|Systematic (IUPAC) name|
|Legal status||Uncontrolled (though Salvia divinorum is controlled in some parts of the world, such as in certain states in the US)|
|Protein binding||κ-opioid receptor|
|Mol. mass||432.46362 g/mol|
|Melt. point||238–240 °C (460–464 °F) (also reported 242-244 °C)|
|Boiling point||760.2 °C (1400 °F)|
|Solubility in water||25.07 mg/L at 25 °C (water, est) mg/mL (20 °C)|
|Spec. rot||-45.3 °C at 22 deg C/D (c = 8.530 CHCl3); -41 °C at 25° C/D (c = 1 in CHCl3)|
| (what is this?)
Salvinorin A is the main active psychotropic molecule in Salvia divinorum, a Mexican plant which has a long history of use as an entheogen by indigenous Mazatec shamans. Salvinorin A is considered a dissociative exhibiting atypically psychedelic effects.
It is structurally distinct from other naturally occurring hallucinogens (such as DMT, psilocybin, and mescaline) because it contains no nitrogen atoms; hence, it is not an alkaloid (and cannot be rendered as a salt) but a terpenoid. It also differs in subjective experience, compared to other hallucinogens, and has been described as dissociative.
Salvinorin A can produce psychoactive experiences in humans with a typical duration of action being several minutes to an hour or so, depending on the method of ingestion.
Salvinorin A is found with several other structurally related salvinorins. Salvinorin is a trans-neoclerodane diterpenoid. It acts as a kappa opioid receptor agonist and is the first known compound acting on this receptor that is not an alkaloid. Its pharmacological mechanism was elucidated in the laboratory of Bryan L. Roth.
Salvinorin A was first described and named in 1982 by Alfredo Ortega and colleagues in Mexico. They used a combination of spectroscopy and x-ray crystallography to determine the chemical structure of the compound, which was shown to have a bicyclic diterpene structure. Around the same time, Leander Julián Valdés III independently isolated the molecule as part of his PhD research, published in 1983. Valdés named the chemical divinorum, and also isolated an analog that he named divinorum B. The naming was subsequently corrected to salvinorin A and B after the work was published in 1984. Valdés later isolated salvinorin C.
Salvinorin A is a trans-neoclerodane diterpenoid with the chemical formula C23H28O8. Unlike other known opioid-receptor ligands, salvinorin A is not an alkaloid as it does not contain a basic nitrogen atom. Salvinorin A has no action at the 5-HT2A serotonin receptor, the principal molecular target responsible for the actions of 'classical' psychedelics such as LSD and mescaline.
Potency and selectivity
Salvinorin A "is the most potent naturally occurring hallucinogen." It is active at doses as low as 200 µg. Synthetic chemicals, such as LSD (active at 20–30 µg doses), can be more potent. Research has shown that salvinorin A is a potent κ-opioid receptor agonist. It has a high affinity for the receptor, indicated by the low dissociation constant of 1.0 nanomolar (nM). It has been reported that the effects of salvinorin A in mice are blocked by κ-opioid receptor antagonists. This makes it unlikely that another mechanism contributes independently to the compound's observed effects in mice.[original research?] However, salvinorin A has recently been found to act as an even more potent D2 receptor partial agonist, with an affinity of 5–10 nM, an intrinsic activity of 40–60%, and an EC50 of 50–90 nM, which is several-fold higher than its EC50 of 235 nM for the κ-opioid receptor. This suggests that the D2 receptor may also play an important role in its effects.
Salvinorin A is unique in that it is the only naturally occurring substance known to induce a visionary state via this mode of action; there are synthetic kappa-opioid agonists, (e.g. enadoline, ketazocine, pentazocine and relatives), which show similar hallucinatory and dissociative effects.
Salvinorin A's potency should not be confused with toxicity. Mice chronically given dosages "many times that of what humans are exposed to" did not show signs of organ damage. However, "further studies should be done on blood pressure effects" and "Pulse pressure did appear to increase with salvinorin A exposure twenty and forty minutes after exposure, however, this increase was not statistically significant" (note that the data shows an increase in pulse pressure that was roughly 1.5–2 times the control group's).
Effect on intestinal motility
Salvinorin A is capable of inhibiting excess intestinal motility (e.g. diarrhea), through its potent k-opioid-activating effects. The mechanism of action for salvinorin A on ileal tissue has been described as 'prejunctional', as it was able to modify electrically induced contractions, but not those of exogenous acetylcholine. A pharmacologically important aspect of the contraction-reducing properties of ingested salvinorin A on gut tissue is that it is only pharmacologically active on inflamed and not normal tissue, thus reducing possible side-effects.
Salvinorin A is soluble in organic solvents such as ethanol and acetone, but not especially so in water. It is possible Salvinorin A may also be soluble in lipids as are some related terpenoids such as cannabinoids and curcuminoids.
Detection in urine
Humans who smoked 580 μg of the pure drug had urine salvinorin A concentrations of 2.4–10.9 µg/L during the first hour, but the levels fell below the detection limit by 1.5 hours after smoking. Analytical measurements may be performed using gas or liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry.
Many other terpenoids have been isolated from Salvia divinorum, including other salvinorins and related compounds named divinatorins and salvinicins. None of these compounds have shown significant (sub-micromolar) affinity at the kappa-opioid receptor, and there is no evidence that they contribute to the plant's psychoactivity.
The biogenic origin of salvinorin A synthesis has been elucidated using nuclear magnetic resonance and ESI-MS analysis of incorporated precursors labeled with stable isotopes of carbon (Carbon-13 13C) and hydrogen (Deuterium 2H). It "is biosynthesized via the 1-deoxy-d-xylulose-5-phosphate pathway," rather than the classic mevalonate pathway typical for plant terpenoids.
A total asymmetric synthesis of salvinorin A, which relies on a transannular Michael reaction cascade to construct the ring system, was achieved in 2007 by Evans and co-workers in 4.5% overall yield over 30 steps. More recently, a synthesis was published by a Japanese group, requiring 24 steps to yield salvinorin A in 0.15% yield.
An attempt at the synthesis of salvinorin A has also been published by a group at RMIT University, adopting a convergent synthesis of a functionalized cyclohexanone with a α,β-unsaturated lactone.
Salvinorin A is one of several structurally related salvinorins found in the Salvia divinorum plant. Salvinorin A can be synthesized from the inactive salvinorin B by acetylation. The de-acetylated analog salvinorin B is devoid of human activity. It was speculated that salvinorin C might be even more potent than salvinorin A, but human tests and receptor binding assays could not confirm this [Ref?]. Salvinorin A seems to be the only active naturally occurring salvinorin.
Research on salvinorin derivatives has produced a number of semi-synthetic compounds, several of which can be conveniently made from salvinorin B. Most derivatives are selective kappa opioid agonists as with salvinorin A, although some are even more potent, with the most potent compound 2-ethoxymethyl salvinorin B being 10x stronger than salvinorin A. A few derivatives such as herkinorin have reduced kappa opioid action and instead act as mu opioid agonists.
Results from a small study by an assistant professor at the University of Iowa indicate that it may have potential as an analgesic and as a therapeutic tool for treating drug addictions. κ-opioid agonists have very marked effects on all types of addiction including alcohol, cocaine, and opiate abuse.
Salvinorin A is sometimes regulated together with its host, Salvia divinorum, due to its psychoactive and analgesic effects.
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- Note: the Mowry et al. study used the following data: 1600 μg/kg (0.0016 mg/g) daily injections for 14 days on "Swiss-Webster mice, aged 4–6 months" of unknown weight (when purchasing mice, a estimated maximum mass is 25 g). Given that the average weight for males in the United States is 190.9 lbs (according to Wikipedia), or 86,590.7834 g, and that a single gram mixture of plain leaf contains roughly 3 mg/g of Salvinorin A (according to Daniel Siebert), this translates to the mice receiving an effective dose of roughly 6,494,309 times more than a human (human doses range from minimal, 200 μg, to upwards of 24 mg, and body weights for both humans and mice vary tremendously).
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- Salvia divinorum (2007) – EMCDDA drugs profile
- The Salvia divinorum – Research and Information Center (Daniel Siebert)
- Salvia divinorum – Erowid vault
- Lycaeum Salvinorin A
- Tryptamind Salvinorin A Downloadable salvinorin extraction photos.