may accompany stuffing one's mouth with leaves. Soft extracts can also be mixed with high proof ethanol to create a tincture. Soft extracts can be redeposited onto dried Salvia leaves to create an "X" extract. Actually, this is the method of processing that many vendors use to create 5X and 10X extracts. Basic soft extracts can be easily prepared in a kitchen.
  • Hard extracts:
    These can be prepared by a more complicated use of two solvents in a separatory funnel, one to remove the oils and waxes but leave the salvinorin and the other to dissolve the salvinorin. A hard extract could be ground and used as a powder. No Salvia divinorum hard extracts are being sold. Such a hard extract might be suitable for vaporization or use as a nasal snuff.


Q. I don't want to chew quid or to smoke. How can a soft extract be used in this case?
A. Strong soft extract preparations have been made using high proof alcohol extraction process and then used sublingually. Users have not reported any side-effects from sublingual absorption of soft extracts. Various solvents can be used to make a soft extract. Extracts made using both ethanol and 91% isopropyl alcohol have proven to be very effective.

To use, place the dose under your tongue. Lie down in a quiet place with dim lighting. Chew the waxy material occasionally, parking it under your tongue between chews. Keep the Saliva formed in your mouth so salvinorin can be absorbed from it. Swallowing the material won't harm you but swallowed salvinorin is not effective. Once you want to come down, spit out the material remaining in your mouth and brush your teeth to rid you mouth of the remaining extract. Expect a strong trip that develops slowly.


Q. What is vaporization and how does it differ from smoking?
A. VAPORIZATION IS NOT FOR BEGINNERS!
Vaporization consists of heating pure salvinorin A, extract, or powdered leaf to a high temperature without igniting it. The temperature must be high enough for at least some of the salvinorin to temporarily become a gas (vapor). These vapors, mixed with the aerosol the vapors condense to and air, are inhaled. Like the smoke from burning Salvia leaves, the products of vaporization contain salvinorin and other volatile products, either as gases, or as an aerosol of small condensed droplets. Unlike smoking, vaporization does not produce ash particulates, or oxidation products such as carbon monoxide. Inhaling vapors is probably somewhat less damaging to one's lungs than is inhaling smoke; but it cannot be considered free of all health risks. Your lungs evolved to inhale clean air, not hot vapors.


Q. How is vaporization done?
A. There are not yet commercial vaporizers optimized for smoking Salvia. Salvia leaf, extract, or salvinorin can be vaporized on heated aluminum foil and inhaled with a straw. Alternatively, homemade vaporizer units can be constructed, or units designed for consumption of cannabis or tobacco can be used. Many commercial units are either not hot enough (won't vaporize) or too hot (will carbonize) for optimum vaporization of salvinorin.


Q. Is vaporization strong?
A. Of course it depends on the dose, but it can be unbelievably strong! Dangerously so!. Since very little smoke is produced with this technique, it is possible to inhale a very large dose with very little effort. At large doses, one may temporarily loose all awareness of who one is, where one is or what one is doing. Falls, fires, injuries etc. can easily occur. If you will be vaporizing it is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL that a sitter be present to protect you from injury. Vaporization can easily take you all the way to level 6 and you can pass out. It can take you to the point of general anesthesia. Instead of being able to linger at the interesting moderate trip levels of 3 and 4, you are blasted into a maximum intensity trip for which you will have little subsequent memory, and then it's all over. If you want to get completely smashed instantly vaporization will achieve that, but if you want a dialog with a 'teacher plant', just smoke leaves, or better yet take Salvia orally.


Q. How quickly does vaporization take effect?
A. Within seconds of inhaling a lung full of vapor. The first few inhalations often contain no salvinorin as the unit is not yet hot enough. Once salvinorin is inhaled you have only seconds to lie down in a safe place before you become incapacitated! Vaporizor trips usually last less than 1/2 hour.





Dosage, Measurements and Storage


Q. Regular Salvia leaves are often sold by the ounce. How many dried leaves are in an ounce?
A. This can vary quite a lot. An average, large, mature leaf weighs about 1/3 gram dry. However, a typical harvest of leaves will include leaves of all sizes. A typical ounce usually contains 100 - 200 leaves. It is generally best not to estimate dose by leaf count, but rather by weight.


Q. How many doses are in one ounce of dried Salvia leaves when using the quid method of ingestion?
A: A dose using the quid method is generally believed to be between 2-10 grams of dried leaf material, depending on the strength of effects you are after. It is best to rehydrate the leaves with a little water for 5-10 minutes before chewing them.

General Quid-Chewing Guidelines
1 ounce of dried leaf will give you:
  • 14 light doses (each dose being 2g)
  • 5 moderate doses (each dose being 6g)
  • 3 strong doses (each dose being 10g)


Q. How many smoked doses are in an ounce of regular dried leaf?
A. It varies, depending on the potency of the leaf and the sensitivity of the individual. A person of average sensitivity should be able to achieve moderately strong effects from 1/2 gram (.50g) of average potency leaf. To achieve the full effects from a given quantity of leaf, it is very important to use the proper smoking technique.

General Smoking Guidelines
1 ounce of dried leaf will give you:
  • 112 light doses (each dose being .25g)
  • 56 moderate doses (each dose being .50g)
  • 37 strong doses (each dose being .75g)


Q. 5X extract fortified leaves often sold by the gram. How many doses are in a gram?
A. This depends on potency of the particuar product and the individual's sensitivity. The 5x extracts which are available contain between 10-15 mg of salvinorin-A per gram. If you are working with this product, a starting dose is about 1/20 gram (.05g) of the extract. If you find that the effects are too mild for you at this level, then gradually increase the dose until you find the level that works best for you.

General 5X Smoking Guidelines
1 gram of 5X extract fortified leaves will give you:
  • 20 light doses (each dose being .05g)
  • 10 moderate doses (each dose being .10g)
  • 4 strong doses (each dose being .25g)


Q. How can I measure 1/20 gram (.05g)?
A. It would be a good idea to get an accurate scale that at least measures by tenths of a gram (0.1g). Scales of this accuracy can be easily purchased for $40 and under. Measure out 1/10 gram and divide that in half to give you a dose that is equal to 1/20 gram. Once you've got your doses measured out, package and store them separately. Gelatin capsules work perfectly for storage as do small aluminum foil envelopes.

If you do not have a scale that can measure this quantity, you can roughly divide one gram into 20 even parts. First divide the gram into four even piles, then divide each of those into five. It is important that you divide it up as evenly as possible. Either package and store all 20 parts separately or just keep one part separate to use as a visual reference to estimate the correct amount to use in the future.


Q. Is it possible to estimate salvinorin-A content of leaves without having an organic chemistry lab at one's disposal?
A. Yes, it can be approximated using the law of large numbers (averages). The data in this section uses pre-existing statistical figures, based on labratory results, regarding the average salvinorin-A content in a specified amount of regular Salvia leaves. On average, leaves contain between 1-4 mg of Salvinorin-A per gram of leaf material. Since leaves vary in potency, from one leaf to the next, it would be safe to assume that you will have a nice mix high and low potency leaves. With that said, use the average and you'll get an approximate potency of 2.5 mg of salvinorin-A per gram of leaf material. With this basic formula and an accurate gram scale, you can estimate the salvinorin-A content of leaves.

If you don't have a gram scale you could use generalized volume measurement. Please note that this type of volume measurement is non-static and unreliable due to the factor of packing density. The figures below are based on an observation that a level teaspoon of leaf powder weighs 1.37 grams and an estimated potency of 2.5 mg of salvinorin-A per gram of dried leaf.

This roughly translates to be:
    1 level tsp. dried leaf powder = about 3.43 mg salvinorin
    1/2 level tsp. dried leaf powder = about 1.71 mg salvinorin-A
    1/4 level tsp. dried leaf powder = about 0.86 mg salvinorin-A
    1/8 level tsp. dried leaf powder = about 0.43 mg salvinorin-A


Q. How should I store Salvia leaves and how long will they last?
A. Put them in an air-tight container and store in a dark place. A clean glass canning jar works very well (1 quart Mason jar). Storing the jar inside a kitchen cabinet or medicine chest will keep it away from light. Stored this way leaves will keep their potency for many months or even years. Storing dry leaves in a sealed jar in a freezer may give even longer shelf life.


Q. How long can I store Salvia leaves or extract fortified leaves without them loosing potency?
A. Probably for decades. The active principal, salvinorin-A, is quite stable and can be stored at room temperature. It is probably a good idea to store it in a dark location, such as a drawer or cupboard, so that it is not exposed to the potentially harmful effects of UV light.





Health Concerns


Q. Does Salvia use cause any after effects?
A. Some users report a positive mood "afterglow" that lasts between a few hours to a a couple of days. Minor, if any, negative after effects are noticed. A few users report a mild headache, bronchial irritation, insomnia or irritability. These symptoms seem to be reported more often by smokers than by quid chewers, and perhaps might be due to some combustion products, such as carbon monoxide rather than salvinorin.


Q. How long is a person's ability to drive impaired after using Salvia?
A. Most people feel they can drive safely by 3 hours after smoking Salvia, or 4 hours after chewing it. Many believe they can safely drive even sooner than this. The duration of impairment after drinking the infusion might be up to 8 hours. But studies of the duration of impairment, after taking Salvia by any route, have never been done.


Q. Is Salvia addicting?
A. Although Salvia is not believed to be addicting, bare in mind that some habit forming drugs including tobacco, heroin, cocaine and benzodiazepines also were initially thought not to be addicting. No physical dependence on Salvia or salvinorin has been reported. Withdrawal symptoms have not been reported. It is quite unlikely that anyone using Salvia in the traditional fashion (by chewing quids of leaves occasionally) will become 'addicted'. Whether this freedom from addictive risk also holds for smoking leaves, smoking extract enriched leaves, vaporizing powdered leaves or vaporizing salvinorin is something only time will tell. Prudence and general health concerns would advise not to inhale Salvia smoke (or vapor) into your lungs often.


Q. Does Salvia cause any physical damage?
A. There are no known health problems from oral Salvia use. However, it is known that smoking tobacco is damaging to your lungs and may cause cancer, emphysema, bronchitis, stroke and cardiovascular disease. These toxic side-effects of tobacco smoking are not due mainly to nicotine but rather to combustion products (tars and carbon monoxide), which are present whenever any type of plant material (e.g. Salvia) is smoked. Common sense will tell you that smoking Salvia, or any material, can be bad for your health. It is not known if Salvia can cause birth defects, but it is prudent to assume that it could.


Q. Can you take a fatal overdose?
A. Fatal poisoning from Salvia divinorum appears to be very unlikely to occur. No case of fatal salvinorin poisoning has been reported. The human oral lethal dose is not known but is believed to be extremely high. Swallowed salvinorin is not well absorbed. The chances of inadvertently swallowing a lethal overdose of an oral preparation of leaves, tinctures/elixirs, or soft/hard extracts are extremely low.

If salvinorin is inhaled as multiple inhalations of leaf smoke or vapor one could reasonably expect to pass out before he/she could take a lethal overdose. But significantly, nothing is known about the toxic effects of smoking truly massive "single bolus" doses of pure salvinorin, such a practice might be quite dangerous, and should certainly be avoided.


Q. Does Salvia cause brain damage?
A. Not so far as is known. However salvinorin has some phenomenological similarities to dissociatives such as PCP and ketamine, and these dissociatives can cause brain damage (Olney's Lesions) if taken in very high dose. Therefore the possibility that salvinorin might cause brain damage if taken in excessive dosage cannot be completely discounted. However, there have been no reports of any brain damage from salvinorin in man or animals. For those chewing quids of Salvia leaves there would seem to be no danger of brain damage at all. Chewing leaves is the very safe traditional mode of use. For those vaporizing pure salvinorin in high doses... who knows? Vaporizing pure salvinorin makes possible dosages far in excess of that any traditional user has encountered, so the safety of traditional usage patterns cannot guarantee the safety of using pure salvinorin.


Q. How does salvinorin-A work in the brain?
A. Nobody knows as of yet.


Q. In what parts of the brain does it act?
A. This is not known for sure but from the subjective and behavioral effects it can be surmised that salvinorin is almost certainly affecting the limbic system, and may be affecting somatosensory (parietal lobe), cerebellar and vestibular function as well.


Q. Does it act at any receptors where other drugs act?
A. As of now, the mechanism of action for salvinorin-A is still unknown. Discovering which receptor site(s) it binds to will be an important step toward developing an understanding of how this substance works in the brain. Once this is know, it will be possible to look for endogenous ligands for these receptors, so that we can understand in what way salvinorin-A may relate to naturally occurring human biochemistry. It is possible that salvinorin-A does not act directly on any receptor site, but rather acts to release some endogenous neurotransmitter from synaptic storage vesicles.


Q. Are there psychiatric dangers associated with Salvia use?
A. Probably there are for some individuals. Acutely, salvinorin-A induces what could be termed a "toxic psychosis," in other words one may see visions, hear voices, have bizarre thought patterns etc. This is normal when tripping. The acute effects of Salvia (both desirable and undesirable) wear off very quickly. However for some people the overwhelming strangeness of the Salvia experience (or perhaps some direct effect of salvinorin in the brain) can trigger panic attacks. Some individuals with schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders (even if in remission) might experience a Salvia induced relapse, or exacerbation of their condition. People with Borderline Personality Disorder even when not on any drug often depersonalize, self mutilate, make suicide gestures or attempts, commit antisocial acts, and get into fights. Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder might become even more unstable when under the influence of Salvia. Although some individuals with depression have reported that Salvia has lifted their depression, for others it could make a pre-existing depression acutely worse. For such an individual there may be risk of suicide. However, no Salvia related suicides have been reported. If you have a psychological condition and want to use Salvia, please use discretion and first consult your doctor.


Q. Are there medical or psychiatric uses of Salvia?
A. There are no accepted uses for Salvia divinorum in standard medical practice at this time. Some areas for exploration include Salvia aided psychotherapy (there is anecdotal material supporting its usefulness in resolving pathological grief), use of salvinorin as a brief acting general or dissociative anesthetic agent, use to provide pain relief, use in easing both the physical and mental suffering of terminal patients as part of hospice care, and a possible antidepressant effect. If a specific salvinorin receptor were discovered this would be of great interest to psychopharmacology and neuroscience.





Legal Status & Legality Issues


Q. What is the legal status of Salvia?
A. As of April 2003, Salvia divinorum and its primary active principle salvinorin-A, is legal to possess, sell and use everywhere except Australia. Not to say that one day, things could change.


Q. Does Salvia divinorum show up on drug tests?
A: No. The active principal, salvinorin-A, is not chemically similar to any illegal drug and will not produce a false-positive on drug tests that test for illegal drugs.


Q. Is salvinorin an analogue drug?
A. Salvinorin is not an analogue drug because it is not chemically similar to any other illegal substance. Also, unlike many visionary substances, salvinorin is not an alkaloid.


Q. Any thoughts on how to prevent Salvia from becoming illegal, scheduled, or restricted?
A. Practice and encourage responsible use. Do not provide Salvia to minors or unstable individuals. Never use Salvia in settings in which firearms, knives or other potentially dangerous objects are present. Do not mix with alcohol. Never drive while under the influence of Salvia. Be extra careful of flames - candles, lighters, fire etc when using Salvia. Discourage mixing Salvia with other drugs. Encourage the practice of using sitters. Discourage use of pure salvinorin (except in research settings), vaporized extracts, vaporized leaves, and smoking of powerful extract enhanced leaves. Taking oral preparations and smoking unenhanced leaves are less likely to produce out of control behavior. Be careful about granting interviews. The press and media in general is often more interested in sensationalizing than in balanced factual reporting.





Troubleshooting


Q. Is it true that it requires several attempts, before one begins to experience the full effects of Salvia?
A: Many people report that they became more sensitive to the effects of Salvia after they had tried it several times. Apparently it may take a few exposures before one becomes fully sensitized to Salvia's effects. No one knows why this should be the case, but it has been reported from so many people that the phenomenon must be real.


Q. I've followed all the advice, but I don't seem to be able to achieve strong effects, why is this?
A. Approximately 10% of people are unusually insensitive to salvinorin A. Most of these people can achieve a satisfactory level of effects by using a higher than average dose. Some people require a dose several times higher than average. Be very cautious when experimenting with higher than average doses. Doses should be increased in gradual increments until one find the level of effects that interests you.


Q. I'm not a first time user and I'm having relative difficulty achieving sufficient effects. What should I try?
A. If you cannot achieve sufficient effects with regular leaves you may wish to try extract fortified leaves; however you should have a sitter present when you try smoking any "X" extract.





Accreditations, Links and References


Here's the part where we must give credit where credit is due. A large portion of this FAQ has used essential excerpts from other pre-existing source documents. The intent behind this FAQ is to educate individuals that are genuinely interested in Salvia divinorum, in such a way that is informative, unbiased, and non-promoting.

Compilation of facts, extractions, extrapolations, edits, revisions, and new additions have been made by "Spider-Man".


Original source documents that were used are as follows:

  • The Salvia divinorum FAQ - created by "Sage Student" and Daniel Siebert.

  • This is a great informational source for Salvia users, however it is tailored to the products that are sold within that site. One must carefully navigate through the sea of subtle advertisements that interfere with the facts about Salvia divinorum. Caveat emptor - buyer beware.

  • The Community Salvia Divinorum FAQ - created by various Salvia authors.

  • This is an EXCELLENT informational source for those wanting informational and unbiased facts about Salvia divinorum. This alternate Salvia source can be found on Erowid.org, where the very first paragraph of their FAQ page sums it up perfectly:
      There is a lot of good information on the web and elsewhere regarding Salvia divinorum. What was the impetus for creating a new FAQ?
      The other FAQ, available exclusively via Daniel Siebert's SageWisdom.org, doesn't really follow the guidelines that have traditionally been established for FAQs, in two ways. First, it requires that it not be copied to other sites. Traditionally, netiquette encourages that information FAQs be posted at numerous sites (as long as they remain intact, include the credits and authorship information, and retain a link to their site of origin). Second, the other FAQ acts-to some extent-as a vehicle of commercial advertising, exclusively plugging the products sold at the web site where it is hosted. While there is indeed much good information in this other FAQ, it is the belief of the authors that a FAQ true to the original spirit of the web acts as a service to provide non-biased, non-commercial information. Hence the birth of "The Community Salvia divinorum FAQ."


    Here are some great Salvia links that you can explore:

  • salvia-divinorum.com - This site is one of the most SUPERIOR places on the internet where you can purchase Salvia products. Not only do they offer premium grade Salvia products, but they offer them at INCREDIBLY AFFORDABLE PRICES as compared to other vendors that inflate the cost of the same exact leaves!
  • erowid.org - this is the homepage for one of the most superior drug/herb research sites on the net that I have come across. All the information there is free! So remember, if you find it to be beneficial and useful, support their cause and make a contribution (you even get free stuff if you donate).