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Salvia divinorum

Also known as

Sage

What does it do?

Contains a diterpenoid which causes short-term psychedelic effects. Users will often laugh a great deal whilst experiencing feelings of becoming disconnected from the real world. Motor skills become disorganised and users are unable to perform simple tasks.

Very large doses can make the effects frightening.

Is it Addictive?

There is no indication that salvia is addictive.

Is it Harmful?

Use of salvia remains fairly low. A US survey, in 2006, found lifetime prevalence of 1.8 million with 750,000 reporting use within the preceding twelve months. There are no reports of any health problems resulting from this use and no indications of anyone attending hospital as a result of use.

In January 2006, a seventeen year-old in Delaware committed suicide and his parents believed this was the result of his salvia usage. Their campaign against the suppliers of the substance led to its being banned by the state and creating the impression, in the media, that salvia was a dangerous substance. The media tends to compare salvia to LSD but there is no evidence that its effects are similar.

As at December 2009, there were 12,200 YouTube videos about salvia with 459 referring to 'bad trips'. (For comparison, the keyword 'marijuana' gives 84,000 results.) It would appear that most of the 'bad trips' result from inexperienced users taking a large amount of a high concentration.