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Salvia Abuse: Just Because It Is Natural Doesn’t Mean You Should Use It


Salvia (Salvia divinorum) is an herb belonging to the mint family and is found in southern Mexico. The main active ingredient in salvia affects the chemistry of the brain, inducing hallucinations. The symptoms usually last less than 30 minutes but can be very intense and scary.

Usually, people chew salvia leaves or drink the juices extracted. The dry salvia leaves can be smoked in rolled cigarettes, inhaled through water pipes (hookahs), or vaporized and inhaled.


In the US, an estimated 1.8 million people aged 12 and older used salvia at least once in their lifetime, according to a survey released in 2008 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Around 750,000 people used salvia in the year before the survey.

The 2012 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey found that 1.4% of 8th-grade students, 2.5% of 10th-grade students, and 4.4% of 12th-grade students in the United States had tried salvia at least once in the previous year.


While salvia is not illegal under federal law, some states and countries have adopted legislation to restrict its use.

A list of states that have regulated its use are the following:

  • California

  • Delaware

  • Florida

  • Hawaii

  • Illinois

The Drug Enforcement Administration lists salvia as a drug of concern that poses a risk to people who are using it. The fact that is not heavily regulated could also mean that there is a higher risk for it to be abused.

However, it is still considered a hallucinogenic dissociative drug. Its main active ingredient attaches to the opioid receptors that regulate human perception.


A salvia dependence can occur due to its effects on the mind. The active ingredient, salvinorin-A, binds to opioid receptors in the brain, altering your capacity to interpret reality as it is. It is not clear if the use of salvia contributes to addiction, as further studies are needed to learn if it has addictive properties. However, people can find the herb attractive because it causes hallucinations.

If someone needs to use more of the substance to experience the same effects, this can suggest a problem. For example, using more than a safe 1 gram dose could indicate that someone is used to the effects of salvia. Drug tolerances occur progressively, and often transition into substance abuse.


It is not known if there have been any deaths associated with salvia. However, since we do not know all of the consequences of salvia, it is a medication that public health experts watch closely.


Salvia use has powerful psychological effects such as:

  • Extreme changes in mood and sensory experiences

  • Hallucinations (e.g. flying, twisting, spinning objects)

  • Detachment from self, reality, and surroundings (i.e. out of body experiences)

People who used salvia also reported the following effects:

  • Extreme confusion

  • Appearances of travel in time and space

  • Loss of sense of individual awareness

  • Uncontrollable laughter

Some common adverse physical side-effects of salvia are:

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Panic attacks

  • Paranoia and psychosis episodes

  • Nausea

  • Increased breathing rate

  • Slurred speech

  • Irregular heart rate

  • Loss of physical coordination

  • Increased body temperature

  • Loss of appetite


No, not necessarily.

Many users of salvia, particularly younger adults, believe that salvia is a safe alternative to synthetic drugs. Because it is an herb, you might think that salvia is not as bad as LSD or other opioids. However, this line of reasoning is incorrect. Natural is not necessarily always safer since a lot of substances, even natural drugs may have adverse side effects that may lead to addiction, abuse, and possibly even death.

As an example, we could note that morphine is also a natural substance, yet it is still extremely addictive and poses serious problems when you abuse it.

Though it is mentioned that there have not been any long-term comprehensive studies on salvia drug abuse, there is anecdotal evidence it harms one’s cognitive ability, such as people reporting encountering problems with memory. There are also side effects that occur as a result of abuse. Jumps in your heart rate will cause your blood pressure to increase. The temperature of your body can rise rapidly. Chronically abusing a drug places unnecessary stress on your circulatory system.

Always remember that it is important to be aware of the effects of substances you encounter and always pursue medical advice and information for ones you are not familiar with.


Salvia is a recreational drug. Since it is not illegal, it is popular among young adults and is used to induce creativity for things such as making art, music, or meditation. However, this is particularly risky since salvia is a substance that has not been studied thoroughly yet and its constant use may lead to more life-threatening problems in the future. Furthermore, there are a variety of other, safer ways to aid creativity and meditation that do not require the use of mind-altering substances.

If you find yourself having to turn to substances to supplement your creativity, Recovery Blvd can help you. We will guide you through the process of turning away from recreational drug abuse and encourage you to channel your energy and focus through more positive things.

Our high-quality services and procedures include:

  1. Advanced Relapse Prevention

  2. Substance Abuse Counseling

  3. Recovery Crossfit

We boast a variety of services aimed at preventing addiction and helping you build a new life, not just for yourself, but also for your loved ones.

You can start a new journey towards a better tomorrow with our help and care.

If you would like to know more about Recovery Blvd, please call us at (866) 231-3007. You can also visit our drug rehab center in Hillsboro at 1316 SE 12th Avenue, Portland, OR 97214, to book an appointment.

Disclaimer: This post serves a strictly educational use. It does not necessarily reflect the services, products, or therapeutic approaches of this establishment or its healthcare practitioners. The purpose of this blog is not to advertise the products, services, or therapeutic approaches of any other establishment that may be associated with this site. On the subject of safe or legal services, products, and appropriate therapies, recommendations ought to be given by a qualified professional on a case to case basis.

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