Salvia (salvia divinorum) is a hallucinogenic herb that has long been used in religious ceremonies by indigenous people groups in southern Mexico. It has become more popular as a drug of abuse in the U.S. over the last two decades, especially among 17-25 year olds.

Salvia was traditionally ingested, or its juices were extracted. It can be smoked or vaporized and inhaled. It produces hallucinogenic effects by targeting kappa opioid receptors in the brain. Salvia produces a different hallucinogenic experience from those hallucinogens that target serotonin receptors. Salvia-induced hallucination often mimics psychosis, which could explain why it has not become a widely used party drug. Its effects include psychedelic visual effects, mood swings, detachment from self and from reality, and an inability to effectively interact with one’s environment. These effects are normally short-lived, lasting only about thirty minutes in most cases.

Little is known about the long-term effects of salvia on the human body and brain. Because of its effects on perception, it is highly dangerous to drive while under the influence of salvia. Although many have passed laws controlling the use and sale of salvia, it is not currently a controlled substance under federal law.

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