Is It Okay to Take Salvia While Pregnant?

Salvia is an herbal plant that grows in Mexico. It’s part of the sage family, and it’s long been used by the Mazatec Indians because of its hallucinogenic properties. It also has an ancient history of being part of various medical and spiritual practices. When salvia is used, it creates visual effects that are similar to what’s experienced with the use of LSD. It’s increasingly common for people to use salvia recreationally, particularly teens and young adults. Salvia doesn’t have a high addiction potential, and it’s not necessarily toxic. However, that doesn’t mean it’s without risks. There are risks, particularly long-term, related to thinking and the user’s mental health.

Salvia has an active ingredient called Salvinorin A. This active ingredient attaches to opioid receptors located in the central nervous system and in particular, the brain. It’s believed Salvinorin A can also affect dopamine, a naturally occurring brain transmitter. When salvia is used recreationally, the effects usually start within about two minutes and subside after around twenty minutes. Recreationally salvia is typically smoked or inhaled. Sometimes the leaves are chewed, and the juice is held in the cheek. Common side effects of salvia include nausea, confusion, slurred speech and concentration problems. Salvia can be obtained fairly easily online or in tobacco shops. Salvia is legal in some places, but in the U.S. it’s a schedule I controlled substance. When someone uses salvia and it starts to take effect, it causes the person to see and feel things that don’t actually exist. It can be difficult to determine what’s real and what isn’t. Specific effects of salvia include:

  • Euphoria or an improved mood
  • Visual distortions like vivid colors
  • Images that look like cartoons
  • Feeling detached from reality
  • Sensations of movements that aren’t happening
  • Distortion of time and space
  • Feeling talkative or social
  • Memory recollection
  • No connection with reality
  • Out-of-body sensations

Risks of Taking Salvia While Pregnant

Taking salvia while pregnant wouldn’t be considered safe or advisable. First, salvia isn’t a regulated product. It’s a controlled substance, but if someone does find a way to purchase it, there’s no way to determine the potency or what the effects are going to be. Using salvia while pregnant can be harmful to a woman and her unborn baby. Someone who uses salvia may have unpredictable behavior or experience symptoms similar to psychosis or schizophrenia. If this happens, a pregnant woman may hurt herself or her baby. There is also some evidence showing sage, which is related to salvia, is a uterine stimulant. This is because it contains estrogen. It’s possible the use of salvia during pregnancy could lead to premature labor. It’s possible salvia could cause some level of toxicity to a fetus as well.  Along with the risks of mental health side effects, while a person is actually on salvia, it can also cause ongoing mental symptoms. The use of salvia has triggered panic attacks in people who have a history of them. It has also triggered relapses of borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia in some users. Someone who uses salvia may have suicidal thoughts, depression, or aggression because of the use of the herb.

The FDA doesn’t categorize salvia. Typically with many medications and also certain drugs and recreational substances, the FDA categorizes them based on their perceived safety during pregnancy. A category A drug is one considered to be the safest to use during pregnancy. Category B drugs are considered fairly safe during pregnancy as well. A category C drug is what most substances are classified as, and these substances don’t have enough evidence to be classified as safe, but they might still be used under the direction of a healthcare provider during pregnancy. Category D drugs are considered unsafe unless for some reason the benefits of the medicine outweigh the risks. Then, there are category X drugs which shouldn’t be used during pregnancy. Salvia isn’t part of a classification because there is essentially no information about the possible effects during pregnancy. The unknown elements of salvia are reasons it shouldn’t be used during pregnancy. There’s also currently no known scenario where the benefits of salvia would outweigh the risks during pregnancy.

Alternatives to Taking Salvia While Pregnant

If you’re pregnant and feel compelled to take salvia, you should speak to your healthcare provider. Salvia doesn’t have any currently known or approved medical uses, and recreational drug use during pregnancy can create many risks for a woman and her child. Rather than taking salvia while pregnant, seek medical advice. You may benefit from participation in an addiction treatment program that can help you learn healthy coping mechanisms and ways to avoid triggers.

If you’d like to learn about addiction treatment and various program options that are available, call The Recovery Village today.

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Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.