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Safety Precautions When Using Salvia

Updated on March 12, 2011

The use of salvia divinorum as a hallucinogen is rapidly increasing among teens and young adults around the world. Salvia is a naturally-occurring plant that contains one of the most potent psychoactive compounds ever documented. The herb is also commonly referred to as “Diviner’s Sage” or Ska Pastora. In some regions, a substance sold on the streets as “spice” also contains a substantial amount of salvia.

Although the effects of salvia are often short-term, the fact that it is a hallucinogenic drug means that users should exercise extreme caution while under the influence. Salvia is legal in most countries around the world and in most parts of the United States, but increased use of the drug and attention from media outlets has led to greater public concern. This increased concern has already opened the door to further studies about the effects of salvia, and has even led to bans in some cities and states.

The most common form of consumption of salvia is smoking. Salvia is typically smoked through a pipe or a water bong, but the dried leaves of the plant can also be rolled up much like traditional cigarettes. Using a water bong is often more soothing for many users, since the leaves of the plant must be heated to a higher temperature in order to activate the release of psychoactive compounds. Using a torch lighter is often recommended, and the water vapors help to cool the excess heat.

Those who have never used salvia before should begin with a less potent form of the herb. Salvia extracts and dried leaves are often sold with certain indicators of potency. For some varieties, these potency levels are indicated by colors, such as blue, green, yellow, and red. For others, the potency of the salvia is indicated by a number and then an x, like 5x, 10x, etc. Beginning with a less potent compound is important because of the fact that salvia can cause dangerous hallucinations in some people. Each person’s reaction to the drug is different, and the experience is highly individualized.

When using salvia, standing or attempting other types of tasks is not recommended, and is often counterintuitive to the overall experience. Those who smoke it should sit and try to remain completely still until the effects are no longer noticeable. For the first 5-10 minutes after smoking, the effects of salvia are the most intense. Following this, the effects begin to dissipate, lasting anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. The average length of time that the effects of salvia can be felt is eight minutes, but the effects are also dependent upon the potency of the salvia extracts and the amount consumed.


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