Ah old Sally, how others who are not myself knew her well... By chance an acquaintance of mine is extremely experienced with Salvia and has tripped more than two hundred times. He traded experiences for growing advice with Daniel Siebert, the leading researcher on Salvia who discovered Salvinorin-A, and has helped many others begin their relationship with the Virgin's Leaf. Salvia Divinorum History and Introduction Healthy Salvia Divinorum Plants Salvia Divinorum (also known as "The Seer's Sage", "The Diviner's Sage", "Ska Maria Pastora", and "Sally-D") is a powerful hallucinogen from the Sierra Mazateca mountains in Oaxaca, Mexico. Cultivated and harvested by the Mazatec natives for untold years, the plant has only recently gained global popularity. Many Mazatec shamans, such as the famous Maria Sabina, have used Salvia for the purposes of divination, healing, and finding lost items. Only recently, Salvinorin-A has been discovered as the main psychoactive ingredient. In traditional use, Salvia is chewed in a "quid" or burnt in a fire inside of a tent to essentially "hot-box" the shaman. It is believed that by chewing the Salvia rather than directly smoking it, the shaman is sent into an extended meditative trance lasting longer than the short lived effects of Smoked Salvia. Enhanced Salvinorin-A Content in Commercial Salvia With the popularization of Salvia around the world, many have searched for a way to boost the effects of Salvinorin-A by creating extract versions of the plant. In simple terms, the extraction process involves removing the Salvinorin-A from a large clump of finely cut leaves and allowing it to re-soak into a smaller clump of the leaves. This produces leaves with far greater potency by volume, allowing the user to experience a strong psychedelic trip with only one or two inhales rather than having to smoke a large amount of leaves. Due to the short life of a Salvia trip, the extracts are generally the only way to get the powerful effect most users are seeking. In local pipe shops and incense stores, Salvia can traditionally be found in "10x", "20x", "40x", "60x", and "80x". These numbers represent the amount of Salvinorin-A potency when compared to normal Salvia of equal size. For instance, "10x" means that one gram of extract enhanced Salvia has ten times the amount of Salvinorin-A it normally should. Higher potency products are available in some shops as well as online, but it is definitely not recommended anyone go above "80x" unless they are extremely experienced and have a sober sitter to ensure their safety. Below is a recipe for how Salvia extract is made. It is not recommended that you make your own extract unless you have a firm knowledge of chemistry, but overall the process is relatively simple. This recipe is simply for informational purposes so anyone considering trying Salvia will know what has been done to it: Salvia Tolerance and Dangers Salvia tolerance has been a disputed subject for years. Many habitual users have documented a reverse tolerance effect where the drug seems to become more powerful the more the user has tripped on it before. Still, other users report that they feel a decrease in potency when doing too many trips back to back, but upon revisiting the drug months later they will find that the trip is more powerful than it ever was before. Since this seems to be the polar opposite effect of most drugs, this has been a confusing debate for the few scientists researching Salvia today.Whatever the chemical processes may be, a clear pattern has emerged among users. Typically, the first Salvia trip is the least psychedelic, and the visuals become stronger over time. Some users greatly overestimate the strength of extract they should use and are able to plunge themselves into a deep psychedelic state the very first time, but these users often report their experiences as more terrifying than enjoyable, and those who started with lower doses report that the first several weak trips that they experienced actually helped them ease into the alien feeling of Salvia. Health Risks of Salvia Some new users worry that this high tolerance from the start will increase their risk of overdose or undesired after effects. The great news for them is that Salvia has an incredibly low risk of bad side effects (other, of course, than the constant threat of a bad trip that comes with any psychedelic). Most users experience no hangover, but a few report a slight headache, bronchial irritation, insomnia, and irritability. As with most smoke, Salvia can contain tars and carbon monoxide when inhaled. Though there have been no modern studies linking Salvia to cancer, it is safe to assume that the same cancerous byproducts present in many smoked plants may also be present in Salvia. With increased popularity of the more potent extract, users commonly take only one to two inhales which potentially could protect them from cancerous agents more than smoking a traditional rolled Salvia cigarette. Still, no in-depth scientific studies have been done on the subject, thus nothing should be assumed about the safety of smoking Salvia. Overdose: Salvia overdose has never been reported. Though the exact overdose level is not known, it is believed to be extremely high. Furthermore, the generally debilitating effects of Salvia during the high make it nearly impossible for the user to continue dosing themselves to an unsafe level. High Blood Pressure: Salvia has been known to increase blood pressure, dilate blood vessels, and increase body temperature slightly. Though there have been no confirmed reports of cardiac or circulatory problems from Salvia use, it is safe to assume that if you already have high blood pressure, Salvia may be a danger to you. If the user has any history of high blood pressure or heart problems in the family, it is probably best to consult a doctor before using Salvia. Chemistry The Molecule Salvinorin-A Salvinorin-A is the most potent naturally occurring vision inducing substance known to man. It's molecule is a neoclerodane diterpenoid made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. When vaporized and inhaled, only 250 micrograms (millionths) of Salvinorin-A can produce threshold effects, and one milligram can produce extremely severe results. That said, sensitivity varies greatly from person to person, especially if they are an experienced user. There are approximately 3 milligrams of Salvinorin-A in every gram of dried non-enhanced leaf. Salvinorin-A requires high heat to vaporize, thus most users find that smoked Salvia is only effective when using a jet lighter. Divinorin-C has recently been discovered as another psychoactive chemical in Salvia. Studies have shown it to effect behavior in mice at even lower doses than Salvinorin-A. There is 1/9th of the Divinorin-C in Salvia as there is Salvinorin-A. Divinorin-C has never been tested on humans in great part due to the difficulty of purifying a great enough amount. It is not yet confirmed whether or not Divinorin-C is psychoactive in humans. Extraction of Salvinorin-A should not be undertaken without an advanced knowledge of organic chemistry. The reactions are very complex and the substance must be weighed with extremely accurate scales. In brief, Salvinorin-A is almost impossible to use safely in it's pure form making extraction of pure Salvinorin-A a task that is only really useful to researchers. No recreational user should ever attempt to extract pure Salvinorin-A for ingestion. The likelihood of accidentally taking more than intended is nearly unavoidable without an extremely expensive set of chemistry equipment. The dangers of trying to extract Salvinorin-A at home include but are not limited to: solvent toxicity, fire, chemical burn, overdose, and large explosions. Unless you really want to risk losing your life, do not attempt to extract Salvinorin-A. Salvinorin-A in the Brain and Body Salvinorin-A is a selective kappa opoid receptor agonist. It differs from usual opiate class drugs because it is a diterpenoid containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, whereas traditional opiates are alkaloids containing nitrogen. Chemically speaking, this makes a huge difference, and for the user, this allows them to use Salvia without their urine testing positive for opiates. Opioid receptors (which are activated by Salvinorin-A), are a specific class of chemical recognition proteins in cell membranes on many organs, including the central and peripheral nervous system. When the receptors come into contact with Salvinorin-A, they are activated and the trip begins. Chemicals that come into contact with opioid receptors are either agonists or antagonists. Salvinorin-A is an agonist, which means it simply activates the receptors unlike an antagonist which would block them from functioning properly. It is theorized that agonists do less damage to receptors than antagonists because they do not inhibit their normal function. There are huge differences in the kind of opioid receptors affected by Salvinorin-A from those hit by traditional opiates. The important thing about these differences is that they result in drugs like morphine (a traditional opiate) being chemically addictive while Salvinorin-A is not. Salvinorin-A is a powerfully selective kappa agonist, only targeting the vision inducing receptors and not the addiction receptors, hence producing powerful hallucinations without addiction. While mu and delta opioid receptor agonists have been shown to activate a release of dopamine, kappa receptors do not, further suggesting Salvia's lack of addictiveness. Where Is All Of This Going On? More research needs to be done before anyone can be completely sure what areas of the brain are activated by Salvinorin-A, but evidence suggests it affects the limbic system, as well as somatosensory, cerebellar, and vestibular function. Experience Now for the part you've all been waiting for: experiences with Salvia. The following are from the journal of my acquaintance who has tripped more than 200 times on Salvia. He has grown his own plant, discussed responsible use with researchers, and has generally carried on a love affair with Salvia for years now. *I have paraphrased some passages in brackets for clarity and privacy* First Entry My first experience with Salvia was in October of 2007. [A friend] and I bought two tins of Purple Sticky brand 10x Salvia from [name of local pipe shop]. We smoked it out of a water bottle bong. At first, all I experienced was uncontrollable laughter. Then, everything around me became vivid and bright. I was fascinated with texture. I felt as if all of the objects around me were intelligent and they wanted to be my friend. [My friend] noticed no personal effect. As I lay down to sleep that night I felt as if I was floating on an ocean and there were waves running through my body. I fell asleep in this state. Second Entry (I was informed by my acquaintance that this story begins in his garage which is why he had to walk with his bong in hand. That fact is unclear in his description, and it is not recommended that anyone under the influence of Salvia handle fragile glass.) My first entheogenic experience with Salvia caught me by surprise. I had bought a gram of Special Salvia brand 15x from [name of pipe shop] and smoked two bowls out of my blue glass bong. Upon standing, I felt as if I was a giant and I worried that I might not fit through the door. I opened the door and unexpectedly set off a pattern in my mind. I kept turning around and walking through doors to different realities. The weight of the bong in my hand formed the center of the circle of doors and each reality was another scene from my childhood. Everything around me seemed very "adult" and I soon realized that I was laying on my parents bed in the house [that I grew up in]. As I lay on their bed, I was flooded with memories from my childhood, revealing memories that I had not previously ever remembered. Salvia gently guided me back to my bed and I returned from my trance. Though I had considered using Salvia as a tool for spiritual growth before, this was the first time I understood its full potential as an entheogen. From this experience, I gained a whole new perspective on my childhood and what it really means to grow spiritually. Fifth Entry Another notable form changing experience happened again after smoking two bowls of Special Salvia brand 15x. As before, I lay on my bed and listened to Radiohead. With my eyes closed, I felt the world disappear into a black void and my body became a green cube made up of beautiful and complex designs. I could clearly feel my corners and faces and I had lost all sense of my body. I understood that there was no need for me to try to move my arms because I had none. I was a green cube! Though strange and new, this form seemed completely familiar and natural, as if I had always been this way and my other life was just a dream. I drifted through the void like this for a long while before Salvia returned my body and laid me back in my bed. I fell fast asleep feeling euphoric and warm. Seventh Entry My experience making love while under the influence of Salvia was quite positive. I smoked one bowl of Special Salvia brand 15x and, for safety, waited for the first wave to pass. Then, [my girlfriend] began to kiss me and we moved to the bed. In my mind, the universe shrank and we were the only things that existed. I saw our bodies as landscapes moving over each other (like tectonic plates). The music that played in the background was the soundtrack of space, and we were floating together through nothingness. The visual effects eventually wore off, but the sensory enhancement remained. It was as if I needed [her] and I could never get enough. At orgasm, I felt as if our bodies were combined into one. Overall, it was an extremely powerful experience that I believe brought us closer together. Ninth Entry (At this point he uses a different format to keep track of the dose taken. The header is "Special Salvia brand, 15x) Today I went out to [name of a local state park] to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a bit and to try smoking Salvia while out in nature. I found a secluded spot near the perimeter trail and relaxed near a tree. I smoked one bowl from a little glass pipe and closed my eyes to let the first wave pass over me. When I opened my eyes, I noticed that the forest had changed. The ground seemed to continue in an ever repeating pattern unto infinity. I could hear birds chirping, but their chirps seemed to have their own pattern as if they were being played on a loop. I felt a feminine presence to my left just out of my line of sight and I got the impression that she was watching over me. I understood that I was no longer in the forest, and that she had transported me to this synthetic reality to keep me safe while I saw what I needed to see. Though I could not see this feminine being, I sensed a certain playful and childlike quality in her. It was almost as if she was trying to construct the synthetic forest from what she imagined the real one to look like and she was never able to get it quite right. I suddenly felt that she wanted me to close my eyes, so I let my eyelids slowly close. Once closed, a rainbow world became visible, and I could make out the outline of a blue man in the center. Though I knew this man did not look like me, I understood this to be the female being's representation of me. The blue man had many orange fish swimming around in his head and each fish represented a troubling thought. The fish were swimming around with incredible speed, and they were driving the blue man crazy. Finally, the blue man turned his head and opened his mouth and all of the fish came pouring out in brilliant colors. Once the man had finished speaking his troubles out loud, the fish were gone and he was happy. I opened my eyes and smoked half of a bowl. Though the original being was still there, I sensed others behind me, all watching me with curiosity. Though they were clearly other worldly like the original being, these beings had their own strange qualities about them that made them all different and not just copies of the same. All of the beings seemed incredibly timid, so rather than turn and face them I just let them view me from afar. I closed my eyes to think about what I had seen and when I opened them again, the forest had returned to normal. This experience was extremely entheogenic. All of the beings that I encountered seemed to be individual nature spirits and I feel that the original being was the spirit of Salvia itself. Before taking the Salvia, I had been bothered by many personal problems and after being shown the vision of the fish, I felt refreshed and ready to seek help for my own problems. I walked through the woods for about an hour and thought about all I had seen. Finally, I spread my arms wide and thanked Salvia for the gift it had given me. I drove home deep in thought. These experiences are from his first fifty trips on Salvia. Though they don't cover all of the trips and I left a few entries out, I think they paint a pretty good picture of Salvia's reverse tolerance. Clearly, the last trip described is much stronger than the first, and my acquaintance reports that his trips today are even stronger, often causing him to completely lose touch with reality for the ten minutes that he's tripping. Denouement Salvia can be a very rewarding tool for some and a very terrifying hell for others. Due to quick onset of the drug and it's extremely strong effects, Salvia can easily catch new users off guard. It is highly recommended that anyone considering using Salvia should gain some psychedelic experience with other psychoactive substances first. The overwhelming power of Salvia can be hard to direct if things start to go bad, and without prior experience in changing the course a psychedelic high, it is almost impossible to pull yourself out of a bad trip. That said, with time and practice, most psychedelians become experienced at noticing the first signs of a trip taking a negative turn and then they are gently able to refocus their mind on something positive. This skill can be invaluable with Salvia, because it takes exceptional expertise to retain enough clarity during the trip to help yourself if things go awry. The number one piece of advice to give any user of Salvia is to go with the flow. Any attempt to clinch up or pull yourself out of the trip generally only leads to mental stress that kicks off a bad trip. Those who can calmly remind themselves that the high will only last ten minutes and then resettle themselves into the experience are the ones more likely to have consistently good trips. It can be hard not to naturally feel panic. Salvia is a bit like falling over a waterfall backwards: disorienting and powerful, but with practice and some slow deep breaths before the trip, the instinct to panic can be avoided. The last thing I want to say is that Salvia is legal because so far users have been able remain somewhat responsible. Of course, it's lack of health damaging effects play a part in keeping it legal too, but the main thing that makes Salvia so special is that those who truly love it have a real respect for it's awesome power. To keep this very special psychedelic legal, it is the responsibility of every user to be as safe as possible. Salvia is not the drug to get macho over. It is a plague in the drug community that some people feel they need to do as much of a drug as possible to look impressive. That's really not the case with Salvia. Most of the time if you're having a really strong Salvia trip you'll just look like a flailing monkey who is drooling and snotting themselves. The best thing for any user to do is to start slow. Get a sober sitter to watch you, and make sure you are out of reach of any dangerous objects. Build your relationship with Salvia slowly over time, and it will reward you with some intensely personal trips and beautiful visions. I know it has changed my acquaintances life for the better, and re-ignited a spirituality that hadn't been part of his life in quite a long time. As always: Respect Your Drugs And Your Drugs Will Respect You *Warning: Salvia is not legal in all areas. Do not engage in any activity that is illegal in your area. Illegal activity can lead to incarceration, economic hardship, soap-on-a-rope, and gay-for-pay. Don't commit crimes, yo. Peace.