To experience a hallucinogenic effect, hundreds of morning glory seeds need to be consumed. This can lead to serious health conditions. This Buzzle article presents a list of side effects of eating these seeds.
Albert Hofmann, a chemist working for Sandoz Pharmaceutical, synthesized LSD unintentionally in 1938, in Basel, Switzerland. He himself did not know about its hallucinogenic effects until 1943, when he accidentally consumed some LSD.
Morning glory vines with their heart-shaped leaves, twining stems and tendrils, and spectacular flowers help enhance the beauty of a garden. The botanical names of some of the common varieties are Ipomoea purpurea, Ipomoea nil, and Ipomoea carnea. More than 1,000 species of these ornamental flowering plants, which belong to the family ‘Convolvulaceae’, are known by the common name ‘morning glory’.
As the name suggests, the spiral buds turn into full bloom early in the morning. But there are some exceptions, like Ipomoea muricata, which bloom at night. Morning glories are climbers which require full sun to grow and bloom. The big, fragrant flowers are very attractive. They can be bright-red with white throat (Scarlett O’Hara), pink, azure blue with white throats (Ipomoea tricolor or Heavenly Blue), purple, or white. They bloom from early summer to the first frost. The creeping stems grow and spread quickly on the ground. Some species are annual while others are perennial. Some are popularly used as green vegetables. Most of the species self-seed in the garden.
Morning Glory Seeds
The seeds, vines, flowers, and leaves of morning glories contain ‘ergoline alkaloids’, and they have been used (especially the species Ipomoea tricolor and Ipomoea violacea) by ancient Aztec and Mazatec cultures as an entheogen (a psychoactive substance obtained from natural resources, a tea, admixture, or potion like ayahuasca (yage) or bhang, that is used as a traditional medicine and a psychedelic drug, especially in a spiritual context). Entheogens supplement a number of methods for transcendence; for example, meditation, yoga, prayers, chanting, witchcraft, magic, music including peyote songs and psytrance, etc. It is believed that such substances promote revealing of some form of truth (knowledge) through communication with a deity or some other supernatural entity.
Morning glory seeds were used in priestly divination rituals; for example, in shamanistic rituals to reach an altered state of consciousness, to interact with the spirit world (establish contact with the supernatural energy), and to acquire knowledge of the paranormal. The seeds were also used as a poison or a hallucinogen to give the victim a ‘bad trip’ (drug-induced psychosis).
The seeds of many species of morning glory contain ergoline alkaloids like ergonovine (Ergometrine or d-lysergic acid beta-propanolamide) and ergine (d-lysergic acid amide or LSA), that are responsible for psychedelic activity. Approximately 10 µg ergine is present in a seed. How the Aztecs used these seeds was first described by Richard Schultes in 1941. The seeds were mainly used to explore the psyche, the inner experience.
It has been observed that intramuscular administration of 500 micrograms of ergine leads to a dreamy state. The person may feel exhausted and may not be able to maintain clear thoughts. The effects last for a few hours, and usually go away after a short period of sleep. The person may then start behaving normally.
Morning Glory Seeds Side Effects
✦ The seeds are highly toxic if ingested. There is one known case of suicide after ingestion.
✦ Consumption of these seeds may not directly result in the death of the person, but a morning glory high can lead to self-injury or some awful, wrong decision, eventually resulting in death.
✦ Dangerous drug interaction after ingestion of these seeds is one of the main causes of death.
✦ The chemical compound ergonovine is used to treat certain medical conditions. But an overdose of ergonovine through the seeds can lead to hallucinations, restlessness, and dementia.
✦ Excessive consumption can result in abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, tinnitus, chest pain, palpitation, slow or rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, breathing difficulty, rashes, and shock.
✦ Excessive intake of ergonovine can cause vasospasm (blood vessel spasm, leading to its constriction). This can lead to insufficient supply of blood to tissues, tissue death (necrosis), gangrene (ergot poisoning), and amputations.
✦ The long-term side effects of eating morning glory seeds also include gastrointestinal disorders, weakened muscles, abnormal neuromuscular transmission, etc.
✦ Ergonovine has strong uterus-stimulating properties, so the seeds can lead to a miscarriage or an untimely termination of pregnancy.
✦ Certain chemicals present in the seeds can pass into breast milk, and can prove to be fatal for the baby, or can seriously affect the brain of the baby.
✦ Glycosides from the seeds may cause nausea.
✦ When taken in large doses, (in hundreds), the seeds can produce a similar effect to LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide, a psychedelic drug, well-known for its psychological effects and spiritual experiences). But excessive consumption of the seeds can result in serious side effects as explained above. In the 1960s, the hippies used to consume these seeds to experience the hallucinogenic effects produced by them.
✦ Often, the seeds that are available in garden stores are coated with some form of pesticide or methylmercury, as they are meant only for garden use. They can cause serious health problems, like neural damage, developmental deficits in children exposed in-utero, etc. These poisonous substances are responsible for increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks in adults. Pregnant women and those who have liver problems (e.g. jaundice, hepatitis) should stay away from these seeds. They can also trigger an allergy in sensitive individuals.
✦ Consumption by people diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression can result in worsening of their symptoms.
✦ Eating these seeds along with alcohol, MAO-inhibitors, or other drugs can lead to serious side effects like increased blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, leg cramps, etc.
The LSA present in the seeds allows the user to experience a tranquil and dreamy state, similar to that which is experienced after consumption of LSD, a powerful hallucinogenic drug (commonly known as ‘acid’). Users like to enjoy the state of dreamy awareness, increased energy, cheerfulness, and enthusiasm. The experience of taking LSD is known as a ‘trip’, and whether the trip would be good (pleasant) or bad (very frightening) cannot be figured out before taking the drug. Once the drug is consumed, the individual yearns to experience the extraordinary experience again and again.
Extraction of LSA (especially commercial) from the seeds is considered as a criminal offense. According to U.S. Federal law, to extract, possess, or distribute LSA obtained from morning glory seeds is clearly illegal.