Some science behind the scenes

Ipomoea violacea

 Ipomoea violacea is the scientific name for one of the plants called Morning Glory, a beautiful plant in the convolvulus family.   Ipomoea violacea is a perennial species of Ipomoea (morning glory) that occurs throughout the tropics, growing in coastal regions. It is most commonly called 'Beach Moonflower' or 'Sea Moonflower' as the blooms, white in colour, open at night.

This needs to be repeated.   Ipomoea violacea is a white flower.

The specific plant  Ipomoea violacea has, rather unfortunately, acquired the reputation of being a 'legal high', because its seeds contains chemicals which can be used to manufacture LSD.  The logic behind this escapes me, as LSD is not chemically the same as these chemicals, however, since logic appears not to form a part of the 'legal high' thinking, this is what we have.

Ipomoea violacea is not Ipomoea tricolour

Using the name Morning Glory can cause confusion as it is the common name for over 1,000 species of flowering plants in the family Convolvulaceae, whose current taxonomy and systematics are in flux. Morning glory species belong to many genera.  As such simply referring to a plant as 'morning glory', especially since it is used by the 'legal high' fraternity, is not at all safe.

In cultivation, the species is very commonly mistaken with Ipomeia Trocolor, actually a different though related species. Numerous cultivars of I. tricolor with different flower colours have been selected for use as ornamental plants; widely grown examples include Blue Star, Flying Saucers, Heavenly Blue, Heavenly Blue Improved, Pearly Gates, Rainbow Flash, Skylark, Summer Skies and Wedding Bells. The cultivar 'Heavenly Blue' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

But these are blue and Ipomoea violacea is white.

 
 

 Science

Now for some science.  First an extract which sets the scene and shows where confusion starts.....

An Evaluation of the Psychoactive Effects of Alkaloids Found in Ipomoea Violacea - John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith [EROWID]

It has been reported in many places that the alkaloids contained within the seeds of various morning glories (Ipomoea), most notably, Ipomoea violacea (tricolor) var. 'Heavenly Blue' produce psychoactive effects when ingested by humans. At least 8 alkaloids* of the type found in the rye ergot fungus (Claviceps purpurea) have been isolated from I. violacea (Wilkinson, Hardcastle, McCormick, 1987).

Tricolour or violacea?  Either way the alkaloids are similar to those that produce ergotism.

Yet more confusion.......

Extract from Morning Glory - Christine Stork and Jeanna Marraffa from the Encyclopedia of Toxicology.  [This article is a revision of the previous print edition article by Regina Weichelt, volume 2]

SYNONYMS:  Ipomoea violacea; Ipomoea tricolor; Pearly gates; Wedding bells; Heavenly blue; Blue star

Uses Morning glory seeds are abused for their hallucinogenic effect.

Background Information:  Morning glory is a climbing vine with blue, white, or red trumpet-shaped flowers that open in the morning and close in the afternoon. The leaves are green and heart shaped. A papery thin pod holds small black seeds.

Exposure Routes and Pathways:  Exposure is via ingestion. The seeds must be pulverized (chewed) to induce toxicity because the intact seed coat prevents absorption.

 Mechanism of Toxicity:  Morning glory seeds contain the toxin lysergic acid hydroxyethylamide.  To avoid abuse of morning glory seeds, commercial seed producers treat the seeds with essential oils, which are irritants, which induce nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

A few morning glory seeds are unlikely to cause significant problems. Several packages of seeds must be eaten to produce toxic effects in adults; however, nausea and vomiting generally precede its psychedelic effects. The contents of the seeds are not absorbed unless chewed. Three hundred seeds have a potency equivalent to 200–300 g of LSD, an amount sufficient to produce an altered state of consciousness. Twenty to fifty seeds may result in increased sociability, restlessness, and alertness followed by a period of relaxation. About 100–150 seeds result in hallucinations, perceptual changes, and improved mood lasting up to 4 h. About 200–500 seeds will cause euphoria, hallucinations, and philosophical thought. Adverse side effects are likely at this dose and include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue peripheral temperature, and sensation changes.

Acute and Short-Term Toxicity:  ….. Morbidity and mortality generally result from complications of hyperthermia including rhabdomyolysis, renal failure, and disseminated intravascular coagulopathy. … Sedation with benzodiazepines  is usually sufficient to treat the excess agitation and muscle activity; however, occasionally  hyperthermia may require more aggressive therapy with active cooling measures and muscle relaxants. Excessive physical restraint should be avoided to prevent further hyperthermia and excess muscle activity.

some more science................

Recently, there are important changes in recreational drug use. The aim of the present study was to analyse reports published on a recreational web site by drug users who ingested seeds of plants belonging to the Convolvulaceae family and to compare them with available medical case reports. We have also included reports describing the effects induced by "druids fantasy," which is a new drug allegedly containing the same alkaloid as the seeds of A. nervosa. Our search reveals the reoccurrence of recreational use of I. tricolor and violacea (morning glory), which had not been reported in medical literature since 1968. We have also found that drug users are experimenting with other species, such as I. purpurea, whose psychoactive properties are unknown. .....The most worrying symptom was suicidal ideation reported by two subjects who ingested A. nervosa and Ipomoea seeds.

PMID: 23662334

The seeds seem to mostly cause cases of poisoning, I was unable to find any cases of death on PubMed.  There were, however, one or two cases of permanent psychosis caused by ingestion of the seeds.

LSA has a vasoconstricting effect meaning that anyone with a bad heart or atherosclerosis risks death from consuming LSA containing plants or substances.  If blood is restricted going to the brain, hallucinations will result, but so will brain damage.  These two facts are why LSA is a Controlled substance.

Better I think to just regard it as a beautiful plant.

 

References

[A case of morning-glory-(Ipomoea)-seed psychosis].-  Flach C. Nord Psykiatr Tidsskr. 1967;21(4):313-21. Danish.   PMID: 5591054

JAMA. 1964 Dec 28;190:1133-4.MORNING GLORY SEED REACTION. -INGRAM AL Jr. PMID:14212309

Observations

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