The seeds, vines, flowers, and leaves of morning glories contain ‘ergoline alkaloids’, and they have been used (especially the species Ipomoea tricolor and Ipomoea violacea) by ancient Aztec and Mazatec cultures as an entheogen (a psychoactive substance obtained from natural resources, a tea, admixture, or potion like ayahuasca (yage) or bhang, that is used as a traditional medicine and a psychedelic drug, especially in a spiritual context). Entheogens supplement a number of methods for transcendence; for example, meditation, yoga, prayers, chanting, witchcraft, magic, music including peyote songs and psytrance, etc. It is believed that such substances promote revealing of some form of truth (knowledge) through communication with a deity or some other supernatural entity.
Morning glory seeds were used in priestly divination rituals; for example, in shamanistic rituals to reach an altered state of consciousness, to interact with the spirit world (establish contact with the supernatural energy), and to acquire knowledge of the paranormal. The seeds were also used as a poison or a hallucinogen to give the victim a ‘bad trip’ (drug-induced psychosis).
The seeds of many species of morning glory contain ergoline alkaloids like ergonovine (Ergometrine or d-lysergic acid beta-propanolamide) and ergine (d-lysergic acid amide or LSA), that are responsible for psychedelic activity. Approximately 10 µg ergine is present in a seed. How the Aztecs used these seeds was first described by Richard Schultes in 1941. The seeds were mainly used to explore the psyche, the inner experience.
It has been observed that intramuscular administration of 500 micrograms of ergine leads to a dreamy state. The person may feel exhausted and may not be able to maintain clear thoughts. The effects last for a few hours, and usually go away after a short period of sleep. The person may then start behaving normally.