Pattern of use and subjective effects of Salvia divinorum among recreational users

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2006 Nov 8;85(2):157-62. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2006.04.001. Epub 2006 May 23.


Background: Salvia divinorum is a member of the Lamiaceae family and contains the psychotropic diterpene and kappa-opioid receptor agonist salvinorin-A. Originally a shamanic inebriant used by the Mexican Mazatec Indians, the plant and its preparations are becoming increasingly popular among non-traditional users.

Methods: Demographic data and information on pattern of use and subjective effects were obtained by means of self-report questionnaires from a sample of 32 recreational users of salvia and other psychedelics.

Results: Involvement with salvia appeared to be a recent phenomenon. Smoking the extract was the preferred form of administration. Subjective effects were described as intense but short-lived, appearing in less than 1 min and lasting 15 min or less. They included psychedelic-like changes in visual perception, mood and somatic sensations, and importantly, a highly modified perception of external reality and the self, leading to a decreased ability to interact with oneself or with one's surroundings.

Conclusions: Although some aspects of the subjective effects reported were similar to high doses of classical psychedelics with serotonin-2A receptor agonist activity, the intense derealization and impairment reported appear to be a characteristic of salvia. The observed simultaneous high scores on the LSD and PCAG subscales of the Addiction Research Center Inventory (ARCI) have been previously reported for other kappa-opioid agonists, and support kappa receptor activation as the probable pharmacologic mechanism underlying the modified state of awareness induced by salvia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / drug effects*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diterpenes*
  • Diterpenes, Clerodane
  • Euphoria / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs*
  • Male
  • Perception / drug effects*
  • Plant Extracts*
  • Reality Testing
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa / agonists*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Salvia*
  • Sensation / drug effects*
  • Spain
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology


  • Diterpenes
  • Diterpenes, Clerodane
  • Illicit Drugs
  • Plant Extracts
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa
  • salvinorin A