Why is Salvia so uniquely terrifying? [Article]

This is the place to discuss Salvia divinorum, splendins, and the other psychoactive salvias.

Why is Salvia so uniquely terrifying? [Article]

Postby unsigned_char72 » Sat Nov 08, 2014 7:01 am

Why Is Salvia So Uniquely Terrifying?
By Kristen Gwynne

Bad trips are a looming possibility when consuming any hallucinogenic drug, but one seems to evoke terror more predictably than the rest: salvia.

A uniquely potent and psychedelic plant, salvia is no LSD. Indeed, the trip it elicits is so intense and dizzying that it was deemed an "atypical psychedelic"—one even the most experienced trippers may struggle to enjoy—at this past weekend's eighth annual Horizons psychedelics conference. At the appropriately mystical Judson Memorial Church in downtown Manhattan, a couple hundred students, dreadlocked trippers, and middle-aged advocate types received an earful on how—and why—salvia makes you trip harder, and weirder, than pretty much anything else.

By exciting the brain’s serotonin receptors and other neurological pathways, panelists told an audience nodding in fervent agreement, psychedelic drugs create a feeling of inner peace and acceptance that can help mitigate conditions like addiction to opioids, cancer-related anxiety, and PTSD. Words like “openness to new experience," ego death,” “spirituality,” and “connectivity” bounced off the calm blue walls, stained-glass windows, and Romanesque columns and arches.

But of all the psychedelics discussed, salvia—technically Salvia divinorum—was deemed special in terms of both the kinds of hallucinations experienced and the mechanism by which the drug affects the brain.

In fact, salvia offers a singular trip, with “nothing else remotely like it,” according to Dr. Peter H. Addy, a research associate at Yale who has studied the substance for five years.

“The main effect is tactile hallucinations,” he said. The feeling is kind of like a bug crawling on your skin. Salvia also “leads to a kind of synesthesia [the crossing of senses so that stimulation of one provides a sensation in another] I’ve never seen before in the literature," he continued.

While visual-auditory synesthesia is often reported with LSD use (users claim the ability to “see” music, for instance), salvia causes visual and tactile synesthesia, meaning “you see things and feel them in your body,” as Dr. Addy put it. A subject in one of his studies told the researcher he “could see everything going on in the room, but he could see it through his skin, not through his eyes.”

Part of what sets salvia apart is its peculiar chemistry. While salvinorin A—the psychotropic molecule in Salvia divinorum—binds only to the dopamine-reducing kappa-opioid receptor, most psychedelics increase serotonin by binding to the serotonin 5-HT2A receptor, among others.

“These [drugs] are operating on completely different pathways,” Dr. Addy explained to his flock.

Though salvia is a k-opioid receptor agonist (meaning it activates the receptor, rather than blocking it like antagonists), it does not share similarities with opioids like morphine or heroin. “Morphine is the typical mu-opioid agonist,” Dr. Addy said, increasing dopamine—a big player in the brain’s reward system—and leading to “analgesic effects, euphoria, compulsive use, and addiction.” A k-opioid agonist like salvia, on other hand, reduces dopamine levels “in the same brain circuit.”

“If morphine causes euphoria,” Dr. Addy said, “a kappa agonist causes dysphoria.”

Still, this dire state is “not quite uncontrollable sadness and weeping and gnashing of teeth,” but “more of a disassociation of the warmth and familiarity with your body and human connections,” he explained.

Contributing to salvia’s novelty status, Dr. Addy later told me, is that it is a drug “very few people would consider to be fun in any way.”

The most potent naturally occurring psychedelic (many popular drugs like LSD are synthetic), salvia is so intense that “everything’s fine and then two seconds later, everything is chaotic and different and I don’t even have feet anymore,” he joked at one point to the crowd. “In short, salvia is unique and mysterious, and it has a lot of potential to tell us about ourselves and our bodies."

In the course of his studies, Dr. Addy traveled with Xka Pastora, a nonprofit group documenting traditional uses of salvia, to the Sierra Mazateca mountains in southern Mexico. There, the Mazatec people have a long history of using salvia “as a powerful medicine” in religious ceremonies, and their ritualistic focus on the drug provides a glimpse into how the its effects might be channeled toward therapeutic purposes. While the historical use of many naturally occurring and synthetic psychedelics is well-documented, “There is a whole lot that we don’t know about the traditional use of salvia,” especially in the pre-colonial era of Mexico, Dr. Addy said.

On his trip to the Sierra Mazateca mountains, Dr. Addy gained some insight into the Mazatecs’ relationship with the stuff. For starters, they believe that salvia is an embodiment of the Virgin Mary, and that ingesting it may allow one to speak with her, St. Peter (the gate-keeper to Heaven), and even Jesus Christ himself.

“Xka pastora [salvia’s traditional name] roughly translates to ‘leaves of the shepherdess,’ though sheep and shepherdess are not native to Mexico,” Dr. Addy said. “Locals also call it hierba de Maria, the herb of Mary,” but this provides little insight into the religious use of salvia before the Spanish conquest of the 1500s brought Catholicism to the region.

“Other than the Virgin Mary,” he said, “we don’t know what to call it.”

What Dr. Addy does know is that the Mazatec people take the process of ingesting salvia very seriously. Following strict preparation guidelines, the ritualistic consumption of salvia requires “near or total darkness” to protect the plant—whose energy is believed to be “timid like a deer”—from bright lights that might frighten her away.

Participants gather around an altar (often dedicated to the Virgin Mary) and chew on the raw, blessed leaves, or else drink them as a watery liquid before joining in ritualistic singing and chanting, a trip that lasts about three hours.

One thing we can learn from the Mazatecs is that smoking salvia is not the ideal ingestion method. While the Mazatec rituals last hours, smoking salvia produces intense effects for no longer than about 20 minutes.

The natural habitat of salvia is disputed, but “what we do know is that in pretty much every area growing salvia, it was put there on purpose by humans,” according to Dr. Addy. “It’s a cultigen,” meaning that it rarely seeds.

But despite humans’ desire to cultivate salvia, Dr. Addy made no bones about the drug’s fear-inducing qualities. One audience member asked about a Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics study that emphasized its “terrifying” effects, while another made a cheeky inquiry about the doctor's encounters with the “utter conviction that what you just did has started a chain of events that will imminently lead to the apocalypse” among salvia users.

The profound, disorienting effects of salvia create an experience that few people have sought out, despite its continued existence as a federally legal psychedelic. “It’s not a party drug,” nor is it popular, Dr. Addy said. As a result, from a policy perspective, “It’s just kind of stayed under the radar.”

While some states ban sale of the substance to minors and more than 15 ban its sale flat-out, the drug is still sold in head shops and gas stations around the country.

So has Dr. Addy experimented with the drug he is professionally dedicated to exploring? A woman in his audience with short, graying hair stood up and asked that very question.

“I neither agree nor disagree with those sorts of statements,” he replied, to much applause. “That’s the thing about academia. If I say that I took the drugs, then I can’t do any real research because I’m ‘biased.’ If I say I have not taken drugs, I can’t be believed because I don’t know what anyone’s talking about.”

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Re: Why is Salvia so uniquely terrifying? [Article]

Postby peoploid » Sun Apr 26, 2015 2:50 pm

I feel like I'm standing in a deserted wasteland. There's not many of us left.

Right. A deserted wasteland where the limestone rocks suddenly twist themselves into purple and green, fur-tipped creatures which instantly link up, creating a wide circular chain of self-aware entities.

Back to the article:

There are no descriptions of the "terrifying" aspects of salvia in the article or in the linked article within the article. I wish there were, because it's the terrifying aspects which make salvia EXTRACT so interesting. Plain leaf is fine if you want to meditate, but extract is what you need if you want to see "the other side of reality".

Of course, there may not actually be another side of reality to be experienced while tripping with salvia extract. All the bizarre visuals might be explained by an Occam Razor's analysis of neuro-chemical operations within the brain.

(but still...)

I miss FrenchMachine. He was a good compass needle pointing to the terrifying aspects of smoking salvia extract. Remember those salvia beings who tended the wheels and gears? The salvia beings who maintained our consensus reality? Now that's some good terrifying shizzat. And what about those salvia trip reports talking about people smoking extract and turning into clones of themselves? Trippers embedded in a stream of doppelgangers forever outsourced into a hyper-dimensional realm; kicking and fighting with all their might to get placed back into the correct "sequential clone matrix" in order to return to their friends and families here in the consensus world.

And what exactly is our shared physical world? Is it a construct manifested and uploaded by advanced beings from outside our understanding of reality? Is our shared, physical world constantly being observed by advanced entities? Nah. That can't be happening, can it? Beings don't spy on other beings. Our tweets and posts aren't being targeted by NSA bots.

Terrifying? How about the abject fear of tripping on extract and realizing that the world you have known all your life is FAKE, and that the five minute salvia world you are experiencing now while tripping is the actual TRUE world.

Limestone rocks attaching together like chalky peoploids which then rapidly rotate around you; stripping away your sense of identity and memory; up-loading-in and out-loading-out, while sweat weeps from your skin.




Somewhere on this planet, Tripper Joe sits down to smoke a bowl of extract.

“OK, Purple Sticky,” Joe mutters to himself. “Show me the way.”
He draws in the smoke and slowly leans back in his chair. In just a matter of seconds, Joe realizes that the salvia is coming on strong. He watches as green entities splatter all around his peripheral vision. The green entities begin rotating and smearing out. Facial profiles start sprouting all along the edges of his bedroom's greenery grout.

“What the fuck?” gasps Tripper Joe. Anxiously, Joe presses his lower body into the chair, squirming, hoping that his butt-crack could clench the chair underneath him with enough force so that his body/mind wouldn't blast away into the eFFing Unknown.

Several forgotten seconds elapse and Tripper Joe is now dug deep into his seat. His arms flail around in front of his face, hoping to diminish the intensity of the visuals. His virtual retinas are in overdrive. He’s seeing it all in high resolution.

Now approaching him at a high rate of speed is the Technicolor visual of a suburban house.
Joe’s body impales at right angles into a rapidly morphing, red-brick wall. Detaching from each other, the red bricks begin to individualize before spreading out into a vast, gently curving membrane.

Like a spanning umbrella, the translucent shell is now made entirely of pinkANDyellow plastic schoolgirls: all interlocking, all holding hands, all wearing identical checkered dresses.

Directly above the girls is a shell of male protectors: their arms now moving in unison. Grasping identical greenANDblue bLaster guns, the masculine multitudes aim their weapons at an unseen enemy.

"Cyclops, the Unseen Enemy!" he calls Himself, as his hidden Cyclops eye fires silverANDblack bolts of hot electricity towards the plastic schoolgirls. The bolts don't reach their intended targets, however, because the shell of male protectors use their bLaster guns to deflect the incoming fire. And on and on it goes, scene after scene, shell after shell, mere artistic demarcations between separate worlds -- individually composed, parallel worlds reaching into infinity.

Tripper Joe is now half-in and half-out of the chair; and there’s a small, glimmering spot of drool on his cheek. He mutters some unintelligible vocals into the darkness as the visuals draw deeper into his begging-bowl shaped retinas.
Red-brick beings are now clawing at Tripper Joe’s skin. They’re rotating around his body and saying things like:

“Why did you come here?”
“You’re not ready yet.”
“Go back to your world before it‘s too late.”
“..before it’s too late.”
“..it’s too late.”
“..too late, because now we have to offload your cerebral neurotransmitters.”

That’s what the beings audible-ize, and Tripper Joe hears it in his head.
But now Joe is gratefully coming down. Opening his eyes, he watches the red-brick beings wave goodbye like automaton, airline stewards. Quickly, they retreat into the gelatinous background of hyper-dimensional space.

A few moments later, Tripper Joe slowly rises from his chair. Giving the package of salvia a quizzical look, he wonders aloud,
“Cyclops, the Unseen Enemy??!"
Last edited by peoploid on Wed Jun 17, 2015 11:27 pm, edited 9 times in total.
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Re: Why is Salvia so uniquely terrifying? [Article]

Postby peoploid » Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:09 pm

Here's a great example of a somewhat terrifying salvia trip. I pulled it off of salvia-trip.net.

Big Brother, by Anonymous (Apr 18,2015)

This was my second time trying salvia, the first nothing happened to me. I loaded a fat bowl (more than 2 grams) with weed base. I was on a brown love seat with "girls" by d12 blasting in the speakers next to me (aggressive music is my first mistake). My best friend of a couple years was with me, there was a closed blind in front of me and it was sunny outside. (Intense light source another mistake). I roasted the hell out of it, milked it to the top of my 2 foot bong and took out the bowl piece and inhaled the smoke. I held it in for 7-8 seconds before exhaling. I waited to trip. It felt a little trippy and I was excited, but I've don't tons of shrooms and L so I wasn't expecting too much. Before I knew it I was tripping out on a skull on my friends hat, believe it was grateful dead related, it just was stuck in front of my face. I heard a demonic voice "you fucked up *name* you fucked up *name* try to get it right this time"

There were hundreds of thousands of me hanging up in rows and columns like coats. I heard "the machines stuck, he's activated he can hear us" I came to the conclusion that I was being separated from my body (like I somehow ruined the body or the spirit) and a new me was being put in its place. My friend got up and opened the blinds, but it looked like he was fixing the machine that was doing that to me and then i was back in "reality" and I told my friend it was the second worst trip I had. I left and drove home twenty minutes later. I'm unsure if I have the beginning symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia and I really hope if I do, this situation is not what I'm paranoid about. If anybody has similar experiences I'd love to hear them.



"There were hundreds of thousands of me hanging up in rows and columns like coats. I heard "the machines stuck, he's activated he can hear us" I came to the conclusion that I was being separated from my body (like I somehow ruined the body or the spirit) and a new me was being put in its place. My friend got up and opened the blinds, but it looked like he was fixing the machine that was doing that to me and then i was back in "reality""

^The above is a beautiful description of a classically-themed salvia divinorum trip.
I would love to hear a psychological explanation for it. I personally think that there is more going on about "our reality" than the psychologists and neurologists can rationalize.
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Re: Why is Salvia so uniquely terrifying? [Article]

Postby unsigned_char72 » Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:30 am

I miss the old forum activity too :-( I used to visit it everyday, and everyday there was a new thing to learn.

Regarding the above beautiful description, I can relate to it definitely, see for example my post Resuming a conversation.

Perhaps the machinery that salvia people are operating is a big simulator that is running our world.
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Re: Why is Salvia so uniquely terrifying? [Article]

Postby peoploid » Tue Apr 28, 2015 2:41 am

What fascinates me are all the trip reports which mention salvia beings operating machinery (like what you had). There are also various reports of salvia elves which somehow constitute the physical objects of our reality. Last but not least is the idea of a tripper's clone being sent back to our shared physical reality (replacing the original tripper).

All of this stuff would make a great movie, but superheroes is where it's at these days.

I guess I can see a loose connection to paranoid schizophrenic experiences, but most schizophrenics don't seem to have interesting cosmological stories to tell.

It looks like the ship has sailed as far as widespread conversations concerning salvia on the internet. It peaked around eight years ago. Things will pick back up when we are able to upload hi res visuals of our hallucinations to be shared publicly.

By that time I'll be in an old folks home wearing the latest virtual goggles head-gear. While everyone else is playing bingo, I'll be lost in some digitized 3-D world dancing with 20-year-old Tahitian girls.

But I would much prefer exploring the Matrix operated by the salvia entities. :shock:
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Re: Why is Salvia so uniquely terrifying? [Article]

Postby unsigned_char72 » Wed Apr 29, 2015 10:55 am

Another common pattern is entities scolding the salvianaut for trespassing the "secret" zone, they look evil, and sometimes give a harsh lesson, but in the end they are always good.
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