Salvinorin A: the "magic mint" hallucinogen finds a molecular target in the kappa opioid receptor

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2003 Mar;24(3):107-9. doi: 10.1016/S0165-6147(03)00027-0.


Salvinorin A, a neoclerodane diterpene, is the most potent naturally occurring hallucinogen known and rivals the synthetic hallucinogen lysergic acid diethylamide in potency. Recently, the molecular target of salvinorin A was identified as the kappa opioid receptor (KOR). Salvinorin A represents the only known non-nitrogenous KOR selective agonist. Based on the selectivity of salvinorin A for the KOR, this receptor represents a potential molecular target for the development of drugs to treat disorders characterized by alterations in perception, including schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease and bipolar disorder.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Diterpenes, Clerodane
  • Hallucinogens / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa / agonists*
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa / drug effects


  • Diterpenes
  • Diterpenes, Clerodane
  • Hallucinogens
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa
  • salvinorin A