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Unknown Salvia divinorum may have a long history of use in divination and healing ceremonies in Central America, but how far back its history goes is unknown.    [Details]
1938 Jean B. Johnson reports learning of a Mazatec tea made from the beaten leaves of a "hierba Maria", and used for divination. 1  
1945 Blas Pablo Reko reports a "magic plant" called “hoja de adivinación” (leaf of prophecy), used by Cuicatecs and Mazatecs to produce visions. It was probably S. divinorum. 1  
1952 Roberto Weitlaner reports a "yerba de María" in Oaxaca. It is said to be used by curanderos (shamans or healers). 2  
1957 Mexican botanist A. Gómez Pompa collects specimens of a hallucinogenic Salvia plant he describes as "xka [sic] Pastora". His specimens cannot be identified at the species level. 3  
1960 R. Gordon Wasson collects samples of S. divinorum, but they are inadequate for botanical identification. 4   [Details]
Jul 12, 1961 Wasson ingests S. divinorum, and experiences effects. 4  
Jun 1962 Sterling Bunnel brings the first live S. divinorum plants to the United States from Huautla de Jiménez. Cuttings from this sample are widely-propagated and are commonly available to this day. 5   [Details]
Oct 9, 1962 Wasson and Anita Hofmann, wife of Albert Hofmann, ingest juice of S. divinorum in a ceremony conducted by curandera Consuelo Garcia. Two days later Albert Hofmann also tried the leaves. 6  
Dec 1962 Wasson and Hofmann collect flowering samples for identification. Carl Epling and colleagues identify it as a novel species and give it the name "Salvia divinorum". 7  
1963 Wasson tentatively proposes S. divinorum as a candidate for the unidentified Aztec plant sacrament "pipiltzintzinli". If correct, this widely-contested hypothesis would imply a long history of cultivation and use. 8  
1975 Ott and Diaz contemporaneously observe persons smoking dried S. divinorum leaves in Mexico City. There is no known report of S. divinorum being smoked prior to this time, and it appears to be a novel use of the plant. 9  
1982 Ortega et al. publish a paper describing their isolation of a novel compound from S. divinorum, which they call salvinorin. 10  
1984 Valdes et al. identify two S. divinorum derivatives which they call divinorin A and B. Divinorin A is found to be identical to the Ortega's salvinorin, so the compounds are re-named salvinorin A and B. 11  
1994 Siebert sponsors investigation into several possible mechanisms of action for salvinorin A, but finds no evidence that it interacts with any of a few dozen common neurotransmitters and peptides. Several possibilities are eliminated, but its mechanisms of action remain unknown. 12  
Late 1990s Salvia becomes available commercially online and its public visibility dramatically increases.   
Dec 11-13, 1998 1st Annual Ska Pastora, Leaves of the Shepherdess: Salvia Divinorum and Salvinorin-A    [Details]
Dec 9-12, 1999 2nd Annual Ska Pastora, Leaves of the Shepherdess: Salvia Divinorum and Salvinorin-A    [Details]
2002 Roth et al. report that salvinorin A is a highly-selective kappa-opioid agonist, solving the long mystery of its site of action. 13   [Details]
Aug 2005 Louisiana becomes the first state in the US to ban human consumption of S. divinorum. Several other states follow suit.    [More Info]

  1.   Valdes LJ III, Diaz JL, Paul AG. "Ethnopharmacology of ska Maria Pastora (Salvia divinorum, Epling and Jativa-M.)". J Ethnopharmacol. May 1983;7(3):287-312.
  2.   Weitlaner RJ. "Curaciones Mazatecas". Anales del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (México). 1952;4:279-285.
  3.   Pompa AG. "Salvia divinorum herbarium sheets". A Gómez Pompa 87556 and 93216, National Herbarium (UNAM) México, D.F.
  4.   Wasson RG. "A New Mexican Psychotropic Drug from the Mint Family". Harvard University Botanical Museum Leaflets. Dec 28, 1962;20(3).
  5.   Siebert DJ. "The history of the first Salvia divinorum plants cultivated outside of Mexico". The Entheogen Review. 2003;7(4).
  6.   Wasson RG. "A New Mexican Psychotropic Drug from the Mint Family". Harvard University Botanical Museum Leaflets, 1962.
  7.   Epiling C, Jativa-M CD. "A New Species of Salvia from Mexico". Harvard Botanical Museum Leaflets. Dec 28, 1962;20(3).
  8.   Wasson RG. "Notes on the present status of ololiuhqui and the other hallucinogens of Mexico". Harvard Botanical Museum Leaflets. 1963;20(6):161-193.
  9.   Ott J. Pharmacotheon. Natural Products Co, 1996.
  10.   Ortega A, Blount JF, Marchand PS. "Salvinorin, a new trans-neoclerodane diterpene from Salvia divinorum (Labiatae)". J Chem Soc Perkin Trans. 1982;2505-8.
  11.   Valdes JL III, Butler WM, Hatfield GM, et al. "Divinorin A, a Psychotropic Terpenoid, and Divinorin B from the Hallucinogenic Mexican Mint, Salvia divinorum". Journal of Organic Chemistry. 1984;49:4716.
  12.   Siebert DJ. "Salvia divinorum and salvinorin A: new pharmacologic findings". J Ethnopharmacol. Jun 1994;43(1):53-6.
  13.   Roth BL, Baner K, Westkaemper R, et al. "Salvinorin A: a potent naturally occurring nonnitrogenous kappa opioid selective agonist". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Sep 3 2002;99(18):11934-9.