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What is Salvia and Is it Addictive?

Salvia is a plant related to mint that is indigenous to southern Mexico. Its active constituent, salvinorin A, is the most potent naturally occurring hallucinogen, although it is still far less potent than LSD. Salvia causes auditory and visual hallucinations, as well as loss of control over the body, uncontrollable laughing, and slurred speech. Some people vividly relive memories or feel they are in several places at once. Out-of-body experiences are also common. Since it is not prohibited by federal law and is easy to get–usually online or at tobacco shops–people often use it as an alternative to psilocybin or LSD. It can be chewed, smoked, brewed as tea, or used as an extract.

Salvia is very fast-acting. Usually it begins to work within a few minutes of taking it. Its effects can last less than 30 minutes. Overdose is rare, but intense reactions are less rare. The hallucinations and dissociated feeling can cause extreme anxiety. In such cases, all you can do is calm the person down and try to keep him safe until the drug wears off. The most danger comes from the loss of bodily control and impaired judgment. Other effects might include nausea, chills, irregular heartbeat, or dizziness.

Like other hallucinogens, salvia is not likely to become addictive. However, regular use can cause problems other than those related to altered perception and lack of coordination. Like any substance, you can become tolerant to salvia after repeated use. Also, the anxiety and paranoia may eventually become permanent, or you may experience flashbacks. Some studies have found prolonged use of salvia may impair memory. Salvia has not been well studied and few of the long-term effects are understood.

The biggest concern about salvia, other than the intense anxiety a trip can cause, is that so little is known about it, especially about how regular use affects the brain and body. It has been traditionally used by shamans in Mazatec rituals, so unlike caffeine or alcohol, which are used more regularly, no one really knows what years of regular use might do.

Although it is not really addictive, regular use might be cause for concern if it’s interfering with other parts of life or causing changes in behavior. If you use salvia and notice increasing anxiety or other problems, it’s a good idea to stop.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at to learn more.