Development of presumptive macroscopic, microscopic, and colorimetric tests for Salvia divinorum, salvinorin A, and salvinorin B
LaBelle, Keri Lyn
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Salvia divinorum (S. divinorum) is a psychoactive plant from the Lamiaceae (mint) family originating in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. The plant's psychoactive compound, salvinorin A (sal A) has been found to be unique to the microscopic glands of S. divinorum and exhibit powerful psychoactive properties similar to lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) at concentrations as low as 200 µg. A similar compound, salvinorin B (sal B), is also found in the glands of S. divinorum and does not have psychoactive properties, although is considered a precursor to sal A. The plant is traditionally used by the Mazatec Indians for divination and healing rituals but has since been brought to the United States (U.S.) where it has become a popular drug of abuse. The plant is abused like other psychoactive plants such as mescaline, psilocybin mushrooms, and cannabis, and is currently not regulated by federal laws. In anticipation of legislation regulating S. divinorum, sal A, and sal B, forensic analysis methods must be improved to allow for the rapid and accurate identification of plant material, such as fresh or dried leaves, and the active compounds. Currently, analysis of S. divinorum relies on the identification of sal A from extracts of leaf material, a time consuming process requiring sophisticated instrumentation. The development of preliminary tests such as a macroscopic/microscopic analysis or colorimetric spot test would allow for the rapid analysis of S. divinorum plant material, sal A, and sal B, and would allow for elimination of non- S. divinorum material from further time-consuming analyses. This research focused on examining the botanical features of S. divinorum plant material at the macroscopic and microscopic level for the ability to discriminate S. divinorum from other plants in the same taxonomic family and common household herbs. Additionally, a colorimetric test utilizing in-house preparations of the Ehrlich's reagent was evaluated for its potential to be used as a presumptive test for S. divinorum, sal A, and sal B. [TRUNCATED]
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