By: Manu Viswanath & Andy Sanchez

What are Salvia?

Salvia is an herb in the mint family found in southern Mexico. The main ingredients are salvinorin A - which changes the chemistry in the brain, causes hallucinations (seeing something that seems real but isn’t). The effects are short term, but they can be very intense and frightening.

How are they abused?

Usually, people chew the fresh leaves of salvia or drink the extracted juices. The dried leaves also can be rolled up in a cigarette and smoked. It can be inhaled through water pipes, or vaporized and then inhaled.

How do they affect the brain?

Salvinorin A, the main ingredient in Salvia, attaches to parts of nerve cells called kappa opioid receptors.

The effects of salvia are intense but short, lasting for less than 30 minutes. People who use salvia have hallucinations - they see or feel things that aren’t really there. They also have changes in vision, mood and body sensations, emotional swings, and feelings of detachment. Some people even lose contact with reality - being unable to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not.

What are other effects of Salvia?

Other effects are coordination, dizziness, and slurred speech.

However, we do not know of the long effects yet.

Can you get addicted?

Not enough studies have proven that you can get addicted to salvia.

Can you die from use?

It is not clear if you can die from using salvia. However, since we know so little of the effects, authorities are very careful around this drug.

How many teens abuse this drug?

3.80 % of teens abuse this drug.

What should you do if someone needs help?

  • Call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (they don't just talk about suicide—they cover a lot of issues including drug abuse)
  • Call Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator at 1-800-662-HELP
  • Visit

What classification does your drug belong in?

Salvia is a hallucinogen.