Introducing Sally D., Salvia, a legal, mind-trip drug possibly coming to a school near you

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Salvia (Salvia divinorum) is a natural herb from Mexico that may be as powerful as LSD.

At present, the Mexican mint Salvia divinorum is an unregulated hallucinogen. This has resulted in various on-line botanical companies advertising and selling S. divinorum as a legal alternative to other regulated plant hallucinogens. It is predictable that its misuse will increase rapidly. (quote from

A story reported by WCBS TV 2 in New York City says, "… even if you've never heard of it, your kids probably have. The green plant resembles marijuana and is ingested in much the same way, either smoked or, in some cases, chewed."

I heard this story early last week and thought I should blog it, but other topics forged their way through my pen; and so, I wasn’t feeling a Salvia post so much. Then last night, my 16-year-old son, who's in a "good" school in a New Jersey surburban town, came to me and asked, "Mom, what's the name for drugs like marijuana and crack?"

I wasn’t sure what he meant. Did he want to know their street names? Was he asking their classification? Mildly alarmed, I wondered what was going on with him. He's always maintained that he would "never" do drugs or alcohol. He started saying this at a young age after learning about drugs in school and through anti-drug messages on television. I couldn't even have a glass of red wine occasionally with dinner without hearing his disapproval. So, why was he asking me this?

I said, "Well, crack is a form of cocaine, and marijuana is …"

"No!" he said, "That’s not what I’m talking about. I mean what’s the scientific name?"

"What are you asking? Do you mean the classification like some drugs are hallucinogens?"

"Yeah, that’s it. Did you know that nutmeg is a mild hallucinogen, Mom?"

"I may have heard that before," I said, smiling weakly, "but I don’t remember." Suddenly a vision of my son sneaking into the pantry for a snort of nutmeg late at night flashed before me. And oh, what about oregano? No, oregano's not one of the herbs with psychotropic properties to my knowledge. Still, I remembered a health project I did in junior high school. I made a drug education poster and put some oregano in a plastic baggie to represent marijuana. Some misguided person stole it from the display.

My son said he found out about nutmeg reading a book, I’m Afraid. You’re Afraid: 448 Things to Fear and Why by Melinda Muse. The book gives a history of the spice's use as a drug and tells what to expect if ingesting large quantities or snorting nutmeg. Thankfully the effects are a deterrent to my son.

All it takes is a lusty whiff or mouthful and this is your brain on nutmeg: rapid heartbeat, constipation, dry mouth, bloodshot eyes, incoherent speech, and impaired motor function.

When I was in high school, back in the dark ages but well after the 60s drug culture explosion, my friends and associates didn’t discuss drugs or how to get them. Oh, we all knew of some "weedhead" or "dope fiend" as we called them that no longer attended school or did anything meaningful, but beyond that we knew little.

It wasn’t until college that I encountered friends who kept a stash of something. The only fear I associated with others using drugs around me was that I’d hate to be in the car with them if the police stopped us. I knew anyone in the car was going to jail whether they were using or not.

So, I asked my son, "You don’t have to name names or anything, but do you hear people talking about using drugs at school?"

"Ohhh, yeah," he said. "Who’s using 'em, where to get 'em."

"They say this directly to you?" I asked.

"Naw, Mom. I hear people talking. I have good hearing, you know." I nodded and thought, Funny, your hearing's not so good when I'm calling you for a chore.

So, it's back to Salvia, which has street names like “Magic Mint” and “Sally D.”

Salvia can be smoked like marijuana. Teens rationalize its use by hiding behind its legality in this country. But, as many point out, just because it's legal doesn't mean it's safe.
… "People think just because they're natural, herbs are safe, and that's not always necessarily true," Aiyana said. "People can feel unbalanced or disoriented, and in that way, it would be very dangerous."

Salvia users describe an out-of-body experience that can be unsettling, even scary.

"Like 'shrooms," one user said, referring to psychedelic mushrooms, which are also natural.

"I thought my pants were eating me," another user said. (quotes from WCBS TV 2 story).

Like I said, earlier, I wasn't going to blog this. I figured if I heard about Salvia on the news, then chances are so did the parents who read this blog. But I'm one to take hints from the universe, and when my son brought up the snorting of nutmeg, I took it as a sign.

Somewhere out there, there's a parent reading this blog who needs to talk to his or her child about drugs, and not just illegal drugs. We need to educate our children about drug abuse in general, the abuse of natural herbs, prescription medication, cold syrup, household cleaners, etc., really any mind-altering substance. Ignorance does not rescue us from the law, especially the laws of science that govern our children’s health.


  • Salvia at, the source of the salvia picture in this post.
  • WCBS TV 2 News story. Story includes video clip.

    Nordette Adams is a journalist, poet, and fiction writer. You may read her blog at this link, or visit her personal web site at this link.

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