Salvia, or salvia divinorum, is an herb from the mint family. While it’s native to Mexico, salvia can grow in other places as well. When someone takes salvia, it can change their brain chemistry and lead to hallucinations similar to the effects of other hallucinogenic drugs. Salvia symptoms and effects don’t typically last long, but they can be intense.
Currently, salvia is legal in the United States. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration describes salvia as a drug of concern with risks related to its use. Many states are working on regulating salvia because of the potentially dangerous symptoms its usage creates.
Salvinorin A is the primary component that causes these symptoms. This substance attaches to certain receptors in the brain, producing symptoms that usually last for less than 30 minutes. In addition to seeing things that aren’t there, salvia symptoms can include changes in vision and body sensations, changes in emotions and the feeling of detachment from one’s environment.
Salvia symptoms can also include the loss of touch with reality. People report using salvia for a few reasons, including relaxation, mood improvement, pleasurable sensations and spiritual experiences.
Side Effects of Salvia
Salvia is a hallucinogen, and specific salvia side effects can include:
- Seeing visual distortions, such as bright lights and vivid colors
- Seeing shapes and patterns
- Seeing images that look like cartoons
- Improvement of mood
- Loss of connection with one’s self and environment
- Uncontrollable laughing
- Recalling memories
- The feeling of moving or being flipped or twisted
- Being very talkative
- Distorted sense of time and space
- Out-of-body experiences
- Feelings of distress or uneasiness
Some of the physical salvia side effects that may occur include:
- Slurred speech
- Problems with concentration
- Loss of coordination
- Memory loss
- Flushing of the skin
Due to the significant effects of salvia on thinking, coordination, mood and emotions, using it can create dangers. For example, it can be dangerous to drive under the effects of salvia. There is also a risk of accidental injury or death in other situations when someone uses salvia.
As with other hallucinogens, there is the risk of a bad trip for some people. This risk is especially high when someone uses large doses. When someone has a bad salvia trip, it can lead to extreme anxiety, the sense of dying or the feeling of going permanently “crazy.” People having a bad trip related to salvia use may have panic attacks, try to escape or hurt themselves.
Long-Term Effects of Salvia Use
Since salvia is unregulated and widespread use is a fairly new phenomenon, there is very little research looking at long-term salvia side effects. Some researchers do believe long-term salvia use can lead to a condition called dysphoria.
Symptoms of dysphoria include:
- General discontent or unhappiness
While salvia isn’t considered a chemically addictive substance, it is possible that a person can become psychologically dependent on it. They may feel like they can’t function without it or need to use it in specific situations, such as social environments.
Salvia Treatment for Addiction
If you or someone you care about is struggling with salvia, The Recovery Village Columbus is here to help. We can talk to you about salvia treatment programs and give you information as you decide on the right option for your needs. Contact us to begin the path toward recovery today.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Salvia.” March, 2017. Accessed 26 Apr. 2019.
Davis, Kathleen FNP. “Salvia: What are the effects?” Medical News Today. January 16, 2019. Accessed April 26, 2019.
WebMD. “Salvia Diviorum.” Accessed April 26, 2019.
Dowshen, Steven MD. “Salvia.” Teens Health. May 2018. Accessed April 26, 2019.