Salvia Divinorum, or magic mint, is a perennial herb of the mint family that has psychoactive properties. The leaves of the salvia divinorum plant contain a chemical substance called salvinorin A which is a potent chemical that can invoke an intense, dissociative and psychedelic experience. The plant is native to parts of Mexico where is has been used in traditional healing ceremonies for centuries. The soft green leaved plant became a popular psychedelic drug in the 1990’s and since this time it has been used by many people recreational and experimental substance.
Salvia divinorum is non toxic and has not been found to have habit-forming or addictive properties. It is however illegal in many countries including Australia, France, Germany, parts of United States and as of 2011 regulation is pending in Canada.
Effects of salvia divinorum are felt almost immediately after smoking the substance and typically last less than 10 minutes. Users may experience and inability to speak, loss of coordination, perception shift, dream-like state, visual hallucinations and changes in body temperature. Some people find the drug to be very pleasant and enjoy the changes to consciousness, insights into personal issues and dissociative affects. Others find that the drug makes them have scary visuals, panic attacks and do not like the feeling of being watched or touched by spirits that high doses of the drug can invoke.
There are few risks of using salvia divinorum, although ingesting the drug when under the influence of other drugs could contribute to magnified effects. Caution should be taken when using this drug as the leaves and plant have varied potency which could cause a frightening and more intense high. The drug should never used when driving or going to drive as the effects of the drug will contribute to accidents. The drug should not be used alone as the intense altered perception that the drug invokes could cause a person to fall over or injure themselves when they are under the influence. Additionally, people who have a history of schizophrenia or other mental illness should avoid ingesting the drug.
There has been one reported death in the United States that was linked to salvia divinorum. This was the suicide of Brett Chidster. This death has been controversially linked to the drug, but this connection is considered tenuous as there have been no other reported cases of the drug in any deaths, suicides, overdoses or any other kind of serious injury or death.
Salvia Divinorum has been used by Mazatec Shamans in Mexico for many years as a tool in spiritual healing sessions. The plant is used to facilitate visions and hallucinations that typically focus around invoking an incarnation of the Virgin Mary or other spirits. In a traditional setting, the plant is taken with care and with respect. A setting will be arranged that may include images of saints, candles and flowers. The shaman will often consecrate the session to the saints, pray, sing and speak religious and spiritual words. The experience is respected and not taken lightly by participants, patients or shamans.
Traditionally, the drug was ingested as fresh leaves that are mixed with water to create a tea that was drunk during the healing ceremonies. Fresh leaves were also chewed throughout the ceremony. Taking the drug in these ways mean that the effects are slower and milder and last for an extended period of up to one and a half hours.
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