Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Psychoactive Plant - Salvia Divinorum

Salvia divinorum, also known as Diviner's Sage, ska María Pastora, Sage of the Seers, or simply by the genus name, Salvia, is a powerful psychoactive herb. The genus name Salvia is derived from the Latin salvare, meaning "to heal" or "to save".

Salvia divinorum has a long continuing tradition of use as an entheogen by indigenous Mazatec shamans, who use it to facilitate visionary states of consciousness during spiritual healing sessions. The plant is found in isolated, shaded, and moist plots in Oaxaca, Mexico. It grows to well over a meter in height, has large green leaves, and hollow square stems with occasional white and purple flowers.

Salvia divinorum can be chewed, smoked, or taken as a tincture to produce experiences ranging from uncontrollable laughter to much more intense and profoundly altered states. The duration is much shorter than for some other more well known psychedelics; the effects of smoked salvia typically last for only a few minutes. The most commonly reported after-effects include an increased feeling of insight and improved mood, and a sense of calmness and increased sense of connection with nature―though much less often it may also cause dysphoria (unpleasant or uncomfortable mood). Salvia divinorum is not generally understood to be toxic or addictive. As a κ-opioid agonist, it may have potential as an analgesic and as therapy for drug addictions.

Salvia divinorum has become increasingly well-known and more widely available in modern culture. The rise of the Internet since the 1990s has seen the growth of many businesses selling live salvia plants, dried leaves, extracts, and other preparations. During this time medical experts and accident and emergency rooms have not been reporting cases that suggest particular health concerns, and police have not been reporting it as a significant issue with regard to public order offences. Yet Salvia divinorum has attracted increasing attention from the media and some lawmakers.

Media stories generally raise alarms over salvia's legal status, headlining, for example, with not necessarily well supported comparisons to LSD. The isolated and controversial case of Brett Chidester, a 17-year-old Delaware student who committed suicide in January 2006, has received continued attention. He reportedly purchased salvia from a Canadian-based Internet company some four months prior to taking his own life; his parents consequently blame this for his death. Salvia divinorum remains legal in most countries and, within the United States, legal in the majority of states. However, some have called for its prohibition. Most proposed bills have not made it into law, with motions having been voted down in committee, failed, died, or otherwise stalled. Other more recent bills are as yet still at the early proposal stage. There have not been any publicised prosecutions of anti-salvia laws in the few countries and states where it has been made illegal.

1 comment:

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