August 06, 2004

Salvia Raises Risk of Schizophrenia?

It's not just illegal drugs like marijuana that can raise a person's risk of developing a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia. Salvia, a natural hallucinogen historically used in the Mazatec indian culture in Mexico, is legally available in the United States as dried leaves or an extract that can be smoked or ingested. However, according to Rusty Payne, a public affairs official with the Washington Bureau of the DEA, salvia and other uncontrolled substances like it are currently under investigation by the scientific and health community. "Just because a drug has not been classified doesn't mean it's healthy or safe. There are legal drugs of concern and salvia is one of them," Payne said.

John Halpern, an associate director of substance abuse research at Mclean Hospital, described the drug as psychoactive, but not physiologically addictive. However, although it doesn't appear to be directly toxic to the brain, Halpern cautions that salvia use by young people in their teens and twenties could raise their risk of developing schizophrenia or other severe diseases. Moreover, like anything that is smoked, salvia damages the throat and lungs. At high doses it may induce unconsciousness and memory loss. The drug may also cause high blood pressure or strokes if it is mixed with certain other chemicals, an example of which is antidepressants.

The fact that salvia is unregulated makes it even more unsafe to use. Buyers can never be sure exactly what is in the substance they use, as there are no purification or health regulations.

"There's a false sense of security that if it's legal it must be safe," says Robert Harris, a pharmacist with the Cayuga Medical Center. "That's cause for concern."

As of now, only St. Peters, MO has a local city law that regulates the sale of salvia to people over 17. Salvia remains unregulated anywhere at the state or local level in the United States, although it has been banned in Australia since 2002.

For the full article, please see "Salvia Sparks Curiosity" (July 31, 2004) in the Ithaca Journal (

For more information about salvia and the health concerns associated with it, see the following:

"A New LSD? Mexican Herb For Sale Online Comes with Divine Claims, Warnings." ABC News, April 1 2004.

Information Bulletin: Salvia divinorum - a factsheet published in April, 2003 by the National Drug Intelligence Center.

For more research that implicates substance abuse as a risk factor for schizophrenia and severe mental illness, see the Causes and Prevention section of the website (


Thank you for posting this. I have never heard of this stuff. The children and I talk about the new drugs out there - I am 60s-70s child. It is just amazing all the drugs now available. It is important for parents to stay informed we provide information for our children so they can stay safe.

Posted by: TampaBayMom at August 16, 2004 11:54 PM

I just wanted to add, it is also the other way around. Talk to your young children you will be surprised at what they know.

Posted by: TampaBayMom at August 16, 2004 11:55 PM

i smoked salvia times 5 yesterday and now i have hard time remebering things and im realy scaired please help me...mail me at

Posted by: jay at May 9, 2005 06:40 AM

I seem to be having a hard time coming back to a full reality from a salvia trip, (either my first or second ever) and this article may have driven home why. I'm bipolar II and have taken 900 mg of pure Lithium a day for five years. Although in every other area of life, I take great care of myself, every so often I drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes and pot. Three nights ago, I also tried salvia, and I still cannot see completely straight. My mind is nearly sound, but this vision thing is starting to make me frustrated, so my life is being affected. I want to sleep a lot and I'm discouraged from spending time with my family. Should I just hope that this wears off and just vehemently stay away from any recreational drug? I will speak with a professional psychologist or doctor of some sort if it somes down to it, but I'd like to find out specifics first. Also, my astigmatism has gotten worse in the past two months previous to the salvia experience. Pleeease help. I know I've screwed up with this stuff, even if it is legal.

Posted by: Elizabeth at August 29, 2005 12:46 PM

I have SZ and have smoked Salvia (only leaves not extract). I did not find any negative effects. It would be interesting to hear a correct explanation but it is also possible that people are assuming there is a risk of psychosis just because they are classifying it together with Pot. In reality the active compunds Salvinorin A amd Divinorin A are chemically very different to THC. Do all hallucinogens carry a risk of psychosis ? Just by virtue of the fact that they are hallucinogens ? The scientific jury is out on this one.

Also of course there is the question of dosage - some salvia extracts are 20x stronger than leaf. It would seem very commonsensical to only have a small dose. I would not mess with the extracts, but leaf now and then seems ok to me.

Posted by: Trip Technician at March 7, 2006 06:51 AM

I found that salvia made my hearing voices a lot worse and increased some feelings of depersonalisation. I am staying off of it, and instead smoking kratom and which seems to have far less psychotic side-effects.

Posted by: bazookajoe at March 7, 2006 07:05 AM

I was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 16. Much later in my late 20s I started smoking salvia before it really became as popular as it is today, regularly. All my life I have been considered rather passive "harmless" according to some, but much into my regular use of the drug I became verbally abusive more often than not and completely out of it.I even smashed a glass table with a walking cane during this time. I would end up driving out to the middle of nowhere and run out of gas often times hallucinating.I also couldn't keep an apartment and ended up back at my parents every so often. I did this drug often, I'm clean now and wouldn't go back on it for any money in the world.

Posted by: addict at May 23, 2006 10:45 PM

NO FUN, I strongley suggest that this drug NOT be experminted with.
I am NO lightweight, have experienced close to 200 LSD trips, and all the usuall related drugs. Salvia is SCARY for user and people around them.

Posted by: robert keller at June 3, 2006 08:52 PM

I must be salvia tolerant.I have tried everything out there.But get nothing from this herb.I have done LSD,smoke weed daily,everything.I thought maybe I had done too much.But everyone else says this shouldn't make a difference

Posted by: Bud sweeny at September 16, 2006 11:27 AM

I have mild schizophrenia, and salvia has had no effect on my current condition.

Posted by: Kratom at October 23, 2006 10:13 PM

I had taken salvia a few times, and I have had a history of schizophrenia in my family. I never once had any psychotic episode, until after one night, when I smoked much more salvia than the average user would consider. The following day I was convinced everyone was out to kill me and moved away from my friends to my family and had to be put on Seroquel. Salvia is strong!

Posted by: Adam at May 29, 2007 07:38 PM

I smoked salvia last night and I was laughing uncontorlably for about 15 to 20 mins.

Though the "trip" was fun while it lasted everything changed.

I went to sleep and my mind was racing. when I opened my eyes, I couldnt concentrate on one thought and I couldnt move. I heard voices and I was scared to that I look back on it, It feels like it was just a dream.

I relize now that it was just the drug effecting me.

I still had fun with it and I still would be willing to do it again.

Posted by: (hrista at June 28, 2007 02:58 PM

How can they say this when there have been no studies performed, and no evidence even suggesting this?

Posted by: Malaysian Kratom at July 10, 2007 02:01 PM

Without any evidence to back this up, what right do they have to say this ??

Posted by: Nelly at July 13, 2007 11:41 PM

wow i cant believe that all these articles about certain drugs were true, after doing salvia x20 at the age of 16, I had a schizophrenia after the trip and i thought what if life was not real and stuff, i shouldnt have done so much, and should do this stuff until i am much older, i should just love life and forget about all this paranoi so that i dont have this permenant thought, its true guys Salvia does cause schizeophrenia, so i am just going to stay off it.

Posted by: Miracle at August 21, 2007 04:28 PM

I use Salvia occasionally and find that it does not induce long term psychotic problems. It actually has a strong antidepressant effect on me

Posted by: Alan at September 1, 2007 03:11 AM

I've done Salvia 15x twice. I'm one of those people that had a rough time with it. Idealistically speaking I resent the idea of criminalizing it because I believe we should be able to make our own choices regarding drugs but......

Before trying it I suggest you go to and read some of the hundreds of 'bad trip'
accounts posted there. Search under'plants and drugs' on the home page, then 'experiences' and select 'bad trips' or 'difficult experiences' or 'post trip problems', especially the latter.

A very high percentage of users experience extreme trama before and after the trip. Acute, and I mean ACUTE depersonalization, terror anxiety, and many other frightening effects and symptoms indistinguisable from severe shizophrenic reaction often persist for weeks, months, and in one documented case, several years, after one experience with the drug.

It is clear that in many cases latent effects are experienced. Meaning that you may experience a mild reaction, or none at all, and a few days later, smoke some weed, or do nothing at all, and suddenly you are seized with inexplicable panic or sense of extreme depersonalization and confusion.

the first time I smoked I had an intense experience that left me very anxious but that dissipated in a few hours. A week later I smoked again, heart began beating fiercely, felt extreme terror, tripped out, and returned. I am not mentioning the details of the actual trip because examples abound on line (see It has been almost two weeks since then and I have had to use tranquilizers almost daily to counteract a sense of not being in my body and to lessen moments of extreme anxiety related to that sense of depersonalization. It is getting better now after almost two weeks of hell.

Even in the accounts that claim the experience was interesting or enjoyable, the praise comes from a position of reflection after the trip, and the descriptions of the trip itself are often quite frightening. There are some accounts, very few, that describe genuine spiritual experiences. In the main though, users who have had 'breakthrough' or 'threshhlod' (category 5) experiences, simply report extreme autistic hallucinatory effects, during which time they are utterly out of touch wth their environment.

Characteristically, possible dangers of use are portrayed as physical, 'have a sitter so you don't fall down etc.', with but a passing remark made, even by reputable sources, who of course are actually selling it, to be circumspect if you are experiencing depressive or other pathological symptoms.

What they do not explain in much detail is the heavily documented fact that a very high percentage of users experience nothing less then EXTREME trauma and fear, which can persist for weeks or more after the trip.

salvia has far reaching effects and it's chemical activity in the body is not understood. Comparatively, even drugs like LSD or DMT have effects that are well documented, which is to say, that if you wind up in an emergency room, the antidotes to bring you back are well known. Not so with salvia.

reclaiming reality is not always a simple matter when your tripping on salvia. Many users, terrified and unable toi ride it, resistant to the extreme control of the substance, fight it, and have to claw thir way back to normal reality, utterly unable to be calmed by old friends in the room, who are sometimes paranoically percieved as aliens or frightening threats.

Most posted acounts on the majority of sites, excepting erowid that makes an effort to post unbiased accounts covering the spectrum of posible results, tend to reflect the drugs effects as extremely pleasurable. NOT SO. The effects are fantastically profound at threshhold levels. They are most decidedly not pleasureable, but the retrospective descriptions tend to glamorize them into the vague catch all term 'spritual' or 'intellectually valuable.' But very few have what could be called a 'good time.'

I tend to think you are awakening very deep brain mechanisms that alter conciousness. Using a poor analogy it would be like admitting effects of a computer's registry or bios or OS into simultaneous and interfereing fuction with a program you are trying to use, thereby wildly distorting it's properties. The mechanisms you are wake are primitive, deep brain stuff, which are likely mean't to remain as background structure, doing whatever they do to maintain normal brain function, and not meant to have their use twisted into innapropriate activity.

Just because it is a naturally occurring substance does not mean it is designed for human consumption. And the argument of its (at present) legality should mean even less. Christ George Bush is legal too!

Even after my obvious warning on trying this shit even once, I still feel it may belong in the medicine cabinet of a tiny fraction of the human race that was born for this sort of exploration. For most of the rest of us thrill seeking fools, I am telling you, as a guy that
has tried a lot of drugs of all types for a lot of years, that this is the strongest, and strangest.

Be prepared, it can do a lot more then effect you for ten minutes. It's effects can so radically alter you brain function, that it can change your fucking LIFE itself for indeterminate periods of time. If you have any incipient psychotic symptoms, or tend to be an intelligent analytical person, which I am, if you already tend to introspection, stay the hell away. If your a happy go lucky kid, you'll probably recover rapidly, even if you get scared shitless, which, odds are, you will.

The final vote isn't in on Salvia. The best research to date can be found on You Tube ot on the sites that have an interest in selling it, hardly a platform for unbiased reporting.
This is one case where negative reports should not spur you to 'check it out' to see what the hoopla is about, anymore then you would do any other known self detructive act that you know is deadly or dangerous on the basis of other's experience.

Posted by: d11 at September 20, 2007 12:08 PM

Salvia Is a trip and a hell of a strong one at that and you should not ingest anything without researching the substance, I have done every drug known except PCP and I find the trip is very similar to a bad acid trip. You must force yourself to know that it will end and its the drug fucking with you. As for long lasting effects I have had none over a few hours of panic which always end, stop being a puss and strap in for a ride, and have a few sober people there to help you if needed. I prefer to trip alone tho due to the extra effects when around people

Posted by: Notafirsttimer at October 31, 2007 06:12 PM

does kratom raise your blood pressure at all- i take 3 pills a day for high blood pressure and like kratom

Posted by: bob at January 11, 2008 04:42 PM

Ill admit i thought I had schizo after smoking salvia in my teens. It should be outlawed to teenagers, all the way up to 21. I was crying, couldn't think normally, and I knew it was salvia, because on a salvia trip, you hallucinate things that allow you to think that life is not real and that the drug shows you the 'real world'. I became somewhat suicidal for a few days because i thought to myself that this world is all set up and we are controlled by powers way beyond us.

Posted by: Ravunker at February 1, 2008 02:49 PM

When i was 14 i started smoking huge amounts of pot each day...then one day i was smokin and i begain to panic and it seemed like everything i knew and loved was fake...a set went away though...yet i kept smokin then it happened again and i waited for it to be over yet it never stoped...i am 16 now and i still feel like i live in a fake reality yet i go on...i am currently working but everyday is a struggle in my mind.

i tried salvia..all it did was make me luagh! i tried it 4 times after that and no real it becuase it cant show me what i already live in?

Living in a fake world ?

Posted by: cody at February 14, 2008 07:03 PM

Prove your sources with these claims that Salvia will cause any problems before placing such information with no valid research online. Show me legitmate reports that salvia divinorum has caused high blood pressure, BP higher than say taking an asprin or tylenol, where is the reports on the stroke victims from salvia? Who's developed any disease from salvia? Cancer? Anyone?

BE SMART AND LOGICAL... what kinds of drugs kill MORE people in this world? Illicit? No, care to take another guess? PRESCRIPTION?! Bingo! Let's ban anything natural so we live only in a synthetic world of viagra and cialis so we can all have raging erections! Oh wait, and the heart attacks, strokes, aneurysms and all associated with getting an erection also! Oh wait, lets not forget about birth control killing women, and the over dosing on pain meds, etc. OH WAIT... how about the statistic that more than "50%" of people in america are diagnosed with some sort of depression or psychological disorder. Man, sure sounds to me like those drug companies are just dying to sell you something... it just can NOT be something natural! If it's natural, there is no money in it because it can be grown at home.

Your rights are on the line, whether you believe in drugs or not. The more the government erodes away that fine line of what is actually yours, the less likely you are to enjoy life. You had civil rights, you had natural rights, about 50 years ago. Now you have no rights or personal choices, not even the freedom of speech. Hell, they're already trying to ban the internet and blogs and setups just like these to prevent the freedom of speech and expression.

Don't be a lemming and follow the media, choose your own thoughts!

Posted by: winder at February 16, 2008 12:45 PM

Post a comment

Please enter this code to enable your comment -
Remember Me?
(you may use HTML tags for style)
* indicates required