SYNTHESIS: A solution of 50 g 2,5-dimethoxybenzaldehyde in 100 g nitromethane was treated with 5 g of anhydrous ammonium acetate, and heated on the steam bath for 4 h. The solution was decanted from a little insoluble material, and the solvent removed under vacuum. The clear oily residue was dissolved in 100 mL boiling IPA which, after standing a moment, set up as dense crystals. After returning to room temperature, these were removed by filtration, the product was washed with IPA and air dried, yielding 56.9 g 2,5-dimethoxy-β-nitrostyrene as spectacular yum-yum orange crystals with a mp of 119–120 °C. An analytical sample, from ethyl acetate, melted at 120–121 °C.
A suspension of 60 g LAH in 500 mL anhydrous THF was placed under an inert atmosphere, stirred magnetically, and brought up to reflux temperature. There was added, dropwise, 56 g of 2,5-dimethoxy-β-nitrostyrene dissolved in THF, and the reaction mixture was maintained at reflux for 36 h. After being brought to room temperature, the excess hydride was destroyed with 40 mL IPA, followed by 50 mL of 15% NaOH. An additional 100 mL THF was required for easy stirring, and an additional 150 mL H2O was needed for complete conversion of the aluminum salts to a loose, white, filterable consistency. This solid was removed by filtration, and the filter cake washed with additional THF. The combined filtrate and washes were stripped of solvent under vacuum, and the residue dissolved in dilute H2SO4. Washing with 3×75 mL CH2Cl2 removed most of the color, and the aqueous phase was made basic with aqueous NaOH and reextracted with 3×100 mL CH2Cl2. Removal of the solvent yielded 39.2 g of a pale amber oil that was distilled. The fraction boiling at 80–100 °C at 0.4 mm/Hg weighed 24.8 g and was water-white product amine. As the free base, it was suitable for most of the further synthetic steps that might be wanted, but in this form it picked up carbon dioxide rapidly when exposed to the air. It was readily converted to the hydrochloride salt by dissolution in 6 volumes of IPA, neutralization with concentrated HCl, and addition of sufficient anhydrous Et2O to produce a permanent turbidity. Crystals of 2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine hydrochloride (2C-H) spontaneously formed and were removed by filtration, washed with Et2O, and air dried. The mp was 138–139 °C.
EXTENSIONS AND COMMENTARY: I know of no record of 2C-H ever having been tried by man. It has been assumed by everyone (and probably correctly so) that this amine, being an excellent substrate for the amino oxidase systems in man, will be completely destroyed by the body as soon as it gets into it, and thus be without action. In virtually all animal assays where it has been compared with known psychoactive drugs, it remains at the “less-active” end of the ranking.
It is, however, one of the most magnificent launching pads for a number of rather unusual and, in a couple of cases, extraordinary drugs. In the lingo of the chemist, it is amenable to “electrophilic attack at the 4-position.” And, in the lingo of the psychopharmacologist, the “4-position is where the action is.” From this (presumably) inactive thing have evolved end products such as 2C-B, 2C-I, 2C-C, and 2C-N. And in the future, many possible things as might come from a carbinol group, an amine function, or anything that can stem from a lithium atom.
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.
“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
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.
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.Transform Press,