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Substance type: diterpene (derodane)
Salvinorin A is the active constituent in Salvia
divinorum. Apart from THe and the constituents
in essential oils, it is the only known nonnitrogenous
psychoactive plant constituent.
Salvinorin is not an alkaloid.
The substance was first described by Ortega et
al., who named it salvinorin (1982). The same
substance was subsequently described under the
name divinorin A (Valdes et al. 1984). Salvinorin
A is extracted from fresh plant material. The
effective dosage is between 200 and 500 /-Lg.
Salvinorin A can be smoked in a glass pipe; a
better technique involves vaporizing the plant and
then inhaling the fumes. It can also be taken in
solution under the tongue. When the substance is
smoked or inhaled, the effects are immediately
apparent, and the primary effects last from five to
ten minutes. When it is administered sublinguallyRoute of administration in which the subject places a substance under the tongue.,
the effects become manifest after about ninety
seconds and reach their peak some ten to fifteen
minutes later, after which they gradually diminish
The potent and strange psychoactive effects of
salvinorin A were probably discovered by Daniel
Salvinorin A is an extremely powerful compound
for altering consciousness. In fact, it is
the most potent naturally occurring hallucinogen
that has been isolated to date. But
before potential experimenters become too
interested, it must be clearly stated that the
effects are often extremely unnerving and that
there is a very real risk that persons may
physically harm themselves when using it....
I have seen people get up and jump across
the room, thereby falling over the furniture,
babbling incomprehensible nonsense, and
hitting their heads against the wall. Several
people tried to leave the house. When the
experience was over, they did not remember what had happened. In fact, they actually
believed that they remembered entirely different
events. To an outside observer, it appears
as though these people have an emptyexpression
in their eyes, as though they are not
present (and perhaps they really are not).
This description is strongly remInIscent of
phenomena that occur with high dosages (overdoses)
of nightshades (Atropa belladonna, Brugmansia
spp., Hyoscyamus niger, Datura spp.) and
the tropane alkaloids atropine and scopolamine.
Most subjects have no desire at all to repeat an
experiment with salvinorin.
The neurochemistry of salvinorin A is still
unresolved. In spite of extensive receptor testing
(NovaScreen method), salvinorin A has not been
found to bind to any known neurotransmitter
receptors, including the receptor that ketamine
occupies (David Nichols, pers. comm.). The daring
and extreme experiments of D. M. Turner suggest
that salvinorin A does not have any negative crosstolerance
with other psychoactive substances (suchas LSD, N,N-DMT, ketamine) (Turner 1996).
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See also the entries for Coleus blumei, Salvia divinorum,
Ortega, A., J. F. Blount, and P. S. Marchand. 1982.
Salvinorin, a new trans-neoclerodane diterpene
from Salvia divinorum (Labiatae). Journal ofthe
Chemical Society, Perkin Transactions 1:2505-8.
Siebert, Daniel J. 1995. Salvinorin A: Vorsicht
geboten. Entheogene 3:4-5.
Turner, D. M. 1996. Salvinorin: The psychedelic
essence ofSalvia divinorum. San Francisco:
Valdes, Leander, William M. Butler, George M.
Hatfield, Ara G. Paul, and Masato Koreeda. 1984.
Divinorin A, a psychotropic terpenoid, and
divinorin Bfrom the hallucinogenic Mexican
mint Salvia divinorum. Journal ofOrganicChemistry 49 (24): 4716-20.