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Book II of PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story, by Alexander & Ann Shulgin #20: 2C-B
#20 2C-B: 4-Bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine

#20 2C-B SYNTHESIS: A solution of 100 g of 2,5-dimethoxybenzaldehyde in 220 g nitromethane was treated with 10 g anhydrous ammonium acetate, and heated on a steam bath for 2.5 h with occasional swirling. The deep-red reaction mixture was stripped of the excess nitromethane under vacuum, and the residue crystallized spontaneously. This crude nitrostyrene was purified by grinding under IPA, filtering, and air-drying, to yield 85 g of 2,5-dimethoxy-β-nitrostyrene as a yellow-orange product of adequate purity for the next step. Further purification can be achieved by recrystallization from boiling IPA.

In a round-bottomed 2 L flask equipped with a magnetic stirrer and placed under an inert atmosphere, there was added 750 mL anhydrous THF, containing 30 g LAH. There was then added, in THF solution, 60 g 2,5-dimethoxy-β-nitrostyrene. The final solution was a dirty yellow-brown color, and it was kept at reflux temperature for 24 h. After cooling, the excess hydride was destroyed by the dropwise addition of IPA. Then 30 mL 15% NaOH was added to convert the inorganic solids to a filterable mass. The reaction mixture was filtered and the filter cake washed first with THF and then with MeOH. The combined mother liquors and washings were freed of solvent under vacuum and the residue suspended in 1.5 L H2O. This was acidified with HCl, washed with with 3×100 mL CH2Cl2, made strongly basic with 25% NaOH, and reextracted with 4×100 mL CH2Cl2. The pooled extracts were stripped of solvent under vacuum, yielding 26 g of oily residue, which was distilled at 120–130 °C at 0.5 mm/Hg to give 21 g of a white oil, 2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine (2C-H) which picks up carbon dioxide from the air very quickly.

To a well-stirred solution of 24.8 g 2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine in 40 mL glacial acetic acid, there was added 22 g elemental bromine dissolved in 40 mL acetic acid. After a couple of min, there was the formation of solids and the simultaneous evolution of considerable heat. The reaction mixture was allowed to return to room temperature, filtered, and the solids washed sparingly with cold acetic acid. This was the hydrobromide salt. There are many complicated salt forms, both polymorphs and hydrates, that can make the isolation and characterization of 2C-B treacherous. The happiest route is to form the insoluble hydrochloride salt by way of the free base. The entire mass of acetic acid-wet salt was dissolved in warm H2O, made basic to at least pH 11 with 25% NaOH, and extracted with 3×100 mL CH2Cl2. Removal of the solvent gave 33.7 g of residue which was distilled at 115–130 °C at 0.4 mm/Hg. The white oil, 27.6 g, was dissolved in 50 mL H2O containing 7.0 g acetic acid. This clear solution was vigorous stirred, and treated with 20 mL concentrated HCl. There was an immediate formation of the anhydrous salt of 2,5-dimethoxy-4-bromophenethylamine hydrochloride (2C-B). This mass of crystals was removed by filtration (it can be loosened considerably by the addition of another 60 mL H2O), washed with a little H2O, and then with several 50 mL portions of Et2O. When completely air-dry, there was obtained 31.05 g of fine white needles, with a mp of 237–239 °C with decomposition. When there is too much H2O present at the time of adding the final concentrated HCl, a hydrated form of 2C-B is obtained. The hydrobromide salt melts at 214.5–215 °C. The acetate salt was reported to have a mp of 208–209 °C.

DOSAGE: 12–24 mg.

DURATION: 4–8 h.

QUALITATIVE COMMENTS: (with 16 mg) “A day at the Stanford museum. Things were visually rich, yet I felt that I was reasonably inconspicuous. The Rodin sculptures were very personal and not terribly subtle. I saw Escher things in the ceiling design, when I decided to sit in a foyer somewhere and simply pretend to rest. Walking back, the displays seen in the bark of the eucalyptus trees, and the torment and fear (of others? of themselves?) in the faces of those who were walking towards us, were as dramatic as anything I had seen in the art galleries. Our appetites were enormous, and we went to a smorgasbord that evening. A rich experience in every possible way.”

(with 20 mg) “The drug effect first became known to me as a shift of colors toward golden and rose tones. Pigments in the room became intensified. Shapes became rounder, more organic. A sensation of lightness and rivulets of warmth began seeping through my body. Bright lights began pulsing and flashing behind my closed lids. I began to perceive waves of energy flowing through all of us in unison. I saw all of us as a gridwork of electrical energy beings, nodes on a bright, pulsating network of light. Then the interior landscape shifted into broader scenes. Daliesque vistas were patterned with eyes of Horus, brocades of geometric design began shifting and changing through radiant patterns of light. It was an artist’s paradise—representing virtually the full pantheon of the history of art.”

(with 20 mg) “The room was cool, and for the first hour I felt cold and chilled. That was the only mildly unpleasant part. We had been hanging crystals earlier that day, and the visions I had were dominated by prismatic light patterns. It was almost as if I became the light. I saw kaleidoscopic forms—similar to, but less intense than, when on acid—and organic forms like Georgia O’Keefe flowers, blossoming and undulating. My body was flooded with orgasms—practically from just breathing. The lovemaking was phenomenal, passionate, ecstatic, lyric, animal, loving, tender, sublime. The music was voluptuous, almost three-dimensional. Sometimes the sound seemed distorted to me, underwater like. This was especially so for the less good recordings—but I could choose to concentrate on the beauty of the music or the inadequacy of the sound’s quality, and mostly chose to concentrate on the beauty.”

(with 24 mg) “I am totally into my body. I am aware of every muscle and nerve in my body. The night is extraordinary—moon full. Unbelievably erotic, quiet and exquisite, almost unbearable. I cannot begin to unravel the imagery that imposes itself during the finding of an orgasm. Trying to understand physical/spiritual merging in nature—.”

EXTENSIONS AND COMMENTARY: Four quotations were chosen arbitrarily from literally hundreds that have worked their ways into the files. The vast majority are positive, ranging from the colorful to the ecstatic. But not all are. There are people who choose not to go into the corporeal but, rather, prefer the out-of-body experience. They express discomfort with 2C-B, and seem to lean more to the Ketamine form of altered state, one which dissociates body from mind.

There have been reports of several overdoses that prove the intrinsic safety of this compound. Prove is used here in the classic British sense; i.e., to challenge. “The proof of the pudding is in the eating,” is not a verification of quality, but an inquiry into the quality itself. (The French simplify all this by using two separate verbs for prove.) One overdose was intentional, the other accidental.

(with 64 mg) I found only mild visual and emotional effects at the 20 milligram dose, so I took the remaining 44 milligrams. I was propelled into something not of my choosing. Everything that was alive was completely fearsome. I could look at a picture of a bush, and it was just that, a picture, and it posed no threat to me. Then my gaze moved to the right, and caught a bush growing outside the window, and I was petrified. A life-form I could not understand, and thus could not control. And I felt that my own life-form was not a bit more controllable. This was from the comments of a physician who assured me that he saw no neurological concerns during this dramatic and frightening experience.

(with 100 mg) I had weighed correctly. I had simply picked up the wrong vial. And my death was to be a consequence of a totally stupid mistake. I wanted to walk outside, but there was a swimming pool there and I didn’t dare fall into it. A person may believe that he has prepared himself for his own death, but when the moment comes, he is completely alone, and totally unprepared. Why now? Why me? Two hours later, I knew that I would live after all, and the experience became really marvelous. But the moment of facing death is a unique experience. In my case, I will some day meet it again, and I fear that I will be no more comfortable with it then than I was just now. This was from the comments of a psychologist who will, without doubt, use psychedelics again in the future, as a probe into the unknown.

Many of the reports that have come in over the years have mentioned the combination of MDMA and 2C-B. The most successful reports have followed a program in which the two drugs are not used at the same time, nor even too closely spaced. It appears that the optimum time for the 2C-B is at, or just before, the final baseline recovery of the MDMA. It is as if the mental and emotional discoveries can be mobilized, and something done about them. This combination has several enthusiastic advocates in the psychotherapy world, and should be the basis of careful research when these materials become legal, and accepted by the medical community.

A generalized spectrum of 2C-B action can be gleaned from the many reports that have been written describing its effects. (1) There is a steep dose response curve. Over the 12 to 24 milligram range, every 2 milligrams can make a profound increase or change of response. Initially, one should go lightly, and increase the dosage in subsequent trials by small increments. A commonly used term for a level that produces a just perceptible effect is “museum level.” This is a slightly-over-threshold level which allows public activities (such as viewing paintings in a museum or scenery watching as a passenger in a car) to be entered into without attracting attention. There can be considerable discomfort associated with being in the public eye, with higher doses. (2) The 2C-B experience is one of the shortest of any major psychedelic drug. Wherever you might be, hang on. In an hour or so you will be approaching familiar territory again. (3) If there is anything ever found to be an effective aphrodisiac, it will probably be patterned after 2C-B in structure.

There are two “Tweetios” known that are related to 2C-B. (See recipe #23 for the origin of this phrase.) The 2-EtO- homologue of 2C-B is 4-bromo-2-ethoxy-5-methoxyphenethylamine, or 2CB-2ETO. The unbrominated benzaldehyde (2-ethoxy-5-methoxybenzaldehyde) had a melting point of 47.5–48.5 °C, the unbrominated nitrostyrene intermediate a melting point of 76–77 °C, and the final hydrochloride a melting point of 185–186 °C. The hydrobromide salt had a melting point of 168.5–169.5 °C. It seems that one gets about as much effect as can be had, with a dosage of about 15 milligrams, and increases above this, to 30 and to 50 milligrams merely prolong the activity (from about 3 hours to perhaps 6 hours). At no dose was there an intensity that in any way resembled that of 2C-B.

The 2,5-DiEtO- homologue of 2C-B is 4-bromo-2,5-diethoxyphenethylamine, or 2CB-2,5-DIETO. The unbrominated impure benzaldehyde (2,5-diethoxybenzaldehyde) had a melting point of about 57 °C, the unbrominated impure nitrostyrene intermediate a melting point of about 60 °C, and the final hydrochloride a melting point of 230–231 °C. The hydrobromide salt had a melting point of 192–193 °C. At levels of 55 milligrams, there was only a restless sleep, and strange dreams. The active level is not yet known.

I have been told of some studies that have involved a positional rearrangement analogue of 2C-B. This is 2-bromo-4,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine (or 6-BR-DMPEA). This would be the product of the elemental bromination of DMPEA, and it has been assayed as the hydrobromide salt. Apparently, the intravenous injection of 60 milligrams gave a rapid rush, with intense visual effects reported, largely yellow and black. Orally, there may be some activity at the 400 to 500 milligram area, but the reports described mainly sleep disturbance. This would suggest a stimulant component. The N-methyl homologue of this rearranged compound was even less active.

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.

Ordering Information

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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