Salvia divinorum: What are the risks?

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Salvia divinorum: What are the risks?

Question

What research has been done about the risks of Salvia divinorum?

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Answer

Salvia divinorum, also known as diviner's sage, is a potent mind-altering herb that originated in Mexico. Salvia divinorum isn't thought to be addictive, but the herb hasn't been adequately studied in clinical trials — so researchers know little about the risks or long-terms effects of Salvia divinorum use.

Salvia divinorum is typically inhaled. The intense, sometimes debilitating effects of the herb strike quickly — often including senseless laughter, a sense of not being yourself and the loss of emotional reactions. And the risks are real, including nausea, dizziness, slurred speech, confusion, paranoia and hallucinations. Although Salvia divinorum effects usually subside within 30 minutes, some may linger for days.

Salvia divinorum is widely available online, and the herb is sold legally in many smoke shops throughout the United States and elsewhere — but that doesn't mean that it's safe. If you have children, discuss with them the dangers of drug use. You may want to involve other family members, a counselor or your child's doctor in the discussion as well.

Other types of salvia — including Salvia officinalis (sage) and Salvia miltiorrhiza (danshen) — don't have the mind-altering effects of Salvia divinorum. Sage is used as a cooking spice, as well as a treatment for digestive problems and various other medical conditions. Danshen also is used for various medical conditions, including circulation problems and a number of skin conditions.

Last Updated: 2008-09-25
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