Salvia species are classified into three main groups: 1) Cannabis, 2) Lamiaceae (Lampantea), 3) Agaricales.
Cannabis salvinorum, or “Black Sage” is one of the most popular types of salvia. It grows well in a wide range of soils and climates.
It is not recommended to grow it indoors due to its tendency towards mildew. However, it does have some advantages over other varieties of salvia.
It produces large flowers that may reach up to 5 cm across. These flowers are used medicinally in Europe and North America for their psychoactive properties.
They are often dried and ground into a powder which is then smoked or eaten as a tea.
The leaves of this type of salvia are used for making incense. They are also known to produce a pleasant hallucinogenic effect when chewed or brewed into a tea.
Lamiaceae salvia, or “Sweetleaf” is another common variety of salvia. It grows best in warm climates where it receives little sunlight and therefore has few pests and diseases.
Its flowers last only a day, but they contain high levels of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
In recent years, several growers have tried to cultivate this type of salvia indoors. It has been found that a temperature of around 25 degrees Celsius and 8 hours of sunlight per day produces the best quality salvia.
It is also possible to grow this type of salvia outdoors in greenhouses. Some growers claim that it is best to keep a slight amount of humidity within the greenhouse for this reason.
Agaricales salvia, or “Indigo Bud” was first discovered by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century when they were exploring Mexico. The Aztec peoples used it for religious rituals, and they would often paint their bodies with it before entering their temples.
The flowers of this type of salvia contain large amounts of indigo which are converted into psychedelic substances within the body. Ingesting large quantities of flowers can result in vivid hallucinations.
The plant itself is very easy to grow, and it does not require much direct sunlight or water. This makes it ideal for cultivation in warm, dry climates such as Northern Africa and Southwestern United States.
It has recently become a popular “legal high” due to its psychoactive effects. When smoked or consumed as a tea, the subject usually feels a sense of euphoria and a loss of muscle control for up to 6 hours.
These three types of salvia represent only a small portion of the different species that are available to consumers. Some of the popular brand names in salvia include “Ska Pastora”, “Diviner’s Sage” and “Seer Sage”.
Salvinorin A is the active ingredient in all types of salvia. It is structurally unique from other psychoactive substances, and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
This chemical is found in the plant’s leaves, and to a slightly lesser extent in the flowers. It works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, producing a state of extreme relaxation.
The Mazatec peoples of Mexico use the salvia leaf as part of their religious rituals. It is commonly chewed to produce a sense of elation and vitality.
They consider the plant to have deep spiritual meaning, and use it as a way of contacting their ancestors.
The Mazatec peoples refer to the salvia leaf as the “Diviners Sage”. It is often used by priests and shaman of the tribe for divination.
They will commonly chew the leaves and then lie with their eyes closed as they enter a deep trance.
Afterwards they claim to be able to communicate with spirits and predict future events. The Mazatecs do not use salvia for any sort of recreational or hedonistic purposes.
They believe that any abuse of the plant can disrupt the harmony of the universe, and thus bring bad luck upon them. Mazatec Shamans consider Salvia to be a gift from the gods, and only those who show great respect may use it.
The salvia trip is very different from that of LSD or psilocybin due to the “out of body” trips that are commonly reported by users. Many people experience an “acid-like” sensation, and salvia is often compared to a “harder” version of Marijuana.
It has a low risk of addiction and almost no negative health effects (apart from occasional headaches). However many users complain of feelings of paralysis, or an inability to speak.
Salvia was originally used in the United States for medical purposes. It was included in many physicians’ pharmacopeias (a guide of medicines).
Salvinorin A was also used in various types of folk medicine.
It wasn’t until 1937 when a Harvard professor named Walter H.E.
Marsh first isolated salvinorin A from the plant that its mind altering properties were discovered. Many people now criticize the government for putting salvia in the same category as drugs such as heroin and cocaine, which are considered to have no medical value.
However it is still classified as a Schedule I substance, which makes it illegal to buy, sell or own in most states. Due to its recent popularity as a recreational drug there is now a movement to reschedule it so that scientific and medical testing can be done.
Effects of Salvia
Salvia’s effects start within a few seconds of inhalation, and generally last for 5 to 20 minutes. Effects include:
Extreme changes in vision
Waves of alternating calmness and energy
Feelings of nausea
Out of body experiences
Combinations with Salvia
Some people who use salvia also report feeling different when using other drugs such as marijuana or alcohol.
These combinations have not been widely studied, and the effects will vary depending on the person.
It is recommended to use salvia in a quiet, safe environment. Make sure someone knows exactly where you are in case of an emergency.
Salvia is not intended for use in locations where heavy machinery or similar activity must be undertaken. It is also not advised to use salvia if you need to drive a vehicle or operate heavy machinery.
Salvia is not known to have any negative interactions with other drugs but this is due to a lack of testing. Please use salvia in a safe manner, and do not attempt to multitask while under the influence of the drug.
If you plan on using salvia on a regular basis it is important to seek medical supervision. There is very limited research on the long-term effects of salvia use, however there are reports of people becoming psychologically dependent on it.
It is possible to have a “withdrawal” effect from salvia which can cause feelings of irritability, trouble concentrating and lethargy. These effects will usually wear off after a few hours.
How is Salvia taken?
Salvia can be smoked, chewed or eaten (although this is not recommended due to the risk of vomiting).
It is important to exercise caution when using salvia. Never have more than one hit from the pipe on your first try, and always have someone around to make sure you are safe.
It is commonly reported that salvia produces stronger effects when smoked instead of being chewed or eaten. This is probably because salvinorin A has to pass through the lungs and into the bloodstream in order to produce its psychoactive effects.
When taking salvinorin A orally there is a delay in the onset of effects of between 30 and 90 minutes. This is probably due to first passing through the liver, where a small portion of it is turned into another salvinorin A compound known as nor-salvinorin A.
This compound is also active, but has much weaker effects on the user.
There are no known cases of fatal overdose due to salvia alone. It is physically impossible to consume enough salvia to cause death.
Because of this, it is classified as non-lethal.
However there have been reports of people acted in ways that could be called ‘suicidal’ when on a very high dosage. Because of this, it is unwise to use the drug in a scenario where you could potentially injure yourself.
In general, salvia is a very safe and non-lethal drug. There are no known cases of long-term effects or adverse reactions because it hasn’t been around for too long.
If you find that salvia does nothing for you, then there is no need to worry. Different people have different levels of sensitivity to salvia.
There is no shame in being one of the few who is not easily affected by it.
Salvia does not have any known toxic amount that can kill you. In fact, there are reports of some people chewing the raw plant and suffering no ill effects at all.
It is known that salvinorin A, the main psychoactive chemical in salvia is a serotonin agonist. This means that it has a similar chemical structure to that of LSD and other ‘classical hallucinogens’.
It is also known that salvinorin A affects the kappa opioid receptors in the brain. These receptors usually respond to the sedative effects of anesthetic drugs such as morphine. It is thought that this is why salvia produces such a unique ‘out of body’ state when ingested.
Salvinorin A changes the way we normally see the world by acting in the areas of the brain that interpret the various sensory information coming in through our eyes, ears, nose, and skin. Salvinorin A seems to switch off certain controls in these areas and allow much greater input than usual.
This is why we perceive so many visual and auditory hallucinations.
The main effects of salvia usually last for about 10 minutes, although the ‘come down’ period can last for up to one hour. Just like with LSD or psilocybin mushrooms, there is a period after the experience is over, where you may still be wondering if you are in the ‘real world’ or not.
This ‘afterglow’ can last for a few hours, and for some people this is the most enjoyable part of the experience.
It has been reported by users that the effects of salvia are more enjoyable and ‘fun’ in a relaxed environment with friends. This is because the experiences are very vivid and interactive, much like a dream.
Many people have had the experience of ‘losing themselves’ in a vivid fantasy world that they experience through their senses, similar to when we dream each night.
Salvia Divinorum is a plant that has been used for religious or spiritual purposes by the Mazatec Indians for hundreds of years. Salvinorin A, is the main active ingredient in Salvia.
It was first described in print in 1974.
The Mazatecs use salvia most commonly in a way that it is burned and the smoke is drawn into the lungs. Hence its other name, salvia divinorum (diviner’s sage).
This is the oldest known way to use the plant.
Most people who take salvia today do so by swallowing the crushed-up leaves or chewing on the leaves. When the leaves are swallowed a different method of absorption is utilized meaning that it takes affect much more quickly.
The Mazatecs usually only chew the leaves or drink a tea when salvinorin A is scarce or unavailable in the plant.
The Mazatecs refer to salvia as “la medicina” or “the medicine”. Salvia has been used traditionally as a cure for a number of ills, including headaches, toothaches, and to facilitate birth.
The Mazatec Shamans would take la medicina when they desired to contact the other world. They have many different ritual uses for the plant, which vary from tribe to tribe.
The Mazatecs use the word “horrible” to describe the effects of salvia. They seem to believe that this plant is imbued with some sort of supernatural or divine power.
They believe it should only be used in the realm of the sacred. Many things are thought to ward off the ‘evil effects’ of salvia such as; not laughing, remaining quiet, staying away from the uninitiated, and not looking at the sun while under its influence.
The Mazatecs refer to the experience of salvia as seeing the “God’s creations”. Many people interpret this as beautiful, but it really is quite disturbing for most first time users.
One person described it as looking into a spinning tunnel with multicolored walls that are alive.
Salvinorin A seems to be extremely dangerous in overdose amounts. One of the main reasons for this is because there is no way to so-called ‘reverse the effects’.
If someone was acting irrationally due to a bad experience, there is no way of telling them to ‘ignore the effects and act normal’, because they are unable to do so.
Salvinorin A seems to be extremely non-toxic. The Mazatecs have been eating it for hundreds of years with no apparent ill-effects to themselves or their kids.
One way of taking Salvia that doesn’t involve smoking is to chew the leaves, but this doesn’t produce an instant effect. Alternatively you can swallow the crushed leaves and the effect should come on within a few minutes.
The effects seem to last longer this way as well.
You can also make a tea by steeping the leaves in hot water. The effects of the tea seem to last a bit longer as well.
The Mazatecs refer to salvia as la medicina, or the medicine. They use the leaves in various ways as treatment for various ailments.
The Mazatecs use it to cure headaches, toothaches, stomachaches, etc. It is also used by midwives for pain relief during childbirth.
When the Spanish conquerors first encountered the Mazatecs, they were amazed to find a ‘magic herb’ that could cure so many ailments. They tried to enforce its use among the natives of Mexico and South America, but the natives didn’t take to this idea and so they continued to use it traditionally.
Salvinorin A is not completely without medical value, but as of now there really isn’t any practical way to use it for medicine. It has been suggested that it might be useful in treating Cancers involving blood vessel growth.
It seems to stop the blood vessels from growing and may prove useful in the treatment of other illnesses that involve blood vessel growth such as cirrhosis.
In the ’60s, a research team in Mexico injected Salvinorin A into lab mice and found that it promoted uterine contractions. There was a concern that it might be used as an effective contraceptive in women.
However, this was not pursued any further due to the fact that safer methods of contraception had become available.
There is some evidence to suggest that Salvinorin A might have some use in treating drug and alcohol addictions. However, more research needs to be done to see if this is true and whether or not there are any side effects.
Recent research has shown Salvinorin A to be completely safe for use in humans when taken in moderate doses. When taken in higher doses it has some the same effects as dissociative drugs like ketamine and PCP.
These include out of body experiences, hallucinations and a loss of touch with reality.
One thing that is known about Salvinorin A is that it causes the bottom part of the brain to be more active than normal. While this may seem to be a good thing, too much activity there can be dangerous.
It can lead to accidents, bizarre behavior and even psychotic episodes.
Sources & references used in this article:
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RESPONSE TO DENSITY IN A WILD POPULATION OF THE PERENNIAL HERB SALVIA LYRATA: VARIATION AMONG FAMILIES by J Whittlesey – 2014 – Timber Press
Effect of shading and plant density on growth, yield and oil composition of clary sage (Salvia sclarea L.) in north western Himalaya by RG Shaw – Evolution, 1986 – Wiley Online Library
Analysis of frequency and density effects on growth in mixtures of Salvia splendens and Linum grandiflorum using hexagonal fan designs by R Kumar, S Sharma, V Pathania – Journal of essential oil research, 2013 – Taylor & Francis
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