La Sauge Divinatoire: Salvinorine and psychotic states

salvinorin molecule

Salvinorine is the most powerful natural hallucinogen. Salvinorine is a unique diterpene hallucinogenic molecule found in Salvia divinorum. This plant was discovered in the 1960s by Hofmann, etc, in Mexico. Salvinorine may open novel avenues of research into the mechanisms of schizophrenia and psychotic states as it apparently does not act by any known neurotransmitter system. The effects of salvinorine are very sensitive to light and sound stimulation. Salvinorine's hallucinogenic properties can only be experienced in darkness and silence, contrary to serotoninergic hallucinogens. Because of this peculiar phenomenon, salvinorine may, in fact, just trigger phenomena naturally encountered in the transition phase between the waking state and sleep. In fact, descriptions of the effects of salvinorine on consciousness are consistent with the fact that salvinorine is not really a hallucinogenic molecule but an oneirogenic molecule. Salvinorine, apparently, triggers a shift from the normal waking state of consciousness to a dream state of consciousness while retaining awareness. Such a state of consciousness is called a conscious dream when it comes naturally or with learning. Conscious dreaming has been much explored by some Tibetan monks for nearly a millenium, while it only came recently to the attention of Westerners. The first explorer of conscious dreaming in the West seems to have been the Marquis de Saint-Denis in the 19th century, in France. In summary, salvinorine may induce short REM episodes while awake and so literally kick the experimenter all of a sudden directly into a randon oneiric scene. If this hypothesis is correct then salvinorine may become an important tool in investigating more deeply how REM sleep is triggered. Hobson has already shown the importance of cholinergic cells in this phenomenon. Salvinorine may or may not act on these cholinergic neurons, directly or indirectly. So salvinorine should be a valuable tool for the exploration of natural REM sleep. As psychotic states obey rules very similar to those observed in dreams, salvinorine might also open the way to novel anti-psychotics. Salvinorine thus deserves some serious study.

Note: Salvia divinorum is a very rare plant. For those researchers interested in studying salvinorin(e) here is an address of a nursery where you can obtain specimens of salvia divinorum for research: [email protected].

back to index