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Toxicology Q&A Answer: Morning Glory

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Answer: Morning glory.

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Ipomoea tricolor, violacea, and others. PHOTO: Jason Hack (Oleander Photography)

Morning glory is often referred to by its variety—including Heavenly Blue, Pearly Gates, Flying Saucers, Blue Star, Summer Skies, and Wedding Bells. This hardy annual climbing vine has single-colored funnel-shaped flowers spaced along its course, with deep green heart-shaped leaves. It blooms in early summer until the first frost.

“Morning” references that the flowers roll themselves closed every evening and unfurl in the morning.

The seeds of many species of morning glory contain a naturally occurring tryptamine, lysergic acid amide (LSA), which is chemically similar to LSD and has similar effects. Seeds are used for their strong psychedelic or hallucinogenic mental effects.

Often, the seeds are crushed and swallowed or made into teas to induce intentional intoxication.

Common names: Heavenly Blue, Flying Saucers, Blue Star
PHOTO: Jason Hack (Oleander Photography)

Apart from the desired hallucinogenic effects, patients often exhibit dilated pupils, increased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, numbness of the limbs, and muscle spasms.

Culturally, the hallucinogenic effects have been ceremonially used by the Aztec people in various rituals, and they referred to the plant as “Rivea corymbose” or “ololiuqui.”

Other South American cultures have used the seeds to diagnose illnesses and foretell various future events.

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Why Chewing Morning Glory Seeds Gets You High

And why you maybe shouldn’t do it.

We’re getting into the gardening season. If you’re into that sort of thing, one of the prettiest and most popular seeds to sow around this time is that of the Morning Glory flower, with its bright hues and soft shape. But, if you start to get bored turning the soil, don’t chew on their seeds, because they contain a powerful hallucinogenic compound. Chewing them unlocks the drug inside and you’re likely to puke.

For the science community — as well as the community of those who practice native Central American religions — this isn’t exactly news.

Morning Glory Seeds Get You High Because They Contain LSA

The average gardener may not know that they’re actually burying seeds that contain a potent alternative to LSD. It’s known as “D-lysergic acid amide” (that’s LSA to you) and it’s what’s known as a precursor chemical to LSD. LSA induces psychedelic effects not too dissimilar from that trippy drug you already know and love.

The LSA chemical was discovered by Albert Hoffman, who also discovered LSD, when he — you guessed it — chewed the seeds. It’s classed as a Schedule III substance by the DEA, with a “moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.” Other drugs in the same classification family are codeine and ketamine, although the Morning Glory flower is much easier and much less sketchy to obtain.

But before you go following in his footsteps and popping Morning Glory like it’s sunflower seeds, there are some crucial differences between LSA and LSD that are important to know going into it.

The Side-Effects of Chewing Morning Glory Seeds

Unlike it’s more refined cousin, LSA can trigger a high degree of discomfort in the user. That discomfort can come in the form of cramping, extreme nausea, other stomach pains, and even vomiting. It’s an unpleasant slew of experiences to be confronted with when all you’re looking for is a good trip.

People who have tried LSA for themselves expand on their experiences on BlueLight, a drug forum. One poster wrote “You’ll find LSA just really puts you in that drealike state with a slightly introspective mindset. LSD completely blows that open in my opinion, LSA is comparable to a real low dose of acid with nausea.”

Another reported that they took LSA with alcohol and had to be sent to the hospital. In May of 2016, a Boston teen was hospitalized after consuming morning glory seeds.

Still, other users have reported more pleasant — or at least not unpleasant — experiences, often commenting on how the dosage and any other drugs taken at the same time can alter the effects. “LSA is amazing. Very visual, very beautiful, very dreamy,” writes one user. “With LSAs I feel like having a strong body high and it can be pretty weird,” said another.

One YouTube user took the opportunity to describe her own LSA process and trip in great detail. “I started getting cramps behind my knees,” she said. She said the trip began roughly two hours after chewing the seeds and “things started the look like they were growing.”

She said she was reminded of a previous acid trip, a comparison in line with what the forums on BlueLight had to say.

Munching on some Morning Glory seeds could prove to be a surprising way to spice up your gardening. But much caution is required, because those pretty flowers can just as easily lay you out for the duration of the day.

And why you maybe shouldn’t do it.