An herbaceous perennial, Salvia divinorum can grow well over 3 feet tall. The leaves can vary from light green to dark forest green and are about 8 inches long. Flowers are rarely seen, although they can grow under proper conditions and are dark purple with white inner petals. It predominately grows in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca where it is native to the mountains in the tropical and cloud forest climate.
It has been recorded that shamans will use this plant in order to locate lost items. The Mazatec used three hallucinatory plants in ritual and ceremony, for healing as well as divination, among them was Salvia divinorum , though it was considered to be the weakest of the three. The other two were psilocybin mushrooms and Morning Glory seeds. Elder curanderos will use S. divinorum to introduce and train apprentices to the spirit world and the ‘way to heaven’. The apprentice would be given higher doses until they became comfortable and familiar with its effects.
Traditionally, S. divinorum was rolled into a quid and chewed, or the leaves were made into a tea and drunk. However, recent research has shown that the active constituent, salvinorin, is not water soluble, and so making a tea is the least effective way to consume the plant and absorption through the mucous membranes of the mouth much higher.
In lower doses, S. divinorum has been known to cure headache, arthritis, anemia, digestive problems, constipation and diarrhea. In higher doses, curanderos will use the leaves to treat alcoholism and to revitalize patients that are deathly ill. It has also been used to treat mysterious illnesses that are said to be caused by evil witchcraft. It has also been successfully used to treat depression.