Synthetic salvia may be an opiate alternative without the addiction

Painkiller addiction has reached epic proportions and this has spurred a search for suitable alternatives to opiates. We've seen some potential novel alternatives, such as sea snail venom and using VR to distract patients from pain. One new potential alternative comes in the form of a hallucinogenic drug call salvia and a synthetic version of it with painkilling properties.

When it comes to opiate alternatives, researchers are seeking a substance that can provide the same level of pain relief as opium-derived medications (or synthetic variants thereof) without the same severe addiction potential. This could be achieved by formulating a painkiller that works on the kappa opioid receptor without messing with mu opioid receptors, the likely source of addiction and painkiller abuse.

A newly detailed synthetic version of the hallucinogenic compound in Salvia divinorum may be the key. Researchers with The Scripps Research Institute and the University of Southern California have published a report detailing the process of synthesizing this compound, Salvinorin A, into 20-nor-salvinorin A.

This synthetic salvia was found to relieve itching in mice, and it could also potentially be a painkiller without the same addiction potential as traditional opiates. The synthesized variant addresses some typical troubles presented by Salvinorin A and is reported to be stable. As well, this successful synthesis was performed in 10 steps rather than the 20+ that past methods have required.