A DRUG FOUND IN ONE FORM OF THE PLANT SALVIA MAY BE THE MOST POWERFUL HALLUCINOGEN YET, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Many people know salvia as an annual bedding plant with red or purple flowers, but one member of this genus, Salvia divinorum, is the source of salvinorin A, a very potent hallucinogenic drug used by native peoples in Mexico, where the plant is found. Now Matthew Johnson and colleagues at Johns Hopkins are studying salvinorin A.
JOHNSON: What’s really interesting here is this drug hits a certain brain receptor very cleanly and very powerfully, and no other psychoactive drug or class of psychoactive drugs that people have used recreationally or therapeutically have hit this receptor so selectively. So this really represents a new class of psychoactive drugs. :21
Study subjects who smoke the plant say effects are immediate and intense, but wear off after about 20-30 minutes. The receptor activated by salvinorin A is of particular interest as a potential therapeutic target, Johnson says. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.