Street names: Magic Mint, Sally-D, Ska Pastora

Revised March 2017

What is salvia?

Salvia plan in a potPhoto courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/CC0

Also known as: Diviner's Sage, Magic Mint, Maria Pastora, Sally-D, Seer's Sage, and Shepherdess's Herb

Salvia (Salvia divinorum) is an herb in the mint family found in southern Mexico. The main active ingredient in salvia, salvinorin A, changes the chemistry in the brain, causing hallucinations (seeing something that seems real but isn’t). The effects are short lived, but may be very intense and frightening.

Although salvia is not illegal according to Federal law, several states and countries have passed laws to regulate its use. The Drug Enforcement Administration lists salvia as a drug of concern that poses risk to people who use it.

How Salvia is Used

Usually, people chew fresh S. divinorum leaves or drink their extracted juices. The dried leaves of S. divinorum also can be smoked in rolled cigarettes, inhaled through water pipes (hookahs), or vaporized and inhaled.

What happens to your brain when you use salvia?

Researchers are studying salvia to learn exactly how it acts in the brain to produce its effects. What is currently known is that salvinorin A, the main active ingredient in salvia, attaches to parts of nerve cells called kappa opioid receptors. (Note: These receptors are different from the ones involved with opioid drugs, such as heroin and morphine.)

The effects of salvinorin A are described as intense but short lived, generally lasting for less than 30 minutes. People who use salvia generally have hallucinations—they see or feel things that aren’t really there. They also have changes in vision, mood and body sensations, emotional swings, and feelings of detachment (disconnected from their environment). There are reports of people losing contact with reality—being unable to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not. Many of these effects raise concern about the dangers of driving under the influence of salvia.

Learn more about how the brain works and what happens when a person uses drugs.

What happens to your body when you use salvia?

Physical and other effects of saliva use have not been fully studied. There have been reports that the drug causes loss of coordination, dizziness, and slurred speech.

Can you overdose or die if you use salvia?

It is not clear if there have been any deaths associated with salvia. However, because we do not know all of salvia’s effects, it is a drug that authorities are watching carefully.

What are the other risks of using salvia?

We don’t know the long-term effects of using the drug. However, recent studies with animals showed that salvia harms learning and memory.

Is salvia addictive?

It’s not clear if using salvia leads to addiction. More studies are needed to learn whether it has addictive properties.

How many teens use salvia?

Below is a chart showing the percentage of teens who use salvia. 

Swipe left or right to scroll.

Monitoring the Future Study: Trends in Prevalence of Salvia for 8th Graders, 10th Graders, and 12th Graders; 2018 (in percent)*
Drug Time Period 8th Graders 10th Graders 12th Graders
Salvia Past Year 0.60 0.70 0.90

For more statistics on teen drug use, see NIDA’s Monitoring the Future study.

What should I do if someone I know needs help?

If you, or a friend, are in crisis and need to speak with someone now: 

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (they don't just talk about suicide—they cover a lot of issues and will help put you in touch with someone close by)

If you want to help a friend, you can:

If a friend is using drugs, you might have to step away from the friendship for a while. It is important to protect your own mental health and not put yourself in situations where drugs are being used.

For more information on how to help a friend or loved one, visit our Have a Drug Problem, Need Help? page.

Where can I get more information?

Drug Facts

NIDA Resources:

Statistics and Trends

NIDA Resources:

Other Resources:   

Chat Day Transcripts


See below for text description

Drug and Alcohol Use in College-Age Adults in 2015

Published: November 03, 2016
The 2015 Monitoring the Future College Students and Adults survey shows trends in the use of alcohol, marijuana, nicotine, cocaine, and other drugs in college students and non-college peers.
See text description below

Monitoring the Future 2015 Survey Results

Published: December 16, 2015
NIH’s 2015 Monitoring the Future survey shows long term decline in illicit drug use, prescription opioid abuse, cigarette and alcohol use among the nation’s youth.
Content on this site is available for your use and may be reproduced in its entirety without permission from NIDA. Citation of the source is appreciated, using the following language: Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.