Peter H. Addy PhD – Salvia: Research and Therapeutic Use

In this episode, Joe interviews Dr. Peter Addy, Licensed Mental Health Counselor out of Washington. In the show, they talk about the research and therapeutic use of Salvia.

3 Key Points:

  1. Salvinorin A is the active molecule that causes the psychedelic experiential reports, although there are at least a dozen unique compounds in the Salvia plant.
  2. In a recreational setting, Salvia is usually smoked, but in the Mazatec culture, they do not smoke it, they use a sublingual method.
  3. The clinical applications of Salvia are tricky right now. It’s not easy to get funding for psychedelic research.

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Show Notes

About Peter

  • Peter helped found the Yale Psychedelic Speaker Series
    • The main goal was to normalize talking about psychedelic research as research
  • Peter joined the pharmacology lab for his post doctoral research on Salvia
    • The team was mainly studying THC but were also studying Ketamine
    • He wanted to bring in MDMA and Psilocybin research
  • Peter attended The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology
    • As a psychologist, Peter focused heavily on feedback and experience

Transpersonal Psychology

  • It all started when Peter stumbled across a dusty book in the library as a Freshman, States of Consciousness by Charles Tart
    The book talked a lot about meditation
  • Joe says he has been practicing non-drug transpersonal states (breathwork) for years
  • You can have a psychedelic experience without drugs, and you can also take psychedelics and not have the psychedelic experience at all, it’s not about the drug
    • “Everyone has an innate desire towards transcending who they are, moving towards wholeness, and personal and societal transformation” – Peter
  • “If I’m kind, then people around me are more likely to be kind, it’s about the transformation of groups and societies than about having a cool trick” – Peter


  • Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy is proven to do a lot of really good things, but it’s not the only way and it’s not necessarily the right way. There are wrong ways to do it, but not one culture owns this experience.” – Peter
  • “Having a healthy critique of science in the modern world is helpful because its a series of provisional truths, it’s a good tool to get closer to objective reality, but its not perfect, it’s all we have so far” – Joe
  • Peter says that art is an amazing tool as well
    • Verbal language is limiting, he has seen images that can convey an experience way better than words can
  • Salvinorin A is the active molecule that causes the psychedelic experiential reports
    • There are at least a dozen unique compounds in the Salvia plant
  • There was going to be a bill to make Salvia illegal in 2008 or 2009
    • Now it’s just illegal for minors

Salvia Study

  • Peter recruited 30 people who had all used psychedelics
  • He used a controlled set, setting and intention
  • He used either a Salvia extract or just the unadulterated leaf
    • No one in the real world is using Salvinorin A, they are smoking the leaf or using extracts of the leaf
  • The participants smoked it when they desired, Peter was not enforcing the smoking
    • It was a very relaxed setting
  • Once the participants smoked, they then had an experience for 10 minutes, and then he came together with them and just listened to their experience
    • 2 people got up and moved, the rest just sat there in the experience
  • Interoception (the inner feelings of your body) is the internal form of proprioception (the feeling of your body in space)
  • Every time you smoke something it is going to hit you quickly and be over quickly
    • By the time you realize what’s going on in a Salvia experience, you’re already on your way out
    • In the Mazatec culture, they do not smoke it, they use a sublingual method


  • The clinical applications of Salvia are tricky right now
  • It’s not easy to get funding for psychedelic research
    • Peter says if you do get funding, attach it to something else
    • MDMA research didn’t just begin to ‘see what it could help’, PTSD sucks, and there isn’t a whole lot that works to treat it, but MDMA does and it just happens to be a type of psychedelic



About Peter

Peter is both a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Washington and a Licensed Professional Counselor in Oregon. He earned a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Sofia University in 2011, including certification in biofeedback and Process Oriented Psychodrama. There, he studied non-ordinary states of consciousness, holistic and all-encompassing views of a person, and ways that these experiences can transform a person and society. Peter then engaged in post-degree specialty training at Danville State Hospital, Yale University School of Medicine, and the Connecticut Mental Health Center. As faculty at Yale University he engaged in research and training. Some of his clinical training is in mindfulness-based therapies, Motivational Interviewing, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. He also discovered a passion for data management and security which he brings with him to his online therapy practice.

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