Salvia is an important genus consisting of about 900 species in the family Lamiaceae. Some species of Salvia have been cultivated world wide for use in folk medicine and for culinary purposes. The dried root of Salvia miltiorrhiza, for example, has been used extensively for the treatment of coronary and cerebrovascular disease, sleep disorders, hepatitis, hepatocirrhosis, chronic renal failure, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, carbuncles and ulcers. S. officinalis, S. leriifolia, S. haematodes, S. triloba and S. divinorum are other species with important pharmacological effects. In this review, the pharmacological effects of Salvia species on the central nervous system will be reviewed. These include sedative and hypnotic, hallucinogenic, skeletal muscle relaxant, analgesic, memory enhancing, anticonvulsant, neuroprotective and antiparkinsonian activity, as well as the inhibition of ethanol and morphine withdrawal syndrome. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.