Meet LSA, The Psychedelic Found In Ancient Flowers

Explore the effects of this naturally-occuring psychedelic.

Evan Lewis-Healey

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.Seeds of this morning glory plant contain the psychoactive substance LSA. Photo taken by Heike Loechel on Wikimedia Commons

Psychedelic substances have the potential to shift perceptions and radically alter states of consciousness. While modern research is quickly becoming reacquainted with substances such as psilocybin and LSD, nature still yields many psychoactive compounds that are left understudied. One such substance yet to be placed under the microscope is LSA.

What is LSA?

LSA, or D-lysergic acid amide, is a psychedelic substance that’s structurally similar to LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide). However, unlike LSD, it does not need to be synthesized, as it occurs naturally. LSA is found in the seeds of morning glory, a group of more than 1,000 species of flowering plants.

One particular species of morning glory, Ipomoea corymbosa, is a climbing vine native to much of Central and South America. The seeds are referred to as Ololiúqui in the Nahuatl language, and were consumed by both the Mayans and Aztecs to induce trance states during ceremonies. LSA is also found in much higher concentrations in Hawaiian baby woodrose, another climbing vine native to India.

The Mayans used LSA | Photo by Marv Watson on Unsplash

LSA vs. LSD: What’s the Difference?

Due to their structural similarity, the subjective effects of LSA are similar to its more famous chemical counterpart, LSD. Like other psychedelics, when taken in large enough doses, LSA can induce experiences that pertain to the spiritual, mystical, and profound-which is most likely why morning glory seeds were consumed by Indigenous cultures in South and Central America. Moreover, users may experience distortions of their vision, including brightening and shifting of colour, feelings of insight, and a lift in mood. Although, it’s important to note that the effects of LSA can vary wildly depending on mood upon dosage, the setting in which a user takes it, and the amount that is taken.

However, despite their structural similarity, there are some key differences between LSA and LSD; the latter may often produce an…

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Evan Lewis-Healey

PhD candidate at Cambridge University. Studying the cognitive neuroscience of altered states of consciousness.