Luckily, there seemed to be no impact on health, at least in this setting and in the short-term. Johnson and his colleagues found no evidence of meaningful heart rate or blood pressure variations as a result of use.
The researchers concluded that in the kind of controlled environment in which it was tested the drug appeared to be safe.
"This is also not a drug of addiction, and there's no indication so far of any mechanism that would cause some type of lethal overdose," Johnson added. "Insane doses have been given -- to doses many, many times higher than what we gave people and there's a remarkable absence of lethal toxicity. And we're not seeing a lot of emergency room visits with this drug, probably because although it's so impairing it's also such a short-lived experience."
However, because of the intensity of the experiences provoked by salvia, and its very short duration, it's also not likely to be a repeat event for many users, Johnson said.
Speaking to the Times, Lee, a 22-year-old from New York City who requested anonymity, said he tried salvia while in college. "After two or three hits, I spat everywhere and was coughing and laughing and drooling," he said. "I started yelling random words, then my legs gave out, and I dropped to the floor."
Dr. Bryan Roth, a psychiatrist and a professor of pharmacology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, agreed that salvia might be a one-hit wonder for most who try it.
"The experience is likely to be very intense and most people who are taking it are not psychologically prepared for this type of experience," he explained. "The typical college or high school student who's experimenting with this stuff will likely find it bewildering, disorienting and frightening."
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