Acute physiologic and chronic histologic changes in rats
and mice exposed to the unique hallucinogen salvinorin A

Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. 35(3): 379–382 (2003).

Mark Mowry, Michael Mosher, and Wayne Briner

The Salvia divinorum Research and Information Center
is created and maintained by
Daniel Siebert

BACKGROUND: Salvinorin A is a unique hallucinogen that is seeing increased use in humans. It is not currently a controlled substance and is used as a legal alternative to controlled substances. Usually smoked or buccally absorbed by chewing, doses of approximately 200mcg can produce profound hallucinogenic effects of short duration. The mechanism of action of salvinorin A is at the k-opioid recpetor. Little data is available on the medical effects of this substance so animal studies were undertaken to explore the acute toxic effects of this substance in rats and the chronic effects in mice.

METHODS: Rats were anesthetized and administered salvinorin A at 1600mcg/kg or vehicle. Recordings were made of galvanic skin response, EKG, temperature, and pulse pressure for 100 minutes. Mice were chronically exposed to vehicle or 400, 800, 1600, 3200, or 6400 mcg/kg of salvinorin A for two weeks. After exposure the animals were sacrificed and brain, heart, kidney, bone marrow, blood and spleen were removed, fixed, sectioned, stained and examined by light microscopy. Results. No effects were seen on cardiac conduction, temperature, or galvanic skin response. A non-significant rise was seen in pulse pressure. Histologic studies of spleen, blood, brain, liver, kidney, and bone marrow did not find any significant histologic changes at any of the doses examined.

CONCLUSIONS: These data suggests that the toxicity of salvinorin A is relatively low, even at doses many times that of what humans are exposed to. However, further studies should be done on blood pressure effects. The psychological impact of this potent hallucinogen should also be investigated.

(I hope to present the full paper at a future date. –DS)