LINDSAY Lohan’s tragic ex-boyfriend became hooked on a bizarre psychedelic drug – often used in shaman rituals – before his sudden death, his friends have claimed.
Restaurant tycoon Harry Morton, 38, who founded celebrity hangout Pink Taco, was found unresponsive by a family member at his Beverly Hills home on Saturday.
Morton, the son of Hard Rock Cafe founder Peter Morton, 72, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Friends of the late celeb said he was a well-known drug user and regularly took ayahuasca – a “psychedelic brew” made from tropical vines and leaves from the Amazon jungle.
‘HE WAS HOOKED’
The drug distorts brain waves to create a vivid “waking-dream” state and was used by Lindsay, who credited the drug with helping her cope with a miscarriage.
A friend of Harry’s told MailOnline: “We’ve all been concerned over Harry’s use of ayahuasca for some time, he was hooked on the stuff.
“He always thought it was safe and natural but he was definitely over using it.
“It’s still too early to know exactly how Harry died, but because he was so young his friends and family fear it’s drug related – only time will tell.”
The friend added: “Harry’s sister died of a drug overdose so it would be an absolute tragedy if Harry went the same way.”
What is Ayahuasca?
The brew, also known as yage, has been around since at least the 1700s when Christian missionaries from Europe first witnessed shamans holding mystical ceremonies deep in the Amazon.
The tea is prepared by mixing the ayahuasca vine with bits of chacruna shrub containing a hallucinogenic chemical known as dimethyltryptamine (DMT).
The plants are chopped up and boiled in the same bowl until they form a thick, brown liquid, whose strength depends on the practitioner and the number of consecutive days it’s taken.
It can take around 30 minutes for the effects to kick in – signalled by vomiting which apparently gets rid of toxins – and trips can last as long as eight hours.
Ayahuasca acts on levels of serotonin – the neurotransmitter which affects someone’s mood, appetite, memory and even sexual desire – while a deficiency in the chemical leads to depression.
This also explains sheer difference in people’s experience: while some have ethereal, spiritual trips, Psychiatry Online warns it can result in the potentially fatal serotonin syndrome.
Symptoms include temperature, agitation, increased reflexes, tremor, sweating, dilated pupils, and diarrhoea.
Its effects are intensified by the addition of DMT, a powerful naturally occurring chemical branded the “spirit molecule” which is illegal in most countries.
Many people are convinced they encountered angels, aliens, spirits and demons after taking the drug – and nearly all felt that “the sessions were among the most profound experiences of their lives”, according to psychopharmacologist Dr Rick Strassman.
Last year Brit backpacker Henry Miller, 19, died after paying £13 to take the drug in a tribal ritual in Colombia.
The Foreign Office clearly warns the brew “is not regulated and its interaction with existing medical conditions isn’t well understood”.
It adds: “People have suffered serious illnesses and in some cases death after participating in these ceremonies.
“Spiritual cleansing retreats are usually some distance from populated areas making it difficult to access medical attention for those who need it.”
Lohan led tributes to her ex, sharing a black and white image of them when they were dating, along with the caption: “Best friends. Best life.”
Foul play is not suspected in the 38-year-old’s death, and an autopsy report is pending.
Morton founded Pink Taco – a restaurant chain that expanded from Los Angles across the US – when he was 18, and its famous visitors have included Russell Brand and Johnny Depp.
His grandfather, Arnie, co-founded Morton’s Steakhouse in 1978.
We’ve all been concerned over Harry’s use of ayahuasca for some time, he was hooked on the stuff
Morton famously dated Lohan back in 2006, and since then has been linked with a string of celebrities.
According to TMZ, Morton has been linked with Demi Moore, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Jennifer Aniston and Hayden Panettiere.
Morton recently made headlines for purchasing Elvis Presley’s former Beverly Hills estate for around $26 million, which the singer bought the year he married wife Priscilla.
Peter Morton reportedly owned the home for two years also, selling it in 2014.
According to TMZ, Morton did not die at that mansion but at a separate Beverly Hills residence.
‘GOD HAS AN ANGEL’
The 38-year-old started out by working at his father’s Hard Rock Cafe before branching out on his own, attending business school at NYU.
His younger half-sister, model Domino Harvey, died of a drug overdose in 2005.
He always thought it (ayahuasca) was safe and natural but he was definitely over using it
Morton was also the owner of the Viper Room – the nightclub where River Phoenix, brother of Joaquin, died of a drug overdose in 1993 – according to reports.
As news of his death broke, tributes began to flow.
Lindsay Lohan’s mum Dina reportedly posted a photo of her daughter and Morton on Instagram, writing: “RIP Harry God has an angel, we love you! Prayers to the family.”
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His tragic death comes after a British backpacker last year died in Colombia after paying £13 to take a hallucinogenic drug as part of a tribal ritual.
Tragic Henry Miller, 19, took part in a ceremony which involved drinking a ayahuasca brew.
He was then dumped on the roadside by a tribe member.