SYNTHESIS: To a solution of 2.6 g of KOH pellets in 50 mL hot MeOH, there was added a mixture of 6.8 g 2,5-dimethoxythiophenol (see under 2C-T-2 for its preparation) and 5.8 g sec-butyl bromide. The reaction was exothermic, with the deposition of white solids. This was heated on the steam bath for a few h, the solvent removed under vacuum, and the resulting solids dissolved in 250 mL H2O. Additional aqueous NaOH was added to bring universal pH paper to a full blue color. This was extracted with 3×40 mL CH2Cl2, the extracts pooled, and the solvent removed under vacuum. The residue was 2,5-dimethoxyphenyl sec-butyl sulfide which was a pale yellow oil, weighing 10.12 g. It was sufficiently pure for use in the next reaction without a distillation step.
A mixture of 15.1 g POCl3 and 14.1 g N-methylformanilide was heated for 10 min on the steam bath. To this claret-colored solution was added 9.4 g of 2,5-dimethoxyphenyl sec-butyl sulfide, and the mixture heated for 35 min on the steam bath. This was then added to 200 mL of well-stirred warm H2O (pre-heated to 55 °C) and the stirring continued until the oily phase had completely solidified (about 15 min). These light brown solids were removed by filtration, and washed with additional H2O. After sucking as dry as possible, these solids (12.14 g wet) were ground under an equal weight of MeOH which produced a yellowish crystalline solid with a mp of 76–81 °C. Recrystallization of a 0.4 g sample from an equal weight of boiling MeOH provided 0.27 g of 2,5-dimethoxy-4-(sec-butylthio)benzaldehyde as a pale cream-colored crystalline material with a mp of 86–87 °C.
To a solution of 8.0 g of the crude 2,5-dimethoxy-4-(sec-butylthio)benzaldehyde in 40 g of nitromethane there was added 0.38 g of anhydrous ammonium acetate, and the mixture was heated on the steam bath for 1 h. The reddish colored solution was decanted from some insoluble tan material and the excess nitromethane removed under vacuum. The heavy red oil that remained was diluted with an equal volume of boiling MeOH, and allowed to return to room temperature. The orange-colored crystals that slowly formed were removed by filtration and, after air drying, weighted 6.24 g. This was again recrystallized from an equal volume of MeOH, yielding 2,5-dimethoxy-4-(sec-butylthio)-β-nitrostyrene as yellow, somewhat beady crystals that weighed (when dry) 3.50 g and which had a mp of 62–65 °C. A small portion of this fraction was crystallized yet again from MeOH to provide an analytical sample that was yellow-orange in color, and had an mp of 68–69 °C. Anal. (C13H17NO4S) C,H.
A solution of LAH (120 mL of a 1 M solution in THF) was cooled, under He, to 0 °C with an external ice bath. With good stirring there was added 3.3 mL 100% H2SO4 dropwise, to minimize charring. This was followed by the addition of 8.83 g 2,5-dimethoxy-4-(sec-butylthio)-β-nitrostyrene in 80 mL anhydrous THF dropwise over the course of 2 h. After a few min further stirring, the temperature was brought up to a gentle reflux on the steam bath, and then all was cooled again to 0 °C. The excess hydride was destroyed by the cautious addition of 18 mL IPA followed first by 5 mL of 15% NaOH and then by 15 mL of H2O. The reaction mixture was filtered, and the filter cake washed with THF. The filtrate and washing were combined and stripped of solvent under vacuum providing about 8.5 g of a pale amber oil. Without any further purification, this was distilled at 135–150 °C at 0.4 mm/Hg to give 6.12 g of a clear white oil. This was dissolved in 30 mL IPA, and neutralized with 2.1 mL of concentrated HCl forming crystals immediately. Another 10 mL of IPA was added to allow the solids to be finely dispersed, and then about 100 mL of anhydrous Et2O were added. The solids were removed by filtration, Et2O washed, and air dried to constant weight. The product, 2,5-dimethoxy-4-sec-butylthiophenethylamine hydrochloride (2C-T-17) was obtained as spectacular white crystals, weighing 5.67 g.
DOSAGE: 60–100 mg.
DURATION: 10–15 h.
QUALITATIVE COMMENTS: (with 60 mg) “This material took fully three hours to get into its maximum effect. I never was at a +++, quite, and I am not sure why it is really active, but I know it is. There does not seem to be any interference with my concentration or mental coordination, but I wouldn’t want to drive right now. Good appetite in the evening, for a Chicago-style pizza, and there was no Tomso effects (the rekindling of a psychedelic effect with alcohol) with a glass of wine. An over-all good and instructive ++, no visuals, totally benign. There is no hesitation in doing it again some day.”
(with 100 mg) “A small fragment hadn’t dissolved when I drank the solution, and it must have stuck to the back of my mouth, because it made a searing spot that burned for 5 minutes. The first central effects were noted at an hour. The plateau stretched from the 3rd to the 7th hour, then tapered off quite quickly. My sleep was fitful, with some hints of nervous sensitivity. I felt that there were some residuals even into the next morning. A truly heavy psychedelic, but with very few explicit sensual changes or unusual perceptions to justify that comment. Why is it heavy? It just is. This dosage is high enough.”
EXTENSIONS AND COMMENTARY: An interesting, and quite logical, habit that seems to always pop up when a lot of talk and energy become directed at a specific compound, is the habit of using a nickname for it. The Tweetios are an example, and in the 2C-T-X family I had mentioned the term SESQUI. Here, this compound was called NIMITZ, for the obvious reason that the major freeway from Oakland to San Jose, the Nimitz freeway, was also called State Highway 17. Its name has been changed to Interstate 880, and I guess it could now only be used as a reference point if efforts were being made for a 2C-T-880.
The reason that 2C-T-17 is of special theoretic interest is that it is one of the very first of the active psychedelic compounds (along with 2C-G-5) to have a potential optically active center on the side of the ring away from the nitrogen atom. One of the oldest and best studied variants of the phenethylamine chain are the alpha-methyl homologues, the substituted amphetamines. Here there is an asymmetric carbon atom right next to the amine group, allowing the molecule to be prepared in either a right-hand way or a left-hand way. The “R” or the “S” isomer. And in the several studies that have looked at such isomers separately, it has always been the “R” isomer that has carried the psychedelic effects. This probably says something about the nitrogen end, the metabolic end, the “north” end of the receptor site that recognizes these compounds, and suggests that there is some intrinsic asymmetry in the area that binds near to the basic nitrogen atom.
But very little is known of the receptor’s “south” end, so to speak, the geometry of the area where the opposite end of the molecule has to fit. Here, with 2-C-17, there is a secondary butyl group, and this contains an asymmetric carbon atom. But now this center of asymmetry is clear across the benzene ring from the nitrogen, and should certainly be in some entirely new part of the receptor site. Why not make this compound with the “R” and the “S” forms in this new and unusual location? Why not, indeed! Why not call them the right-lane and the left lane of the Nimitz? Fortunately, both “R” and “S” secondary butyl alcohols were easily obtained, and the synthesis given above for the racemic compound was paralleled for each of these isomers, separately. Is there any chemistry that is different with the specific optical isomers from that which has been reported with the racemic? There certainly is for the first step, since the butyl alcohols rather than the butyl bromides must be used, and this first step must go by inversion, and it cannot be allowed any racemization (loss of the optical purity of the chiral center).
The synthesis of 2C-T-17 “R” required starting with the “S” isomer of secondary butanol. The “S” 2-butanol in petroleum ether gave the lithium salt with butyllithium which was treated with tosyl chloride (freshly crystallized from naphtha, hexane washed, used in toluene solution) and the solvent was removed. The addition of 2,5-dimethoxythiophenol, anhydrous potassium carbonate, and DMF produced “S”-2,5-dimethoxyphenyl sec-butyl sulfide. The conversion to “R”-2,5-dimethoxy-4-(sec-butylthio)benzaldehyde (which melted at 78–79 °C compared to 86–87 °C for the racemic counterpart) and its conversion in turn to the nitrostyrene, “S”-2,5-dimethoxy-4-sec-butylthio-β-nitrostyrene which melted at 70–71 °C compared to 68–69 °C for the racemic counterpart, followed the specific recipes above. The preparation of the intermediates to 2C-T-17 “S” follows the above precisely, but starting with “R” 2-butanol instead. And it is at these nitrostyrene stages that this project stands at the moment.
It would be fascinating if one of the two optically active 2C-T-17’s carried all of the central activity, and the other, none of it. What is more likely is that the spectrum of effects will be teased apart, with one isomer responsible for some of them and the other isomer responsible for the others. Then, again, maybe the south end of the receptor site in the brain is totally symmetric, and the two optical antipodes will be indistinguishable.
An incidental bit of trivia—yet another bit of evidence that we are all totally asymmetric in our personal body chemistry. “R” and “S” secondary butanols smell different. The “R” has a subtle smell, which is rather fragrant. The “S” is stronger, hits the nasal passages harder, and reminds one of isopropanol more than does the “S” isomer.
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,