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South Mexican Plant Salvia May Help with Addiction

South Mexican Plant Salvia May Help with Addiction

Salvia is known in the US as an abused substance because of its hallucinogenic properties, but the Mazatec people in Oaxaca, Mexico have used it for years as medicine for arthritis, inflammation, headaches, and even addiction (Siegel, 2015). 


A recent article in Scientific American noted that “Oaxacan villagers also told us of salvia helping to cure people of addictions to alcohol, inhalants, and stimulants such as cocaine,” (Addy & Maqueda, 2015) which has prompted studies in the US. Some such studies done on rats have found that one of the chemicals in Salvia—salvinorin-A—activates k-opiod receptors, and that “rats addicted to psychostimulants were given doses of salvinorin-A, and were observed dispensing cocaine much less often than rats addicted to stimulants without the dose of salvia” (Siegel, 2015). 


Though this use of salvia is quite different from that of the Mazatec people, who use it in a ritualistic fashion concurrent with their worldview, the tribe has kindled the interest of researchers in the US who are looking for successful treatments for addiction. 




Addy, P. H., & Maqueda, A. E. (2015). Traditional medicine from southern Mexico offers help with addiction. Scientific American. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/traditional-medicine-from-southern-mexico-offers-help-with-addiction/
Siegel, Z. (2015). Salvia may unlock the mysteries of stimulant addiction. Retrieved from http://www.thefix.com/salvia-may-unlock-mysteries-stimulant-addiction