How Long do the Effects of Salvia Last?

2 min read · 4 sections
Evidence-Based Care
Expert Staff

What is Salvia?

Salvia divinorum, also known simply as salvia, is a species of herbal mint plant native to Mexico. It is a fast-acting hallucinogenic herb that provides transient psychoactive properties when its leaves are consumed by chewing, smoking, or drinking.1 The active ingredient in salvia is salvinorin A, a compound that activates specific opioid receptors in the brain.2 Although salvinorin A is the most potent naturally occurring hallucinogen, it is effectively deactivated by the gastrointestinal system and its psychoactive effects are only produced after smoking or when enough of the compound is absorbed through the oral mucosa and into the blood stream.3

What are the Effects of Salvia?

The effects of salvia experienced by users vary based on the ingested dosage and the method of ingestion. Psychological effects of salvia can include:4-5

  • Visual distortions and intense hallucinations
  • Dissociation (feelings of detachment from one’s body)
  • Synesthesia (a confusion of senses, such as “hearing” colors or “smelling” sounds)
  • Dysphoria (uncomfortable or unpleasant feelings)

The physical effects of salvia use include:4-5

  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Chills
  • Sweating

What is the Duration of Effects?

The effects of salvia typically persist from several minutes to an hour, depending on the method of ingestion and the amount of salvinorin A absorbed.


The dried leaves of salvia can be smoked in a pipe, bong, or as a joint. Salvinorin A extracts can also be vaporized and inhaled. This is typically done by heating the extract on a piece of tin foil and inhaling the vapors through a glass pipe.3 Once the vaporized salvinorin A extract or smoked dried leaves are inhaled, the effects are experienced very rapidly. The intensity of the effects peak at about 2 minutes after inhalation and can last for 1 to 5 minutes.6 This is followed by a gradual tapering off, with less intense but noticeable effects still present 5 to 10 minutes after smoking. The user will typically return to baseline after about 15 to 20 minutes.7 Due to this rapid return, the intense hallucinations experienced by salvia smoking have been described by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as a “20-minute acid trip.”8


Fresh leaves of salvia can be chewed and swallowed or chewed as a quid and then spit out.

When salvia leaves are chewed, the salvinorin A is extracted and absorbed through the oral mucosa. The effects come on more slowly after oral consumption of the leaves, usually after a period of 5 to 10 minutes.4 This method of ingestion, used by the shamans of the Mazatec people in Mexico for centuries as a healing and divining tool, can produce visual hallucinations that last from 1 to 2 hours.9  The longer the herb remains in the mouth, the stronger the effect will be.3 Chewing salvia produces longer-lasting but milder effects compared to other methods of use.


Salvia leaves can be crushed to extract leaf juices containing salvinorin A. The leaf juice can then be mixed with water to make a drink or tea. This method of salvia ingestion produces a more moderate effect compared to other methods due to the deactivation of salvinorin A by the gastrointestinal system prior to entering the blood stream.10-11

Sublingual Tincture

Salvia can also be ingested sublingually in the form of a tincture, a solution containing an extract of the plant dissolved in alcohol. The duration of the effects is similar to other methods of oral ingestion, although depending on the potency of the extract they can be significantly more intense.

Treatment Options

Although salvia has a low risk of addiction, like other psychedelic drugs its use can cause negative psychological effects. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please contact a professional addiction treatment center today to begin the path to recovery.


  1. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2017). Drugs of Abuse: A DEA Resource Guide, Salvia Divinorum.
  2. Cruz, A., Domingos, S., Gallardo, E., Martinho, A. (2017). A unique natural selective kappa-opioid receptor agonist, salvinorin A, and its roles in human therapeutics. Phytochemistry, 137, 9-14.
  3. Center for Substance Abuse Research. (2013). Salvia Divinorum.
  4. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2019). Salvia Divinorum and Salvinorin A.
  5. California Poison Control System. (2016). Salvia Divinorum.
  6. Johnson, M.W., MacLean, K.A., Reissig, C.J., Prisinzano, T.E., & Griffiths, R.R. (2011). Human psychopharmacology and dose-effects of salvinorin A, a kappa opioid agonist hallucinogen present in the plant Salvia divinorum. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 115(1-2), 150-155.
  7. Baggott, M.J., Erowid, E., Erowid, F., Galloway, G.P., & Mendelson, J. (2010). Use patterns and self-reported effects of Salvia divinorum: an internet-based survey. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 111(3), 250-256.
  8. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Commonly Abused Drugs Charts.
  9. Maqueda, A.E. (2018). The Use of Salvia divinorum from a Mazatec Perspective. In: Labate, B., & Cavnar, C. (eds) Plant Medicines, Healing and Psychedelic Science. Springer, Cham.
  10. Siebert, D.J. (1994). Salvia divinorum and salvinorin A: new pharmacologic findings. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 43(1), 53-56.
  11. Halpern, J.H. (2004). Hallucinogens and dissociative agents naturally growing in the United States. Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 102(2), 131-138.


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