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Salud mental

Print version ISSN 0185-3325


DIAZ, José Luis. Salvia divinorum: psychopharmacologicai enigma and the mind-body interstice. Salud Ment [online]. 2014, vol.37, n.3, pp.183-193. ISSN 0185-3325.

In the present paper, the multidisciplinary research on Salvia divinorum and its chemical principles is analyzed regarding whether the ethnobotany, phytochemistry, psychopharmacology, and neuropharmacology of this sacred psychoactive plant and main principle clarify its experienced effects and divinatory uses. The scientific endeavor traverses from the recorded traditional ceremonies and beliefs, continues with the botanical identification, the isolation of active molecules, the characterization of mental and neural effects, the possible therapeutic applications, and impinges upon the mind-body problem. The departure point of this search is ethnopharmacology, and therefore the traditional beliefs, ritual uses, and mental effects of this Mazatec sacred mint recorded during a 1973-1983 field research project are described. A water potion of crushed leaves produced short-lasting light-headedness, dysphoria, tactile and proprioceptive sensations, a sense of depersonalization, amplified sound perception, and increased visual and auditory imagery, but no actual hallucinations. Similar effects were described using questionnaires and are attributable to the diteprene salvinorin A, but cannot be explained solely by its specific and potent brain kappa-opioid receptor agonist activity. Some requirements for a feasible classification and mechanism of action of consciousness-altering products are proposed and include the activation of neural networks comprising several neurochemical systems. Top-down analyses should be undertaken in order to characterize such neural networks and eventually allowing to explore the differential ethnic effects. As is the case for other consciousness-altering preparations, a careful and encompassing research on this plant and principle can be consequential to academic undertakings ranging from the mind-body problem and a better understanding of shamanic ecstasy, to the potential generation of analgesic, antidepressant, and drug-abuse attenuating products.

Keywords : Consciousness-altering drugs; ethnopharmacology; kappa opioid receptor agonist; Mazatec shamanism; mechanism of action; mind-body problem; Salvia divinorum; salvinorin.

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