The effects produced by Salvia divinorum are not comparable to the effects produced by other psychoactive substances. Depending on body weight, sensitivity, dose taken, method of ingestion and the strength of the salvia that is used, the effects range from subtle to extremely strong. Salvia can not be considered a party drug in any way. On the contrary, people that under the effects of salvia are usually not interactive, but have a very personal hallucinating experience.
While salvinorin does activate opioid receptors in the brain, it’s important to draw a distinction between the mu-opioid receptor (activated by narcotics like heroin) and the kappa(1)-opioid receptor (activated by salvinorin A). Drugs that work on the mu-opioid receptor cause sedation, pain-relief, and euphoria, but drugs that work on the kappa(1)-opioid receptor generally cause hallucinogenic, but often unpleasant (or even dysphoric) effects. This explains why many people describe the Salvia experience as being unpleasant compared to the effects of the tryptamine psychedelics (such as psilocybine, DMT and LSD), which activate other receptors in the brain.
A number of people report that the effects of salvia became stronger after having used it a couple of times. Some people appear to become more sensitive and will reach a higher level of effects after a couple of times. On the other hand, quite a large percentage of people (around 10%) are fairly insensitive to salvinorin. Many of them will reach effects at a higher dose, but a minority will still feel nothing, even at higher doses.
If you are a first time user, it is advised to use only a small dose to test your sensitivity, because the effects can sometimes be overwhelming. Always make sure a sitter is present. Read more about this on the warnings page.
The duration of a salvia trip also varies greatly according the method of usage and the quantity used. Smoking salvia is known to have a short effect. The effects come on quickly and reach their peak after 5 to 25 minutes. The effects subside quite quickly, although you may feel the influence of salvia for a couple of hours. When taken orally, the effects of salvia come on more slowly, but they will last longer. However, most people report that the effects decrease after 60 to 120 minutes.
Salvia is often grouped with other hallucinogenic psychoactives, but in fact its effects are unique. Salvia is sometimes marketed as a legal cannabis substitute, although the effects are in no way similar. During the trip several states can occur: 2-dimensional hallucinations, out of body experiences, becoming an object, traveling back in time, being in more places at once and uncontrolled laughing. On his website www.egodeath.com Michael Hoffman discusses what he considers the religious effects of Salvia Divinorum. Erowid mentions the following reported effects in their Salvia FAQ:
- Loss of physical coordination
- Uncontrollable laughter
- Visual alterations or visions
- Experiencing multiple realities
- A contemplative sense of peace
- Sense of profound understanding
- Dream-like veneer over the world
- Sense of total confusion or madness
- Seeing or becoming part of a tunnel
- Loss of sense of awareness as an individual
- Experiencing a “non-Euclidean” geometry
- Sense of flying, floating, twisting, or turning
- Feeling of being immersed in an energy field
- Feeling of being connected to a larger “whole”
- Feeling of being underground or underwater
- Appearing to travel to other places and/or times
- Becoming inanimate objects (a wall, stairs, a couch, etc.)
- Viewing patterns or shapes that are tube-like, snake-like, or worm-like
The famous salvia-researcher Daniel Siebert made up a scale for the strength of a salvia experience. His S-A-L-V-I-A trip scale shows 6 trip stages:
- S – SUBTLE effects, Relaxation and increased sensual appreciation may be noted. This mild level is useful for meditation and may facilitate sexual pleasure.
- A – ALTERED perception, colors and textures are paid attention to. Thinking becomes less logical, and more playful.
- L – LIGHT visionary state. Closed eye visuals (clear imagery with eyes closed).
- V – VIVID visionary state. Complex three dimensional realistic appearing scenes occur. With eyes closed you experience fantasies. So long as your eyes are closed you may believe they are really occurring.
- I – IMMATERIAL existence. Individuality may be lost; one experiences merging with the Divine.
- A – AMNESIC effects. Loss of consciousness. The individual may fall, or remain immobile or thrash around. Dangerous!
You can read the full description of the S-A-L-V-I-A scale here.
When smoking or chewing salvia leaves or extract, many people will be able to reach level 5. For them it is not necessary to experiment with stronger ways of taking salvia. We advise you to try smoking or chewing (or a combination of both) a couple of times and to gradually increase the dose, if you are experiencing little or no effects. Stronger forms of salvia should only be used if you have some experience and know how sensitive you are.
A number of reports by salvia users can be found here.