Acute and post-acute behavioral and psychological effects of salvinorin A in humans

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012 Mar;220(1):195-204. doi: 10.1007/s00213-011-2470-6. Epub 2011 Sep 8.


Rationale: Salvia divinorum has been used for centuries, and nontraditional use in modern societies is increasing. Inebriation and aftereffects of use are poorly documented in the scientific literature.

Objectives: This double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study analyzed subjective experiences of salvinorin A (SA) inebriation and consequences of use after 8 weeks.

Methods: Thirty middle-aged, well-educated, hallucinogen-experienced participants smoked either 1,017 or 100 μg SA 2 weeks apart in counterbalanced order. Vital signs were recorded before and after inhalation. A researcher rated participants' behavior during sessions. Participants completed the Hallucinogen Rating Scale (HRS) assessing inebriation immediately after each session. Differences were analyzed between groups as functions of dose and time. After 8 weeks, participants were interviewed to determine reported consequences and aftereffects.

Results: Participants talked, laughed, and moved more often on an active dose. All six HRS clusters were significantly elevated on an active dose indicating hallucinogenic experiences. No significant adverse events were observed or reported by participants.

Conclusions: The present results indicate similarities as well as differences between the subjective effects of S. divinorum and other hallucinogens. As a selective kappa opioid receptor agonist, SA may be useful for expanding understanding of the psychopharmacology and psychology of hallucinogenic states beyond serotonergic mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diterpenes, Clerodane / administration & dosage
  • Diterpenes, Clerodane / adverse effects
  • Diterpenes, Clerodane / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Hallucinogens / administration & dosage
  • Hallucinogens / adverse effects
  • Hallucinogens / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa / agonists*
  • Salvia / chemistry
  • Time Factors


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