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Is Salvia divinorum the most potent psychedelic known to man?
Q: Salvia divinorum has been in the news a lot lately in canada and the US -- i have been reading a few articles about it on various drug policy web sites. In a good number of these articles, salvia is described as "the most potent hallucinogen known to man."

I would have thought that the most powerful hallucinogen known to man would be either (a) LSD, due to the small dose weight, or (b) n,n-DMT, due to its sheer, uh, power. i've never heard Salvia called "the most powerful" anything. I'm wondering if i'm mistaken, or if the newspaper articles are drumming up the supposed dangerousness of S. divinorum, for the sake of a better story.

A: No, Salvia divinorum is not the "most potent hallucinogen known to man." Salvinorin A, the active ingredient in S. divinorum, is active orally at over 1mg and its threshold oral doses are around 250-500 micrograms. There are a large number of psychoactives which are more potent than Salvinorin A. LSD, for example, has threshold oral activity at under 50 micrograms and is thus more than an order of magnitude more potent than salvinorin A.

The potency of a drug is defined as how much of the substance is required to achieve therapeutic effects. So if it takes 1 mg of a drug to cause an effect orally and 10 mg of another drug to cause an effect, the first is said to have '10 times the potency' of the second. Often, the term 'powerful' is used instead, which is not well defined. How "powerful" is alcohol? How "powerful" is cannabis? There is no way to compare the 'power' of different drugs reliably. It can be said that Salvinorin is "very powerful" in the sense that it can completely overwhelm the senses and can send people into complete visionary states. In this sense, Salvia is "as powerful" as n,n-DMT. But the effects of S. divinorum/Salvinorin A are unique and therefore difficult to compare to those of other substances.

In Sean Shayan's recent booklet on Salvia, the cover states "Salvia divinorum is the most powerful psychoactive substance in the world. Over 100 times the potency of LSD..." Of course, like many of Shayan's claims, this is completely false. Not surprisingly, he sells smokable salvia products, but his reputation as a sham salesman precedes him from his previous bunk herbal-ecstasy & 'magic mushrooms' products.

Salvia divinorum / Salvinorin A can be, without question, a very powerful psychoactive. But it is not the most potent psychoactive in terms of dosage required per effects nor is it appropriate in our opinion to call it or any other psychoactive the "most powerful".

Asked By : guava
Answered By : Sophie & Earth
Published Date : 11 / 30 / 2001
Last Edited Date : 1 / 25 / 2005
Question ID : 2830

Categories: [ Salvia ]

Ask Erowid v1.7 - Jul, 2005

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