Salvia Divinorum is a strange thing. Its popularity has exploded in the past few years and record numbers of people are flocking to online and brick and mortar stores to try and buy as much of it as possible. The explosion in popularity has not gone unnoticed, and politicians and lawmakers are trying their hardest to make it illegal to buy, sell, possess or use Salvia.

With all this attention on the little plant, it is perhaps rather surprising that there is so little in the way of modern history.

One of the first modern researchers to take an interest in the history of Salvia was one Jean B Johnson. Johnson had seen the use of Salvia first hand on a trip to watch some Mazatec Indians. these natives made tea from the plant and settled back in the hopes of trying to see the future. Johnson was intrigued by what appeared to be prophetic visions of the tribesmen.

Johnson did not know what the plant was, and referred to it from there as the ‘magic plant’. Quite a fitting name, I’m sure you will agree!

Chemists Wasson, Hoffman (the father of LSD) and Weitlaner (Johnson’s father-in-law) went on a similar field trip with the intention of bringing back some Salvia for testing. In 1962, the first live plant was sent back to Harvard where Carl Epling – a sage expert – was able to analyse what appeared then to be a new species.

Only a few research papers and reports have been published on the plant since, and it is with excitement that scientists still try to discover more about this rather elusive species. The more they find the more interested they become; the reason for it to be continually under the scientific radar until very recently remains a mystery.