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Book II of PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story, by Alexander & Ann Shulgin #145: TA
#145 TA: 2,3,4,5-Tetramethoxyamphetamine

#145 TA SYNTHESIS: To a solution of 50 g 2,3,4-trimethoxybenzaldehyde in 157 mL glacial acetic acid which was well stirred and preheated to 25 °C there was added 55.6 g 40% peracetic acid in acetic acid. The rate of addition was adjusted to allow the evolved heat of the exothermic reaction to be removed by an external ice bath at a rate that kept the internal temperature within a degree of 25 °C. When the addition was complete and there was no more heat being evolved, the reaction mixture was diluted with 3 volumes of H2O, and neutralized with solid K2CO3. All was extracted with 3×250 mL Et2O, and the removal of the solvent from the pooled extracts under vacuum gave 42 g of residue that appeared to be mainly phenol, with a little formate and aldehyde. This was dissolved in 200 mL of 10% NaOH, allowed to stand for 2 h at ambient temperature, washed with 2×75 mL CH2Cl2, acidified with HCl, and extracted with 3×100 mL Et2O. The pooled extracts were washed with saturated NaHCO3, and the solvent removed to give 34.7 g of 2,3,4-trimethoxyphenol as an amber oil which was used without further purification. The infra-red spectrum showed no carbonyl group, of either the formate or the starting aldehyde.

A solution of 11.4 g flaked KOH in 100 g EtOH was treated with 33.3 g 2,3,4-trimethoxyphenol and 21.9 g allyl bromide. The mixture was held at reflux for 1.5 h, then poured into 5 volumes of H2O, made basic with the addition of 25% NaOH, and extracted with 3×200 mL CH2Cl2. Removal of the solvent from the pooled extracts gave about 40 g of a crude 2,3,4-trimethoxy-1-allyloxybenzene that clearly had unreacted allyl bromide as a contaminant.

A 39 g sample of crude 2,3,4-trimethoxy-1-allyloxybenzene in a round-bottomed flask with an immersion thermometer was heated with a soft flame. At 225 °C there was a light effervescence and at 240 °C an exothermic reaction set in that raised the temperature immediately to 265 °C. It was held there for 5 min, and then the reaction was allowed to cool to room temperature. GC and IR analysis showed the starting ether to be gone, and that the product was largely 2,3,4-trimethoxy-6-allylphenol. It weighed 34.4 g.

To a solution of 9.4 g KOH in 100 mL MeOH, there was added 33.3 g of 2,3,4-trimethoxy-6-allylphenol and 21.2 g methyl iodide and the mixture was held on the steam bath for 2 h. This was poured into aqueous base, and extracted with 3×100 mL CH2Cl2. Removal of the solvent from the pooled extracts gave 30 g of an amber oil residue that was distilled at 100–125 °C at 0.5 mm/Hg to provide 23.3 g of nearly colorless 2,3,4,5-tetramethoxyallylbenzene.

The total distillation fraction, 23.3 g 2,3,4,5-tetramethoxyallylbenzene, was dissolved in a solution of 25 g flaked KOH in 25 mL EtOH and heated at 100 °C for 24 h. The reaction mixture was poured into 500 mL H2O, and extracted with 2×100 mL CH2Cl2. The aqueous phase was saved. The pooled organic extracts were stripped of solvent under vacuum to give 13.8 g of a fluid oil that was surprising pure 2,3,4,5-tetramethoxypropenylbenzene by both GC and NMR analysis. The basic aqueous phase was acidified, extracted with 2×100 mL CH2Cl2, and the solvent stripped to give 7.5 g of an oil that was phenolic, totally propenyl (as opposed to allyl), and by infra-red the phenolic hydroxyl group was adjacent to the olefin chain. This crude 2-hydroxy-3,4,5-trimethoxypropenylbenzene was methylated with methyl iodide in alcoholic KOH to give an additional 5.6 g of the target 2,3,4,5-tetramethoxypropenylbenzene. This was identical to the original isolate above. The distilled material had an index of refraction, nD24 = 1.5409.

A well stirred solution of 17.9 g 2,3,4,5-tetramethoxypropenylbenzene in 80 mL distilled acetone was treated with 6.9 g pyridine, and cooled to 0 °C with an external ice bath. There was then added 14 g tetranitromethane over the course of a 0.5 min, and the reaction was quenched by the addition of a solution of 4.6 g KOH in 80 mL H2O. As the reaction mixture stood, there was a slow deposition of yellow crystals, but beware, this is not the product. This solid weighed 4.0 g and was the potassium salt of trinitromethane. This isolate was dried and sealed in a small vial. After a few days standing, it detonated spontaneously. The filtrate was extracted with 3×75 mL CH2Cl2, and the removal of the solvent from these extracts gave a residue of 20.8 g of crude 2-nitro-1-(2,3,4,5-tetramethoxyphenyl)propene which did not crystallize.

A solution was made of 20.3 g of the crude 2-nitro-1-(2,3,4,5-tetramethoxyphenyl)propene in 200 mL anhydrous Et2O, and this was filtered to remove some 2.7 g of insoluble material which appeared to be the potassium salt of trinitromethane by infra-red analysis. A suspension of 14 g LAH in 1 L anhydrous Et2O was stirred, placed under an inert atmosphere, and brought up to a gentle reflux. The above clarified ether solution of the propene was added over the course of 1 h, and the mixture was held at reflux for 24 h. After cooling, the excess hydride was destroyed by the cautious addition of 1 L 1.5 N H2SO4 (initially a drop or two at a time) and when the two phases were complete clear, they were separated. The aqueous phase was treated with 350 g potassium sodium tartrate, and brought to a pH >9 with base. This was extracted with 3×150 mL CH2Cl2, and the removal of the solvent from the pooled extracts gave a residue that was dissolved in 200 mL anhydrous Et2O, and saturated with anhydrous HCl gas. An Et2O-insoluble oil was deposited and, after repeated scratching with fresh Et2O, finally gave a granular white solid. This product was recrystallized from acetic anhydride, giving white crystals that were removed by filtration, Et2O washed, and air dried. The yield of 2,3,4,5-tetramethoxyamphetamine hydrochloride (TA) was 1.9 g and had a mp of 135.5–136.5 °C.

DOSAGE: probably above 50 mg.

DURATION: unknown.

QUALITATIVE COMMENTS: (with 30 mg) “Definite threshold. There was eye dilation, and some unusual humor—a completely wild day with chi-square calculations on the PDP-7 that were on the edge of bad taste. But I was definitely baseline in the afternoon during the Motor Vehicle Department interactions.”

(with 35 mg) “I had some gastric upset, but nonetheless there was a distinct intoxication. The next morning I had a foul headache.”

EXTENSIONS AND COMMENTARY: This is pretty thin stuff from which to go out into a world that is populated by pharmacological sharks and stake out claims as to psychedelic potency. The structure of this molecule has everything going for it. It is an overlay of TMA (active) and TMA-2 (even more active) so it is completely reasonable that it should be doing something at a rational dosage. But that dosage might well be in the many tens of milligrams.

Tens of milligrams. Now there is a truly wishy-washy phrase. There is an art to the assignment of an exact number or, as is sometimes desperately needed, a fuzzy number, to a collection of things. In my youth (somewhere way back yonder in the early part of the century) I had been taught rules of grammer that were unquestionably expected of any well-educated person. If you used a Latin stem, you used a Latin prefix. And if you used a Greek stem, you used a Greek prefix. Consider a collection of things with simple geometric sides (a side is a latus in Latin). One would speak of a one-sided object as being unilateral, and a bilateral object has two sides. A trilateral, and quadrilateral, and way up there to multilateral objects, are referred to as having three or four or a lot of sides, respectively. Just the opposite occurs with geometric objects with faces. A face is a hedra in Greek, so one really should use the Greek structure. If one has just one face, one has a monohedron, a dihedron has two faces, and there are trihedron, tetrahedron, and polyhedron for things that have three, four, or a lot of faces. Actually, the prefix “poly” swings both ways. It was initially a Greek term, but as was the fate of many Greek words, it wandered its way from East to West, and ended up as a Latin term as well.

But back to the problem of how to refer to something that is more than one or two, but not as much as a lot? If you know exactly how many, you should use the proper prefix. But what if you don’t know how many? There are terms such as “some.” And there is “several.” There is a “few” and a “number of” and “numerous” and “a hand full.” One desperately looks for a term that is a collective, but which carries the meaning of an undefined number. There are English gems such as a pride of lions and a host of daffodils. But without a specific animal or plant of reference, one must have a target collective that is appropriate, to let the term “many” or “few” imply the proper size. There were many hundreds of persons (a few thousands of persons) at the rally. Several dozen hunters (a few score hunters) were gathered at the lake. A wonderful prefix is “oligo” which means a few, not a lot, and it means that I am not sure just how many are meant. Say, for example, that you have synthesized something in a biochemical mixture that contains three or four peptides. Di-and tri- and tetrapeptides are exact terms, but they do not describe what you have done. Polypeptide is way too big. However, an oligopeptide means that there are a few peptide units, I’m not sure how many. This may well be the most accurate description of just what you have.

I love the British modesty that is shown by hiding a person’s physical weight by referring to it with the dimension known as the stone. This is, as I remember, something like 14 pounds. So, if stones were the weight equivalent of 10 milligrams, the activity of TA would be several stone. And since the synthetic intermediate 1-allyl-2,3,4,5-tetramethoxybenzene is one of the ten essential oils, the amination step from our hypothetical reaction in the human liver would make TA one of the so-called Ten Essential Amphetamines.

Page updated 30 March 2012 · This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License ·

About PiHKAL • info

This version of Book II of PiHKAL is based on the Erowid online version, originally transcribed by Simson Garfinkle and converted into HTML by Lamont Granquist. I drew also on “Tyrone Slothrop’s” (Unfinished) Review of PIHKAL to enumerate the many analogues mentioned in PiHKAL but not described at length. Still others remain to be added.

I have tried here to expunge any artifacts introduced by the earlier transcriptions and restore most of the typographic niceties found in the printed edition. I’ve also made minor changes to some chemical names in line with current nomenclature practice, and in the hope of aligning with more readers’ searches. Typically the change is little more than expanding a prefix and setting it in italics. The errata and changes page has further details.

Cautionary Note

“At the present time, restrictive laws are in force in the United States and it is very difficult for researchers to abide by the regulations which govern efforts to obtain legal approval to do work with these compounds in human beings.

“No one who is lacking legal authorization should attempt the synthesis of any of the compounds described in these files, with the intent to give them to man. To do so is to risk legal action which might lead to the tragic ruination of a life. It should also be noted that any person anywhere who experiments on himself, or on another human being, with any of the drugs described herein, without being familiar with that drug’s action and aware of the physical and/or mental disturbance or harm it might cause, is acting irresponsibly and immorally, whether or not he is doing so within the bounds of the law.”

Alexander T. Shulgin

Copyright Notice

The copyright for Book I of PiHKAL has been reserved in all forms and it may not be distributed. Book II of PiHKAL may be distributed for non-commercial reproduction provided that the introductory information, copyright notice, cautionary notice and ordering information remain attached.

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PiHKAL is the extraordinary record of the authors’ years exploring the chemistry and transformational power of phenethylamines. This book belongs in the library of anyone seeking a rational, enlightened and candid perspective on psychedelic drugs.

Although Sasha and Ann have put Book II of PiHKAL in the public domain, available to anyone, I strongly encourage you to buy a copy. We owe them—and there’s still nothing quite like holding a real book in your hands.

PiHKAL (ISBN 0-9630096-0-5) is available for US$24.50 (plus $10 domestic first-class shipping) from Transform Press.

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