Salvia – Drug Facts, Uses, Effects, Risk, and Many More…

Salvia is a beautiful flowering plant. But don’t go for its beauty. It has a powerful hallucinogenic effect that makes you feel dizziness. There are some such effects and facts about this plant.

So, In this article, we discuss its introduction, history, uses, and possible side effects.

What is Salvia?

What is Salvia?

Salvia (Salvia divinorum)— is a herb plant in the mint family (Lamiaceae) which is a common flowering plant of southern Mexico, Central, and Southern America.

There are around 1000 species of salvias and many of them are shrubs, herbaceous perennials, and annuals. Moreover, many of the tender perennial species are quite popular as annuals. 

The active component of Salvia is salvinorin A. It is one of the most potent psychoactive drugs that occur naturally. Salvinorin A is capable of changing the behavioral chemistry of the brain which triggers the human perception. 

However, in the case of ingestion of the leaves, it commonly induces hallucinations, dizziness, and sensory disturbances.

Did you Know? According to Federal law, salvia is not illegal in several countries. In addition, it is sometimes promoted and sold as an alternative to illegal cannabis. 

Quick Facts of Salvia

  • Family: Lamiaceae
  • Subfamily: Nepetoideae
  • Tribe: Mentheae
  • Other names:
    • Diviner’s Sage
    • Magic Mint
    • Maria Pastora
    • Sally-D
    • Seer’s Sage
    • Shepherdess’s Herb
    • Ska Maria Pastora
    • Seer’s Sage
    • Shepherdess’s Herb
    • Lady Sally
    • Purple Sticky
    • Incense Special
  • Salvia’s colors: 
    • Blue, red, purple, orange, pink, yellow, white, green, and brown.
    • Few salvias are multicolored
  • Distinct regions:
    • Central and South America— around 600 species
    • Central Asia and the Mediterranean— 250 species
    • Eastern Asia— 90 species

History of Salvia Use

History of Salvia Use

Salvia’s name is derived from the Latin word ‘salvere’ which means ‘to heal’. In the past, the ancient Greeks and Romans used salvias as a memory enhancer. In addition, it is also known for its healing properties, in herbal folklore.

While talking about its discovery, it was discovered in the mountain ranges of Oaxaca, Mexico. The Mazatec Indians (natives) use this plant as a spiritual plant but they also use salvia’s active ingredient (Salvinorin A) for medical use.

However, following Mazatec people, various other cultures start using Salvinorin in their religious rituals and ceremonies.

Methods of Using Salvia

There are several different methods of using Salvia: 

  • Smoking
  • Drink
  • Vaporization
  • Chew (oral) 

A. Smoking

Smoking salvia leaves

In general, smoking is probably the most common method for salvia users. People first make them dry and pipe down in some folded-tubes. Some common fold tubes are tobacco pipes, bong, water-pipe, or joints to smoke them. The effects last up to 15- 30 minutes. 

To get smoke out of salvia’s dried leaves, it must be heated warmer than tobacco. However, when the smoke enters the bloodstream faster and deeper it tends to irritate the mouth and nasal cavity.

Moreover, it potentially has the same health effects as cigarette smoke. In some cases, smoking salvia can cause diseases such as cancer, bronchitis, emphysema, and heart and blood vessel disease.

B. Drink 

When the leaves of Salvia are crushed and blended with the water and filter-out the extract. So, when you drink this filtered water, it remains inactivated before it reaches the gastrointestinal system. Although this method could have a more hallucinated effect than any other method.

C. Vaporization


Many people use salvia in the vaporized form i.e. by inhaling the vapors of salvia. In general, salvinorin extract (or paste) is heated on a piece of tin foil and the vapors are inhaled through a glass pipe or straw. The ideal air- stream temperature should be around 277 ° C (530 ° F).

D. Chew/ Oral

Generally, people chew and swallow fresh leaves of salvia. However, people chew quid-salvia leaves to get high on salvinorin A, then they remove it from the mouth.

The extracts are absorbed through the oral mucosa or directly through the tissues lining of the mouth. Therefore, this creates visual hallucinations which last for 1 to 2 hours. And also the longer the herb remains in the mouth, the greater would be the effect. 

Smoking salvia produces a more rapid effect, while orally it works at a slower rate but with a longer effect – around 60 to 120 minutes.

Note: In short, the effect of salvia depends on the method of use (ingestion, drink, oral) and the amount of intake. Besides this, the effect of salvia reaches the peaks in 5 to 10 minutes and lasts for about 30 minutes.

Effects of Using Salvia 

Effects of Using Salvia

The following are the powerful psychological effects on your brain, these are:

  • Hallucinations: visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Changes in vision
  • Improved mood
  • Uncontrollable laughter
  • Distorted reality
  • Extreme emotional swings
  • Altered/ loss of perceptions 
  • Anxiety or fear from a “bad trip”
  • Detachment from self, reality, and surroundings
  • Slurred speech
  • Cartoon-like imagery

Short- term Effects

As stated earlier, the effects of salvia last for around 30 mins but the users might experience some side-effects such as:

  • Visual alterations
  • Intense hallucinations
  • Uncontrollable laughter
  • Mood swing
  • Extreme confusion
  • Sweating
  • Loss of sense/ mixed senses
  • Physical sensation
  • Feeling of detachment
  • Distorted sense of space

Following are some common adverse physical side-effects of salvia:

  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Loss of physical coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Erratic or violent behavior
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Chills, fever, and loss of appetite
  • Increased body temperature
  • Awkward sentence patterns
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Paranoia and psychosis episodes
  • Other reports: throat and lung irritation, mild irritability, and headache

Long-term Effects of Abusing Salvia

These are the following long-term effects of Salvia’s abusing:

  • A decrease in learning and memory power
  • Speech impairment
  • Brain damage
  • Damage other organs: lungs, liver, and kidneys
  • Mental health issues: like psychosis, depression, or anxiety,
  • Other risks: 
    • Memory loss
    • Loss of motor-control
    • Muscle coordination
    • Irritability
    • Lung irritation and insomnia
    • Suicidal thoughts

Nonetheless, there are no conclusive side-effects that signify the overdosage of this herb. Hence, there is no real test regarding the serious long-term effects of salvia.

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Treatment for Salvia Abuse

Treatment for Salvia Abuse

Sadly, there’s no standard medication to treat its abuse. Although, more studies are conducted to learn Salvia’s effects or its addictive properties. And based on that, many treatments are in the trial phases that are related to behavioral changes during the addiction of this hallucinogen.

But many doctors provide antidepressant therapy to deal with depressive symptoms from their abuse. Therefore, the best treatment for the patient is regular monitoring. Moreover, a secure environment or direct supervision should be employed.


Salvia is a flowering plant from the mint family. Traditionally, it has been used in religious rituals and ceremonies. It has a higher amount of a potent chemical, Salvinorin A which eventually causes hallucination effects.

In general, people usually chew salvia leaves or drink their extracted juice. However, some people use their dry leaves to smoke. In addition, it affects brain function and also abrupts nerve cell communication. This all sometimes eventually leads to memory loss, visual and auditory hallucinations, anxiety, etc. 

Its long term effect is generally in terms of hallucinations that can last to several hours.  Whereas, the short-term effects are mood swings, sweating, dizziness, mixed emotions, etc.

However, there is no treatment available for this herb. But salvia’s patient symptoms can be cured in a safe environment or under proper monitoring.

Now, these are the following common frequently asked question by the users on google.

General FAQ

What does Salvia look like?

Ans. Particularly, salvia (Salvia divinorum) has large green leaves with hollow square stems and varied colored flowers.

What are the methods of using salvia?

Ans. Methods of using salvia are smoking, chewing (oral), and vaporization.

What is the usual dose for smoking salvia?

Ans. In general, it varies depending on the dose you required. However, one or two large crushed leaves (¼–½ gram) are enough for individual requirements.

What is in Salvia that makes it so strong?

Ans. Its active component is salvinorin A which alters human perceptions and also causes hallucinations.

Is Salvinorin A an alkaloid?

Ans. Salvinorin A is not an alkaloid because it contains no nitrogen atoms but the molecules of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms.

How long does a salvia high last?

Ans. It depends on how much the person had consumed this herb. And it also depends on the method of using salvia. The effect of salvia reaches the peaks in 5 to 10 minutes and lasts for about 30 minutes to several hours.

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