Disclaimer: Please completely review the risks herein before deciding to consume whole seeds, bearing in mind that a full dose has significantly different health effects than a microdose, and there is still much to be discovered about this practice.
By now, most people are familiar with Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)—acid is one of the most famous psychedelic drugs in the world. Far fewer are familiar, though, with acid’s mild-mannered cousin, D-lysergic acid amide (LSA). LSA, also known as ergine, is sometimes referred to as “the natural LSD.” The psychedelic compound is found in the seeds of specific morning glory varieties and the Hawaiian baby woodrose plant. Both plants have a long history of indigenous use. Yet, in the West, they’re making headlines for a novel practice: microdosing LSA.
Can You Microdose LSA?
Microdosing is a practice primarily popularized by psychologist and psychedelic drug expert James Fadiman, who wrote about it in his book, The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide. While Fadiman may be the first person to speak loudly about microdosing, the practice itself didn’t begin with him. People throughout history have used small amounts of psychoactive substances in both medicinal and spiritual traditions.
In contemporary terms, microdosing is the practice of taking a subthreshold dose of a psychoactive compound. Usually, a microdose is about 1/20 to 1/10 of a standard dose, small enough to avoid the onset of a psychedelic experience. Microdosing LSD and microdosing shrooms is the most common. Yet, microdosing other psychedelics, like LSA, is growing in popularity—you can microdose LSA, just as you can most other psychoactive substances.
But, here’s the catch: we know very little about the benefits of microdosing LSA nor its risks. At the time of writing, there is no clinical research that explores the safety of microdosing LSA. Popular demand and interest exceed rigorous scientific study on the topic. Yet, there is some positive news: as microdosing gains popularity, researchers are paying attention.
An observational study published in 2017 found that LSA consumption reduced the severity and frequency of cluster headaches in people who reported self-administering the drug. Early research on psychedelic microdosing has also found that microdosing is potentially associated with enhanced creative thinking, improved mood, stress reduction, and improved focus. Yet, these studies are small compared to the comprehensive research needed to build legitimacy for the potential benefits of LSA and psychedelics in the eyes of health authorities like the Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organization.
How to Take Morning Glory & Hawaiian Baby Woodrose Seeds
Safe sourcing remains one of the biggest problems with taking morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor) and Hawaiian baby woodrose (Argyreia nervosa) seeds. Commercial seeds are sometimes treated with toxic chemical compounds, which can cause harmful side effects when consumed. So, before taking LSA-containing seeds, it’s imperative to investigate your source and confirm that they are untreated, a process that is difficult to do given the plants’ quasi-illicit nature.
After safely sourcing seeds, there are three primary ways that most psychonauts take them. The first way? Eating them, very slowly. In Microdosing Psychedelics, Paul Austin recommends chewing seeds for up to 20 minutes before letting the seed rest under their tongue for continued absorption. After a while, many consumers either swallow the seed or spit it out.
The next method, grinding, is perhaps more common for those consuming more than one seed. In Legally Stoned, Thies recommends grinding untreated morning glory and Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds with a coffee or electronic herb grinder. The ground seed is then added to a food or a drink, like juice or ice cream. Finally, many consumers perform simple water extractions to avoid eating the seeds altogether. But, extracting LSA is illegal while eating seeds is not—with the caveat that seeds may potentially cause more physical side effects.
How Much is a Morning Glory Microdose?
Between five and fifteen seeds constitutes a microdose of morning glory seeds. For a full dose, most consumers take between eighteen to thirty-six seeds, if not more. However, the more seeds you eat, the more likely you will experience stomach upset, gastrointestinal distress, and other uncomfortable side effects—apart from increased heart rate and hallucinations after overdosing on morning glory seeds, gastrointestinal distress is of the reasons why people call poison control after eating morning glory.
How Much is a Hawaiian Baby Woodrose Microdose?
Hawaiian baby woodrose contains more LSA than morning glory. It’s also the more popular choice amongst psychonauts. Just one seed is often enough for a microdose. It may even be too much in some cases—it’s not uncommon for consumers to eat just ⅓ of a seed. For those that are more adventurous, three seeds are on the high end of the microdosing spectrum. Six to 12 seeds constitute a full dose. Although, as always, it’s important to mention that these dosages are based on anecdotal reports, not hard science.
How Much in an LSA Microdose?
Most psychonauts consume LSA by eating seeds or creating simple seed extracts. It’s more difficult, although not impossible, to procure isolated LSA itself. Isolated LSA is a Schedule III controlled substance in the United States, which means that its access is restricted for the general population. Those caught selling and manufacturing LSA can face criminal charges. However, some brave souls extract LSA from seeds themselves and sell it illicitly, similarly to LSD. A microdose of isolated LSA is between 0.1 and 0.5 milligrams. A standard dose is between two and five milligrams. A typical microdose is between 1/20 and 1/10 of a usual dose.
Can You Microdose LSA Daily?
Microdosing in the Western world is a novel concept. So, anyone interested in experimenting is bound to have questions—is it safe to microdose LSA daily? What are the benefits of microdosing LSA daily? Unfortunately, however, at the time of writing, it’s impossible to give conclusive answers. There is absolutely no quality scientific research that looks into the short and long-term effects of microdosing LSA. (In fact, there’s no quality scientific research, in general, looking at the long-term effects of microdosing.) There is no set standard for how often it is safe to microdose Hawaiian baby woodrose nor microdosing morning glory seed.
Instead, many microdosers follow James Fadiman’s guidance, who recommends limiting microdosing to every three days to avoid developing tolerance to the psychedelic compounds. But, Fadiman also recommends limiting microdosing regimens to no longer than one month. These recommendations are based on his experience as a psychologist and expert in psychedelic drugs, not large-scale clinical trials.
We do know that ergine (LSA) can cause vasoconstriction, meaning that it tightens blood vessels and potentially affects blood flow and body temperature, especially when consumed via seeds that have not been extracted. This means that LSA may be risky for those with pre-existing heart conditions or high blood pressure. At this time, it’s unclear whether or not the vasoconstrictive properties of LSA can cause side effects if consumed regularly or over a long-term time span—even in a microdose.
As mentioned above, there are no clinical trials that give definitive answers to how much you should microdose or how often; health authorities know very little about microdosing psychedelics at all. It’s also important to note that Fadiman’s advice is about psychedelics in general, not morning glory seeds or LSA. Microdosing LSA may be associated with risks that are distinct from other psychedelics—only time and more rigorous scientific research will tell whether or not this practice is safe.
Microdosing LSA vs. LSD
There are three primary things to note about microdosing LSD versus microdosing LSA. First, there is far more research on microdosing LSD than LSA, which makes understanding their ultimate differences quite tricky, if not impossible at the present moment. Second, LSA is generally considered less potent than LSD. A microdose of LSD is 15 micrograms or less. A microdose of LSA would be comparable to 100 to 200 micrograms.*
Third, LSA is more accessible than LSD. Morning glory and Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds can be ordered online legally in many places, including most of the United States. Although, it’s always wise to research laws in your state or region before purchasing—in some states, like Arizona, some Morning glory is illegal to grow because it’s considered an invasive weed. Seeds are also illegal to sell.
Before buying, it’s also advisable to research whether or not seeds have been chemically treated. Seeds treated with pesticides or other adulterants that are toxic and harmful to consume. Finding safe seeds takes considerable research; it’s often hard to tell whether or not your seeds are truly safe and untreated when purchasing online due to a lack of regulation and oversight.
Early research on psychedelic microdosing has found that microdosing is potentially associated with enhanced creative thinking, improved mood, stress reduction, and improved focus. Research on microdosing LSA, however, remains scant.
In terms of the overall difference between LSD and LSA, perhaps an experiential anecdote is best. In their book Legally Stoned, Todd Thies, Ph.D., interviews a person about their experience after taking 11 Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds, which is a standard, if not high, dose. They recall:
“‘I have tried LSD twice before and I was expecting a similar, but less intense experience. That was pretty much what I got. It was also a more pleasant experience. I think it was better than LSD.’”
The interviewee describes seeing lights “coming at” them from the television after consuming ergot, much like visual distortions that occur with LSD. Those who microdose correctly, however, will likely not have such profound or noticeable visual experiences.
Microdosing LSA Side Effects
The current research on microdosing LSA leaves much to be desired. What are the long-term effects of microdosing? What are the potential side effects of eating one Hawaiian baby woodrose seed a day? Does microdosing help or harm mental health—or neither? Research on microdosing psychedelics is still in its infancy, much like the whole of psychedelic research itself.
Decades of legally mandated drug prohibition means that the scientific community has limited ability to research the potential benefits and risks of microdosing. However, LSA is less restricted than its more famous counterparts. Still, it’s ultimately consumers who pay the price for the current lack of quality information. What follows is a simple, yet likely incomplete, summary of the potential risks of microdosing LSA:
Anxiety & Mental Health Effects
Anxiety is a side effect of microdosing LSA—at least, according to anecdotal reports. The critical point of a microdose is to take a subthreshold dose, a dose that does not cause a “high” or a “trip.” Despite the intention, however, LSA is still psychedelic. Medical researchers still do not know much about the compound and its long-term health effects. So, anxiety and other mental health issues are still considered potential side effects. Indeed, a 2019 PLOS One study of 98 participants found that microdosing psychedelics was associated with a slight increase in neuroticism.
Nausea, Vomiting, & Gastrointestinal Distress (Chemical Poisoning)
Nausea, vomiting, and gas are probably three of the most unpleasant physical side effects noted by LSA consumers. This may be partly due to contaminated seeds. Seeds purchased in a typical garden store are often treated with a chemical that can induce nausea if consumed, an attempt to discourage the recreational consumption of morning glory and Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds.
But, nausea is common even amongst those who manage to procure untreated seeds online successfully. Incidentally, nausea may also be one reason why many consumers combine psychedelics with cannabis, a known anti-emetic.
Microdosing LSA: Unknown Side Effects
Many consumers perceive microdosing as safe because of the small dosage size—if large doses of psychedelics are considered relatively safe, tiny amounts should be too, right? Well, the truth is, we don’t know. What we do know is that generally speaking, psychedelics are considered non-addictive. Further, large-scale population studies haven’t found correlations between psychedelic drug use and negative mental health outcomes.
But, here’s the catch—the frequency of the dose may make the difference, as well as how long a person decides to microdose. Psychedelics are not like cigarettes or alcohol, which some people consume every day. Instead, the psychedelic experience’s intensity means that consumers use them fairly infrequently, at least when enjoying the standard dose. However, it is possible that taking a microdose of a psychedelic on the regular—say every day or every third day—may come with risks that the scientific community has yet to discover. Nevertheless, the opposite outcome may also be right: microdosing may be as safe, if not safer, than taking a standard dose of a psychedelic—or regularly taking currently available treatments for depression such as SSRIs. The truth is, we just don’t know. Whenever there is no clear answer, there is always risk.
Side Effects of Morning Glory, Hawaiian Baby Woodrose, and Ergine (Full Dose)
Be warned: eating morning glory or Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds can make for a rough trip. Microdosing ergine often means taking as little as one single seed, an amount so small that it produces no perceptible intoxication. But, many people do eat morning glory seeds in search of a psychedelic experience—and sometimes with great side effects.
Gastrointestinal pain, diarrhea, gas, and bloating are some of the primary side effects of eating Morning Glory and Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds. These side effects can be so uncomfortable that they overshadow the psychedelic experience. In addition, some consumers report intense muscle cramping, which can be frightening and quite painful. All of these side effects can intensify with an overdose of these seeds, which happens when consumers eat or incorrectly prepare entire packets of—potentially chemically treated—seeds in search of a psychedelic experience. Other side effects include increased heart rate, headache, and flu-like symptoms.
Eating seeds to achieve a psychedelic experience is very different from consuming extract or purified LSA. Both morning glory and Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds feature a hard outer shell and contain a variety of botanical chemicals, not just LSA. To the human body, morning glory seeds are very difficult to digest; these aren’t almonds or hulled hemp seeds, morning glory is not domesticated as a snack food.
Morning glory and Hawaiian baby woodrose seed may also be stressful for the human liver and kidneys, the primary organs responsible for removing toxins from the human body. The potential toxicity of morning glory seeds has been examined in the context of Chinese traditional medicine. A 2010 study, for example, found that long-term use of morning glory seed was associated with renal damage in rats. The study used the species Ipomoea nil and Ipomoea purpurea. Other research attempted to discern whether or not this toxicity is caused by ethanol extraction of morning glory seed, which are distinct from water-based extracts.
The bottom line? Although many consumers use LSA for its psychoactive qualities, the physical side effects of consuming whole seeds sometimes outweigh the psychedelic experience. Microdosing may avoid these physical side effects, but we really have very little information about the long-term use of ergine. At the time of writing, it’s impossible to report on conclusive benefits or risks to this now trending practice.
*Values based on 1/10 and 1/20 of a low standard dose of LSA (2mg), respectively.