Salvia divinorum and the unique diterpene
hallucinogen, Salvinorin (divinorin) A

Valdes LJ 3rd
J Psychoactive Drugs 1994 Jul-Sep; 26(3):277-83


Salvia divinorum is a vision-inducing mint used by the Mazatec people of Oaxaca, Mexico. It is grown in California and other parts of the United States where it is employed as a legal hallucinogen. Traditional opinion has been that the plant has mild psychotropic activity, at best. However, when ingested in the correct manner, it is quite powerful. The fresh leaves are chewed as a quid and kept in the mouth. They may also be eaten raw or prepared as an aqueous infusion. When dried, they are smoked in the manner of marijuana. The neoclerodane diterpene, salvinorin A (also known as divinorin A), has been demonstrated in animals and humans to be its major active ingredient. Essentially inactive if taken orally, the compound is effective in doses of 200 to 500 mcg when smoked in a manner similar to cocaine free base. This makes salvinorin A the first documented diterpene hallucinogen and the most potent naturally occurring hallucinogen thus far isolated. This is somewhat remarkable, since the compound is not an alkaloid. This article reviews the use of S. divinorum and its chemistry. In addition, it discusses the effects of the plant and salvinorin A in animals and humans, as well as their potential to become drugs of abuse.
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