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What is salvia?

Salvia divinorum, or Salvia for short, is an herb in the mint family that’s often used for its hallucinogenic effects. It’s mostly found in southern Mexico and parts of central and South America. Even though Salvia is legal in some places, its active ingredient salvinorin A is one of the most potent psychoactive drugs. It can have a huge impact on your brain and body, so it is important to know the risks of the drug before you take it.

How long does a salvia trip last?

Salvia is a drug that produces visual hallucinogenic effects, similar to psychedelics like LSD or shrooms. Some users claim that they have mystical or spiritual experiences after taking it. These days, it has become popular as a recreational drug among young adults because it’s so fast-acting. In fact, you can start feeling the effects within just two minutes! The trip itself is also incredibly short, lasting for only about 20 minutes in total. 

How much salvia should I take?

The main psychoactive ingredient in salvia, salvinorin A, has a reported hallucinogenic dose of between 250 and 500 micrograms. 

What makes salvia unique?

In some Indigenous cultures, Salvia was ingested by chewing or drinking an infusion for its medicinal properties. It could be used to treat period pain, diarrhea, or gastrointestinal discomfort. However, it has gained widespread popularity based on its psychoactive effects. It is sometimes called seer sage, as it is the only known member of the lamiaceae herb family to cause psychedelic effects.

Salvia is the first known compound to act on a specific receptor of the brain that is not an alkaloid. It also lacks nitrogen, which makes it unique from almost all other known classical natural or synthetic hallucinogens. The psychotropic effects of salvia appear to be the result of kappa opioid receptor activation rather than that of the principal site of activity of LSD and shrooms, the 5-HT2A receptor. 

What is a salvia trip like?

Salvia produced a short-lasting trip with light-headedness, dysphoria, dissociation, depersonalization, and tactile and proprioceptive sensations. There is increased visual and auditory imagery – not necessarily things that are literally there, but actual complete hallucinations. 

One of the first studies on the pharmacological properties of salvia in humans involved recording the subject’s experience taking salvia describing the psychotropic effects from slight to extremely intense. 6% of participants rated the experience as slight, 22% as moderate, 12% as intense, 41% as very intense, and 19% as extremely intense. This means you are more likely to have an intense trip than not when taking salvia. 

What are the effects of Salvia on the body and mind?

It does have some negative physical side effects. These include nausea, dizziness, loss of control, or irregular heart rate. It can also cause slurred speech and laughing uncontrollably. 

However, the effects on the brain are significantly more intense. On a salvia trip, you can experience visual and auditory hallucinations, see lights or colours, or feel as if you’re detached from reality. Sometimes users feel anxious or fearful. 

Can I have a breakthrough experience on salvia?

Salvia may also be classified as a deliriant, meaning that you see and experience realities that are genuinely detached from this one. It has strong dissociative properties, so users may feel completely disconnected from their bodies. This means that it is entirely possible to have an incredibly intense experience while using salvia. 

What is the difference between a deliriant and a psychedelic?

Where other psychedelics might alter reality in your perception, salvia invents new reality. Deliriants are known for their ability to create experiences that include true hallucinations which the user does not realize are drug-induced. It is possible to have a full conversation with an entirely non-existent person, smoke a cigarette that does not exist, and see spiders or insects that have no basis in reality. At any given time, the reality you are seeing could include things that don’t really exist, or may be lacking things that really are there. 

This effect is very rare on psychedelics, and while it is somewhat more common on dissociatives, it is still not a key part of the experience.

Can I get addicted to salvia?

No. The addiction potential in salvia is non-existent, although interestingly, it does act on similar receptors in the brain as significantly more addictive substances like morphine. Because it binds to only the kappa opioid receptor, it affects the brain in an incredibly localized way. Some research has shown that it has the potential to be altered or synthesized into a treatment for chronic pain, Alzheimer’s, depression, and even addiction to other drugs. 

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