LSD and LSA don‘t just sound similar, they are indeed chemical brothers. LSA is the natural counterpart to synthesised LSD, so much that Albert Hofmann, the father of LSD, was astounded by their structural similarity.
LSA is a precursor to LSD. In chemistry, a precursor is a substances that participates in a chemical reaction that produces another compound. In other words, before LSD becomes LSD, somewhere along the way it‘s LSA. From that perspective, LSD can be regarded as a more refined form of LSA.
And that‘s also where their main similarity lies - in their shared chemical structure. LSA (d-lysergic acid amide), also known as Ergine, contains lysergic acid, which is the same acid that is the building block of LSD. But beyond that, they are quite different beings.
LSA can be found naturally throughout the forests of this world, whereas LSD is the product of extensive lab work. LSA is most commonly found in the seeds of Hawaiian Baby Woodrose Vine, as well as in the seeds of Morning Glory and a range of other plants. The seeds are often chewed in order to extract the LSA they contain.
Morning Glory seeds look back a long history of ceremonial use among Mexican tribes. Ritually, LSA seeds have been used as a way to commune with the gods for centuries.
It was the renowned scientist Albert Hofmann, discoverer of LSD, who first isolated and identified LSA from sample seeds he received from South America. Whilst the psychoactive effect of the seeds was already widely acknowledged, it was not until Hofmann isolated the alkaloids, that it became clear the substance in question was LSA. Up until that point, it was thought that only the fungus Claviceps purpurea contained LSA.
But it‘s really just a small structural twist between the molecules that makes all the difference. Like serotonin and psilocybin are chemically closely related, their pharmacological effects differ substantially. Similarly, both LSA and LSD are psychedelic, but there‘s an ocean of a difference in their effects. The psychedelic headspace of high grade LSD is marked by clear, crystalline mental energy.
LSA on the other hand is commonly consumed with all the alkaloids that are present throughout the seeds, which can be quite numerous. Nausea, vomiting, headaches and gas are quite frequent experiences. While these effects cannot be clearly attributed to LSA itself, it‘s clear that the body load of LSA is much heavier than that of LSD. Sedative and dreamy effects are often experienced. In first self-experiments with LSA, Hofmann reported a feeling of drowsiness and being put in a dream like state.
When in comes to potency, LSD wins hands down. LSD is psychoactive in amounts as tiny as 20µg, LSA reportedly delivers a medium strength experience at around 500µg. It is estimated that the potency of LSA is around one-tenth to one-thirtieth the potency of LSD.
Also, because the seeds of Morning Glory are so tiny, they need to be consumed in large amounts in order to produce a substantial psychedelic effect. Conversely, Hawaiian Baby Rosewood Vine seeds contain a much higher concentration of LSA, with only a few being required to cause a hallucinogenic reaction.
While LSA seeds can look back on a history of entheogenic and ceremonial use, they are by no means a legal alternative to LSD. The two molecules share a similar chemical makeup, and indeed LSA can produce profound mind-altering experiences. While the transparent, energetic and uplifting qualities of LSD cannot be matched, LSA induces a somewhat sedated, dreamlike trance with valuable introspective and entheogenic qualities.