Do you know what is salvia? Have you ever heard about its risks and effects? If not, this article is for you. To know what hazards salvia possess, read this article.

Smoking weed and consuming other similar stuff have been common among young as well as adult people. Numerous such substances are thought to be a great means for escapism from real-life problems. According to the World Drug Report 2019, almost 35 million people worldwide suffer from drug use disorders.

Among many other things to get high, one is salvia. It might not have been commonly recognized and used but it produces the same effects as other powerful drugs. One of the major impacts caused by salvia is hallucination.

If any of you or your loved one is involved in salvia, immediate care should be taken otherwise it could lead to more horrific damages. Although any severe adverse effects of salvia are  not proven, people have claimed to suffer from its abuse. To get to know what is salvia and what are its potential risks, buckle up and read ahead!

What is salvia?

So the question is “what is salvia?”

Salvia or Salvia Divinorum is a perennial herb from the family of mint, found in the mountains of southern Mexico. It has an active substance called salvinorin which is responsible for psychotic episodes or hallucinations.

The Salvia plant is of green color having spade leaves just like that of a mint which is why it is also categorized under the mint family. They usually grow to the height of 3 feet with large green leaves and hollow stems. At the time of growing, they grow white flowers with purple calyces.

It is not legal in all states and possesses some terrible risks. It can be chewed, drunk, or even smoked by crushing and rolling. It can also cause visual disturbance in an individual when consumed more frequently.

Common names

If someone asks you what is salvia you might be able to answer but what if they use an alternative name? The following list contains some other names for salvia

  • Shepherdess’s herb
  • Diviner’s sage
  • Sally-d
  • Maria pastora
  • Magic mint
  • Seer’s sage

Types of salvia

Salvia has many other kinds other than Divinorum. Below are some other types of plants with the same genus.

Salvia greggii

Salvia greggii also known as autumn sage, is a similar perennial plant that is found in mountainous areas of Texas and Mexico. Its blooming period starts from the beginning of summer till the autumn and in this time, it produces flowers with various attractive colors.

Despite its attractive nature and similar looks to that of a salvia Divinorum, it has its characteristics and major use as an ornament.

Salvia nemorosa

Commonly known as woodland sage or violet sage, salvia nemorosa is another kind from the genus salvia. They are spiky clump forming plants with blue-violet flowers. It is most commonly found in the area of central Europe and Asia. However, they are found in several other parts of the world but not very frequently. They contribute to making your gardens more appealing.

Salvia apiana

Another kind of plant we have is salvia apiana. It is a green perennial shrub commonly seen in the Northwest of Mexico and Southwest of the US. Despite its sketchy appearance, it gives a unique look to your garden. It has green leaves with an ash-white color in it. It releases some essential oils and a resin having a strong aroma. Because of its characteristics, it has been used in some religious rituals for centuries like burning it is believed to be clearing negative energies.

Salvia farinacea

mealycup or salvia farinacea is another perennial plant that is grown in Mexico and Texas. It blooms in June and lasts up to the season of frost. It has some shiny leaves and spiky blue-violet colored flowers. Salvia farinacea is a major attraction for birds and butterflies because of its striking colored flowers.

Salvia coccinea

It has also been known as a scarlet sage with red flowers around its spikes. They are used as ornaments as well as in medicine due to their nature. It is most commonly found in Mexico and the southeastern part of the US. The most special thing about these scarlet plants is that they can grow at any time of the year.

Salvia hispanica

Salvia hispanica is also known as chia which is found in the area of southern Mexico. This is the plant from which the chia seeds are obtained. It can grow up to a height of 1.85 meters. Furthermore, they have pretty purple flowers clustered together and those flowers contain chia seeds.

Salvia officinalis

Salvia officinalis or Garden Sage, whatever you would like to call it, is an aromatic perennial shrub. Although it has its presence all over the world It is usually found in the Mediterranean region. its gray leaves and purple flowers are used for medical purposes and also give a unique look to your garden

Salvia leucantha

Salvia leucantha is a common perennial herb found in Mexico. Having a salvia leucantha or Mexican bush sage at your home will not take a long time to be cared for as they are already low-maintenance plants. It has high ornamental value with velvety flower spikes and they bloom from late summer to early autumn.

Causes of salvia consumption

It has been observed that most addictive drugs are consumed by teens. It might be because of several reasons including stress, abuse, domestic issues, or study pressure. However, some teens indulge in these activities when they come across bad company. There have been records of drug indulgence due to friends or classmates. Teens are usually adventurous thus they consume drugs out of adventure and eventually get addicted to them.

Some people use it to escape from real-life problems like domestic abuse, study expectations, or bad relationships with parents. Teens with narcissistic parents are more likely to consume salvia and other drugs. Below mentioned are some of the causes of salvia addiction:


Drug consumption is the most commonly seen mechanism for coping with stress by teenagers. It has become easier for teenagers to access salvia because it is legal in various states in the US. Its consumption might seem harmless but it possesses the same intensity of danger as other abusive drugs. It is a vicious circle which traps you inside and it takes ages to come out of it.

Genetic factor

Yes, you heard that right, salvia addiction also connects with your genes. According to some researchers, genetic factors also lead to addiction and that includes the addition of salvia.  It is recommended to seek immediate medical help to stop addiction.

Mental issues

Another common cause of salvia consumption or addiction in teens and adults is suffering from mental issues. People usually undergo major issues like depression and anxiety thus they consider it a self-medicating tool or a way to escape their condition.

It may seem harmless and temporary at first but gradually it leads to more dangerous consequences and can be quite challenging to give up. It further develops a sense of dependency on the drug if used to treat certain mental health disorders.


Using salvia does not involve any alien technique. as it is a drug like other plant-obtained drugs, it can be consumed in various ways. It can be either chewed or taken with a drink.

Not only this, salvia is usually consumed through a vape or pipe instead of a cigarette. Most people are seen chewing its leaves as it is but it can cause serious irritation in your throat as well as lungs which can last for several hours.

Moreover, many people mix its powder in beverages and drink with great pleasure. Similar to the consumption of some medicine that is kept under the tongue, it can be converted into a tincture and put under the tongue.

Effect of salvia

Anything consumed more than a certain limit possesses danger. Salvia usually causes loss of coordination and distress. Alongside that, salvia consumption also causes dizziness, changes in visual perception, and hallucinations.

Salvia also contributes to dysphoria which leads to depression, anxiety, and restlessness. It is known for its psychedelic effects on the human mind. Furthermore, it can also lead to mental ailments like schizophrenia with impaired judgment.

The effects of saliva are majorly dependent on a person’s immunity. Weaker individuals are more under the radar of negative impacts. Some individuals have reported the loss of various senses and loss of balance due to numbness on one side more like a paralysis attack. Some have also reported seizures or frequent uncontrollable motions resulting in serious accidents like falling or bumping themselves into a wall or a piece of furniture.

However, there is no proven evidence of such side effects, all have been recorded by individuals consuming salvia. No one has yet been reported to be hospitalized for injuries but still, those who are seen to be taking salvia pose a massive danger to physical as well as mental health.

If it is chewed, it will take 5 to 10 minutes to show its effect like irritation in the lungs but will immediately act when smoked. It could trigger nausea or dizziness accompanied by blurry vision. Furthermore, it is sold frequently on the internet under the name of ‘herbal ecstasy’ and as dried leaves.

Mental impact

Consuming salvia not only has physical effects but also severe mental impacts. It might look like consuming any other abusive substance. However, psychoactive salvias effects include hallucinations or changes in perception. Hallucination does not only mean seeing things differently, it also involves sensitivity to light and sound and also imagining unreal stuff like flying or floating in the air.

If a person is facing visual hallucinations, he might see people who are not there or mixed patterns on various objects like walls. It can be dangerous because an individual would not be able to differentiate between things. This might increase the risk of injury by falling or getting addition, if their hallucination triggers the angry part of the subconscious, they might become violent and they can face consequences as well. However, the effects of salvias smoking can last from 6 to 8 hours which is quite a long time.

Moreover, daily use of salvia leads to more mental problems. If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, it might double due to the addiction. Not only that, but it can also lead to suicidal tendencies.

Salvia abuse

Although “what is salvia” is the most commonly asked question, its abusive effect is more commonly asked. It is uncertain whether an overdose of salvia can cause adverse effects or not. However, its hallucinogenic effects might trigger psychotic episodes among people which might be temporary but if the abuse continues with the same intensity, it can result in permanent mental illness.

Salvia might not be proven as addictive but it still contains some characteristics similar to addictive drugs. People who are already involved in drug abuse are most likely to get addicted to salvia as well.

What is the duration of the effects?

As mentioned earlier, the effects of salvia may last from minutes to several hours. However, its effects depend on how it is consumed and the amount consumed.


You can chew fresh salvia leaves and swallow them or chew them as a quid and then spit them out. By chewing, salvinorin is extracted from salvia leaves and absorbed through the mouth.

When consumed orally, the psychoactive salvias effects usually appear within 5-10 minutes. It produced visual hallucinations that lasted up to two hours for Mazatec shamans for centuries. Salvia chewed mildly produces a softer effect than other methods.


Salvias smoking is one of the common consumption methods. Salvia leaves are consumed in pipes, bongs, or joints. Alternatively, salvinorin extracts can be vaporized and inhaled. It is common to inhale salvinorin A extracts or smoked dried leaves after they have been heated on tin foil through a glass pipe. As soon as you inhale dried leaves or vaporized salvinorin extract, you will start to feel its effects very quickly.

As long as five minutes have passed since inhalation, the effects of the drug will be at their peak. It takes about five to ten minutes for the effects to fade, but they remain noticeable for about five to ten minutes afterward. Several hours after smoking salvia, the hallucinations disappear, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Salvia tinctures, made from alcohol-soluble extracts of the plant, can also be consumed sublingually. It can be significantly more intense depending on the potency of the extract, although its duration is similar to other methods of oral ingestion.


Leaf-crushed leaves can be used for extracting salvinorin. Adding water to juice makes a drink or tea. Ingestion of salvia via this method deactivates salvinorin before it enters the bloodstream.

Salvias benefits

Though salvia has yet to be proven as a medical treatment, scientists and researchers are investigating salvias benefits to humanity. According to scientists, salvia can influence the brain in a way that may allow for a treatment for Alzheimer’s and dementia based on the way salvia affects the brain.

Some of the claimed health benefits of salvia have been scientifically proven over the past few years. Listed below are some research studies on this herbal remedy that suggest possible medicinal benefits.

Enhances memory

The British folk medicine tradition suggests that salvia can be a useful remedy in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and memory impairment. Acutely administering salvia to some British scientists led to the study of the memory-enhancing effects of salvia. During the study, young adults volunteered to participate.

Enhances mood and brain function

Sage tea has been claimed for centuries to lift spirits, and now there is some evidence to support that claim. Two-blind crossover studies performed on 23 healthy participants resulted in different treatments. Three different days, separated by seven days, were used to administer the placebo and salvia officinalis leaf.

In addition to assessing mood before and after each treatment, the mood was assessed one hour after each dose. The mood scales used by Bond-Lader showed improvements with salvia dosage in each case. Higher doses of the drug increased alertness, calm, and contentment while the lower doses reduced anxiety.


Salvia is effective for inflammatory diseases, such as asthma, acne, and arthritis. There are anti-inflammatory compounds in salvia, such as luteolin and rosmarinic acid. Inflammation in the body is caused by the TBK1 enzyme which luteolin inhibits.

Reducing hot flashes in women

Women experiencing menopause may benefit from salvia because it reduces hot flashes and sweating. The traditional folk medicine tradition suggests that it can be used to treat hot flashes and excessive sweating. Both men and women with hot flashes and sweat have been researching the potential benefits of salvia in recent years.

Over two months, a tablet of salvia leaves was administered daily to menopausal women experiencing at least five daily hot flushes. Both the number and severity of hot flashes decreased significantly as a result of the experiment.

Suppresses coughs

Sore throat, coughs, pharyngitis, throat ulcerations, and tonsillitis can all be treated with salvia tea. To validate the claim of salvias benefits, researchers studied the herb in depth. An investigation of salvia’s effects on viral pharyngitis was conducted by German researchers.

Is it legal?

What is salvia? Is it legal in the US? The answer is Yes and No. You might wonder how? The Drug Enforcement Administration or DEA has categorized salvia as a drug that possesses dangerous characteristics. Although it is not federally regulated, it is still consumed frequently because of easy availability. Some states allow the use of salvia whereas some don’t. Below is a list of states in the US that allow selling and consumption.

  • Florida
  • Arkansas
  • Hawaii
  • Alabama
  • Delaware
  • Kentucky
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Iowa
  • Ohio
  • Virginia
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • North Dakota
  • North Carolina
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Mississippi
  • Wyoming
  • Oklahoma
  • Virginia
  • Pennsylvania
  • Vermont

In addition to all these states, several others have an age restriction over the possession and sale of substances. For instance, some states have a legal age of 18 after which teens can have salvia. Following is the list of those states.

  • Idaho
  • Maryland
  • California
  • Montana
  • Alaska
  • Massachusetts
  • Arizona
  • Maine
  • West Virginia
  • New Jersey
  • New Hampshire
  • Utah
  • Nevada
  • Washington
  • South Carolina
  • Nevada
  • Rhode Island
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • New Mexico

There are no restrictions on the sale, use, or possession of salvia in these states, but it is not classified as a Schedule I drug. These states decriminalize salvia and charge its possession as a misdemeanor:

  • Texas
  • Colorado
  • Indiana
  • Wisconsin
  • Georgia
  • Tennessee
  • Connecticut
  • South Dakota
  • Minnesota

Bottom Line

Once you know what is salvia and what risk it possesses, it is important for you to understand that it is not safe for consumption either. Since salvia is not proven to cause death, some states and the federal government have not made it illegal, and a nationwide law prohibiting the sale or possession of the drug is not in the works.

People should avoid operating vehicles or other machinery while under the influence of this drug due to its extreme, psychedelic side effects. As well as causing side effects similar to those associated with other drugs, taking salvia can also be a gateway to trying other drugs and regularly misusing them.


Nabeel Ahmad is the founder and editor-in-chief of Lone Mind. Apart from Lone Mind, he is a serial entrepreneur, and has founded multiple successful companies in different industries.

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