This “mind-altering” herb can cause fragmented sleep and induce depressant effects
02/01/2019 // Zoey Sky // Views

Medicinal herbs are used as natural and effective alternatives to prescription drugs, which are usually associated with negative side effects. However, according to a study, an herb called sage of the diviners (Salvia divinorum) has hallucinogenic properties that can impact sleep quality.

The sedative effect of sage of the diviners, the psychoactive herb

Sage of the diviners is a psychoactive or "mind?altering" herb that is used as a tranquilizer. However, no studies have yet determined if the herb is safe to use or if it is an effective tranquilizer.

For the study, the researchers observed the sedative effects of sage of the diviners on mice models. To determine the nature of the compounds that are behind the herb's sedative properties, the scientists conducted several experimental models.

These included tests like:

  • Exploration cylinder tests
  • Hole?board tests
  • Open?field tests
  • Plus?maze
  • Sodium pentobarbital?induced hypnosis potentiation

The researchers gave the subjects three types of herbal extracts: non?polar, medium polar, or polar extracts. The extracts were also administered to the mice at different doses: 10, 30, and 100 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (mg/kg).

The mice were given an active medium polar extract (10 and 100 mg/kg) that had salvinorins underwent polysomnographic analysis, which the researchers used to determine sage of the diviner's effects on sleep architecture. The test findings showed that all three tested extracts had noticeable sedative?like effects on the subjects. (Related: The science of consciousness: Scientists are learning more about how the brain functions while we sleep.)


The researchers reported that out of the three herbal extracts, the medium polar extract produced more significant effects among the mice models. This particular extract that contained a mixture of salvinorins had a sedative effect that diminished rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in the subjects. The researchers noted that this caused "fragmented sleep architecture" in the mice models.

Additionally, the medium polar extract from the herb increased the quiet awake stage in the mice when administered at dosages of 10 and 100 mg/kg.

The researchers concluded that sage of the diviners has sedative?like depressant properties that considerably affect physiological sleep architecture. They warned that the herb must be used with extreme caution, or avoided at all costs, to prevent any harmful side effects.

The study was published in the journal Phytotherapy Research.

What is sage of the diviners?

Salvia divinorum, also known as salvia or sage of the diviners, is an herb that belongs to the mint family. The herb is popular because it has hallucinogenic effects.

Salvinorin A, the herb's active ingredient, is believed to be one of the most potent naturally occurring psychoactive drugs.

Sage of the diviners is also known by street names like diviner’s sage, magic mint, Maria pastora, and Sally-D. The herb is legal in some states, but it is a potent drug with negative side effects and possible risks.

Researchers still don't fully understand how salvinorin A affects the human brain. Studies are ongoing to determine the drug's effects. Experts posit that salvinorin A attaches to the nerve cells in the body to produce different hallucinogenic effects.

Sage of the diviners' effects on the brain may include:

  • Anxiety or fear from a "bad trip"
  • Distorted reality and altered perception of your surroundings
  • Feeling as if you’re having an "out-of-body" experience
  • Feeling detached from reality
  • Laughing uncontrollably
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations (e.g., seeing bright lights, extreme shapes, or vivid colors)
  • Slurred speech

The effects listed above may occur rapidly and within only 5-10 minutes of smoking or inhaling the drug. The effects of the herb are often short-lived, but some people report that they experience a "high" for a couple of hours.

The physical effects of the herb can include dizziness, an irregular heart rate, nausea, or possible loss of control over motor functions and coordination.

Sources include:

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