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Miley, a mint-like herb and Mexican shaman
December 13th, 2010
02:02 PM ET

Miley, a mint-like herb and Mexican shaman

Not to be confused with saliva, it’s called salvia.

According to various reports, the former Disney starlet was smoking the hallucinogen and the video has gone viral. People.com has more on Miley Cyrus’ 18th birthday celebration that showed her cackling and rambling incoherently after taking a hit of the herb.

Now,  there are reports that Web sales of salvia have spiked after getting the Miley bump.

Salvia gives people mini-hallucinations that are  intense, but short.  It could affect visual perception, mood and body sensations, and alter perception of reality, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

It’s a commonly used herb in Latin America – part of the mint family used by Mexican shaman for healing for centuries.  It activates opioid receptors in the brain, but not much is known about salvia except for the abundance of YouTube videos filmed of people tripping.

The government has had its eyes on the hallucinogen and several states have banned its use – especially since its use has exceeded that of ecstasy among high school seniors.

So Johns Hopkins scientists tested the drug in a highly controlled study.  The findings were released last week.

The researchers took the active ingredient, salvinorin A from salvia divinorum and gave it to four healthy volunteers.  This is considered the first study on humans on the effects of salvia.

The study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, showed that the effects kicked in immediately – with a peak strength occurring after two minutes, according to a Johns Hopkins press release.

Salvinorin A wore off by 20 minutes and did not change heart rate or blood pressure.  No adverse effects were reported.  This could have happened because all the volunteers were healthy.  Despite a lack of evidence of harm in the experiment, lead author, Matthew W. Johnson, warned that the sample size was extremely small and that driving after using the drug could pose risks.

The participants said they felt like they had left reality and gone somewhere else after smoking the herb.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.