Toxicology Q&A Answer: Morning Glory
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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Morning Glory Guide: Seeds, Effects, Common Uses, Safety
Table of Contents
Morning Glories are a group of over a thousand flowering plants that are members of the Bindweed (Convolvulaceae) family. Morning Glory species are commonly used as ornamentals around the world, and some of these varieties produce seeds that contain a psychedelic tryptamine called d-lysergic acid amide, or LSA. LSA, also known as ergine, is structurally similar to LSD and produces a trip with similar effects to its chemical cousin. Morning glory seeds have a long history of use as an entheogen in South and Central Mexico and are nowadays consumed in many parts of the world for their psychedelic effects.
What is Morning Glory?
Morning Glories are annual climbing vines that grow between 2 to 4 meters in height and produce heart-shaped leaves. In late summer, they bloom funnel-shaped flowers in a wide range of colors, including white, red, blue, purple, and yellow. When the dead flowers fall off, the plant forms round seed pods that contain four to six small black seeds per pod.
The many species of Morning Glory are native to New World tropical and subtropical regions but are naturalized and cultivated in many other parts of the world. The most well-known varieties that produce psychoactive alkaloids like LSA are Ipomoea violacea (Beach Moonflower), Ipomoea tricolor (Mexican Morning Glory), and Turbina corymbosa (Christmas Vine). I. tricolor is the most well-known variety in the United States, sold commercially with names such as Heavenly Blue, Pearly Gates, Flying Saucers, Blue Star, Summer Skies, and Wedding Bells.
While all of these Morning Glory varieties contain LSA, the highest concentration is found in the seeds of Argyreia nervosa, or Hawaiian Baby Woodrose. Being in the same family (Convolvulaceae), Hawaiian Baby Woodrose is closely related to the above-mentioned species. It is native to the Indian subcontinent but cultivated in many other parts of the world.
- MG seeds
- Heavenly Blue
- Pearly Gates
- Flying Saucers
- Summer Skies
- Wedding Bells
- Blue Stars
Common Ways to Use Morning Glory
Morning glory seeds are ingested orally, most commonly by chewing and swallowing the normal or sprouted seeds and extracting the alkaloids in cold water. Due to the fact that LSA is heat-sensitive, morning glory seeds are generally not smoked. However, according to anecdotal reports, smoking grounded seeds can create psychoactive effects due to the presence of other alkaloids in the seeds.
Some individuals perform advanced extractions (such as non-polar/polar solvent extractions) to reduce nausea, ameliorate vasoconstrictive effects, and eliminate the need to consume a lot of seed matter. In this section, however, we will overview the most common preparation methods that don’t involve intensive extractions.
In the chewing method, morning glory seeds are chewed to a paste for a few minutes and then swallowed. Alternatively, the LSA can be absorbed sublingually (with 1.5x the oral dose) by chewing and keeping the seed matter under the tongue for thirty minutes and then spitting it out. The chewing method is simple and effective but is generally recognized as the most unpleasant because of the highest chance of nausea, the dirt-like taste, and the large number of seeds required.
Cold Water Extraction Method
Extracting the LSA in cold water is the method used traditionally by Mexican shamans, who grind the seed in a metate, wrap it in a linen cloth, and soak it in cold water to prepare a tea.
The cold water infusion is made by first grinding the seeds with a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder to a fine powder. LSA and the other psychoactive alkaloids are contained within the embryo of the seed, so grinding them finely allows for the most efficient extraction. From there, the powder is steeped in cold water for at least an hour. The infusion is then strained for drinking. Some users then add lemon or other citrus juice to mask the taste of the seeds.
Eating the sprouted seeds is a recommended method to reduce nausea, which is typically brought on by certain compounds in the seed husks. In this method, the seeds are germinated by first filing them down with a nail file and then soaking them overnight in warm water (purified or boiled). From here, the seed husks are easily removed the next morning, leaving the sprouts or little “brains” that are then eaten. Some users report this method may lead to a less intense trip compared to the other methods.
History & Traditional Uses
Morning glory seeds have been used since ancient times for their entheogenic and medicinal properties, particularly among the indigenous peoples of Mexico. Similar to the ritualistic use of peyote cactus and psilocybin mushrooms, the Aztecs would consume morning glory seeds in religious ceremonies to commune with their gods and in shamanic healing practices to diagnose and heal various afflictions. The Aztecs referred to the seeds of Ipomoea tricolor as tlitliltzin, the Nahuatl word for “black”, and the seeds of Turbina corymbosa as ololiuqui, a Nahuatl word meaning “round thing.”
In Oaxaca, Mexico, the ethnobotanist Richard Evan Schultes documented the ritualistic use of morning glory seeds by Zapotec shamans in 1941. The Zapotecs refer to the seeds of T. corymbosa as badoh and the black seeds of I. tricolor as badoh negro. Still today, morning glory seeds play an ongoing role as a sacrament and divinatory psychedelic in Southern and Central Mexico, particularly among the Mazatec, Zapotec, Chinantec, and Mixtec cultures.
Modern Day Discovery
In 1959, Schultes sent samples of the Mexican morning glory species Turbina corymbosa to Albert Hofmann, the swiss Chemist who discovered LSD. Hofmann elucidated its chemical constituents and, much to his astonishment, found the seeds contain alkaloids similar to the ones derived from ergot fungus that he had been investigating for decades.
Specifically, Hofmann identified the main psychoactive constituent to be lysergic acid amide (LSA), which he incidentally dosed in a self-experiment in 1947 before knowing it was a natural compound. In addition, he found the seeds contain lysergic acid hydroxyethylamide, ergonovine, and other chemically-related alkaloids, all of which are structurally similar to LSD.
Once knowledge of the entheogenic use of morning glory seeds by Mexican Native Americans became widespread and the psychoactive compounds present in the seeds were identified, they began to be used around the world for their psychedelic effects due to their high availability and relative legality.
Commonly Reported Effects of Morning Glory
Similar to other classic psychedelics, the LSA in morning glory seeds produces its effects by binding to 5-HT2A receptors. LSA is also present in the leaves and stems of morning glories, but in a much lesser concentration than the seeds.
The high from morning glory seeds has been likened to a more gentle and sedating LSD trip, given that LSD is at least an order of magnitude more potent and produces more stimulatory effects. When taken orally, the effects come up typically 30 minutes to 2 hours later and last from 5 to 12 hours. In addition, after-effects may be present for 2-48 hours following ingestion.
It may be difficult to control the dosage because the quantity of LSA can vary from batch to batch among the different varieties. With that said, as a general rule of thumb:
- A light dose is produced from 50-100 seeds
- A common dose is 100-250 seeds
- And a strong dose is 250-400+ seeds
Depending on the set and setting, and the number of seeds consumed, the psychological effects may consist of:
- Increased introspection and self-reflection
- Thought acceleration
- Dream-like state of consciousness
- Changes in sensory perception
- Visual and auditory hallucinations
- Enhancement of sensory sensitivity
- Sense of unity and interconnectedness
- Spiritual enhancement
According to trip reports, nausea is one of the most common physiological effects of morning glory seeds. This can be alleviated by fasting and taking motion sickness pills like Dramamine.
Other physiological effects may include:
- Spontaneous bodily sensations (tingling)
- Stomach cramps
- Bodily discomfort
- Pupil dilation
- Vasoconstriction (tightening of blood vessels)
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Muscle tremors
- Decrease in motor ability (at high doses)
Morning glory seeds commonly produce side effects that are mostly gastrointestinal and vasoconstrictive in nature. The gastrointestinal side effects are mostly due to other compounds (such as glycosides) present in the seeds, rather than LSA itself. In general, adverse effects may include:
- Stomach pain
- Leg cramps
- Temporary psychosis (in individuals predisposed)
In addition to these side effects, some users may experience an LSA hangover that can last a day or so that may be characterized by headache, exhaustion, blurred vision, vertigo, and physical inertia.
Research is scarce to non-existent on the long-term safety and toxicity of LSA. Similar to other psychedelics, LSA is not considered to be addictive, and there are known no cases of fatal toxicity due to LSA ingestion alone.
The known fatalities have resulted from improper set and setting as well as adverse drug interactions. Morning Glory seeds should be consumed in a safe area with a trip sitter present. They should not be ingested with MAOI antidepressants and lithium, as these are potentially dangerous combinations. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are known to diminish LSA’s effects greatly, which may require the consumption of many more seeds, potentially resulting in more adverse effects.
Sometimes, commercial suppliers will coat morning glory seeds with toxic chemicals, including pesticides and an antifungal called methylmercury. These coatings can cause nausea, vomiting, severe stomach cramps, and potential neurotoxicity. For this reason, users should wash the seeds thoroughly and choose untreated, pesticide-free seeds to minimize the risk of toxicity and side effects associated with these chemicals.
The consumption of morning glory seeds should be avoided in people with liver disorders and a history of psychosis. Additionally, due to its uterotonic effects, morning glory seeds should not be used by pregnant women.
Is Morning Glory Legal?
Seeds containing LSA, such as Morning Glory and Hawaiian Baby Woodrose, are not illegal to grow, possess, and distribute. The seeds are widely found in nurseries, gardening stores, and online botanical suppliers. One exception is in Arizona, where Ipomoea species are prohibited to cultivate as they are labeled as “noxious weeds.”
In many countries, extracting, producing, and consuming LSA is illegal. Pure LSA is federally scheduled in the US as a Schedule III drug, the same class as ketamine, codeine, and anabolic steroids. In the United Kingdom, LSA is seen as a precursor to LSD and therefore classified as a Class A substance, a classification shared with heroin, LSD, MDMA, and cocaine. Extracted LSA is illegal to consume, sell, and possess in the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Turkey, Sweden, and New Zealand.
Do Morning Glories Come Back Every Year?
Yes, Morning Glories are annuals. They will reseed and come back each year.
How Fast Does Morning Glory Grow?
Morning Glories are known for their rapid growth rate, growing up to 12 feet or more in a single season (a few months after seeds sprout).
How Often Do You Water Morning Glories?
As seedlings, Morning Glories should be watered several times a week. They do best in the early stages when the top inch of the soil is kept moist. Once they’re established, they require less water. If they’re growing outdoors, outdoor rainfall will be plenty. During dry spells, they may need to be watered weekly. Being deep-rooting plants, over-frequent watering will stress them and cause them to root close to the surface, depriving them of nutrients.
Should You Fertilize Morning Glories?
While Morning Glories are known to bloom in poor soil, they do well when fertilized with low nitrogen, high phosphorus fertilizers every 4 to 5 weeks. Nitrogen-rich fertilizers will result in dense foliage and no flowers.
How Long Do Morning Glory Seeds Last?
When stored properly in a sealed container in a cool, dark place, Morning Glory seeds can last up to five years.
How Long Does a Morning Glory Bloom Last?
Morning Glory flowers last a single day, opening up in the morning and fading away by late afternoon. The plant will continually produce new flowers until frost. Morning Glories will commonly bloom in August or early September.
Are Morning Glories Bad for Dogs?
Yes, the ergot alkaloids present in Morning Glory (Ipomoea sp.) flowers and seeds are toxic to dogs. They can potentially cause severe gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite, as well as other adverse effects such as tremors, ataxia, agitation, and disorientation.
Disclaimer: Morning Glory is a potentially categorized as an illegal drug. Reality Sandwich is not encouraging the use of this drug where it is prohibited. However, we believe that providing information is imperative for the safety of those who choose to explore this substance. This guide is intended to give educational content and should in no way be viewed as medical recommendations.
RS Contributing Author: Dylan Beard
Dylan Beard is a freelance science writer and editor based in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. After finishing his physics degree and dabbling in neuroscience research at UC Santa Barbara in 2017, he returned to his first love: writing. As a long-term fan of the human brain, he loves exploring the latest research on psychedelics, nootropics, psychology, consciousness, meditation, and more. When not writing, you can probably find him on hiking trails around Oregon and Washington or listening to podcasts. Feel free to follow him on Insta @dylancb88.
This guide covers what you need to know about Morning Glory, including common effects and uses, legality, safety precautions and top trends today.