Can Salvia Help Beat Addiction to Other Drugs?

By Luke Walker 01/18/12

Researchers claim the psychoactive plant salvia divinorum contains anti-addictive properties.

Salvia Divinorum, "Diviner's Sage". Photo via

Addicted to meth? Cocaine? Researchers say tripping on the psychoactive plant salvia divinorum may help wean you off it. Although the precise nature of salvia's effects on the brain are unknown, University of Kansas scientists speculate that a probable antagonist component in the plant could be an addiction treatment breakthrough. The study was undertaken at Victoria University in New Zealand and involved 167 participants. According to senior lecturer Dr. Bronwyn Kivell, the research yielded several new compounds with anti-addictive properties—and without many side-effects.  Salvia—which induces an intense hallucinogenic high similar to that of magic mushrooms or LSD—was described as "unpleasant" by a quarter of the study group, while 45% enjoyed the experience. Researchers hope to develop a clinical form of the drug, perhaps as a skin patch. "Banning every mind-altering drug is not going to work so we need to find therapies to help people with their addiction. It is a very complex field and there is a lot yet to understand about why some people who take drugs get addicted and others don't," says Dr. Kivell.

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