'Psychedelic' drug salvia shows promise against addiction

Written by: Anita Nair
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Washington, Jan 4 (ANI): Researchers at Johns Hopkins University Medical School are considering the therapeutic role of the drug Salvia, which usually causes an intense psychedelic experience.

Matthew W. Johnson, a psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry, said the study was an attempt to "put some rigorous scientific information into current concerns over the growing recreational use" of salvia.

"We did document the very intense nature of the drug, even among those who are used to strong hallucinogenic drugs," ABC News quoted Johnson as saying.

"That in itself is an area of danger-people can have accidents or do foolish things on the drugs. But it's a remarkably robust drug in terms of physiological safety. But behavioural safety, that's another dimension," he added.

Johnson said the drug could pave way in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, chronic pain and, though it seems counterintuitive, drug addiction.

"We have done the first human study with the drug and it could be the first examination for a whole new line of drugs that have a therapeutic potential."

The participants, who were allowed to drop out of the study at any time, smoked the drug in 20 sessions over two to three months, and said they had a feeling of "leaving this reality completely and going to other worlds or dimensions and interacting with entities," according to Johnson.

People who abuse salvia generally experience hallucinations or "psychotomimetic" episodes, a transient experience that mimics a psychosis, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. (NIDA).

"There is good news and bad news about salvia. In terms of its effects on humans, it's an extremely powerful hallucinogenic agent, and if people smoke it they basically are disassociated from reality," said Dr. Byran Roth, a professor of pharmacology at the University of North Carolina, who discovered the mechanism of how salvia affects the brain in animal studies 2002.

"The hopeful thing about it is emergency rooms are not inundated with people coming in with bad salvia reactions," Roth added.

"It seems like the vast majority of people smoke it, had the experience and say they don't want to do it again. It's too frightening and intense and not what they are looking for." (ANI)

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