Figure 9 . Auxin – 3-indoleacetic acid (IAA).
The plant sources of ergot alkaloids also affect livestock. One example is I. muelleri (a vine locally called morning glory), which has been associated with substantial mortalities of sheep (7000/annum) in Western Australia ( Gardiner et al., 1965 ), attributed to ergot alkaloids (lysergic acid amide, chanoclavine, isolysergic acid amide). Affected stock deteriorate in condition, lose the use of hind limbs, tire easily, salivate and froth at the mouth, which suggests hyperthermia, but swainsonine is also involved.
Another ergot species (C. africana) infects sorghum and related species like Johnson grass and produces dihydroergosine, dihydroelymoclavine and festuclavine. It also produces hyperthermia in lot-fed cattle with pronounced economic consequences ( Blaney et al., 2001 ). A different syndrome is produced in cattle by C. paspali, which infects paspalum grass (Paspalum dilatatum) and related grasses. This fungus produces lysergic acid, methylcarbinolamide and lysergic acid amide, which give rise to ‘paspalum staggers’, involving incoordination of limbs, severe muscle trembling and excitability with staring eyes.
Lolines are classified as pyrrolizidines, a class that also includes plant alkaloids known for their insecticidal activity ( Figure 8 ). These substances are insecticidal alkaloids with insect-deterrent activities, possessing little or no activity against large mammals. Lolines are neurotoxic to a broad range of insects, and when produced by endophytes in plants they have been shown to defend the plants from aphids. Lolines are only known from endophyte-infected grasses, and plants of the genus Adenocarpus (Fabaceae) and Argyreia mollis (Burm.f.) Choisy (Convolvulaceae). It is possible that undiscovered fungal symbionts might be responsible for loline production in Adenocarpus and Argyreia species.
The ergot alkaloid lysergic acid amide, which is structurally similar to the hallucinogen lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), is present in large amounts in Convolvulaceae, such as Argyreia nervosa (Hawaiian baby woodrose), Ipomoea violacea (morning glory), and Turbina corymbosa (ololiuhqui). Serum concentrations after ingestion of the seeds of Argyreia nervosa are in the low ng/ml range and are associated with severe adverse reactions, such as nausea, weakness, fatigue, tremor, and hypertension, and a psychosis-like state [ 2 ]. The risks of adverse reactions to lysergic acid amide are highly variable in different individuals [ 3 ] and severe nervous system toxicity can occur [ 4 ], as can acute hypertensive encephalopathy [ 5 ].
Figure 10.6 . Evidence that the LOL cluster moved after being constituted during the evolution of plant-associated Clavicipitaceae. The LOL clusters in Epichloë festucae E2368 and Epichloë glyceriae E277 are located between housekeeping genes nsfA and lteA, but in opposite orientations. The LOL cluster in Atkinsonella hypoxylon B4728 is located between genes encoding a phosphoketolase and a mitochondrial protein, which are linked in the Epichloë species. Pseudogenes, white arrows; flanking genes, grey arrows; and //, regions of the cluster containing repetitive elements.
While ergot fungi invade the flowering head of grasses and grain crops, endophytic fungi grow throughout the plant tissue, and are transmitted with seed. It has been argued that the Balanasia and Acremonium endophytes began as Claviceps-like parasites and evolved into a mutualistic symbiotic relationship with the host plants ( Clay, 1988 ), with the alkaloids they produce providing a defence against herbivory. Tall fescue grass (Festuca arundinacea) contains the fungal endophyte A. coenophialum that produces the ergot alkaloid ergovaline. Tall fescue toxicosis has been estimated to cost beef producers more than $600 million annually in northern America, through decreased weight gains, milk production and conception. Hyperthermia is a feature, as is ‘fescue foot’ in cool weather, due to reduced blood flow to peripheral tissues ( Paterson et al., 1995 ), and similar problems are likely wherever tall fescue is grown. Perennial ryegrass contains a similar endophyte (Neotyphodium lolii) that also produces ergovaline, plus several other toxins including the tremorgen lolitrem B and peramine. It is a serious problem in New Zealand ( Barry and Blaney, 1987 ), and also occurs in parts of the USA ( Cheek, 1995 ) and Argentina; serious epidemics have occurred in southern Australia, most recently in 2002 ( Reed et al., 2002 ) when nearly 30 000 sheep and 500 cattle died on 224 properties in Victoria.
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.
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 to Take Morning Glory & Hawaiian Baby Woodrose Seeds
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:
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.
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