Morning glory flowers are a common sight in many gardens and yards. Native to tropical areas in South America and Asia, these lush flowers bloom in warm weather and attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Their seeds, however, produce effects that are anything but beautiful. Classified as a poisonous substance, morning glory seeds contain lysergic acid amide (LSA), a substance that is molecularly similar to D-lysergic acid diethylamide, which is also known as LSD.
What Are Morning Glory Seeds (LSA)?
Also known as ergine, d-lysergic acid amide, and d-lysergamide, LSA is a naturally occurring substance found in the seeds of morning glory flowers. Discovered by Albert Hofmann, the same scientist who discovered LSD, LSA is listed as a schedule III substance on the drug schedules of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Schedule III drugs have moderate to low potential for psychological and physical dependence. Other Schedule III drugs include Tylenol with codeine, ketamine, and testosterone.
How Do People Abuse LSA?
Morning glory seeds have become popular substances to abuse. When used as a way to get high, morning glory seeds are consumed in their natural state. Some people grind the seeds and add them to drinks. While eating one or two seeds will likely not cause any ill effects, consuming large concentrations of the seeds can cause hallucinations, diarrhea, nausea, and other symptoms. The physical and mental effects of the drugs can last five to six hours.
Unlike LSD, LSA also has sedative properties. This means that people might feel more calm and relaxed after consuming LSA. They might also experience fatigue that can prevent them from driving or operating machinery safely. Some people may feel the sedative effects first before transitioning to the psychedelic effects.
Like LSD, concentrated forms of LSA can cause psychosis and other serious mental health conditions. Currently, there is no known toxic level of LSA and there have been no reported overdose deaths. This does not mean that LSA is safe. In fact, there have been reported cases of overdose-related illnesses relating to LSD. Medical professionals believe that large amounts LSA seeds may cause significant illness long before people reach their intended highs, which may prevent users from reaching a deadly dose.
Since it is legal to purchase morning glory seeds and they are easy to acquire from many stores, they are accessible and adolescents may run a high risk of abusing LSA. With adolescents experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, increasing numbers of teens are looking for ways to self-medicate to relieve their mental health symptoms.
While illicit drugs and alcohol are often expensive and difficult for minors to obtain, morning glory seeds can be found in many stores for a few dollars a package. Morning glory seeds also do not have the same stigma as illicit drugs. Teens might feel that it is more acceptable to use LSA than it is to drink, smoke, or use other drugs.
Because adolescents are still growing and their bodies and brains are not fully mature, they also run the risk of becoming quite ill after consuming LSA. Emergency rooms have treated teens who have become sick after consuming morning glory seeds. These teens experienced auditory and visual hallucinations, severe nausea, dry mouth and skin, vision changes, and difficulty urinating.
Although it is not considered a highly addictive substance, LSA can cause physical tolerance. When this happens, users need to consume increasing amounts of the substance to feel the same high. Unlike other substances, users must wait for the drug to be fully metabolized and completely out of the body, which takes about a week, before people can experience any psychedelic effects with additional doses. This property may make LSA lose its appeal after only a few doses.
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How Does LSA Abuse Affect the Body?
Consuming morning glory seeds can produce the sensation of being high as well as uncomfortable illnesses. Some people compare the effects to psychedelic trips with added nausea. LSA’s effects on the body can include the following symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- High blood pressure
- Increased or decreased heart rate
- Stomach and muscle cramping
- Tactile hallucinations/mild tingling
- Visual hallucinations (color shifting, sense of melting)
- Tightening of the veins and arteries
- Muscle soreness
- Auditory hallucinations
- Rapid thoughts
- Distorted sense of time
- Dream-like states
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What Is LSD?
While LSA is found naturally in morning glory flowers, LSD is a synthetic drug. This means that people must create it, and because LSD is illegal in the United States, facilities that produce LSD are also illegal. Manufacturers produce LSD in a crystal form, although people sell it as small squares of paper (tabs) soaked in the liquid form of LSD, as capsules, as gelatin squares, as small tablets, or in cookies or gummy candies.
Although LSA on the DEA’s schedule III for drugs, LSD is considered a schedule I drug, which means it has no currently accepted medical use and it has a high potential for addiction. Other Schedule I drugs include peyote, heroin, cannabis (marijuana), and ecstasy.
First created in the 1930s as a potential medical treatment, scientists did not discover the hallucinogenic properties of LSD until the 1940s. In the 1950s and 1960s, psychology students were often given LSD as school assignments as part of an effort to understand schizophrenia. Following a wave of recreational abuse, in the 1970s, the U.S. government classified LSD as a schedule I drug.
How Do People Abuse LSD?
There is currently no legal or scientific accepted medical use for LSD, making all forms of the drug illicit. People who use it do so illegally. They choose among several forms of the drug with the intention of getting high.
People do not consume LSD by eating it. Instead, they dissolve the drug in their mouths. Some people also use LSD in liquid or gelatin form by putting it directly into their eyes. This causes the drug to enter their bloodstream rapidly and produces effects within thirty to ninety minutes. The effects of LSD can last up to twelve hours at a time. Because people do not eat LSD, it does not typically produce nausea, in contrast to LSA.
How Does LSD Abuse Affect the Body?
LSD can produce a wide variety of intended and unintended effects on the body. Some of the signs of LSD abuse include:
- Increased body temperature
- Facial flushing
- High blood sugar
- Pupil dilation
- Tingling in the fingers and toes
- Heart palpitations and rapid heartbeat
- Increased blood pressure
- Appetite loss
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Chills and goosebumps
- Visual and auditory hallucinations
- Increased awareness and sensitivity to touch, smells, and sounds
- Distorted sense of time
- Depersonalization and out-of-body experiences
- Synesthesia (blending of senses, such as assigning sounds to colors)
- Increased anxiety or panic
- Mood swings
- Aggression and violence
- Impaired judgment
Some LSD users claim that the drug encourages them to be more openminded and boosts their creativity. In fact, artists and musicians have famously used LSD.
One curious side effect of LSD is that it may cause flashbacks. In these flashbacks, users experience the effects of LSD even after the drug is out of their system. For some people, flashbacks can persist for an extended period, affecting their daily functioning.
Extended flashbacks produced by hallucinogens such as LSD are known as hallucinogen persisting perceptual disorder (HPPD). It is not yet known why some people develop HPPD and there is no known cure or treatment. Antipsychotic drugs, SSRIs, and anticonvulsants have help relieve the symptoms of HPPD for some people. For others with HPPD, such medications can make the condition worse.
While LSD overdoses are generally not fatal, psychosis can occur, leading to violent or risky behavior that can be deadly. Most reports of deaths relating to LSD overdoses were the result of dangerous behaviors or accidents caused by impaired judgment.
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What Are the Dangers of Psychedelic Abuse?
While deaths from psychedelic abuse are rare, the drugs may produce significant effects on the body. LSA can cause illnesses that can lead to hospitalization, especially due to dehydration and urinary problems.
Being high on psychedelics can lead to dangerous risk-taking behavior that can threaten the lives of users and others. Detachment from reality for hours at a time is a well-known, relatively common effect of psychedelic use. It is one reason people use psychedelic drugs.
If people are disconnected from reality, they are not able to make sensible decisions or appropriately react to outside events. Tripping from psychedelics can also give a user a feeling of immortality, causing him or her to engage in risky behaviors without fear of death.
For instance, being struck by vehicles is one common cause of death while using psychedelics. Drug users may have skewed perceptions and cross the street while tripping on LSD or LSA, not even realizing that they are stepping into traffic. Some deaths have also occurred after people have fallen out of windows or off the roofs of buildings while high.
Unfortunately, several deaths have also occurred when people drove while under the influence of psychedelic drugs. While driving while under the influence of LSD or LSA is not common, when one does get behind the wheel while under the influence of psychedelics, the results may be catastrophic. Because of the detachment from reality, impaired judgment, and visual hallucinations, impaired drivers are often unable to react to changes in the road, weather conditions, or driving patterns, often causing deadly accidents.
If you or someone you know is abusing either morning glory seeds or LSD, it is important to find help immediately. While deaths from psychedelic overdoses are rare, there have been many cases of illness, injuries, or deaths due to impaired judgment and increased risk-taking behaviors while high. The best way to avoid accidental death or injury from using LSD or LSA is to stop using the drugs and seek detox and rehabilitation assistance to find a clean and sober life.
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