What Exactly is Salvia Divinorum?

Salvia Divinorum is a herb, and a member of the mint family that has been cultivated and used for centuries. It is a type of sage also known as “Seer’s Sage”, “Diviner’s Sage” or by its genus name Salvia. The mint family also contains more commonly used herbs such as Basil or Oregano but Salvia Divinorum is the only member of that family known to contain psychoactive Diterpenes Salvinorin A and B. The plant itself grows to about a meter high and is characterized by large leaves and white flowers with some purple in the center. The Salvia Divinorum plant reproduces vegetatively (without seeds or spores) and only rarely produces any viable seeds. It is known for its psychoactive dissociative effects and exactly how this herb works to alter consciousness is still uncertain. Salvia Divinorum is something of a mystery drug which does not easily fit into any pharmacological category or class.

Currently there is no health risk associated with the use of Salvia Divinorum. Salvinorin A is the chemical substance responsible for its psychoactive properties and although it is not known to be addictive, it is highly potent. Interestingly enough, there seems to be a reverse phenomenon concerning the tolerance of Salvia as it has often been found that repeated use resulted in the dosage necessary to attain results being reduced instead of increased. The psychoactive effects of using Salvia Divinorum are at the same time similar yet different than any other drug causing it to often be termed the “magic herb”. It is not a stimulant or tranquilizer, nor is it considered a narcotic though given the right dosage it can produce a state of inebriation that although profoundly different from the use of alcohol, can impair driving ability as it often has an effect on coordination. For this reason, it is considered best to avoid driving or operating machinery while under the influence of Salvia.

Salvia Divinorum first originated in Oaxaca a mountainous region in the northeastern corner of Mexico. It has been used and largely cultivated for centuries by the Mazatec people for use in their spiritual ceremonies. Shamans believed it to be a powerful visionary herb and often used it to aid in vision quests. Salvia was also used for certain healing rituals when shamans thought that travel into the supernatural world would enable them to find the true cause of their patient’s troubles. The resulting visionary trance state brought on by the Salvia Divinorum was called upon to aid in determining the cause of the patient’s disease as well as help to define whatever treatment was necessary. The Salvia herb helped to produce what was considered a state of higher consciousness which allowed Shamans to reach beyond the present world and gain higher learning from whatever vision quest they set out upon. These spiritual shamans considered the effects of the Salvia Divinorum plant to be true spiritual visions and as such the use of it was revered and only used as part of their divine spiritual ceremonies and never as a recreational drug.

In our modern world, Salvia Divinorum is often thought to be a useful aid in deep meditation or as part of a spiritual awakening considering its purported ability to help us reach a deeper consciousness and step away from our physical body and interact more with our spiritual being much like the Shamans of the past.

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