Salvia Divinorum, a perennial herb of mint family is native to Oaxaca, Mexico and it’s been used for divination and healing purposes by the Mazatec shamans for centuries. Salvia has more than 500 species which also includes sage plant. The plant grows well up to 3 feet of height and its large green leaves, square but hollow stems and flowers of white and purple color are its distinctive features. Salvia divinorum is one of several vision-inducing plants used by the Mazatec Indians in spiritualism.
Other types of salvia include salvia officinalis (commonly known as sage) and Salvia miltiorrhiza (also called danshen) which don’t have the hallucinogenic effects like salvia divinorum. Sage is abundantly used as a cooking spice, as well as a treatment for G.I irritations and various other medical conditions. Danshen also is used to cure various medical problems, including blood circulation malfunctioning and a number of skin conditions.
It is presumed that Salvia Divinorum is the sacred “Pipiltzintzintli” (the most noble child prince) that the Aztecs venerated and used in some of their rituals. The Mazatecs usually ingest 26 leaves, making a sort of cigar and place its tip under the tongue, chewing and sucking the leaves’ juice and keeping it in their mouths for about 30 minutes, to allow absorption via the oral mucosa. Depending on the amount of smoke inhaled, users of salvia may experience hallucinations on par in intensity with those caused by drugs like LSD or DMT. Since most users lose consciousness and drift off into a world of fractal shapes and green women as soon as they hit the pipe, it has not gained much popularity as a ‘party’ drug. Fourteen states have made it illegal or regulated its use. Proposed legislation in several other states died. A packet of dried salvia leaves cost $20 to $40, depending on the amount and potency, in head shops, holistic centers and online stores.
Salvia entered the mainstream in the late 1990s, due to its widespread availability, media attention and recreational use among young adults. When salvia is smoked or chewed, the Mexican native herb produces a short but intense psychoactive high, on par with that of synthetic hallucinogens. Like its cultural cousin, marijuana, salvia may have medical uses.
Salvia Divinorum was first discovered in the late 1930’s by a group of anthropologists studying medicinal and magical cures in Mexico. During their time in the Mazateca region they observed and cataloged many magical plants and remedies, bringing several back to the States to study. Among their discoveries were the use of morning glory seed, several varieties of mushroom and black nightshade. The plant was rediscovered in the early 1990’s by the global underground psychedelic culture and has seen some use and fame in recent years.