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
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