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Monday
Jan032011

Salvia Studies Hold Promise for Addiction 

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(BALTIMORE) -- Scientists are taking a fresh look at salvia -- the controversial drug that can cause an intense psychedelic experience -- as a potential treatment for an array of neurological disorders, including addiction. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University Medical School say it could open the door to a whole new class of drugs that have powerful analgesic properties.

This is the first controlled study in humans on the effects of salvinorin A, the active ingredient in the plant salvia divinorum, which is the most powerful hallucinogen in nature. The study showed the drug has no physically adverse effects on otherwise healthy people. Participants showed no changes in heart rate or blood pressure.

Lead researcher 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.

The study findings are published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Johnson said learning about salvia's effects on the brain could lead to medical advances in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, chronic pain and, though it seems counterintuitive, drug addiction.

The U.S. Department of Justice's Drug Enforcement Administration has included salvia in a list of "drugs and chemicals of concern," but to date there is no federal ban.

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