Three kinds of salvia are used most often in dietary supplement products: Salvia divinorumSalvia hispanica, and Salvia miltiorrhiza. Although more than 1,000 other species of salvia might also turn up in products, it’s the first one that could cause you serious problems.

Salvia divinorum, or Diviner’s sage, is native to Mexico and Central America. Its leaves contain the compound salvinorin A—the most powerful naturally occurring hallucinogenic agent known. Nicknames include “Sally-D” and “Magic Mint.” Learn more from DEA’s information sheetSalvia divinorum isn’t currently a controlled substance, but it is on the DoD Prohibited Dietary Supplement Ingredients list. Although it’s difficult to detect through routine testing, DoD labs have reported some positive test results when specific testing has been requested.

Policies that prohibit the use of Salvia divinorum, by service, are:

  • Air Force: AFMAN 44-197 (Military Drug Demand Reduction Program), Chapter 1, 1.2.1.4 (p. 6), dated 30 July 2019
  • Army: AR 600-85 (Army Substance Abuse Program), Chapter 4, 4-2, l.5 (p. 23), dated 23 July 2020
  • Navy: OPNAVINST 5350.4D (Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Control), Section 6h-k, Policy (pg. 5), dated 4 June 2009 and SECNAVINST 5300.28F (Military Substance Abuse Prevention and Control), Prohibited Substance Abuse paragraph, (pp. 27–28), dated 23 April 2019
  • Marine Corps: SECNAVINST 5300.28F (2019) and MCO 5300.17A (Marine Corps Substance Abuse Program), Drug Related Incident (DRI) paragraph (p. C-2), dated 25 June 2018
  • Coast Guard: COMDTINST M1000.10A (Military Drug and Alcohol Policy), Drug Incidents, Chapter 5A, 2.g (p. 5-1), dated 18 June 2018

Salvia hispanica, or chia, is a flowering herb native to Mexico and Central America. It’s grown commercially for its seeds, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids. For more information about chia seeds, please read “What are chia seeds” from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Chia seeds are on the Food and Drug Administration’s “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) list and will not result in a positive drug test.

Salvia miltiorrhiza, red sage, or danshen, is native to China and Japan. The root is used in traditional herbal medicine. Currently, there isn’t enough reliable evidence about its health effects, but research is ongoing for its use with cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, bronchitis, liver function, and more. Danshen by itself will not produce a positive drug test result.

 

Updated 07 March 2022

References

Calder, P. C., & Yaqoob, P. (2015). Understanding omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Postgraduate Medicine, 121(6), 148–157. doi:10.3810/pgm.2009.11.2083

European Food Safety Authority. (2009). Opinion on the safety of ‘Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica L.) and ground whole Chia seeds’ as a food ingredient. EFSA Journal, 7(4), 996, 991–926. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2009.996

Zhou, L., Zuo, Z., & Chow, M. S. S. (2005). Danshen: An overview of its chemistry, pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, and clinical use. The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 45(12), 1345–1359. doi:10.1177/0091270005282630