Salvia divinorum – Diviner’s sage, Ska maria pastora

A sage-species with characteristic thick tetragonal stalks. The stalks often show thin leafy fringes. This plant occurs naturally only in South Mexico, and even there it is extremely rare. It was considered a cultivar with unknown ancestor, but this is occasionally questioned. Seedlings of this plant grow well in a humid greenhouse or even a grow box inside an apartment. It seldom reproduces by seeds.

Use: The dried leaves can be smoked, the effective dose lies between 0,2 and 2 g. But often 0,25 g are already enough. What is crucial to get an effect is the way of inhalation. If the whole amount inside of a Bong is inhaled at once and subsequently kept inside the lungs for as long as possible, than the strongest effect occurs. The consumption by the use of other smoking devices, that allow only the intake with more than one puffs, halves the effect. A vaporizer can be used with good results since the normally strong irritation of the mucous membrane and the unpleasant taste are almost absent this way. Because of the very rapidly occurring effect it is important, that the device for smoking is set up in an absolutely fireproof way during smoking so that they cannot be overthrown by accident. The safest precaution is the presence of a “minder” who is not consuming himself.

An alternative way of consumption is to roll 8–24 fresh leaves and bring them into the mouth. Then chew twice or thrice on these “cigars” and suck out the extremely bitter juice. This is kept inside the mouth for several minutes and the procedure is repeated until the leaves contain no more juice. The method that is described in older literature, to squeeze the leaves and drink them mixed with water, does not work. Salvinorin is absorbed orally exclusively via the oral mucosa and not via the digestive tract.

Pure salvinorin can be smoked, but because of the extremely small amounts (the effective dose lies between 0,2 to 0,6 milligrams) this is a rather unsafe method; it can easily come to insufficient dosages  without any effect or overdosing accompanied with loss of control.

Lastly, concentrated, alcoholic, dark green extracts are available in the ethnobotanical trade. Usually a teaspoonful is taken and the extract is kept inside the mouth for about 5 minutes. The burning sensation  of the oral mucosa, that is caused by the alcohol, combined with the bitter taste, is very unpleasant, but still tolerable for most consumers. This procedure must usually be repeated twice or thrice. The needed dose varies depending on the concentration of the extract. Normally the effect takes place within a few minutes and lasts up to one hour. Once it starts to decline, the effect can usually be prolonged without any problems with another intake.

Active constituents: Salvinorin A, a diterpene – not an alkaloid! The content of salvinorin A lies at around 1,5 g/kg of dried leaves. Therefore, salvinorin A is not only the only known psychoactive diterpene so far, but also the most effective natural hallucinogenic substance, based on the dose. Salvinorin A is very stable, in dried leaves leaves it lasts for years.

Effects: Salvia divinorum acts hallucinogenic, but in a way, that is distinctly different of the effects commonly known by other psychoactive substances. It is not comparable to the effects of LSD, mescaline or psilocybin. The most important facts:

• Using extracts, the effect takes place rapidly after about ten minutes within one to two minutes and lasts for about an hour. In case of smoking, the effect begins around 45 to 75 seconds after the start, and reaches its peak after around 2 minutes and from there decreases in intensity. After only 5 minutes the most intensive part is over, and after around ten minutes the remaining effects are also mostly gone.

• During high doses, a frequent experience is the impression to transform into an object.

• A temporary and rather unpleasant feeling of the body, that occurs at the beginning, is frequently reported: the consumers feel “twisted within themselves”.

• There were no cases reported with a tendency of uncontrolled long-term use, but on the other hand two reports of consumers, who apparently use Salvia frequently in a controlled manner. Most consumers already stop the use of Salvia after a few tries, since the Salvia-experience is significantly “less comfortable” and much less “nice” in all aspects, than those of other hallucinogens. Even people who have free access to the leaves of this plant, make rather rarely use of it. Most of all party-drug-consumers find little pleasure in the Salvia-inebriation.

• The experience can be easily controlled; if necessary, it can be interrupted without any problems. Opening the eyes and a little concentration are almost always sufficient. However, in cases of high dosage and the resulting extremely intensive trips this does not always hold true. The “traveler” can then temporarily be totally separated from reality and accordingly can only be hardly influenced from the outside world.

• If the drug is taken exactly as described, it acts reliable in 80 percent of all subjects. The others seems to be partially or completely immune towards the effect or need several, sometimes up to ten trials, until the effects are felt.

Side effects: There are no side effects about this drug. Overdoses are not only possible when smoking pure salvinorin, but also while smoking the leaves and taking concentrated extracts, even though these events do not occur very often. In such cases a temporary loss of control can occur. Subjects stand up and walk around, but are not aware of it and trip for example over objects that are lying around. A “minder” can keep this without any problems under control. This condition does not last long. Aggressive actions were not observed in any case.

Out of thirty self-experiments and at least fifty further experiments of others, about which I was informed, or during which I was present, and out of the experiences of Daniel J. Siebert no significant side effects or aftereffects caught my attention (with the exception of few losses of control while under the influence of an overdose).

Mazatec Indians, who use this plant also as a medicinal herb, consider it safe. Of course this does not rule out possible long-term effects for example liver or kidney damage or even cancerogenity, though I consider them unlikely. Up to today no studies were conducted about the toxicity of Salvia. Slight conditions of discomfort (restless feet, a feeling of narrowness in the chest …) occasionally occur in the beginning, but pass quickly. In 5 % of all cases profuse sweating was observed.

Suppliers: In Germany and few other countries this plant, as well as its parts, are listed as controlled substance. In many other European countries it is obtainable without problems from specialized garden centers und in the ethnobotanical trade.

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