The herb Salvia divinorum, or Salvia, has been getting its fair share of media coverage lately thanks in part to some not-so-positive You Tube videos depicting the herb users psychedelic-like experiences. Opponents of the herb compare its effects to LSD, with some journalists going as far as calling it "the new pot".
Salvia is a naturally growing herb, similar to marijuana. It has an extensive history of being used by Mexican Shaman to induce visionary states in the context of spiritual practices. However, unlike marijuana, salvia is categorized as a hallucinogenic. It is the only known naturally occurring substance to cause such hallucinations.
Salvia can be ingested three different ways: by smoking it, chewing it or by using a tincture. Smoking it will result in the mildest effects with the shortest duration, while chewing it and ingesting it in the form of a tincture produce a longer-lasting effect.
Salvia's main effects are visionary hallucinations and a trance-like state. The duration of the effects of smoked salvia last a very short period of time, usually only for a few minutes. The long-term reported effects are minimal with such symptoms as improved mood and “antidepressant-like effects”. This is likely attributed to the notion that salvia has a low level of toxicity, according to research preformed at the University of Nebraska.
Salvia has gained its fair share of attention primarily as a result of Brett's Law, named after 17 year-old Brett Chidester, whose suicide gained media coverage in 2006. Allegedly, several months prior to Brett's suicide, his parents discovered his experimentation with salvia. They attributed his suicide to the salvia-induced depression. As a result, the state of Delaware where Brett lived, passed Brett's Law classifying the herb as a schedule I controlled substance.
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