Salvia Drug Tests: How Long Does It Stay In System?

Last Updated: October 5, 2021

Authored by Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Salvia or magic mint is the common name for the hallucinogenic plant Salvia divinorum. It is a short-acting hallucinogenic herb. It is listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance in many states owing to its potential dependence and physical and mental addiction. Due to the rising risk of magic mint abuse, its legal status is restricted in 22 states in the USA and its abuse is being closely monitored. Testing for magic mint addiction is taking place at various companies before employment and at the government level to reduce its use. Due to its legal disparity and ambiguous legal status, one might wonder how long after can the plant show up on the Salvia Drug Test and how long does Salvia stay in the system?

Salvia Mechanism Of Action

This plant is a short-acting hallucinogen. It exerts its effect by converting into its active component, Salvinorin A, this active component is responsible for the psychoactive properties of the herb. It has hallucinogenic potency similar to LSD.  Salvinorin A has no structural resemblance to any known hallucinogen and it has a unique mechanism of action. It acts by exerting potent selective agonist activity on k opioid receptors also known as KOR. These receptors are entirely different from the receptors acted on by other opioid-acting drugs. These receptors have a powerful nerve-cell activating capacity which is responsible for its hallucinogenic effect. It has no efficacy for any other psychoactive receptors such as the serotonin receptors which are usual molecular targets for other hallucinogenic drugs like LSD. This is why its effects experienced by users are different from other opioid receptor agonists as well as hallucinogens.

Salvia Divinorum is written on the green background.

Salvia Half-Life

A drug’s half-life means how long it takes for its concentration in the system to drop by 50%. One of the new studies about the effects of Salvia divinorum on opioid receptors has reported that the Salvia half life is between 40 and 90 minutes. It depends on the variability of Salvinorin dose, the potency of the substance taken, and pharmacokinetics. Right after that, the body begins to eliminate the substance through urine. However, this does not mean it has completely been removed from the body. Its presence is still detectable several hours later in the blood, through specialized Salvia drug tests.

Salvia Drug Tests: Detection Window

Salvia divinorum testing is considered to be somewhat complicated. This is because standard routine drug tests are not so capable of catching the active ingredient inside the product. Specialized Salvia drug tests are not widespread and usually are only available in states where the plant is fully criminalized. The only exception is certain government organizations like the US Army and its branches that banned the use of the substance. They can perform screenings across the country. It is not included in the usual 5 and 10 drugs panel for employment.

The detection window varies widely between the screenings. Gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, high-performance liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, and atmospheric pressure chemical isolation are some of the new and common screenings used to detect Salvinorin presence in the body in the following ways:

Blood 12 hours after intake
Hair 90 days after chronic ingestion
Urine Not enough information, lack of studies
Saliva 45 minutes after intake

Detection of Salvinorin in the body is an expensive and uncommon procedure.  Specifically ordered drug test has to be done in a short time immediately after its use as it has a very narrow detection window owing to its short half-life. Salvia drug test can detect it in blood for up to 12 hours. In usual cases, it is very hard to detect even its trace amounts after 12 hours. Furthermore, the absence of extensive research means little to no information on how long it takes for Salvinorin to show up on drug tests.  It can be detected by Salvia drug testing in oral fluids for 45 minutes. It gets degraded and absorbed quickly because of its short half-life. Hair testing is not a reliable way of Salvia drug testing because of how quickly it leaves the system and only chronic abuse shows up in hair.

Factors Affecting How Long Salvinorin Stays In The System

Like any other drug, many factors influence how long divinorum stays in your system. These factors include body mass, dosage and duration, a person’s metabolism, health status, previous medical condition, and co-administered drugs like alcohol.

  • Body Mass– Greater the person’s body mass is, the longer its half-life. Half-life grows as the volume of distribution increases, which means it will stay longer in the system for a person having a greater BMI.
  • Dosage and duration– Taking sage in high dosage and its use at intervals for a long period can increase Salvia half-life and its stay in the system, and it can show up on drug tests even after the predicted time. Another factor that can affect its half-life is the formulation in which its plant is ingested.
  • Metabolism–  A person having fast metabolism or active enzymes will have it cleared out of the system in less than average time while for a person with a slow metabolism, it will stay in the system longer as it takes more time to break down and eliminate it from the system. It also increases the duration it effects on the body.
  • Previous medical condition– Any previous medical condition or deranged health status can affect the body’s metabolism. Hypofunctioning of kidneys and liver can affect how long Salvia stays in your system. They are purifying organs of the body. If they are not working properly, drugs will not get eliminated from the body.
  • Interaction– any co-administered drugs such as alcohol can cause fluctuation in Salvia half life and how long it will take to eliminate it from the system. Drug interaction can not only cause severe side effects, but it can also slow down metabolism which will increase the amount of herb in the system. It can get detected for a longer period on a drug test.

Just as with any other fast-acting drug, Salvia Drug testing is a complicated task. The duration depends on individual metabolism, health, amount, and the form of drug being used. Another factor is the kind of Salvia Drug Test being carried out. The visibility of Salvinorin on drug tests is possible as it can stay in one’s system for 12 hours after consumption. Available Salvia Drug Tests are complicated and expensive which is why they are not done regularly and they have to be specifically requested.

Staying Safe

Salvia is not an illegal plant in some states while in some states its use is considered illegal and it is scheduled as a controlled substance. It is one of the most powerful natural hallucinogens which can cause severe physical and psychological side effects. It may also lead to addiction and abuse of sage which can deteriorate one’s health.  Although Salvia testing is new and uncommon, still some employment places and government agencies test for it if they suspect addiction or abuse. This is why the information one can need for its testing is important.

In case one is experiencing troubles regarding Salvia abuse, they should seek medical attention. With the help of specialized professionals, a person is guaranteed to receive the best treatment for drug addiction that produces a positive and lasting outcome. So to be on the safe side, getting detoxed at the drug addiction rehab center is the best option.

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Page Sources

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  2. Psychopharmacology Of the Hallucinogenic Sage-Salvia Divinorum. (2005, October 6). Psychopharmacology of the hallucinogenic sage Salvia divinorum - ScienceDirect. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0024320505008878.
  3. Listos, J., Merska, A., & Fidecka, S. (2011, December 30). Pharmacological Activity Of Salvinorin A, the Major Component Of Salvia Divinorum - Pharmacological Reports. Pharmacological Reports. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1016/S1734-1140(11)70694-6.
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Published on: January 13th, 2020

Updated on: October 5th, 2021

About Author

Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Dr. Ahmed Zayed is a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery. He is graduated from the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed Zayed has a passion for writing medical and health care articles and focuses on providing engaging and trustworthy information to readers.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.