Salvia Divinorum Leaves & Extract 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?

  • 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?
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.


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