The Use of Salvia divinorum from a Mazatec Perspective

  • Ana Elda MaquedaEmail author


Salvia divinorum is a medicinal and psychoactive plant endemic to the Sierra Madre Oriental of Oaxaca, Mexico. The Mazatec people have been using the leaves for centuries in ceremonies for its psychoactive properties and as a treatment for arthritis and inflammation, gastrointestinal problems, headaches, and addictions, among other uses. The active principle of Salvia divinorum, the terpene salvinorin A, is a uniquely potent and highly selective kappa-opioid receptor agonist and, as such, has enormous potential for the development of valuable medications. Among them, the most promising include safe and nonaddictive analgesics, neuroprotectors, short-acting anesthetics that do not depress respiration, antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, medications for the treatment of addiction to stimulants and alcohol, and drugs to treat disorders characterized by alterations in perception. The Mazatec consider Salvia divinorum to be a very powerful plant spirit that should be treated with utmost respect, and the preparation for the ceremony requires a strict regimen. They chew the fresh leaves at night while chanting and praying. In the Western use, the dry leaves are potentiated in extracts to be smoked. A lack of information about the appropriate doses and other considerations while smoking the extracts could result in overwhelming experiences due to the high potency and fast onset of the substance. For the Mazatec, smoking the plant is not the preferred mode. How could we create a bridge between the two perspectives? In this chapter, I will try to clarify the best ways to use Salvia divinorum for medicinal, psychotherapeutic, and inner exploration purposes.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human Neuropsychopharmacology Research Group, Hospital de la Santa Creu y Sant PauBarcelonaSpain

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