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Here in alt.drugs have been lot of talk about LSD synthesis lately.
I guess as an conclusion it can be said that the synthesis can be
carried out with good chemistry knowledge and laboratory. Then the
problem is where to get lysergic acid derivative for the synthesis.
The full synthesis of the lysergic acid is too difficult. Lysergic
acid amides can be extracted from the seeds of morning glory or
hawaiian baby wood rose, but it is not practical, because the huge
amount of seeds needed to get enough lysergic acid amides for
the LSD synthesis. To my opinion the only feasible possibility is
to cultivate ergot.

What I would like to know is how difficult it is to cultivate
Claviceps purpurea for example. Is it harder than growing psychedelic
mushrooms? Is the following procedure any good and how hard it is
to carry out? Any constructive comments?

Michael Valentine Smith: Psychedelic Chemistry

From pages 105-107:

The Culture and Extraction of Ergot Alkaloids

Make up a culture medium by combining the following ingredients in about
500 milliliters of distilled water in a 2 liter, small-neck flask:

  Sucrose .......................................... 100 grams
  Chick pea meal .................................... 50 grams
  Calcium nitrate ..................................... 1 gram
  Monopotassium phosphate ......................... 0.25 grams
  Magnesium sulphate .............................. 0.25 grams
  Potassium chloride ............................. 0.125 grams
  Ferrous sulphate heptahydrate ................... 8.34 milligrams
  Zinc sulphate heptahydrate ...................... 3.44 milligrams

Add water to make up one liter, adjust pH 4 with ammonia solution and
citric acid. Sterile by autoclaving.

Inoculate the sterilized medium with Claviceps purpurea under sterile
conditions, stopper with sterilized cotton and incubate for two weeks
periodically testing and maintaining pH 4. After two weeks a surface
culture will be seen on the medium. Large-scale production of the
fungus can now begin.

Obtain several ordinary 1 gallon jugs. Place a two-hole stopper in
the necks of the jugs. Fit a short (6 inch) glass tube in one hole,
leaving 2 inches above the stopper. Fit a short rubber tube to this.
Fill a small (500 milliliter) Erlenmeyer flask with a dilute solution
of sodium hypochlorite, and extend a glass tube from the rubber tube
so the end is immersed in the hypochlorite. Fit a long, glass tube in
the other stopper hole. It must reach near the bottom of the jug and
have about two inches showing above the stopper. Attach a rubber tube
to the glass tube as short or as long as desired, and fit a short glass
tube to the end of the rubber tube. Fill a large, glass tube (1 inch x
6 inches) with sterile cotton and fit 1-hole stoppers in the ends.
Fit the small, glass tube in end of the rubber tube into 1 stopper of
the large tube. Fit another small glass tube in the other stopper.
A rubber tube is connected to this and attached to a small air pump
obtained from a tropical fish supply store. You now have a set-up for
pumping air from the pump, through the cotton filter, down the long
glass tube in the jug, through the solution to the air space in the top
of the jug, through the short glass tube, down to the bottom of the
Erlenmeyer flask and up through the sodium hypochlorite solution into
the atmosphere. With this aeration equipment you can assure a supply
of clean air to the Claviceps purpurea fungus while maintaining a
sterile atmosphere inside the solution.

Dismantle the aerators. Place all the glass tubes, rubber tubes,
stoppers and cotton in a paper bag, seal tight with wire staples
and sterilize in an autoclave.

Fill the 1-gallon jugs 2/3 to 3/4 full with the culture medium and

While these things are being sterilized, homogenize in a blender the
culture already obtained and use it to inoculate the media in the
gallon jugs. The blender must be sterile. Everything must be sterile.

Assemble the aerators. Start the pumps. A slow bubbling in each jug
will provide enough oxygen to the cultures. A single pump can, of
course, be connected to several filters.

Let everything sit a room temperature (25 C) in a fairly dark place
(never expose ergot alkaloids to bright light - they decompose) for
a period of ten days.

After ten days adjust the culture to 1% ethanol using 95% ethanol
under sterile conditions. Maintain growth for another two weeks.

After total of 24 days growth period the culture should be considered
mature. Make the culture acidic with tartaric acid and homogenize in
a blender for one hour.

Adjust to pH 9 with ammonium hydroxide and extract with benzene or
chloroform/iso-butanol mixture.

Extract again with alcoholic tartaric acid and evaporate in a vacuum
to dryness. The dry material in the salt (i.e., the tartaric acid salt,
the tartrate) of the ergot alkaloids, and is stored in this form because
the free basic material is too unstable and decomposes readily in the
presence of light, heat, moisture and air.

To recover the free base for extraction of the amide of synthesis to
LSD, make the tartrate basic with ammonia to pH 9, extract with chloroform
and evaporate in vacuo.

If no source of pure Claviceps purpurea fungus can be found, it may be
necessary to make a field trip to obtain the ergot growths from rye or
other cereal grasses. Rye grass is by far the best choice. The ergot will
appear as a blackish growth on the tops of the rye where the seeds are
and are referred to as "heads of ergot." From these heads of ergot sprout
the Claviceps purpurea fungi. They have long steams with bulbous heads when
seen under a strong glass or microscope. It is these that must be removed
from the ergot, free from contamination, and used to inoculate the culture
media. The need for absolute sterility cannot be overstressed. Consult any
elementary text on bacteriology for the correct equipment and procedures.
Avoid prolonged contact with ergot compounds, as they are poisonous and
can be fatal.