Scientific article
Publication Date
Published by / Citation
Mercurio et al. (2017). GC/MS analysis of morning glory seeds freely in commerce: can they be considered “herbal highs”?. Egyptian Journal of Forensic Sciences 7:16
Original Language


herbal highs
Legal Highs

GC/MS Analysis of Morning Glory Seeds Freely in Commerce: Can They Be Considered “Herbal Highs”?



The so-called “herbal highs” are substances derived from natural plants with effects on the central nervous system. Lisergamide, ergine or LSA is the basis of different types of drugs, which are in seeds of Ipomoea violacea, also known as Morning Glory, and other seeds.

In our study we analysed the presence of lysergic acid amide (LSA) in seeds of Ipomoea violacea seized by the Italian Police, in others purchased through the Internet, and in other varieties of Ipomoea sold for ornamental purposes, to assess whether the actual consumption of ornamental seeds could contain hallucinogenic doses of LSA.


The analyses were conducted at the Laboratory of Forensic Toxicology of the Section of Legal Medicine of the University of Perugia, using GC/MSD system. For analysis, 300 mg of seeds (~8 seeds) from each specimen were chosen.


Analysis revealed that 300 mg of Ipomoea violacea seeds resulting from police seizures, equivalent to approximately 8 seeds, contained a percentage of LSA equal to 0.062%. This finding is in agreement with what was indicated in literature, as the ingestion of 250 seeds would lead to a dose of approximately 6 mg of LSA, capable of provoking hallucinogenic effects.

The analysis of 300 mg of Ipomoea Rubrocerulea seeds bought on the commercial marketdetected an average concentration of LSA of 0.011%. The Ipomoea mix contained a concentration of LSA about 10 times lower than that of seized Morning Glory seeds.


Seeds bought on the commercial market contained doses of LSA capable of provoking hallucinogenic effects. In the absence of data on the toxicity resulting from the ingestion of seeds for ornamental purposes, we believe that further research on the actual safety of ornamental seeds is necessary.

Share the Knowledge: ISSUP members can post in the Knowledge Share – Sign in or become a member