Salvia divinorum is highly variable in its effects, some people achieve pronounced results from smoking or chewing plain leaves, while many do not. In response to this, extracts have been developed that are a much more effective way to experience the full effects of this magical plant. These extracts are available in various formulations. There are two kinds of extracts on the market: regular and standardized. Standardized extracts are far superior to regular extracts in several ways. A regular extract is a crude extract made by simply soaking Salvia divinorum leaves in a solvent to dissolve the salvinorin-A out of the leaves. The trouble is, a lot more than just the salvinorin-A gets pulled out of the leaves; much of the chlorophyll and plant fats get dissolved as well and end up in the finished extract and subsequently in your lungs. In contrast, a standardized extract is made by first producing pure crystalline salvinorin-A, and then applying this to the leaves, so there is no extra chlorophyll or plant fats in the extract. A standardized extract burns very cleanly and is milder on the lungs because it produces smoke with much lower amounts of unhealthy tar in it. Also, with a standardized extract, you get a guaranteed quantity of the active ingredient; with a crude extract you don't know how much you are getting. A 5X standardized extract has 12.5 mg of salvinorin-A per gram of leaf and a 10X has 25 mg per gram of leaf. A gram of standardized 5X contains approximately18 moderate doses or 12 full doses; the standardized 10X contains twice this amount.
What exactly is a standardized extract?
A standardized extract is one in which the active compound - in this case salvinorin A - is extracted from the plant and purified and then redeposited back onto the dried leaves. A standardized extract contains pure crystalline salvinorin A, a very rare compound that few people have ever seen and even fewer people have ever produced. It takes a fair amount of chemistry knowledge and skill to produce pure salvinorin A, so a standardized extract may cost a little more, but it is well worth it. Many of the other salvia extracts on the market are crude extracts. Crude extracts are made by soaking salvia leaves in toxic solvents to dissolve the salvinorin A out of the leaves. The trouble is, a lot more than just the salvinorin A gets dissolved out of the leaves, much of the plant lipids get dissolved in the solvent as well and end up in the extract and subsequently in your lungs. (Lipids are a large class of organic substances, insoluble in water and greasy to the touch, including the fats, waxes, and sterols.)
What does 5X, 10X, etc.. mean
It means it is 5 times or 10 times as potent as dried leaf, so it contains 5 or 10 times the amount of salvinorin A.
- 5X - 12.5 mg/gm
- 10X - 25 mg/gm
- 15X - 37.5 mg/gm
- 20X - 50 mg/gm
- 30X - 75 mg/gm
- 40X - 100 mg/gm
- 60X - 150 mg/gm
Does a standardized extract look different than a crude extract?
Yes, you can tell the two apart by looking at them. A crude extract contains extra chlorophyll and plant fats, so it is darker in color and has a slightly gummy consistency. A standardized extract retains the normal leaf color and is absolutely dry, there is no gummy quality to it at all.
Is a standardized extract more potent than a crude extract?
Yes it is. A crude extraction does not pull all the salvinorin A out of the leaf, it is an inefficient extraction. So a 5X crude extract is not really a 5X at all, it is actually a 3X or 4X depending on how diligent the person was who made it. A 5X standardized extract is a true 5X because you are redepositing a known quantity of the pure compound onto the leaves. A crude extract would have to be a 6X or 7X strength to equal a 5X standardized extract in potency, or 11X or 12X to equal a 10X standardized extract in potency.
Is a standardized extract more healthy to smoke?
Absolutely, that is the main reason we go to the extra trouble to produce it. The extra plant fats contained in a crude extract, when burned, produce a lot more unhealthy tar in the smoke (very similar to the tar in tobacco smoke). A standardized extract contains *none* of these additional fats, so it burns very clean and is much easier on the lungs. Also, crude extracts can contain solvent residues which obviously are harmful if inhaled. The solvents get trapped in the gummy portion of the extract and can be hard to evaporate off completely during processing. We know, we used to produce crude extracts before we started producing standardized extracts.
How long will a standardized extract keep?
If kept dry it will keep indefinitely. Salvinorin A is a very stable compound and will not lose any potency over time. If you are planning on storing if for long periods of time it would be best kept in a glass container and out of direct sunlight.
Are there any other benefits to a standardized extract?
Yes, a standardized extract will be absolutely consistent from batch to batch, always containing the same amount of salvinorin A. A crude extract will vary in potency from batch to batch depending on the potency of the leaves it was made from. Salvia plants vary in potency a great deal depending on many factors, including: time of year they were harvested, temperature, light levels, nutrient levels, humidity, age of the plants, etc. A standardized extract removes all these variables and you know each batch will be exactly the same.