Salvia is a plant that has become something of a household name in recent months; ironically it probably would have remained in relative obscurity without the attentions of enthusiastic, over zealous and confused politicians. If lawmakers had not started to crack down on the herb like it was Satan’s own recreational hallucinogenic then the media attention would have been non-existent. As it is, Salvia appears in our newspapers on an almost daily basis.

But Salvia is a source of much confusion for many people. What is it? Where does it come from? Read on…

Saliva is a member of the mint family, which encompasses many herbs. Salvia, along with the genera (species) Perovskia and Phlomis are collectively known as Sage. Salvia is not restricted just to the hallucinogenic drug that so many people are now aware of, but also a huge variety of annual, biennial and perennial herbs. Salvia is truly a worldwide plant.

Sage originally comes from the Mediterranean and Asia Minor where it has been actively grown since the middle ages. The Native Americans used the Salvia plant as a herb, and the Romans worshipped it as sacred; the Chinese were very eager to get it, too, and Dutch traders made great profits trading Sages for tea. Part of the reason Salvia is so well respected is that it is thought to have potent medicinal properties. In particular Salvia officinalis improves cognitive function when used over several months.

Central Mexican tribes have used the sub-species Salvia Divinorum as a hallucinogenic for many years. It is this usage that has brought the humble little plant to our attention in recent years. Of course Salvia Divinorum is just one plant in the Salvia family, but the name is now inextricably linked with hallucinogenics and the legal and moral questions surrounding legalised drugs.

Salvia is a diverse little herb with a big history and a big following. Banning it for recreational spiritual use seems petty and ignorant. But what do I know?