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The Community Salvia Divinorum FAQ
by Salvia Authors
Maintained by Erowid
Version 2.0 - Mar 10, 2009
This FAQ is not regularly updated or maintained. It may include out-of-date information. Please check the version date to see when it was most recently revised. For current information, see Erowid's summary pages in the substance's main vault.
INDEX


BASICS EFFECTS & USE CULTIVATION & EXTRACTION RESOURCES & REFERENCES


BASICS


This FAQ is not intended to encourage any specific type of use of the plant Salvia divinorum or its extracts. This document is a collection of information, believed to be accurate by its authors, which is intended to help promote knowledge about this plant, its traditional and contemporary history, and to describe techniques used by formal and informal researchers. Although parts of this FAQ include instructions for extraction or use, these are explicitly not intended to suggest that it is safe or prudent to ingest any salvinorin A-containing substance. Many activities include risks and because this plant and its active compound are new to the global culture, there may be unknown or undocumented risks.

Salvia divinorum is a psychoactive plant in the Labiatae family (sometimes called the "mint family"). So far as is known, it is endemic only to the Mazatec region of the Sierra Madre mountains in Oaxaca, Mexico, also known as the Sierra Mazateca (Ott 1996). Some Mazatec curanderos and curanderas (medicine men and women, frequently referred to as shamans) use S. divinorum as an aid to prophecy in healing rituals. The plant's species name, "divinorum", is said to mean "of the seer" (Ott 1996), and refers to its traditional use in medicinal divination (learning the cause or identification of an illness).

Interestingly, Dr. Albert Hofmann--who along with R. Gordon Wasson investigated the plant in Mexico in 1962--remarked: "... Salvia divinorum... is a wrong name, bad Latin; it should actually be Salvia divinatorum. They do not know very good Latin, these botanists. I was not very happy with the name because Salvia divinorum means "Salvia of the ghosts", whereas Salvia divinatorum, the correct name, means 'Salvia of the priests'." (Grof & Hofmann 2001).

However, Salvia divinorum was named by the botanist Carl Epling, who probably had a better handle on Latin than Albert Hofmann. Hildegarde von Bingen's Liber divinorum operum, translates as "Book of divine works". Although there was a rush to publish the identity of the plant, the naming debate is more of a trivial footnote than a substantive problem with its botanical name.

For more information on the early history of S. divinorum, see The Early History of Salvia divinorum by Leander J. Valdés III. For a good overview of traditional ethnographic use, see Valdés' excellent Ethnopharmacology of Ska Maria Pastora. For a botanical description of S. divinorum, as well as photos of it growing in its native habitat, see The Botany of Salvia divinorum (Labiatae).

As of March 2009, Salvia divinorum, and/or its primary active chemical salvinorin A, were specifically scheduled or controlled in several countries. In 2002, Australia was the first country to officially schedule S. divinorum and salvinorin A. Other countries that now control the plant (and sometimes salvinorin A) in some manner are Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Norway, South Korea, Spain, and Sweden.

There are over a dozen states in the U.S. that have placed some level of control on S. divinorum, and several more states have pending legislation. For more information about S. divinorum's legal status, see Erowid's Salvia Law Vault.

Salvia divinorum's primary active chemical, salvinorin A, is not chemically similar to any other Schedule I or II compound and thus is not covered under the United States' Federal Controlled Substance Analogue Act of 1986. At one point the DEA had text posted to their web site about S. divinorum suggesting that salvinorin A is chemically similar to other scheduled compounds; however, the author of that text was clearly confused and didn't understand the chemistry involved. For more information about this issue, see the related Ask Erowid question. The DEA eventually removed the spurious statements from their web site. In other countries or under state laws, S. divinorum may qualify as meeting some criteria for "analogue"-type control, but we are not aware of any prosecutions on this basis as of March 2009, and worldwide, there have been very few known arrests for S. divinorum. One of them occurred in Lincoln, Nebraska, where the plant is not illegal; the arrested individual was charged on the basis of a more general law restricting the sale of intoxicating substances; however, a jury found him not guilty in January 2009. In recent years, users of S. divinorum have posted videos of themselves under the influence to YouTube, with the mainstream news media occasionally also broadcasting these clips. It seems likely that this practice has contributed to the motivations of those making efforts to schedule the plant.

In the United States and other countries, there are other regulatory organizations that could potentially impact the legality of sales and/or distribution of Salvia divinorum. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has control over what substances may be sold as foods or medicines. It appears that the FDA does not have any specific rules related to the consumption of herbs via smoking; it is possible that this is historically due to the lax (and bizarre) situation with tobacco. So far as we are aware, the FDA has not placed Salvia divinorum into any category related to consumption (i.e., generally recognized as safe; not for use in food; not for use in alcohol; etc.).

However, on April 3, 2000, the FDA published notice in the Federal Register stating its intention to act against the producers of "various products that are being manufactured, marketed, or distributed as alternatives to illicit street drugs" intended for recreational use, and the notice defines "recreational use" as: "to get high, to promote euphoria, or to induce hallucinations". Although Salvia divinorum's effects are unique and unlike any other drug, licit or illicit, there are some companies that market it in a manner that compares it to illicit drugs. According to the FDA notice, it is possible that these products may be considered to be unapproved and/or misbranded drugs in violation of the Food and Cosmetic Act (Hanna 2001). In these situations it is clearly the method of marketing that is being targeted; the plant and its active compound are still not controlled by the FDA.

Traditional names for the plant include "ska Pastora" (Shepherdess' herb), "ska María Pastora" (Mary Shepherdess' herb), "hojas de la Pastora" (leaves of the Shepherdess), "hojas de María Pastora" (leaves of Mary Shepherdess), "hierba María" (Mary's herb), "yerba de María" (herb of Mary), and "la hembra" (the female). R. Gordon Wasson proposed that S. divinorum might represent the ancient Aztec herb pipiltzintzintli ("most noble little prince"). There are some modern psychonauts who call it "mint" or "sadi" (short for Salvia divinorum). However, most commonly it is simply referred to by its genus name, "Salvia".

NOTE: "Ska" may be translated as either the "leaves" or the "herb" - ska (María) Pastora = the leaves (or herb) of (Mary) the Shepherdess. "Hierba" and "yerba" are variants of the same word.

Although there are hundreds of different species in the genus Salvia, many of which are available at nurseries and garden shops throughout the world, to date none of these have been shown to contain the same salvinorin compounds that are found in Salvia divinorum. S. divinorum is considered a "specialty plant" and it is highly unlikely to be available through a local nursery or garden shop. Some have argued that Salvia splendens (which contains the neo-clerodane diterpenoid compounds salviarin and splendidin) is also psychoactive, but the effects are thought to be more Valium-like (very mildly sedating) and not visionary. An informal, controlled study that looked into the putative activity of S. splendens showed that there were no more effects from this Salvia than from the placebo herb (Sage Student 2009). Others insist that it is indeed psychoactive, and the paper that identified kappa-opioid activity of salvinorin A suggested that there may yet be more to the story about splendens:
Interestingly, a three-dimensional search of the National Cancer Society Database using the pharmacophore features and geometries derived from salvinorin docked with the KOR model produced splendidin... Splendidin was originally isolated from Salvia splendens... (Roth et al. 2002).
The common culinary sage, Salvia officianalis, has been said to provoke "intoxication and giddiness" if smelled for a prolonged time (Duke 1987 in Ott 1993). Indeed, S. officianalis does contain terpenoid thujone compounds, which are psychoactive components also contained in Artemisia absinthium (used in the infamous alcoholic preparation absinthe). While it is possible that there may be more psychoactive Salvia plants, today's state of knowledge places S. divinorum as one of a kind. If one sees a plant that is merely labeled "Salvia" in a store, it is highly unlikely that this plant is S. divinorum.


EFFECTS & USE


Salvia divinorum produces unique effects that are difficult to accurately describe by comparing them to those produced by other psychoactive plants or drugs. The psychoactive chemical in S. divinorum is salvinorin A; while some people have proposed that there may be other minor chemicals that affect its action, recent pharmacological binding tests of known chemicals in the plant suggest that this is unlikely (Prisinzano & Rothman 2008). Effects vary, based on dose and method of ingestion. Effects range from very light, at lower doses, to overwhelmingly strong at higher doses. While S. divinorum's effects are usually grouped with other visionary-class psychoactives such as smoked DMT, its effects are so radically different that such comparisons often lead to misunderstandings. Some effects that have been reported include:

  • Uncontrollable laughter
  • Visual alterations or visions
  • Loss of physical coordination
  • Experiencing multiple realities
  • A contemplative sense of peace
  • Sense of profound understanding
  • Dream-like veneer over the world
  • Seeing or becoming part of a tunnel
  • Sense of total confusion or madness
  • Contacting other people/spirits/entities
  • Experiencing a "non-Euclidean" geometry
  • Feeling of being underground or underwater
  • Sense of flying, floating, twisting, or turning
  • Feeling of being immersed in an energy field
  • Loss of sense of awareness as an individual
  • Feeling of being connected to a larger "whole"
  • Appearing to travel to other places and/or times
  • Becoming inanimate objects (a wall, stairs, a couch, etc.)
  • Feeling as though one has entered into the "realm of the dead"
  • Viewing patterns or shapes that are tube-like, snake-like, or worm-like
Despite the fact that Salvia divinorum is, on rare occasions, marketed as a "legal marijuana substitute", the effects that it produces are not generally perceived as being like those of cannabis. However, many miscellaneous herbs are touted as "marijuana substitutes" without any significant similarity to cannabis effects. S. divinorum is not considered a "party drug", as its effects are not particularly conducive to social interaction, tend towards the non-verbal, and can often be extremely disconcerting and frightening. Those experienced with Salvia divinorum generally use it in quiet settings for introspective contemplation and meditation. The expectations and interests of those using it for the first time vary considerably, but often include seeking the novelty of a new psychoactive experience. From most reports, only a small portion of those who get a strong salvinorin A experience return very often to that strange space.

The duration of effects depends on the method of consumption and the amount consumed. It has been reported to last from about 15 minutes to over 3 hours. Generally, when smoked, Salvia divinorum's effects come on quickly, peak for 5-20 minutes, and then begin to subside. With the oral and sublingual methods, it takes longer to first feel the effects and they last longer. Although a small number of people report effects lasting over 4 hours from oral/quid use, the large majority of people find most effects taper off before 2 hours. More details regarding duration and intensity are presented below under the question "How is Salvia divinorum consumed?"

Below are four excerpted trip reports that give first-hand impressions of the Salvia divinorum experience. More such reports can be found around the net, in the Erowid Experience Vaults, SageWisdom.org, and the Lycaeum Trip Archive.

Trip #1
This description is adapted from "Switching Realities: Salvia divinorum" by Anonymous, posted to the Erowid Experience Vaults. The effects were produced by two smoked hits of dried leaf. The full report can be found at www.erowid.org/experiences/exp.php?ID=2139

The first thing to happen was for my vision (I could still see a little, from a small digital clock in the room) to just spin out of control, into a tunnel. I got a bit nervous, reaching for the light. With the light on, I felt a little strange, but no visual activity, so I mustered up some courage, shut off the music and turned the light out. I lay back and relaxed. What happened was wonderful. At first I kept switching realities... I was completely somewhere and someone else. I lived a complete life, had a complete memory of this life, and was just putting something on a shelf when I snapped back here to who I am. This sort of thing happened about three times. In one of them, the only thing I was aware of was that someone had just let out a blood-curdling scream. I was back here instantly, although I was scared that someone in my house had just heard that scream, but luckily it wasn't me screaming. After this I just enjoyed some morphing color patches. They were not very bright, but very beautiful. Then the plant starting to talk with me. It was definitely female. I felt as if my mother was holding me as an infant, but unlike my mother. This was somehow more comforting. I felt better than I have ever felt in a trip...
Trip #2
This description is adapted from D.M. Turner's book Salvinorin: The Psychedelic Essence of Salvia Divinorum. It describes a trip on approximately 1.7 mg of pure salvinorin A, vaporized and inhaled. The full report can be found at www.erowid.org/library/books_online/salvinorin/j3.shtml

. . . I must have lost consciousness briefly. Or, there was no transition. The next thing I experienced was the feeling of my stretching grin extending outside of my face, or, beyond the borders of what I have learned to experience as my face. Was there a ripping sound? Was there a painful feeling of pins and needles, a feeling of the skin being stretched beyond what is normal? I was laying on my back, on the bed, and the right half of my body was being stretched out and somehow below me. The left half of my body was being pulled up and out. The vaulted arch of our ceiling opened up, and a Caucasian man, with a hat like a bowler, leaned down to his right, down to the brown leg of his slacks. He looked at me, from what seemed nearly a hundred feet, and said, "It's time to go now," and began moving his right leg forward in a step. As his right leg swung forward, my body was merging into his pant leg, below his knee, this part of his body being as tall as I am. Rather, most of my body was being pulled into his leg. My neck, arms, and head were being dragged forward as the bed was being stretched. The visual experience was as if the world, including my body and all that I saw, had become flat, two-dimensional, and was a sheet, or a thin rubber skin, a layer. As the pulling forward and out was taking place, the colored forms of what I saw were smeared, as if a running palette of colors, pulled, stretched, thinned. I pulled back, wondering if I could pull away from this tearing of the world. 'It's time to go now.' My body and the world as I knew it, was being pulled into the black universe, stars studding the space, while the outline of this man was covered with the "being pulled", "smeared" reality, of which I was an integral part. -- I was stunned, frightened, disbelieving. I think it hurt, but even more painful was the idea that 'This was it.' My mind began trying to sort out what had happened. [ . . . ] My wife later told me I was staring in disbelief around me and at my body and saying 'It's smeared, it's smearing. It's the universe. We are moving into the universe, it's ending.' I looked carefully at my left forearm and hand. I saw the transition between my flesh, and tiny bubbles of color, streaming upward and outward into the pulling canvas of matter. My legs were doing the same thing, as was the entire room. 'It's time to go now.' -- The sense continued, hammering. I felt, but did not think, 'No, I'm not ready. There is so much undone, unfelt, unsaid.' I felt I should have been better warned or prepared. [ . . . ] I wondered about the plant from which this material was derived. Is this the reason for the plant's existence? To mediate the ending of the universe? -- To one of my requests for reassurance my wife said 'It's happening, relax, lay back in bed.' I'd been twisting and turning, trying to move away from the dissolving edge. I said to my wife 'If this is how it ends, I ought to just relax. I will miss you, I'm glad we met. Please lay by my side so we can go out together.' She lay down next to me and I kissed her forehead. She then lay across my chest, enveloping me with her body. I felt her love, and felt we were ending together. I felt us both merging with the edges of the end, and felt my body merging more fully with the sheet of reality that we were becoming. -- Some moments later I opened my eyes again, and felt the ripping and pulling diminishing. I looked up and saw that the ceiling was beginning to congeal around a well-demarcated line. I looked at my left hand and saw there was an irregular line, curving in the same pattern as that of the ceiling. My hand was slowly filling in with substance again...
Trip #3
This description is adapted from "A Total Mind/Body Trip--Salvia divinorum (extract)" by Elfstone, posted to the Erowid Experience Vaults. The effects were produced by about a half-teaspoon of a "7X" extract. The full report can be found at www.erowid.org/experiences/exp.php?ID=2140

He said that after taking the last hit and laying down, that was the last thing he remembered for awhile. It was just like being hit over the head with a baseball bat. As awareness resurfaced, he would perceive the room; but no sooner did he perceive it than he was rolled under again, becoming one with the totality of the cosmos. He would then roll back into the room again and see us briefly, knowing that he was about to be rolled right back under, and was fearful that this process was never going to end. He said the image that came to mind was being rolled up in straw mats, becoming one with the mat, with no differentiation between self/other. At one point, when he sat up and rested his hands on the carpet, he perceived himself as resting his hands on an ocean of fish, packed very tightly. As he rolled back into the room, he would perceive the floor as being about chest high, with only his upper torso and head emerging briefly, followed by becoming totally dissolved back into the ground. As he was comforted by his wife, he was concerned that he would take her under with him when the next roll came around. Thus in the intensity of the experience it was a total body/mind trip, with no ability to distinguish this as merely an altered state of consciousness. This was the most powerful psychedelic experience my friend had ever had, bar none! He said, 'It's right up there with birth and death!"
Trip #4
This description is adapted from the account "Chewing vs. Smoking II" by B. Schuldes, Germany, which appeared in the Autumnal Equinox 1995 issue of The Entheogen Review, pp. 8-9.

Not fully satisfied with the effects of smoked Salvia...I tried 18 large leaves 14-18 cm long (minus stem length). These were rolled into two "cigars" and held in my mouth, chewing occasionally, sucking and holding the juice about 3-5 minutes. I tried to wet the whole inner surface of my mouth for maximum absorption. The taste is very bitter. Then I swallowed and repeated the process until no more juice could be obtained and I spat out the empty "cigars." WOW! I doubt if I'll ever bother smoking Salvia again! The first ten minutes: nothing. Then suddenly the effect came on overwhelmingly within the space of a minute. I tried to tell my wife about it, but couldn't speak: I was just too amazed and kept uttering: "Strong, so great!" This inability to speak became [unaccountably] amusing: I began to laugh uncontrollably and had to bury my face in the pillows, not wanting to wake the kids in the next room. (Sometimes when smoking I experienced this laughter also, but not with such intensity and duration—a full five minutes of non-stop, very powerful laughter. Finally I got it under control and rolled over on my back in the darkened room. With closed eyes I was standing in strange buildings, similar to those in fantasy paintings or ancient oriental palaces: the Alhambra of Grenada. A large, almost endless empty hall with beautiful arches and hundreds of columns: all in a strange, gloomy, blue-grey light with colors expressive of deep magic and majesty. Then I remembered someone's report of "becoming a plant" on Salvia: instantly I turned into a tree with bark like oak (many plateaus and valleys), yet somehow smooth and not rough like an oak. This bark was like a sense organ: I felt like a tree feels. (I know it sounds odd, but while it was happening I had no doubt that a tree feels that way.) Then I sensed the presence of something else, but couldn't get an image of it. This was accompanied by strong emotions which are impossible to describe. I became suddenly very attracted to my wife lying beside me - the effect changed from entheogen to aphrodisiac.

The Salvia Experience Scale is something described in Daniel Siebert's FAQ. It is a scale from 1 to 6, increasing from light to strong, with the mnemonic S-A-L-V-I-A: Subtle, Altered, Light, Vivid, Immaterial, and Amnesic. For more information about this scale, click the link above.

There is no commonly reported next-day hangover after smoking Salvia divinorum. Although there is the relatively rare mention of people feeling dizzy for up to a few hours after consumption, more often people report a positive-mood afterglow lasting between a few hours and a couple of days.

It is important for anyone thinking of trying a new psychoactive to try to acquaint themselves with whatever medical contraindications and potential risks are currently known about the substance. Once the decision has been made to try Salvia divinorum, perhaps the most important things to think about when planning a trip are: Have a Sitter, Create a Safe Space, Plan Your Time, Prepare Your Aesthetic Environment, Think About Medications, and Know the Effects.

Have a Sitter
An individual planning to take Salvia divinorum should have a non-inebriated "sitter" present at all times. Under the effects of S. divinorum, people have been known to get up and walk around, completely unaware of their surroundings with a 'blank' look in their eyes. It is possible that someone in such a mental state might walk into traffic, off a ledge, etc. People have been known to stumble about, knocking over and subsequently breaking glass objects. A non-inebriated friend (preferably one who is familiar with the effects of S. divinorum and/or other psychoactive drugs) should act as a "sitter", to protect one's physical body while one is in the S. divinorum "trance". In some cases the trance is a mild one, and it can be broken by noise or by turning on the lights and opening one's eyes. Frequently the trance will come back, if one returns to quiet and darkness. In extreme cases, someone under the influence of S. divinorum may become agitated and need to be calmed down or restrained. It is very important to have a trusted, non-inebriated sitter present during all S. divinorum voyages, and particularly so during the early voyages when one is getting used to the effects of the plant. The sitter should know that in the majority of cases, even if the person who has taken S. divinorum is "freaking out", such a condition does not last long and it is best to remain as calm as possible, try to non-verbally reassure the tripper at first, keep them from leaving the pre-defined area, and verbally reassure the person if necessary. Within 10 to 60 minutes, the situation should improve. Inexperienced sitters should be encouraged to read for themselves about the effects and the basics of "guiding". There is some information at www.erowid.org/psychoactives/guides/guides.shtml, which can help the sitter have a better idea of what their role may entail. A search in the Erowid Experience Vaults on the term "sitter" will turn up a number of accounts of S. divinorum use that might also be helpful to read.

Create a Safe Space
The space where the experience will take place should have dangerous objects put away and should be surveyed for potential accidents. If there are any candles burning, a person moving around deep in a trance might accidentally start a fire. Experienced Salvia divinorum users strongly suggest that the best way to take S. divinorum is lying comfortably in bed in a dimly lit room. Do not smoke S. divinorum while standing. There should be nothing potentially dangerous around (fire, knives, guns, glass), and the phone should be unplugged or turned off so that one won't be disturbed.

Plan your Time
Think carefully about when your next obligation to the outside world will occur and choose carefully a time that will not require driving or other activity for a period appropriate to the route of ingestion. Experienced users often choose to plan entire days for their work with powerful entheogens so that there is no obligation between the time they wake up and when they go to sleep. An individual using Salvia divinorum should not operate a car or heavy machinery until the effects have fully receded. One should wait until one is completely "down" and no longer experiencing any effects, and then wait another hour to be safe before driving or operating machinery.

Prepare your Aesthetic Environment
Along with creating a safe space to be in, it is also important to pay attention to the visual and audio aspects of the environment. Some people prefer silence, and others like various sorts of "mood" music (generally without vocals). Many experienced users prefer to be in softly lit rooms.

Think about Medications
As with all other strong psychoactives, its important that the user consider carefully the herbs, supplements, and medications that they have ingested within the last few days. While there is little known about cross-reactions between Salvia divinorum and other herbs and medications at this point, mixing medications can lead to unexpected results. Competitive opioid antagonists that include kappa opioid receptors among their target receptors, such as naltrexone (and to a lesser extent, naloxone) will block the effects of salvinorin A.

Know the Effects
New users should acquaint themselves with the general effects of Salvia divinorum so that they are not expecting cannabis-like effects. S. divinorum has the potential to be extremely powerful.

The leaves of the plant have been used by Mazatec Indians for hundreds of years without any reported health risks and no evidence of addiction. Salvia divinorum's popularity amongst contemporary psychonauts increased slowly through the 1980s and early 1990s and then more rapidly since the first "X" extracts began to be marketed in 1997. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health Report Use of Specific Hallucinogens: 2006: About 1.8 million persons aged 12 or older used S. divinorum in their lifetime, and approximately 750,000 did so in the past year. (OAS,SAMHSA 2008) Despite those numbers, many people only try it once or a few times, and decide that they don't need to experiment further or they just dislike the effects. This sort of experimental use is not very likely to have any serious detrimental effects caused directly by the plant's compounds, regardless of how it is ingested. There is a single case on record of 17-year-old Brett Chidester, a S. divinorum user who committed suicide. There is no evidence one way or the other that he was under the influence of S. divinorum when he took his life. His parents blamed his suicide in part on his use of S. divinorum, and over three months after he died, a medical examiner added this use as a "contributing factor" to his death (Chidester 2007). Even if Chidester's use of S. divinorum did contribute to his decision to take his life, considering the millions of people who have used the plant without killing or hospitalizing themselves, it is clear that such a reaction is extremely rare.

People who smoke the plant on a regular basis might have some concern about potentially detrimental effects on the lungs. There is increasing evidence that any inhaled particulate matter is unhealthy. However, such use is extremely unlikely to cause damage comparable to chronic cigarette smoking. We have never heard of a "daily" smoker of Salvia divinorum, let alone someone who smokes it many times per day. Those who use the concentrated "X" extracts may benefit from not having to inhale as much smoke; the more potent the extract, the less smoke that needs to be inhaled. Perhaps the biggest problem with more potent extracts is that users are more likely to accidentally smoke a stronger dose than they intend to. Overly large doses can be extremely frightening, can cause one to stumble around unaware of one's surroundings, or can sometimes cause blackouts. Clearly it could be dangerous to do such doses alone and particularly if one is near busy streets, swimming pools, fire, large bodies of water, glass objects, etc. It is always better to take S. divinorum at "ground level" (we heard of one person lunging toward a balcony in a second-story hotel room, who had to be restrained by his sitters).

Accidents
The most common adverse events reported so far associated with using Salvia divinorum are simply accidents such as bruises and cuts (from falling), and burns (from dropping a lighter or pipe).

Traumatic Experience
Perhaps the second most likely adverse effect of using Salvia divinorum is having a difficult psycho-spiritual experience. As with any strong psychoactive, acute anxiety reactions from unexpected or unwanted experiences can lead to lasting feelings of dysphoria in a small number of users. Although lasting anxiety is uncommon, the primary treatment is discontinuing use of S. divinorum and other entheogens and symptomatic treatment for anxiety such as relaxation, rest, regular exercise, sleeping well, and talking about one's feelings.

Oral Toxicity
If one drinks an infusion or chews the leaves, it is more difficult to take an overly large dose. To date there have been no reports of physically toxic reactions (hospitalizations or serious problems due to pharmacological reactions). The current view is that the leaves are effectively "non-toxic" and that it would be difficult to eat or chew enough to cause serious injury or lasting adverse health reactions. Generally, no lasting side-effects are reported from consuming Salvia divinorum. On rare occasions people get mild nausea from oral consumption. The acute effects can cause people to be dizzy and uncoordinated.

Addiction
There is no evidence that either the plant or salvinorin A is habit-forming or physically addictive.

Infusion
Most ethnographic accounts state that the Mazatecs make an infusion by rubbing leaves together and squeezing the leaf-juice into water. A couple of reports state that the leaves were first crushed on a metate (a flat stone). One ethnographic report described the preparation of a dose by merely piling up the leaves in pairs, face to face, and then rolling them into a cigar-shaped bundle, chewed, and swallowed (Blosser 1991-1993 in Ott 1999). Unfortunately, as far as a "dose" goes, the available ethnographic data usually relates the number of leaves used per dose (frequently stated as so many "pairs" of leaves, due to the Mazatec penchant for counting them in this manner). Such information may not be too useful because leaves can vary quite a bit in size, with some leaves being five or more times the size of others, depending on growing conditions, and the potency of leaves can also vary dramatically from plant to plant.

With regard to infusions, the number of leaves used to prepare a single dose reported in the ethnographic literature has ranged from 6 to 240 (Ott 1995). One paper (Ott 1999) described two doses as being a "large double-handful of leaves (plant tops, stems and all)"; another paper mentioned using 20 to 80 or more pairs of leaves, and helpfully also gave the weight of the fresh leaves as ranging between 50 and 200 grams (Valdés et al. 1983).

Contemporary studies into the chemistry and pharmacology of Salvia divinorum have discovered that the traditional infusion preparation is the least efficient method of consuming the plant. The plant's active chemistry is not soluble in water, and it is speculated that it may be partially deactivated via the stomach. Comparatively large amounts need to be consumed, if it is taken this way. On the other hand, effects--which begin after about 15 minutes (Valdés et al. 1983; Ott 1999)--may last longer than via other routes of ingestion; over 2.5 hours in one report (Valdés et al. 1983), and up to 3 hours 20 minutes in another case (Ott 1999).

Modern psychonautical investigations have found two more effective methods of consuming the plant:

The Quid
The quid method produces a somewhat shorter duration of effects than the oral infusion. With this approach, one takes fresh leaves, rolls them into one or two "cigars", and then chews them while not swallowing the juice or saliva in one's mouth. In this manner, the active chemistry of the plant is absorbed via the mucous membranes in the mouth, which is a much more efficient method than absorption via the stomach. When taking the leaves as a quid, the effects tend to last about an hour. The following has been reported as an effective dosing procedure using fresh leaves as a quid:

Ten leaves averaging 3.4-4 inches wide and 9 inches long (and weighing 25-26 grams) have the midribs removed. These are rolled into two 'cigars' of five leaves each. Laying in quiet darkness, the first cigar is placed in the mouth and held there, chewing it slowly with my front teeth. I do not swallow at all. After about 10 minutes I spit this out into a bowl, and start chewing the second cigar. Effects usually commence within about 5 minutes after beginning to chew the second cigar. I spit this cigar out after a 10 minute chew. The experience lasts about 45-60 minutes (from start to finish). (Aardvark 1998)
Smoking
A shorter duration of effects can be obtained by smoking the dried leaves of Salvia divinorum. Repeated experimentation has resulted in a general consensus that using a bong is one of the most effective ways to smoke S. divinorum leaf because one can get large breaths full of the smoke quickly. There have been some reports of people smoking S. divinorum leaves rolled into "joints", occasionally with effective results (and in a few cases people prefer this method). However, in the majority number of cases, people have reported little or no effects from smoking joints of leaves. Terence McKenna recommended using a "gravity bong "as an even better way to smoke the dried leaves, saying "This does not fail."

A regular pipe lies somewhere between a bong and a joint, in effectiveness. People have suggested that using a pipe with a large bowl and a short stem is the best choice, as there is room for burning a lot of dried leaf this way, and the salvinorin A has less chance to condense out into the pipe when traveling though a short stem. With smoking, the effects come on much more rapidly, within a couple of minutes, and they are gone in about 20 minutes. Several "bong hits" in rapid succession--each held in for about 20 to 30 seconds--generally is enough for effects; effects produced depend on the amount smoked, the potency of the leaf, and the sensitivity of the individual smoking. A dose range of 250 mg to 500 mg of dried leaf, when smoked via a bong, should be sufficient for most people using leaf of average potency (that is, leaf which contains 2 to 3 mg or salvinorin A per gram of dried leaf). It has been noted that salvinorin A needs a lot of heat to vaporize, and it is suggested that one hold the flame over the dried herb for the whole time that one is inhaling. Some people have reported better results when smoking by using a mini-torch style lighter.

Comparison of Consumption Methods
As with any new substance, those who choose to experiment in a cautious and intelligent manner with Salvia divinorum will start off with smaller doses and work their way up. Many people find the quid method to be more enjoyable, due to it having a slower onset and longer-lasting effects. The rapid effects of smoked S. divinorum can be overwhelming and confusing. One drawback from any oral consumption is that the plant's leaves can be quite bitter. Oral ingestion is less efficient and thus more expensive for those not growing their own plants, so many choose to experiment with smoking first.

Jonathan Ott (1995) has described "the probable descending order of potency" as follows: sublingual salvinorin A -> vaporized salvinorin A -> chewed leaf, quid -> chewed leaf, swallowed -> infusion of leaf.

Ott did not include smoked Salvia divinorum in his rating scheme, stating: "[E]ven 'though as few as 1-2 leaves may be active... for most people the effect is much milder than by oral ingestion (albeit of greater quantities). In a test with 20 people, each of whom was given a 'joint' of dried Salvia divinorum leaves to smoke (containing 1-2 leaves), roughly half felt nothing at all. Of the half who did feel the effects, all reported quite mild effects, except for 2 individuals, who had potent visionary effects" (Ott 1995).

It is too bad that the weight of the dried leaves wasn't presented with this information, since basing dosage data on the number of leaves is less than precise; leaves can vary in size from less than an inch (1 cm) to 15 inches (35 cm) long, and up to 5 inches (12 cm) wide. These experiments do indicate, however, that smoking a joint is not a very effective method. People have had much more effective results using a bong, where a larger quantity of smoke can be inhaled at one time. Ott also didn't include data related to any of the concentrated "X" extracts mentioned below, presumably as these were not commonly available when he conducted his studies.

To sum up, bong-smoked leaf, or smoked "X" extracts of various strengths, or vaporized salvinorin A, all tend to come on much more quickly and don't last too long. And, all of these tend to use a relatively small amount of leaf material. The quid method has a slower onset and longer duration, and uses a larger amount of leaf material. And the infusion has the longest duration, and uses the largest amount of leaf material. Depending on what solvent is used, prepared sublingual extracts can use a fairly small amount of leaf material, up to about the same amount as that which is contained in a quid of fresh leaf. Ott (2005) found that 100 micrograms to 1 milligram of pure salvinorin A was active sublingually in a solution of acetone or DMSO. (Yes, Ott actually used acetone orally. "Acetone is present in bananas," he quipped when asked about this practice.) However, others have reported that they were unable to replicate Ott's success using either acetone or DMSO. Many have found 4 to 10 milligrams or more of salvinorin A to be active sublingually in a solution of 190-proof ethanol (sometimes diluted by 50% with hot water, just prior to use).

Some authors have said that Salvia divinorum is not at all active when swallowed, but this appears to be a misunderstanding. One traditional Mazatec use of S. divinorum involves swallowing a liquid infusion / tea which causes strong effects lasting several hours.

Daniel Siebert attributes the low activity of oral preparations to inactivation of salvinorin A in the stomach (Siebert 1994), but he has not proposed a mechanism for this inactivation. Leander Valdés postulates a possible mechanism for inactivation (if it occurs) as "I can theorize a possible deactivation mechanism--acid catalyzed hydrolysis of the acetate in the stomach, converting salvinorin A to salvinorin B plus acetic acid (and possibly base catalyzed hydrolysis in the intestines). But taking an infusion of leaves can give a pretty strong experience which can last several hours (up to 4-6 or so)." Recently research shows that the major metabolite of salvinorin A is salvinorin B, and it has been suggested that metabolism is accomplished by blood esterases (Schmidt et al. 2005). In a discussion of the issue of oral inactivation, Valdés goes on to say:
How can this happen if the compound is inactivated in the GI tract? My work with getting Salvinorin A into a suspension for dosing mice and its potency when given intraperitoneally (where it has to cross a membrane), leads me to believe the low activity when taken orally is due to poor absorption rather than inactivation. There may be some inactivation by the mechanisms I gave above, but I think the big problem is absorption of the compound.

Taking the infusion gives a dose that is slowly absorbed as the liquid travels through the GI tract. I go into this in great detail in my 1994 paper, but the idea that the problems with salvinorin A are due to poor solubility hasn't caught on.

Sublingual solutions, etc., put the compound in a very small amount of solvent next to membranes. This isn't so in the GI tract.

Problems with absorption are very common in the pharmaceutical industry. The pharmaceutical pills and liquids people take include some very complex delivery systems. I think that Don Alekandro's infusion was the Mazatec version of one of our fancy delivery systems. It is crude and inefficient, but there are a lot of leaves available in the Sierra Mazateca, and the infusion produces effects which last several hours, which is a lot longer than other methods of taking the plant. Granted, the effects of oral ingestion are not as intense as the reported peak effects of smoked salvinorin A, but this type of experience is not what the Mazatec shaman is after. They want a "separate reality," not an unintelligible one." (LJ Valdés 2002)
It's important to note that one of the primary references on the weakness of oral activity is a self report by Daniel Siebert about taking 10 mg of pure salvinorin A. This oral dose of salvinorin A may be too low to make any definitive comments about oral activity or absorption. Ott has speculated that pure, crystalline salvinorin A would not be well absorbed (Ott 1995).

The idea that only fresh leaves can be used probably comes from the fact that traditionally the Mazatec Indians only used fresh leaves to make their infusions. The Mazatecs were apparently unaware that the plant could be dried and smoked. Interestingly, they also may consider Salvia divinorum to be a fairly "weak" plant--not surprising considering the way they consume it, which is one of the least effective methods. Not only can dried leaves be smoked, but dried leaves can also be reconstituted with water and used as a quid. A "dose" in this manner may be about 2 to 10 grams of leaf material, before it has been reconstituted with water (soak the leaves for 5-10 minutes to reconstitute them). Soaking dry leaves in water will increase their mass by 8-12 times.

The idea that the active compound is unstable comes from an early investigation by Albert Hofmann. He took some material preserved in alcohol from Mexico back to Switzerland, to study it in his lab. Apparently this material was inactive when he eventually looked into it, leading him to believe that the active compound must be unstable. Hofmann may have simply had too few leaves for an active oral infusion. In fact, when stored carefully, dried leaves seem to retain their potency for long periods of time (well over a year). Also salvinorin A, when kept cool, dark, and dry, also seems to hold its potency. It has been found, however, that salvinorin A dissolved in ethanol and exposed to sunlight can lose its potency, and it is also possible that this sort of environment is what led Hofmann's sample to degenerate.

In 1982 the chemical salvinorin was isolated from the plant in Mexico by Alfredo Ortega (Ortega et al. 1982). Two years later in America, Leander Valdés isolated the same compound--along with its desacetyl derivative--naming these divinorum A and divinorum B (Valdés et al. 1984). Since Ortega was the first to isolate, his name got priority, and the compounds became known as salvinorin A and salvinorin B. Valdés later described the additional compound salvinorin C (Valdés et al. 2001). All of these compounds are chemically considered to be neo-clerodane diterpenoids. Ortega did not look into the activity of his compound, but Valdés tested both a full-spectrum extract, as well as salvinorin A alone, on mice. From these tests, he concluded that salvinorin A was likely to be the primary psychoactive compound in the plant.

On June 6, 1993 (exactly nine years before this FAQ was first written), Salvia divinorum researcher Daniel Siebert vaporized and inhaled an extract that contained nearly 2 mg of salvinorin A, and confirmed via human bioassay that this was indeed the primary psychoactive compound. Later experiments by Jonathan Ott noted a 100 microgram threshold dose of salvinorin A in acetone and DMSO taken buccally (held in the mouth against the cheek), and that there was definite psychoactivity when taken in this manner at 250-500 micrograms, with visionary activity when taken in this manner above 1 mg (Ott 1996). It is now generally considered that Siebert's initial dose of 2 mg vaporized was too high, and most people who use the pure compound via the vaporization route prefer a dose of 600-1,000 micrograms (or just over 1/2 of a milligram up to 1 milligram). Salvinorin A is clearly a potent compound. Salvinorin B, which only appears in the plant at perhaps 4% of the amount of salvinorin A, was found to be inactive both in animal testing (Valdés 1994) and in humans at doses comparable to and higher than those where salvinorin A shows activity (Siebert 2004). While it was at one time speculated that salvinorin C--which appears in the plant at only about 10% the amount of salvinorin A--may be even more potent (Valdés et al. 2001), a human bioassay of salvinorin C showed it to be inactive (Siebert 2004).

Until the summer of 2002, the pharmacological action of Salvia divinorum was entirely unknown. The chemical had been tested on 43 known bioreceptors with no significant inhibition (Siebert 1994; Sage Student 2009). In August 2002, the Roth group published their findings that salvinorin A is a potent kappa-opioid receptor agonist (Roth et al. 2002). Because most other visionary drugs work on the serotonin system (specifically the 5-HT-2a receptor), earlier attempts to characterize salvinorin A's action failed. By using cloned cells which expressed a variety of neurotransmitter receptor types, bathing them in a solution containing salvinorin A, and then using radio-labeled chemicals called ligands known to bind to a given receptor, the Roth group was able to see if the salvinorin A kept the other chemicals from "sticking". Because the binding "affinity" for the radio-labeled ligand was known, the amount the salvinorin A it blocked produced a numerical value which then could be used to rate how much salvinorin A stuck to the receptor. Dr. Roth's lab is one of the most active in doing this type of neuropharmacological receptor screening and more info about this type of work can be found at http://pdsp.med.unc.edu. Appropriately enough, Siebert was a coauthor on this interesting and highly technical paper.

Salvinorin could also be active at a large number of other sites, but assuming this research stands up, it surprisingly does not substantially affect many of the other receptor types that most psychedelic-class psychoactives work on. As the name suggests, other opioid receptor agonists are analgesics (pain killers) and it certainly seems possible that salvinorin A acts at more than just this single receptor type.

We are not yet at the point in psychopharmacological science to be able to properly answer the question of "why" or exactly "how" something causes effects on the mind. There is still a wide knowledge gap between the pharmacology of the brain and the workings of the mind. For more information about this issue, see Erowid's article on Salvinorin's Kappa Opioid Activity.

Whether or not Salvia divinorum mixes well with other psychoactive drugs seems to be largely a question of "taste". Some people have had terrifying, over-the-top experiences with such mixtures. Others have had wonderful, blissful experiences. Before mixing any psychoactive compounds, it is always a good idea that one first gets to know the effects of each compound on its own, and how he or she responds to various doses. In any case, a prudent individual interested in combining compounds would always start with lower-than-normal doses of each compound. Some compounds are synergistic--they work together to create a larger effect than would be expected (and hence smaller amounts should be taken). It is currently unknown if there are any risks associated with combining S. divinorum with other drugs. Some people have reported a "potentiation" of effects when it is taken with the seeds from the monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI)-containing plant Peganum hamala (Syrian rue), which is frequently used in ayahuasca analogues. Why this would be the case is unclear, since salvinorin A is not an amine (and thus would not be expected to be metabolized by the MAO enzyme). To date, we are not aware of any medications that have been reported as being contraindicated by people who have combined them with S. divinorum or salvinorin A, but this does not mean that such bad combinations don't exist. As noted earlier, naltrexone and naloxone will block the effects of salvinorin A.

Some people have reported that it takes a few tries before one gets to "know" the plant. Eventually, after several attempts, some people report being able to "break through". It almost seems as though in some cases one has to learn to "understand" the effects. When using the quid method, people report that trying a larger amount and chewing for a longer time can help. If a person is smoking the leaves in a pipe, switching to a bong might be beneficial. Some people have said that they became more sensitive to the effects of Salvia divinorum after having smoked cannabis, and others have suggested that drinking a beer or two beforehand might help one to relax and increase one's ability to notice the plant's effects. (Nevertheless, it seems wise to have experienced and become familiar with the effects of S. divinorum on its own, prior to mixing it with an other drug, and it is probably a bad idea to get drunk and then start smoking S. divinorum.) If an individual has tried both chewing and smoking the leaves several times, and has not achieved effects, he or she might want to try a sublingual extract or one of the smokable fortified "X" extracts (see descriptions below).

It also appears clear that some people, as with all psychoactive substances, are just more resistant to the effects and require higher doses to achieve marked alteration in thinking and perception than others. As always, experienced users recommend starting low and slowly and methodically increasing the dose over time.

For a long time, there was no known test that would indicate someone had used Salvia divinorum. Initial interest in developing such a test was shown by the United States military. Then in 2005, processes were published showing how to detect salvinorin A via blood, urine, and saliva tests (Schmidt et al. 2005; Pichini et al. 2005). In any case, the testing procedures to detect the use of salvinorin A are not common, and salvinorin A is not structurally similar enough to any substance that is usually tested for to cause a false-positive result for another substance. Since it is not associated with addiction, heavy use, or use on the job, it seems unlikely that it will become commonplace to test for S. divinorum use anytime in the near future.

Along with the traditional divinatory use of Salvia divinorum, the Mazatecs also employ the plant for several medicinal applications:
  1. It helps one defecate and urinate. It stops diarrhea (the plant apparently is believed to regulate eliminatory functions).
  2. It is given to the sick, old or dying to revive them or alleviate their illness. People who are pale, white and almost ready to die (they have "anemia") may recuperate on taking la María.
  3. It may be taken to relieve headaches and rheumatism (however, when taken in the high doses that induce visions, it often leaves one with a headache the following morning, according to the curandero).
  4. There is a semi-magical disease known as panzon de barrego (sic), or a swollen belly, which is supposedly caused by a curse from a brujo, or evil sorcerer. The victim's midsection swells up due to a "stone" that has been put inside them. Taking the Salvia causes elimination of this "stone" and the belly shrinks down to size. The researchers met an old shaman who showed them his wrinkled middle and said he had cured himself of the "disease" by the use of "la María". Don Alejandro confirmed the "illness" and the "cure" (Valdés et al. 1983).
Salvia divinorum may be more likely to become used as an aid in underground psychotherapy, or perhaps the finding of its kappa-opioid receptor affinity will spur other areas of medical use, but at this time (March 2009), there is no accepted medical use by any major medical association.

Nevertheless, one psychologist wrote a 2001 article for the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology about the effect that Salvia divinorum had on one of his patients. The case involved a woman who used S. divinorum orally 2-3 times per week and found a complete remission of her depressive symptoms, despite being warned against using it by her doctor.
Ms. G volunteered that she has also benefited from occasional intoxicating oral doses of Salvia divinorum, consisting of from 8-16 leaves of the herb (approximately 2 to 4 grams), claiming that this herb had engendered a kind of "psychospiritual" awakening, characterized by the discovery of the depth of her sense of self, greater self-confidence, increased feelings of intuitive wisdom and "connectedness to nature" (Hanes 2001).
Those who use Salvia divinorum as a tool for spiritual or psychological insight have reported the difficult-to-quantify "health benefits" of stress reduction, centering, a greater understanding of the world and their place in it, and/or a feeling of connectedness to the universe.

A religious group in Canada has used low doses of Salvia divinorum as an aid to their meditations (see MAPS Bulletin 9(1): 36 and MAPS Bulletin 10(1): 6-7).


CULTIVATION & EXTRACTION


The best way to grow Salvia divinorum is to choose a place outdoors that is mostly shady, cool, and humid. While S. divinorum can be grown in hot sunny locations (once acclimated), it does not thrive in these situations. Using shade cloth can help in such situations. Soil should be rich and drain well. If grown in containers, the largest container possible is the best choice, as S. divinorum likes to have a lot of root room. One botanist has suggested that plastic "kiddie pools" make good pots. In dry areas, an automated misting system that comes on for one minute every hour (during daylight hours), or at least two or three times per day, is one of the best ways to provide the humidity that S. divinorum loves. S. divinorum can grow quite tall, and may eventually need to be supported with stakes. Alternately, cuttings can be taken from the tops of the plants, the two side branches at the node below the cutting will become the new growing tips, and the plant will bush out. S. divinorum loves frequent foliar feedings with fish emulsion fertilizer; such feedings produce lush, large, dark-green leaves.

The biggest problem that people have growing Salvia divinorum occurs within the first few weeks of obtaining the plant. S. divinorum doesn't like extreme changes in its environment. The shock of sending a plant through the mail can have adverse effects, and the odds of such negative effects increase the longer that the plant remains in the mail stream. For this reason, it is preferable to have the plants shipped via the fastest service offered. Some vendors offer S. divinorum as unrooted cuttings; such cuttings may be even more likely to suffer when shipped, as they have no roots to bring in water. However, unrooted cuttings are generally less expensive.

If an individual purchases an unrooted cutting or makes cuttings from established plants, he or she will need to know how to root the plant. Many people find rooting Salvia divinorum to be extremely easy, simply placing one end of a cut stalk in a glass of non-chlorinated water and leaving it for a couple of weeks. But others find their cuttings wilt and die, if they don't follow some more careful rooting technique. Rooting plants is generally something that is done indoors. It is preferable to use bottled, distilled water and a sterile cutting tool. A cutting with at least two "nodes" on it (where the new stems are produced as side-shoots) is placed into a glass of water, and the water is changed once a day. It is best to take the cutting just below a node. Another way to increase the speed of bushing is to take cuttings with side branches, root them in water, and then plant them in soil with the side branches buried.

The plant likes misting several times a day; keeping it in a humid location such as in a bathroom where a shower is frequently used can help. Some people use humidity tents, but the plant will become dependant on these environments, so they are not recommended. Misting frequently is adequate even in extremely dry locations. Within 10 to 14 days or so, small white roots start pushing out of the stem. When these roots have reached about a half-inch in length, the plant is potted in a rich, well-draining soil. The soil should be kept moist, but not soggy. Cuttings from outdoor plants can be taken and grown indoors over the winter in harsh climates.

More information and links about growing Salvia divinorum can be found in Erowid's Salvia divinorum Vault, the Salvia divinorum Research and Information Center, and in the Salvia Divinorum Grower's Guide, which can be purchased from the link above.

Salvia divinorum rarely sets seed, and when it does these have a low viability (Hanna 1998). There are a few vendors that on rare occasions have had seeds for sale, but due to the scarcity these are usually quite expensive. If one is interested in a challenge and has the money to burn, growing S. divinorum from seed might be an enjoyable activity. Since most of the commercially available plants are from one of two clones, seed-grown plants will help to increase the genetic diversity of the plant. Most people, however, settle for growing cuttings.

Leaves are best harvested when taking some won't cause too much stress to the plant. For smaller house plants, leaves can be picked every once-in-a-while, and stored up. For larger outdoor plants, leaves can also be picked every so often. However, many growers prefer to wait until the end of the "growing season", after the plants have gotten about as big as they are going to. In the United States, this is generally sometime between October and December, before the plants start flowering (which apparently won't occur in some climates). Stripping many of the leaves off before winter and letting the plant over-winter (in those areas that don't freeze) with fewer leaves seems to work well for people wishing to generate a large mass of leaves at one time. Leaves can be laid in single layers onto cookie sheets, and dried in an oven set at the lowest possible heat. Check them frequently so as not to burn them. We have also heard of people placing leaves into a pillowcase, tying it shut, and drying them in a clothes dryer on low heat. For storage purposes, dried leaves can be run through a strainer, creating a rough powder, and then packed into glass jars. Alternately, they can be placed whole into Zip-Loc-style baggies. Stored leaf should be kept cool, dark, and dry.

There are many vendors for Salvia divinorum plants, most of which can be found via a web search. Prices for live plants range from about $20.00 on the low end, to about $45.00 on the higher end. There are four plant clones that are commercially available. The most commonly available clone is usually called the "Wasson/Hofmann" clone, due to the erroneous widespread belief that this plant was collected by R. Gordon Wasson and Albert Hofmann. However, the plant was actually collected by in the fall of 1962 by Sterling Bunnell (Siebert 2003), so it rightly should be called the "Sterling Bunnell" clone. The second most commonly available clone originated from a plant brought to the United States by Bret Blosser, and it is sometimes referred to as "the palatable clone". This plant was thought by Blosser to be less bitter than the more common "Wasson/Hofmann" clone. Some folks who have grown both clones and noticed no difference in taste are of the opinion that the name of this so-called "palatable clone" was merely marketing hype by the first company that sold it (for a substantially higher price than the "Wasson/Hofmann" clone). However, it is also possible that much of the taste of any plant has to do with the environment in which it is grown. The other two commercially available clones are much less frequently sold. They are the "Cerro Quemado" clone, which was originally collected by Leander J. Valdés III, and the "Luna" clone, which was a plant that Daniel Siebert found in Hawaii growing under a "Wasson/Hofmann" clone. It has a slightly different leaf form, which is more rounded with deeper serrations, and it may have originated as a seedling or as a mutated sport. For a short time in the past there have been clones of a few other plants that were for sale, but these do not appear to have remained on the market.

Other than which clones to choose, the only differences between the plants offered by different vendors will be price, size, and health of the plants. Since the big "trick" to growing Salvia divinorum is getting the plant to adjust to whatever new growing condition it is placed in, smaller plants may actually acclimate better than larger ones.

Erowid keeps a record of complaints it receives about vendors at: http://www.erowid.org/vendors/vendors_complaints.shtml. This sort of feedback process can be of help to everyone involved, buyers and sellers alike. Remember that just because someone says that they're the only company offering a certain product, doesn't mean that it is true. And, just because a company says that they offer the lowest prices, this also isn't necessarily true. Be wary of claims of "consistently high potency" leaf, especially if such leaf costs substantially more than other vendors charge. It is highly unlikely that very many (if any) vendors perform regular quality testing related to the potency of the dried leaf that they sell.

Those who are conscientious about not upsetting the traditional culture surrounding this plant may wish to purchase leaves grown in the United States. Such leaves are usually more expensive, because the folks in Mexico can be exploited as cheap labor and the plant has naturalized there. Ripping a sacred plant from its native habitat for commercial gain is offensive to some people, and perfectly good Salvia divinorum leaf is grown commercially in Hawaii. Also note that, although some companies claim to offer standardized products, there is no independent testing company checking out such claims to make certain they are true. Public feedback may be the best way to gauge who sells quality products at good prices, which is why the vendor complaints URL and other sites like it can be valuable resources.

It is quite easy to create an extract that has a high concentration of salvinorin A, and this can indeed be done with commonly available solvents, and without a chemistry background or sophisticated lab equipment. Obtaining reasonably pure salvinorin A is also relatively easy. However, highly purified extracts require more sophisticated scales to weigh properly, which most people don't have access to. Any chemical that is strongly psychoactive below a few milligrams has to be handled incredibly carefully. Because of this, we will not be discussing purification and recrystallization methods in this FAQ.

Of the commonly available solvents, acetone is considered the best, due to the fact that salvinorin A is so absurdly soluble in it. However, people have used high proof isopropyl alcohol successfully too, as well as hot high-proof ethanol (salvinorin A tends to precipitate out of room temperature, cool, or cold ethanol). Nevertheless, all alcohol is flammable, and since an electric heat source would be required for alcohol extractions, acetone is the solvent of choice for most people who make extracts. Although acetone is also flammable, it can be used cold. (Many people prefer to work with freezing cold acetone, since it is less likely to extract other components from the plant material, such as chlorophylls, but it still extracts the salvinorin A.) Never work around any source of flame or spark when using flammable solvents (don't smoke!), and always work in a well-ventilated area. Since motors for some fans can create sparks, large fans should be used further from the work area, specialized hoods should be used, or solvent work should be done outside. The other major issue is to make sure that any acetone used in an extraction is free from other heavier oils and solvents.

A simple extract is made by roughly sifting the dried herb through a mesh strainer, placing the powder in a glass jar (with a lid), and filling it with enough acetone to submerge the herb and rise up half again as high in the jar. For example, if the powdered herb takes up two inches of height in the jar, then the acetone should rise to a three-inch mark on the jar. The lid for the jar is placed on tightly, and the jar is shaken several times over the course of an hour or two. Then the leaf material is strained though a coffee filter, with the liquid draining into a large glass baking dish. The acetone is allowed to evaporate off outside, away from any source of spark or flame. Some people cover the glass baking dish with a piece of cheesecloth, to make sure that nothing is blown into the dish. The resulting goo may have a salvinorin A content between 10% and 20%, and has been referred to as "black wax". Some people will use this sublingually on its own. Others will mix it with high-proof ethanol to create a sublingual tincture. Others will redeposit it onto dried Salvia divinorum leaf to create an "X" extract, and this method of processing is what many vendors selling "5X" or "10X" extracts use.

NOTE: Before sifting the dried leaves, some people have found it useful to soak the whole dried leaves for about 10 minutes in a bowl of cold water (and then re-dry them prior to powdering and extracting with a solvent). Since salvinorin A is not soluble in cold water, this allows some of the other stuff in the leaf to be removed prior to making the extract, and one ends up with a slightly cleaner, slightly more potent extract.

Salvinorin A, salvinorin B, salvinorin C, salvinorin D, salvinorin E, salvinorin F, divinatorin A, divinatorin B, divinatorin C, loliolide, (-)-hardwickiic acid, methyl ester, oleanolic acid, presqualene alcohol, peplusol, stigmasterol, neophytadiene (Munro 2006), and 5-hydroxy-7-4'-dimethoxyflavone (Valdés 2002). There are also reports of other flavonoids that have not been identified.

There is no definitive information about the range of quantities of salvinorin A in Salvia divinorum leaf. However, some valuable data does exist. Salvinorin A content was looked at systematically by the John Gruber group. The range they found was 0.89 mg to 3.70 mg per gram of dried leaf, but most samples analysed were in the mid-range at about 2.5 mg/g (Gruber 1999). Non-published underground researchers have reported content percentages higher than 2.5 mg/g in dried leaf that was considered "good quality", including reports of 4-5 mg/g. However, since the extraction, purification, and weighing methods for these informal reports have not been published, it is impossible to know how accurate these figures are.

It is possible to make extracts at home that are nearly as good as (or better than) most of the commercially available products, with only a small amount of time and effort. Especially if plants are grown instead of purchased, homemade extracts are the least expensive option. Once established, Salvia divinorum can grow to fill any available space, since the plant is so easily propagated by cuttings. In a single growing season--with a space as small as 30 square feet--it is quite possible that a person could produce more leaf than they would use in a lifetime.

Purchasing leaf in bulk and doing an extraction is still much less expensive than buying commercially available extracts. As of March 2009, a kilo of dried Salvia divinorum leaf could be purchased online for prices ranging from $90 to $250. Some commercial vendors resell such leaf for as much as $125 USD per ounce! Consider that at $200 per kilo, leaf of average strength (2.5 mg/g) would result in the cost for each milligram of salvinorin A being a mere 8¢!

There is no way to know the salvinorin A content of specific leaves without testing them; and once they are tested (i.e. extracted and quantified), those specific leaves are no longer being offered for sale. The best that a vendor might be able to do is make a fairly uniform "sifted leaf" or "powdered leaf" in bulk, and then test a portion of it for salvinorin A content; this might give some indication of the potency of the bulk batch. However, dried leaf is not commonly sold in this form. As well, the appearance of the leaf isn't likely to have any relationship to its potency; very potent leaf may have insect damage, discoloration, or other imperfections. Hence, "grade A" leaves (i.e., those that look good from a "cosmetic" perspective) may not be any more potent than lower grade leaves, and indeed they may be less potent. The bottom line is that--regardless of what some vendors claim--there is no way to know for certain the potency of the leaves that one buys unless those leaves were tested. Salvinorin A content of leaves is known to be variable, and it is not yet known what conditions lead to a high salvinorin A content. Although one vendor claimed to offer leaf as potent as 4.5 mg/g (Lady Salvia 2002), it is highly unlikely that vendors are testing all of the leaf that they sell to insure that the potency is consistently high: buyer beware.

There are two types of extracts that dominate the market at the moment: liquid extracts or "tinctures", which are generally used sublingually, and the "X" extracts (such as 5X and 10X), which are generally smoked.

Commercial Tinctures
Liquid extracts are not too commercially prevalent, but several companies do produce them. In the past, this FAQ provided specific sources and prices for products. However, because the market is constantly shifting and has grown substantially in recent years, we have removed that data from the current version. An Internet search engine should point out much of what is available at any given point in time. All of the sublingual tinctures that we have seen are produced with ethanol, and we have not seen any that state the specific salvinorin A content of the product, which likely indicates in most cases that these products are not standardized. The primary benefit of purchasing a sublingual extract, rather than making one, would be if the product were standardized and one knew what the amount of salvinorin A per dose was.

Home-Made Tinctures
Ethanolic sublingual tinctures are best made using 190-proof drinking alcohol (as any water added decreases the solubility of salvinorin A). Such a tincture can be expected, for the most part, to contain a uniform amount of salvinorin A throughout the bottle. Hence, the same dose could be taken repeatedly, but one would not know exactly what that dose was in terms of milligrams of salvinorin A. Home experimentalists working with purified salvinorin A found that, when making a tincture from 190-proof ethanol, an effective "dose" can be made by using from 4 to 10 mg or more of pure salvinorin A (with effects clearly getting stronger, the higher the dose).

The primary question for tinctures is how potent the starting leaves are. If one assumes that purchased or grown leaves probably contain between 1 mg and 4 mg of salvinorin A per gram of leaf material, and an acetone extract is made from 50 grams of leaf material, the goo left over should contain between 50 and 200 mg of salvinorin A. If a tincture is targeted to contain about 60 mg of salvinorin A per ounce of high-proof ethanol (or 2 mg per ml), then the amount of extracted goo that is added to one ounce of high-proof ethanol would have to be adjusted up or down, depending on how potent the goo actually was. Aside from further purifying the goo, the only way to determine potency is via estimation based on bioassay results. This is one reason that it can be useful to purchase tinctures with known amounts of the active compound; a comparison of effects can allow one to better estimate the potency of one's own tincture.

Salvinorin A is not terribly soluble in room temperature ethanol, even if it is water-free and 200-proof (absolute) ethanol or denatured ethanol. (Never consume denatured ethanol, since the denaturant is toxic.). The solubility of salvinorin A decreases as the percentage of water increases. So, for example, 190-proof grain alcohol like Everclear or Clear Springs, is the next best thing to absolute alcohol, and much easier for most people to obtain. If the proof goes down further, the solubility similarly decreases. With any ethanol used (and especially those of lower proofs), people making tinctures frequently choose to warm their tincture in a water bath (using an electric heat source with no sources of spark or flame nearby), in order to make certain that the salvinorin A gets into solution. Some people will use such a warming technique before each use, and especially so if the tincture has been sitting around for a while. And, they shake the tincture well before using it, to make sure that it retains a consistent potency. Tinctures last longest when stored in dark amber bottles, out of direct sunlight, in a dark location.

Most people prefer to dilute their high-proof sublingual tinctures with hot water just prior to using them. High-proof alcohol can really sting (and even burn) one's mouth if held there in undiluted form. A mixture of 50% hot water and 50% pure-alcohol tincture should work adequately. Since most people use drinking-alcohol that is less than 100% alcohol, tinctures are usually diluted to the point where they are approximately 50% alcohol by volume. The tincture is diluted right before it is used (diluting only as much as will be used during that session), and then is held in the mouth for 10-15 minutes. Effects begin in 5-10 minutes and last for about 30 minutes, with a gradual return to "baseline" after another 30+ minutes.

"X" Extracts
Caution: "X" extracts can be much more potent than regular leaf. They may be desirable for those who have not had success in smoking regular leaf, or they may be desirable for those who wish to minimize the amount of smoke that they inhale. However, due to the potency of such extracts, the intelligent user will always exercise extreme caution when working with these preparations. The doses with "X" extracts are small enough that many people choose to weigh them out prior to consumption.

The first discussion that we are aware of relating information about fortified "X" ("times") extracts was on page 174 of Dale Pendell's 1995 book Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft, wherein he states:
An excellent product I call '4X' can be prepared by evaporating an ethanolic (or methanolic) extraction of the dried leaves, and sopping up the oily goo left over after evaporating or distilling off the solvent with 'cleaned' leaves rubbed through a strainer. Use an amount of cleaned leaf equal to about one-quarter the original weight of the leaves extracted. The 4X enrichment is suitable for smoking in small pipes.
If one is using straight (non-extracted) leaf at "about one-quarter the original weight of the leaves extracted" as Pendell describes, most people would consider this product to actually be a "5X," since it contained all of the virtues of the "four parts" of the original leaves, plus an additional "part" from the one-quarter weight of straight non-extracted leaf that was added back in.

Pendell's description eventually brought forth the entrepreneurial spirit in some folks, and in 1997 "5X" products first became available. Then later came the 6X, the 7X, the 10X, and--not to be outdone--one vendor offered an 11X, stating, "Yeah, but mine goes to 11." The "X" number is increased by adding less and less straight (non-extracted) leaf back into the extracted goo. As the "X" factor increases, eventually this approach will no longer work, as there is too much gooey stuff and not enough dried leaf, making the extract hard to work with. A straight acetone-to-goo extract (with no leaf added back into it; just the goo) might be considered about a "25X" (based on an average extracted salvinorin A content of 2.5 mg per gram of dried leaf). Commercial extracts using with salvinorin A that has been more highly purified than the straight acetone-to-goo approach are now available in "X" strengths as high as 100X, and possibly higher. While Pendell proposed ethanol (or methanol), current opinion is that acetone is better, since salvinorin A is more soluble in this solvent.

Some "X" extracts or "fortified leaf" preparations are offered by a few vendors as standardized preparations with a known amount of salvinorin A per gram of crushed dried leaf. These are made by extracting out and purifying salvinorin A, then redepositing it on a known amount of leaf. This results in an extract that should produce less smoke per milligram of salvinorin A ingested. The most compelling value of standardized extracts is that a known amount of salvinorin A can be ingested by weighing the extract carefully before each use. With standardized extracts, it is possible to know that 40 milligrams of a 10X fortified leaf product contains 1 mg of salvinorin A each time, for example (if this is what the standardization is set at).

Although home extracts, also described as "crude" extracts (and specifically relating to the fact that they do not contain a standardized amount of salvinorin A) are often as good as those made by commercial vendors, such extracts have been criticized by vendors selling standardized extracts, who state that these "crude" extracts "concentrate the tars and other potentially harmful components of the leaf". However, these extracts certainly do not have any more harmful components than were in the original leaf that they were extracted from (unless some toxic solvent was used in their preparation that wasn't completely removed in the process). For example, if one needed to smoke 400 mg of "straight leaf" to get a 1 mg dose of salvinorin A, and now one needs to smoke 40 mg of a 10X extract, one would--at most--be getting the same amount of "tars and other potentially harmful components of the leaf". But since there is less smoke being produced per milligram of material, less particulate matter is likely to be inhaled, causing less irritation to the throat and lungs.

Although it is true that some standardized extracts will not have as much non-active wax and chlorophyll as the non-standardized extracts, the "health benefit argument" for standardized extracts is probably a red herring, in that most people do not smoke any form of Salvia divinorum so frequently that they really need to be concerned about the level of potential carcinogens that they might be inhaling. Consider, for example, that an average non-filtered tobacco cigarette weighs over 800 mg, or about 2-3 times the amount that is smoked in a "dose" of straight dried S. divinorum leaf. While it certainly doesn't hurt to minimize the amount of potential carcinogens that one inhales, it seems unlikely that infrequent S. divinorum smoking would have a long-term impact on health.

Vendors selling standardized extracts have also claimed that non-standardized extracts have "inferior burning characteristics". Yet experienced Salvia divinorum smokers report that the non-standardized 5X to 10X products from reputable retailers burn quite well, so this too seems like a marketing ploy. Non-standardized extracts higher than 10X can get "gummy" to the point that they don't as burn easily, but they are still likely to be quite effective.

In recent years, the "X" factor has risen to absurd levels, with 25X, 40X, 50X, 60X, 70X, 75X, 80X, 90X, and 100X all being offered commercially. With X factors this high, a more purified extract of salvinorin A is required for production. We have even seen online mentions of a 150X, but could not locate any vendor selling it. (Based on the 2.5 mg per gram of dried leaf, a 400X would be pure salvinorin A.) Generally speaking, extracts over 10X are harder to work with because they are too concentrated. The reason that fortified-leaf X-extracts are used is that they are easier to handle, measure, and smoke. Anything over 10X becomes increasingly more like handling salvinorin A, with the unwanted challenges in dosing that pure material can present.


RESOURCES & REFERENCES


There are several books that are entirely dedicated to the plant. The first one, which appeared in 1996, was Salvinorin: The Psychedelic Essence of Salvia Divinorum by the late D.M. Turner. This book is now out of print, but it can be viewed on the web at by clicking the link above. Another good book is Salvia Divinorum and Salvinorin A: The Best of The Entheogen Review 1992-2000, edited by David Aardvark. This may be the most detailed book on the modern psychonautical use of S. divinorum written to date. And there is a small book that focuses solely on growing the plant titled The Salvia Divinorum Grower's Guide by Sociedad para la Perservacion de las Plantas del Misterio, which can be purchased by clicking the link above.

Books that contain chapters on Salvia divinorum include Albert Hofmann's LSD: My Problem Child, Jonathan Ott's Pharmacotheon, Christian Rätsch's The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants (in the original German and an English translation), and Dale Pendell's Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft. An excellent brief overview of the plant was written by Jonathan Ott for the bilingual journal Eleusis (Ott 1996). The article can be read online by clicking the link above, and a more detailed article by Ott appeared in the journal Curare (Ott 1995), which can be read by clicking the link above.

Three issues of Salvia Divinorum magazine were produced, and may be available for purchase from www.salvia.us/new/magazine.htm.

The most comprehensive single site is Daniel Siebert's Salvia divinorum Research and Information Center, which contains a wealth of current information.

Information and links to other online resources can also be found at the Erowid Salvia divinorum Vault. Additionally, you might visit the archives at "Ask Erowid" for more data on S. divinorum. The Lycaeum has some documents and links, but has not been updated or maintained since 2001. And, a web search for "Salvia divinorum" on any search engine should turn up additional sites with data on this plant, although many of these will be vendors. This FAQ does not include a more comprehensive list of current links because sites change URLs so often. Visit any of the links above for more current links to other sites.

We don't know of many non-English resources about Salvia divinorum, but we feel certain that there must be many more than we have listed here:

Espanol: Salvia Utopia
Italiano: Italian Salvia Email List
Russian: Shalfey.ru : Salvia FAQ, growing tips, other documents
German: A book by Jochen Gartz that provides a brief overview of all aspects of the plant, including its traditional use, is titled Salvia divinorum--Der Wahrsagesalbei, is available from www.nachtschatten.ch.

If you know of other non-English Salvia divinorum resources, please let us know. If you would like to translate this FAQ, please contact volunteers (at) Erowid (dot) org.

There are quite a few such email lists available at Yahoo.com that anyone can join. These groups have slightly different focuses and different amounts of traffic. Check out:

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/The_Salvia_divinorum_Observer
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SalviaD
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SkaMariaPastora
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SalviaD_Alliance
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Salvia-sf (San Francisco)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SalviaUK (British)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/skamaria (Italian)

If there are fundamental unanswered questions that you think should be covered by this FAQ, you can submit them to "Ask Erowid", where they may be answered, or perhaps might turn up in a future version of this FAQ.

The current maintainers of this FAQ, as of March 2009, are editors at Erowid.org who can be contacted either at the general corrections address, corrections@erowid.org, or at salvia_faq@erowid.org. Please be as specific as possible and make sure to mention you're talking about the Salvia divinorum FAQ.

If you are submitting a correction: Include the name of the question you are referring to and a short quote of the text which you think contains the error, separated clearly from what your correction is by line returns. Then specify the problem you see and, where possible, specific suggestions for how it should be changed.

If you are submitting a new question/answer to be added: Include a brief description of why you think it should be included in the FAQ, a suggested text for the question, and a solid answer for the question you propose. Please include links, references, or any supporting documents for factual claims made. The tone should generally be use-neutral and the text should be clear English readable by anyone who has graduated high school. Highly technical answers can be more complex, but should include a summary which hits the major points and is understandable by someone without a college degree.

  • Aardvark, D. (2005) Salvia divinorum and Salvinorin A: The Best of The Entheogen Review 1998-2000.http://www.erowid.org/library/books_online/salvia_divinorum_and_salvinorin_a.pdf
  • Bigham, A.K. et al. (2003) "Divinatorins A-C, New Neoclerodane Diterpenoids from the Controlled Sage Salvia divinorum," Journal of Natural Products 66(9): 1242-4.
  • Blosser, B. (1991-1993 in Ott 1999, see below) Personal communications to Jonathan Ott and paper submitted to the defunct Integration: Journal for Mind-Moving Plants and Culture.
  • Chidester, K. (2007) Brett Chidester--Stolen Angel (blog), http://brettchidesterrip.blogspot.com/2007_10_01_archive.html.
  • Duke, J.A. (1987) Living Liqueurs. (Volume IV, Bioactive Plants) Quarterman Publications (cited in Ott 1993, Pharmacotheon: Entheogenic Drugs, Their Plant Sources and History. Natural Products Co.).
  • Grof, S. & A. Hofmann (2001) "Stanislav Grof Interviews Dr. Albert Hofmann: Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California, 1984," MAPS Bulletin 11(2): 22-35.
  • Gruber, J.W. et al. (1999) "High Performance Liquid Chromatographic Quantification of Salvinorin A from Tissues of Salvia divinorum Epling & Játiva-M," Phytochemical Analysis 10(1): 22-5.
  • Hanna, J. (1998) "Growing Salvia divinorum from Seed," The Entheogen Review 8(3): 110-12. http://www.erowid.org/plants/salvia/salvia_cultivation4.pdf.
  • Hanna, J. (2001) "Pragmatic Paranoia? Security Issues in a World at War (Part 1)," The Entheogen Review 10(3): 81-5.
  • Lady Salvia (2002) Site no longer operative.
  • Munro, T.A. (2006) The Chemistry of Salvia divinorum (doctoral thesis) http://dtl.unimelb.edu.au:80/R/7CI4578G8HQ7STQ1QTN1DP8QEISNIRKMUG8NP1SNNSQ934X9M8-02586?func=dbin-jump-full&object_id=66891&pds_handle=GUEST.
  • Munro, T.A. & M.A. Rizzacasa (2003) "Salvinorins D-F, New Neoclerodane Diterpenoids from Salvia divinorum, and an Improved Method for the Isolation of Salvinorin A," Journal of Natural Products 66(5): 703-5.
  • OAS, SAMHSA (Feb 14, 2008) "The Use of Specific Hallucinogens: 2006," The NSDUH Report, http://download.ncadi.samhsa.gov/prevline/pdfs/NSDUH08-0214.pdf.
  • Ortega, A. et al. (1982) "Salvinorin, a new trans-neo-clerodane diterpene from Salvia divinorum (Labiatae)," Journal of the Chemical Society Perkins Transactions 1: 2505-8.
  • Ott, J. (1995) "Ethnopharmacognosy and Human Pharmacology of Salvia divinorum and Salvinorin A," Curare 18(1): 103-29.http://www.erowid.org/references/refs_view.php?ID=6810&C=All&S=Ott%20J&SField=Author.
  • Ott, J. (1996) "Salvia divinorum Epling et Játiva: Psychoactive card IV." Eleusis 4: 31-9.http://www.museocivico.rovereto.tn.it/pubblicazioni.jsp?ID_LINK=111247&area=3.
  • Ott, J. (1999) "Velada with Salvia divinorum," The Entheogen Review 8(3): 90-2.
  • Pendell, D. (1995) Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft. Mercury House.
  • Pichini, S. et al. (2005). "Quantification of the Plant-derived Hallucinogen Salvinorin A in Conventional and Non-conventional Biological Fluids by Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry after Salvia divinorum Smoking, " Rapid Commun Mas Spectrom 19(12): 1649-56. www.erowid.org/references/refs_view.php?ID=7393..
  • Prisinzano, T.E. & R.B. Rothman (2008). "Salvinorin A Analogs as Probes in Opioid Pharmacology, " Chem Rev 108(5): 1732-43. www.erowid.org/references/refs_view.php?ID=7465.
  • Roth, B.L. et al. (2002). Salvinorin A: A potent naturally occurring nonnitrogenous kappa opioid selective agonist. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 99(18): 11934-9.
  • Sage Student (2009) The Salvia divinorum FAQ, v. 2.87 (Jan 10, 2009), www.sagewisdom.org/faq.html.
  • Schmidt, M.S. et al. (2005). "Determination of Salvinorin A in body fluids by high performance liquid chromatography-atmospheric pressure chemical ionization," J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci 818(2): 221-5. www.erowid.org/references/refs_view.php?ID=7394.
  • Siebert, D. (1994) "Salvia divinorum and salvinorin A: New Pharmacological Findings," Journal of Ethnopharmacology 43: 53-6.
  • Siebert, D (2003) "The History of the First Salvia divinorum Plants Cultivated Outside of Mexico," The Entheogen Review 12(4): 117-8. www.sagewisdom.org/salviahistory.html.
  • Siebert, D (2004). "Localization of Salvinorin A and Related Compounds in Glandular Trichomes of the Psychoactive Sage, Salvia divinorum," Annals of Botany 93: 763-71. www.erowid.org/references/refs_view.php?ID=7473.
  • Valdés III, L.J. et al. (1983) "Ethnopharmacology of Ska María Pastora (Salvia divinorum, Epling and Játiva-M)," Journal of Ethnopharmacology 7: 287-312.
  • Valdés III, L.J. et al. (1984) "Divinorin A, a psychotropic terpenoid, and divinorum B from the hallucinogenic Mexican mint Salvia divinorum," Journal of Organic Chemistry 49: 4716-20.
  • Valdés III, L.J. et al. (2001) "Salvinorin C, a New Neoclerodane Diterpene from a Bioactive Fraction of the Hallucinogenic Mexican Mint Salvia divinorum," Organic Letters 3(24): 3935-7. American Chemical Society.
  • Valdés III, L.J. (2002) Personal communication.
  • Zhah. (2008) "Lost in Jonathan Ott's Footsteps: Acetone Tinctures of Salvia divinorum," The Entheogen Review 16(4): 132-6. www.erowid.org/plants/salvia/salvia_article1.pdf.





This FAQ is the collaborative effort by a small number of anonymous authors who are interested in continuing the tradition of high-quality, freely available information about psychoactive plants and chemicals. This FAQ is maintained and edited by staff at Erowid.

The current maintained URL for this FAQ is: http://www.erowid.org/plants/salvia/salvia_faq.shtml.


This FAQ is copyright 2002-2009 Erowid.org and may be copied as long as it remains intact with these credits attached. It may be freely printed or used in digital form. Edits and corrections should be submitted to Erowid for review, see the corrections section above for information about how to edit this FAQ.

  • 2.0 Mar 10 2009 - Updated legal section; added use figures from SAMHSA; minor text improvements, spelling corrections, and copy edits; updated acetone and DMSO tincture information; updated known metabolism; updated chemical content of plant; updated contraindications; updated drug testing information; removed specific vendor information; removed dead links; added new links; corrected information about so-called "Wasson/HofmannÓ"clone; added new clone information; improved extraction information; updated price information; updated information on "X" extracts; added new resources; added email list; added new references..
  • 1.3 Feb 2, 2006 - Unknown updates.
  • 1.2 Jan 9, 2005 - One vendor removed, fixed a couple of formatting errors.
  • 1.1 Oct 9, 2002 - First publlic release, published by Erowid.org.
  • 1.0 Jun 6, 2002 - First internal release for review, published by Erowid.org.