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Erowid References Database

Ott J. 
“Ethnopharmacognosy and Human Pharmacology of Salvia divinorum and Salvinorin A”. 
Curare. 1995;18(1):103-129.
Abstract
After a thorough review of the limited ethnographic data on shamanic use of the entheogenic mint Salvia divinorum by the Mazatec Indians of the Sierra Madre Oriental of the Mexican state of Oaxaca, with special emphasis on pharmacognostical aspects, the author details the phytochemical studies which led to the isolation of the novel diterpene salvinorin A in 1982-1984. Lingering doubts as to the visionary properties of this compound were laid to rest a decade later, when 'basement shamans' in the United States isolated and tested the compound in psychonautic bioassays. A tabular summary of 15 reports involving at least 60 trials of the novel drug by human volunteers is presented; documenting activity of infusions of Salvia divinorum leaves in water [the traditional method of ingestion], of the fresh leaves chewed, whether subsequently swallowed or retained in the mouth as a quid; and of the dried leaves smoked. Pharmacological activity of salvinorin A in human volunteers is likewise discussed, both for inhalation of the vaporized compound and sublingual application of 1 % solutions in acetone or dmso; including original research here reported for the first time. Extremely low thresholds for psychoactivity of salvinorin A [100-250 mcg sublingual; 200-500 mcg vaporized and inhaled] show this compound to be the most potent natural product entheogen known; some 10 times the potency of psilocybine from mushrooms likewise used as shamanic inebriants by the Mazatec and other Mexican Indians, and more than 1000 times the potency of the prototypical entheogen mescaline, from the peyotl cactus [Lophophora williamsii] used as a visionary drug by the Huichol, Tarahumara and other indigenous peoples of northern Mexico. Speculations regarding the status of Salvia divinorum as a cultigen are discussed, as is R. Gordon Wasson's conjecture that this plant represents the lost Aztec entheogen pipiltzintzintli. An exhaustive bibliography of more than 70 references reviews the ethnographic, chemical and pharmacological literature on this intriguing shamanic inebriant.
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