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Should You Try Salvia Divinorum? The Intense Hallucinations, Risks and Legality of Salvia

Updated on September 26, 2011
Photo: Epistis (flickr)
Photo: Epistis (flickr)

Most web-pages on Salvia seem to either rail against the "dangerous new drug" or preach the wonders of the divinorum experience (while often selling the extracts!). Neither point of view seem entirely credible to me because of such inherent bias, either for or against the substance.

The Salvia information on this page is neutral and strives to be factual. You must decide for yourself whether or not you wish to use the (still legal) hallucinogenic substance - Whether the risks are worth the rewards.

What Is Salvia Divinorum?

Salvia Divinorum is bar none the most potent psychoactive substance known to man (by weight). It no longer grows naturally except as a cultivar, and has been used for eons by the Mazatec Indians of Oaxaca Mexico in shamanistic rituals.

Shamans traditionally prepared the plant for ingestion by crushing the leaves into a juice and making a tincture. Salvia is used by the Mazatecs in religious ceremonies of purification and healing. Contemporary users are far more likely to smoke the dried leaves or an intensified extract of the leaves.

The psychoactive ingredient in Salvia is Salvinorin A. Although it is an incredibly potent substance, it does not appear to be toxic in any dosage, and animal model studies of Salvinorin A on rats did not reveal any physiological damage even in response to large administered doses.

How Is Salvia Taken?

Eating or drinking the leaves either does not work, or works very poorly, to deliver the active ingredient to the body.

Salvia can be taken in the form of a quid, which is a bundle of leaves held together in the mouth. With a quid, the user holds the leaves in the mouth for as long as they can, and the psychoactive Salvinorin is absorbed through the oral mucous membranes of the mouth.

Salvia can also be smoked, and this is the far more common means of delivery for contemporary "trippers". Users will either smoke the dried leaves or a concentrated extract of dried leaves. Salvinorin A is released at very high temperatures (240 degrees Celsius) so some smokers will use a torch to burn the leaves, and many prefer to cool the heated smoke through a water pipe or vaporizer, to reduce irritation to the lungs.

How Long Is the High?

The duration before and of onset varies depending on the means of administration. Chewing a quid results in a slower onset and a longer high – of up to 90 minutes. Smoking salvia results in an almost immediate high that will last at peak for only a few minutes, and will have subsided almost completely within about 15 minutes.

The onset after smoking is so fast that many users report peaking as they exhale the smoke they have been holding in their lungs.

Most users report feeling only a mild "afterglow" after a completed salvia trip, and hangovers are not associated with the non toxic drug.

What are the effects?

Salvia is very intense. The hallucinations are usually pleasant but can become overwhelming, or even frightening. Sensations can include:

  • Becoming "one" with an inanimate object- like a table or chair
  • Journeying through space
  • Total insight and awareness of the world
  • Out of body
  • Multiple realities simultaneously
  • A loss of conventional geometry
  • A loss of "self"
  • Unconventional feelings of gravity

Salvia is not a party drug. Experimenting with Salvia in an uncontrolled and boisterous environment is a recipe for a very bad time.

Because salvia can be associated with a loss in coordination, open flames, like candles, should be extinguished prior to tripping, and movement is not recommended. Driving while on Salvia is very dangerous. Most experienced users will recommend that the best place to do salvia is on a bed in a darkened room with a friendly and sober "sitter" making sure that things go OK.

Having a sober sitter guide the experience is very strongly recommended.

Dangers of Salvia?

Users high on salvia may fall over and hurt themselves. Obviously, due to a loss in coordination, any kind of driving or the operation of any machinery while high is incredibly dangerous.

Salvia hallucinations can also be scary or disturbing, and some people report that a bad trip leaves them feeling dysphoric for a while.

There are few long term studies of the drug, and so no one can rule out long or even short term harm effects, but at present the drug is though to be a non toxic and non addictive substance.

If you decide to do salvia though, you may not have a good time. To reduce the odds of a bad trip, think carefully about when and where you will try the drug, and make sure you are in a controlled and comfortable environment, that you don't need to go anywhere or do anything for a while, and you have a sober sitter to help you along.

Is Salvia Legal?

Salvia is currently legal in 39 states. Salvia is illegal in the following states

  • Tennessee
  • Louisiana
  • Missouri
  • Oklahoma
  • Delaware
  • Maine
  • North Dakota
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Florida
  • Virginia

The DEA calls Salvia a "Drug of Concern" and many other states are considering some form of legislation against the drug.

A short student documentary observing three people try Salvia for the first time

Who Uses Salvia?

No one really knows. A study done at the University of San Diego showed that 4% of students polled there had tried the drug.

How much does it cost?

Salvia is sold on the internet. Prices range from about 30$ an ounce for dried leaves, to a gram of 5x extract for about $15 to a gram of 60x extract for about $60. If you live in a jurisdiction that does not allow the sale of Salvia, buying over the internet is still illegal.

Drug Testing

Salvia will not show up in any drug test.

Should You Try Salvia?

Getting educated about the realities, risks and rewards of a salvia experience is a must do prior to journeying that shamanistic voyage. It is intense, and better thought of as a spiritual exploration than a recreational high.'

If you do try it, be prepared for extreme hallucinations, keep a sitter nearby and stay safe.

Why you need a sitter...


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    • profile image

      Neverbethesame 5 years ago

      I smoked salvia one time from a water bong and the experience was so frightening and so horrific, the fact that the people i was with were loud and kept asking questions did not help. I felt like i became many different people my face kept changing every second until I was not even sure who I was anymore. My friends said I took off running and I did not even realize that, instead I felt like I was in a different reality being pulled through a tunnel and taking looks at the different possiblities of "me" very very crazy stuff. My friend is the one who talked me into doing it, and after the trip started to wear off I just kept saying, "why would you give me that? Why would you give me that?" I felt disoriented for like the next few weeks and must say that after the experience I feel like I will never see the world the same.

    • profile image

      oceanskirts 5 years ago

      @Sterling_Sage - PLEASE GROW UP! Also stop exaggerating things in order to make the point that you think others have exaggerated. Also, WHY do you care if Salvia has a good or bad image? Because you are selfish and just want to do it, and make sure everyone does it (misery loves company), and because you are a stoner and hope it gets legalized? Just because you want to take a risk on permanent psychosis doesn't mean Dr. Phil should make a program that sings Salvia's praises. AGAIN, PLEASE GROW UP and stop acting like a 16 year old juvenile.

    • profile image

      Salvia Divinorum Exract - 20X 6 years ago

      I am so happy to have come across your blog. It never occurred to me that I could be drowning my Salvia that I plant aroung my veggie beds. It is a beautiful flower and I now may just have the perfect spot in my yard so I may continue to enjoy it year after year. Thanks for the great info.

    • profile image

      In fear of Salvia 6 years ago

      Please, everyone, be SO SO SO careful with your dosing!!!! I just blasted a marijuana-sized hit and I thought I had died and gone to HELL. It was the worst experience I've ever had. Strangely, as I calmed down, I started to realise lots of fascinating things about my trip - such as the fact that I had stopped experiencing time in a linear fashion. Absolutely terrifying to have that happen, but so interesting to think about once the horror is over.

    • profile image

      salvia zone 6 years ago

      Wonderful post! In this blog,it is explained the risks and legality of the salvia plant.It is also explained the methods and property in the salvia like height of salvia, how is Salvia taken? , uses of salvia , effect of salvia etc. I know that legality of the salvia is different from the country to country .

      a href="" salvia zone

      Lots of love . Thanking you

    • profile image

      salvia zone 6 years ago

      Wonderful post! In this blog,it is explained the risks and legality of the salvia plant.It is also explained the methods and property in the salvia like height of salvia, how is Salvia taken? , uses of salvia , effect of salvia etc. I know that legality of the salvia is different from the country to country .

      a href="" salvia zone

      Lots of love . Thanking you

    • profile image

      andrew wilkinson 6 years ago

      i tried some salvia from a friend. it was 40x. i fashioned a pipe out of an old pen and some tin foil. i sat down on my bed and took 3 long draws on the pipe with only a normal flame. after halfway through the third draw i was in never never land. i haven't had acid or mushrooms in several years. but the intensity was so strong i thought the tableau of the trip was real. what happened was i thought my room and myself had become part of a huge work of art. as the art rotated so did i. the tableau rotated around the picture of a car. as i looked closer there were other people in the design. after a few roller coaster like movements that involved the whole sceene i passed out on my bed. feeling lucky to be alive. the pipe lay harmless on the floor. i said to myself i would never do salvia again. but now, a day after,i feel like experimenting with it under better circumstances. the reason for my bad trip was clear, i had just been toking with friends and things had got boisterous. i had slipped away and tried the drug on my own. obviously you should have a buffer zone of tranquility surrounding the dose. a few hours might not be enough. i was surprised that the trip was so human orientated. one big comedy sketch with me at the centre. not a wild animal in sight.

      trust good advice. like having salvia in a quiet and tranquil setting. music is not neccesarily a condiment to the trip. unlike weed.

    • profile image

      dave 6 years ago

      wow cool, this is a sacred plant,, no diving in a the deep end.... start slow with leaf chewed or leaf smoked or x5 that's it.. you will build up reverse intolerance too it, so next time you take x5 it might feel like x10.. so dont immediately go up

    • profile image

      Deon588 6 years ago

      I've used this plant a few times before. The first time I smoked 5X extract and wasn't very impressed... A while later I chewed about 20 leaves without swallowing for about 15min. Near the end of the 14 min of chewing I became aware that i'm busy arguing with 2 people next to me about whether or not I should spit out the leaves... A while later I realised that those 2 people are me which sounds very strange but it's sort of like being split up... After that I had about 60min of intense visions much like DMT... Since that time every time I used this plant it became more and more intense.

    • profile image

      lostmusic 6 years ago

      The first time i used salvia, I inhaled for a bit and when I exhaled, I lost it. I started coughing my ass off, threw up, and dropped my bong with all the salvia in it lol. Basically what I felt was my face being pulled to the ground, felt as if I was spinning in millions of circles. My surrounds, specifically my bed, turned into a figure that was talking to me, bringing more people watching me try to pick my bong up. My laptop began talking telling me to hurry up because everyone's watching. At this point I just lied down on my floor for like 3 minutes, then I started coming back to reality. It is such a strange high I never can describe it. Your surroundings suddenly have personalities, and gravity wants to control you.

    • profile image

      sevenearth 6 years ago

      Forget about all kind of lost and win stuff and just think for cannabis and marijuana highs and buy drugs for that from given below site name please go on legal-highs !!!!

    • profile image

      earth 6 years ago

      If anyone such a interested in buy a marijuana,cannabis drugs and party pills;so! this suggestion give you an interesting information to buy a dagga,weed,seed and other marijuana drugs you can visit the great site that the link here and visit of that; also,you can give suggestion about it

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      There's lots of good information here about Salvia. Hey, if it's good enough for Miley, it's good enough for me! But I wouldn't consider buying the extract online for $15 to $60 per gram - that's way too expensive. Later!

    • profile image

      Emily848 7 years ago

      Tried salvia for the first time last night; in a quiet, safe environment. I used the straight leaves and DEFINITELY got high. I agree with the description as a mini LSD trip. I use a heat gun vaporization system for ingesting herbal remedies, and it worked AWESOME! I turned my Makita HG1100 Heat Gun a little above 4, and that was great (I use a specially adapted bowl from Vriptech). I plan to carefully and slowly experiment with higher strength extracts, but I was amazed at how intense the straight leaves were, so will proceed with caution.

    • profile image

      Sonny C 7 years ago

      Rather have the Green Ghost!!!

    • Shealy Healy profile image

      Shealy Healy 7 years ago from USA

      Recovering Addict, I am greatful for recovery. So many live are harmed due to drugs. Addiction certainly is a hard situation. I have clients who believe they have an assortment of problems-but most of their issues come back to one thing-drugs.

      love to your recovery information...

    • profile image

      paul 7 years ago

      I had a bad trip. Thave tried 20X and my room began folding and I was going with it toward a kind of abyss. I was terrified and started to run to avoid the experience. I went out of my room running and out of my house and I have croosed the strret running in a terrified dream state and went 200 meters far. I could be under a car if it was not more than 11 pm. I wake up with pajamas near a tree.

    • montheroid profile image

      montheroid 7 years ago

      Oh and one final comment: after some Salvia use, I now have an aversion to alcohol and the sensation of being drunk. The same "slowness" in the mind that I felt with weed, I also felt (but stronger) with alcohol. As if I felt my brain clogging up or something. 2-3 times of taking sally, which accelerates and streamlines the mind, giving it a sharp, athletic feeling, and I became totally against alcohol or any other mental "slower".

      Gave away my weed, never drink more than 1 glass, and on rare occasions where I give in to peer pressure, I feel the effects way worse the next day, so my repulsion to alcohol gets stronger.

      It's like it makes the brain itself more sensitive to what's going on, chemically, what toxins we put in.

    • montheroid profile image

      montheroid 7 years ago

      Pretty well written. I am a smoker and grower of the plant for 2 years now. First good trip with Salvia resulted in me giving away all the weed I had, and never looking back.

      It's not for everyone, but for the chosen few, it's unique :)

      Most of my weeder friends think it inferior to weed, but subjectively, for myself, I say it's way, way better.

      @angeh you are right, the more experienced one is, the more one can handle it in less ideal situations, like daylight, noise, crowded areas, without the trip being bad or scary.

      That being said, the plant opens up and amplifies sensations. Do it at a party, the sound will bamboozle your whole body. Do it in daylight or with the lights on, the light will cut your eyes and sting like needles.

      Any young retarded friends laughing hard and asking how is it how is it, you will hear that amplified 100-fold, BANGING in your brain and skull. Look forward to 2 weeks of flashback of HOW IS IT HOW IS IT ?!?!?! if you don't pick and choose a nice sitter.

      So for first timers: take it in LOW light, LOW noise environments. Have ONE sober, responsible, mellow sitter present. GIVE them a magazine or something to do in QUIET for 15 minutes, other than spamming you with useless questions.

      The plant is oh-so-fine, if used properly, but otherwise you'll end up bruised, abused by sound and lights, scared and shivering, and you'll learn the hard way that Salvia is not weed to be smoked with your party friends :D

      Final mentions: Strong doses will make you sweat. Like a LOT. Have a towel nearby BEFORE the trip, so you don't have to crawl for one after.

      Use a good strong torch lighter. Unlike weed, Saliva will not be released by cheapo Bic lighters, you'll be just wasting a lot if you use normal flame.

      Enjoy the ride :D

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      I just started learning about Salvia. Thanks for the input on a well-written hub. Later!

    • profile image

      angeh 7 years ago

      dude all that information is completely true im pretty experienced in taking this plant so i usually smoke it in horrific situations like during a fight or a rave. i think the more experienced you are with it the more you can handle smoking it in unstable situations. situations like the ones i'm talking about actually make the high a lot more intense than it already is, but that's just me!

    • profile image

      Enjoi 7 years ago

      I wanna try this drug. It has everything Im looking for. An intense out of body experience. With some hallucinations. Sounds great!

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 8 years ago from Central United States of America

      Woops...the hub is great! Just about yucky stuff - in my opinion. So there. :-)

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 8 years ago from Central United States of America

      Well...yucky hub because it is yucky truth. But great writer! My understanding is that the salvia is used as a 'quitting' agent, i.e. used to help detoxify and end varied addictions. Only heard about it shortly before it became illegal.

    • profile image

      Anti-Dolt 8 years ago

      I knew someone who used to order this stuff through the mail. I guess some people consider Salvia as a legal alternative to marijuana, but I'd say it is more unhealthy than typical weed. The person I knew only had mild hallucinations, but it was not uncommon to see them passed out in a whim.

    • bittybrasize profile image

      bittybrasize 8 years ago

      Thanks for this article; I only wish I'd come across it before I tried salvia. I didn't expect it to be so intense, and I had a terrifying experience of visual hallucinations and being unable to move. I was catatonic, basically. I'd caution anyone with a dissociative disorder or dissociative tendencies to be very careful with this drug.

    • profile image

      Mike 8 years ago

      this stuff is pretty awesome. I smoked some my whole room starting looking really cool. My floor looked like waves were going through it, there was a small waterfall coming through my window..and a face that was smoking. hahah. And I also remember seeing a blue snake slide across my floor. Pretty amazing stuff. ; )

    • profile image

      ya mama 8 years ago

      i can smoke pounds of it your all soft

    • profile image

      Anon 8 years ago

      The low dosages don't do anything and the high dosages will turn your head inside out. I tried on the salvia zone 20mg bronze dosage to no effect, then i tried the salvia zone 120mg blue dosage and was hit by a train. Intense feeling of heightened senses, and strange and a little bit unsettling hallucinations, but nothing scary. Definite loss of coordination, but somehow i ended up running from one end of the street to the other as the lights were either good or bad, deciding if i should stay in the dark or go towards the light. Extreme loss of time perception, at some points a minute felt like it took an hour to pass and at some points 5 minutes had dissappeared. Second run with the blue dose was sprinkled on some "tobbacco", complemented it well. Almost felt like an intense drunk feeling, but you can still think. Enjoyable experience if saved for rare occassions, a little expensive and probably exhausting for daily or regular use (strong dosages run like $60-110 a gram).

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      I used to grow it but only took it once in a dose that was strong enough to work and I didn't like it. I used to often take mushrooms and was fine on them going out and about but on salvia I couldn't even get it together to go out my back garden. I never took it again.

    • profile image

      thatoneguy 8 years ago

      first time i tried savia d was actualy on accident i was smoking "tobaco" and found a small bag with 60x written on it. i was then told to load a rather large pipe and cache it all. crazy mistake. i inhaled and found my self in the garage in the deep freeze half an hour later. i dont tell you this to scare you but to simply remind you to be safe and make sure your sitter is sober and or not a dick

    • profile image

      chris miller 8 years ago

      i'mtrying it the lst few days, hard. it's bogus.

    • profile image

      WildOne 9 years ago

      I would say to anyone planning to try this to take the advice about a sitter if you can, make sure you are in a "good place", that you have no where to go for at least an hour even though the peak wears off quickly.

      I thought I would recap my first experience, it might be my last, not because it was bad but it is just a bit intense for my likes, for me it was like a short acid trip.

      I got the salvia from an on-line place that I had heard was honest and had good product, I got one of their sort of starter kits but for them to put 15x in a starter kit... well that is another matter.

      I will be the first to admit I did just about everything wrong I could, little research, just heard about it on TV, found the place, bought it, tried it.

      So I will first give my frame of mind, I did not think it would work, I was expecting it to be hype or a rip off, that was not the case which I found out quickly.

      So with that mindset I start with some regular leaves and mixed in some 15X extract is a small pipe, not that size of the pipe really matters since by the 3rd hit you don't even know what a pipe is anymore much less how to use one, which is a good thing.

      I made up a pipe and was at my computer looking over my email when I take the first hit, I hold it for perhaps 15-20 seconds, go on deleting junk mail and take the second hit, I suspect it was somewhere about then it hit but I was not even aware anything was happening yet, then the third and final hit.

      All I can say is holy smokes, I was gone, for the next 15 or so minutes I was in a total out of body experience and it was only as I was coming down that I realized it. I actually became aware of that I was like 2 people, me and someone observing me and talking, that turned out the be my inner voice.

      None of this was scary or upsetting, I would have to say it was neutral since I did not really direct it or expect it. As it was wearing off and I became aware that the my inner-voice was in fact me, it started explaining that to me, now that was weird, I was explaining to myself that I was me, very hard to understand unless you get the same expierence.

      The other effect I started to understand as it was wearing off was the feeling like I was observing the whole thing like it was on TV, the odd trippy part was that my PC screen seemed to have a life of its own yet would not work as if I was trying will the mail to scroll and it didn't and attempting to read it was pointless.

      Then as fast as it came one it wore off and I was aware I think of everyrthing that happened, I has lost the sense of time so I was amazed that 20 minutes as gone by, it seemed like just a few seconds.

      So overall while I have no complaints as in nothing negative happened, this is not pot, this is not mild, it is a very intense burst of hallucination followed by a controlled and gentle return to reality.

      I can see how this would be for some but it is not really for my, I wanted to just escape a little and this was a lot more. Good luck to all that decide to try it, that was my experience. (Oh and don't start with 15x!! just the leaves will likely be more than enough for a first try)

    • Sterling Sage profile image

      Sterling Sage 9 years ago from California

      Thanks so much for writing this hub!  In light of all the negative media attention Salvia has been getting lately, it's more important than ever to provide accurate information.

      Dr. Phil's recent show about it consisted almost entirely of lies, misinformation and alarmist propaganda.  The way they described Salvia was almost exactly the opposite of its true nature.

      There are other talk shows doing the same type of thing, and the T.V. and print news isn't much better.  It seems like the reporters just aren't researching the subject before publishing stories about it.

      The description you give here is pretty close to the way I understand Salvia, and I think most people who know much about it would feel the same way.  I'm inspired to write my own hub to help educate our Hub Pages community, along with general public.

      I hope you work hard on promoting this hub.  Keep up the good work!