Salvia is a psychoactive herb. What exactly does that mean? Let’s take a look.
A psychoactive drug (also known as a psychotropic substance) is one that effects the central nervous system in our bodies. It alters – hopefully temporarily – the way that our brains work, meaning there are noticeable changes in mood, behaviour, conciousness an perception. It is this psychoactive element that gives us the ‘other world’ perception when we try Salvia: our brains actually think that we are somewhere else!
Psychoactive drugs are used for many purposes, including ritual and spiritual cases (as is the case with Salvia for the Mazatec shamans), medical purposes or just plain simple recreational purposes. Naturally this is the main category that Salvia falls into today.
Psychoactive ingredients fall into one of a few different categories or classes. These are: Stimulants, Hallucinogens (of which dissociatives like Salvia fall into), Hypnotics, Analgesics and Inhalants. There are drugs for every occasion and whether you want to feel up or down, drunk or alert, there will be some psychoactive substance that meets the requirement.
Psychoactive drugs work by meddling with your brain; every drug has a different reaction with one or more parts of the brain. The drugs may increase or retard the synthesis of one or more neurotransmitters.
Hallucinogens are quite often used for religious purposes. This is not a new thing, and some reports suggest that hallucinogenic drugs have been used in ceremonies for around 5700 years. The reasons for this use are fairly obvious: because the brain is confused and disorientated it could easily be said that it is on another plane. If this other plane happens to be one plane closer to the God or other spiritual being that you are trying to reach (and why shouldn’t it be one step closer?) then naturally this is a desirable state to be in.
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