When marijuana first became popular in the U.S. and the United Kingdom in the 1930’s many older citizens viewed it with alarm. Some of this fear was no doubt grounded in the effects the popularity of opium dens and cocaine had on the past generation. Alcohol was also a huge health problem at the time. This new drug then was regarded with nervousness. In 1936 a film called Reefer Madness propagandized cannabis as everything those ignorant of the drug’s true effect feared it to be. Marijuana was depicted as causing madness and the total degradation of a man in just a few days. This propaganda was hugely successful and one of the reasons cannabis is still so strictly banned in many parts of the world despite having fewer bad effects than alcohol. It’s only natural that Salvia Divinorum, the legal alternative to marijuana is now getting the same attention and bad information going to the public. Rumors regarding salvia’s causing brain damage or other negative effects are largely untrue.
The Irony of the Rumor
There is no evidence to suggest that any psychoactive drug will cause brain damage. Alcohol on the other hand is known to cause some problems in the brains of those who overuse it for a long period of time. Alcohol dependent individuals have smaller brain volumes than average individuals who do not consume alcohol at all. Research that theorized alcohol kills cells inside the cerebrum have proved to be untrue, but these areas are “shrunken” in those constantly taking in more of this substance. Abstaining for a length of time sees the reversal of this affect on alcoholics.
What is known from research into psychedelics such as salvia is it will actually increase brain activity while being used, and could have a lasting effect in altering consciousness. The difference between this substance and alcohol or even other psychedelics is clarity of thought or a change in conscious perspective doesn’t dissipate after the high is over. Those who take Sally-D remember sudden realizations they experienced while taking it.
This plant’s leaves have been used for possibly hundreds of years in areas of Mexico and the American southwest. Shamans or medicine men took this as part of a ritual for healing in order to reach higher states of consciousness or to link with the divine hence the common name “divinorum”. As it gives the user visionary states of consciousness it is unique among psychoactive plants, and works much faster in the body than most.
True Warnings About Taking Psychoactive Herbs or Chemicals
The biggest threat to health when taking any hallucinatory drug such as LSD, marijuana, magic mushrooms, or Sally-D is accidental injury. Many people have caused themselves injury by walking, running, or attempting to complete a task such as making dinner while high. Walking downstairs or trying to make breakfast while having distracting hallucinations obviously isn’t a good idea. Secondly, after harming themselves those injured might not make the best decisions regarding their own care. The biggest risk of brain injury then while taking salvia comes from falling or running into something and hitting the head while under its effect. It should be noted this is also the biggest risk while using alcohol or any substance that disrupts the normal thinking process.
How to Stay Safe
Many who use alcohol and have been injured while doing so were alone, or attempting to do a complicated task. An example is most people know not to drink and drive when they are sober, but once inebriate if there is no one with sound thinking around to help them the person who has one too many will find themselves behind the wheel of a car. Having a designated driver while drinking is a matter of common sense. Bizarre accidents such as individuals striking their head or cutting themselves and passing out before getting medical attention sadly also occur when drinking.
When using a substance such as salvia, a vision-inducing drug having someone around to make sure the individual doesn’t cause self-harm also makes the same type of sense. A trusted, sober person in residence when someone is experience a hallucinatory effect can prevent accidents or injury from happening.
As marijuana laws ease in the U.S. it’s natural that the rumor mill regarding this and other psychoactive plants such as salvia-D will heat up. Often the comparison to other legal substances can help to put the safety of these drugs in perceptive. Outside of accidents occurring during periods of fuzzy thinking while using D, few people wind up needing medical care from using it. Most seeking medical attention will do so for temporary side effects such as dizziness, headache or vomiting. There are no known cases of overdose involving salvia. In comparison at least two deaths a year occur from overdoses of caffeine, a substance that occurs naturally in tealeaves and coffee beans.