The active component in Salvia is called Salvinorin A, a chemical that can be grouped with those found in Wormwood (Absinthe) and Marijuana (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC).
Research suggests that Salvia interacts with the kappa opioid receptor, which is spread throughout the central nervous system. But scientists have yet to conclusively determine how Salvia interacts with the brain.
What is known is that Salvia is a very potent drug. Just 200 to 500 micrograms is enough to produce strong hallucinations, with effects lasting 3 to 8 hours. As a result, people who have taken large doses of Salvia have lost consciousness.
Research also has yet to determine if Salvia is physically addictive or not. Hallucinogens tend to be psychologically addictive, meaning users think that good experiences can only be achieved through use of the drug. More research needs to be done before it can be determined if Salvia causes the signs of dependence and withdrawal that come with a physical addiction.