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Book II of PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story, by Alexander & Ann Shulgin #72: E
#72 E: Escaline; 3,5-Dimethoxy-4-ethoxyphenethylamine

#72 E SYNTHESIS: To a solution of 72.3 g 2,6-dimethoxyphenol in 400 mL MeOH, there was added 53.3 g of a 40% solution of aqueous dimethylamine folowed by 40 g of a 40% aqueous solution of formaldehyde. The dark solution was heated under reflux for 1.5 h on a steambath. The volatiles were then removed under vacuum yielding a dark oily residue of 2,6-dimethoxy-4-dimethylaminomethylphenol. This residue was dissolved in 400 mL of IPA, to which there was added 50 mL of methyl iodide. The spontaneously exothermic reaction deposited crystals within 3 min, and was allowed to return to room temperature and occasionally stirred over the course of 4 h. The solids were removed by filtration, washed with cold IPA, and allowed to air dry yielding 160 g of the methiodide of 2,6-dimethoxy-4-dimethylaminomethylphenol as a cream-colored crystalline solid.

A suspension of 155 g of the above methiodide of 2,6-dimethoxy-4-dimethylaminophenol in 600 mL H2O was treated with a solution of 130 g KCN in 300 mL H2O. The reaction mixture was heated on a steam bath for 6 h during which time there was a complete dissolving, the development of a brownish color with a bright blue film on the surface and the walls of the flask, and the gentle evolution of fine gas bubbles. The hot reaction mixture was poured into 1.2 L H2O and acidified with concentrated HCl (careful, HCN evolution). The aqueous solution was extracted with 3×150 mL CH2Cl2, the extracts pooled, washed with saturated NaHCO3 which removed much of the color. The solvent was removed under vacuum yielding about 70 g of a viscous black oil. This was distilled at 0.4 mm/Hg at 150–160 °C to provide 52.4 g of homosyringonitrile (3,5-dimethoxy-4-hydroxyphenylacetonitrile) as a white oil that spontaneously crystallized to lustrous white crystals that melted at 57–58 °C.

A solution of 5.75 g of homosyringonitrile and 12.1 g ethyl iodide in 50 mL dry acetone was treated with 6.9 g finely powdered anhydrous K2CO3 and held at reflux for 18 h. The mixture was diluted with 100 mL Et2O, filtered, and the filtrate solvent removed under vacuum The residue was recrystallized from Et2O/hexane to yield 5.7 g 3,5-dimethoxy-4-ethoxyphenylacetonitrile with a mp 57–58 °C. Anal. (C12H15NO3) C,H,N.

A solution of 2.21 g 3,5-dimethoxy-4-ethoxyphenylacetonitrile in 25 mL EtOH containing 2.5 mL concentrated HCl and 400 mg 10% palladium on charcoal, was shaken in a 50 lb/sq.in. atmosphere of hydrogen for 24 h. Celite was added to the reaction suspension and, following filtration, the solvents were removed under vacuum. The residue was recrystallized from IPA/Et2O to yield 2.14 g 3,5-dimethoxy-4-ethoxyphenethylamine hydrochloride (E) with a mp of 166–167 °C.

Synthesis from syringaldehyde: A well-stirred suspension of 21.9 g syringaldehyde in 45 mL H2O was heated to reflux in a heating mantle. There was then added a solution of 15 g NaOH in 60 mL H2O. The heating and stirring was continued until the generated solids redissolved. Over a period of 10 min, there was added 23 g diethyl sulfate, then refluxing was continued for 1 h. Four additional portions each of 5 g diethyl sulfate and of 6 mL 20% NaOH were alternately added to the boiling solution over the course of 2 h. The cooled reaction mixture was extracted with Et2O, the extracts pooled and dried over anhydrous MgSO4, decolorized with Norite, and stripped of solvent. The crude 3,5-dimethoxy-4-ethoxybenzaldehyde weighed 21.8 g and melted at 51–52 °C.

A solution of 14.7 g 3,5-dimethoxy-4-ethoxybenzaldehyde and 7.2 mL nitromethane in 50 mL glacial acetic acid was treated with 4.4 g anhydrous ammonium acetate and held at reflux for 30 min. Cooling the reaction allowed the formation of yellow crystals which were removed by filtration and washed sparingly with cold acetic acid. The dried 3,5-dimethoxy-4-ethoxy-β-nitrostyrene weighed 11.5 g and melted at 108–109 °C after recrystallization from EtOH Anal. (C12H15NO5) C,H. Alternately, this product may be prepared from 3.9 g. 3,5-dimethoxy-4-ethoxybenzaldehyde in 60 mL nitromethane containing 0.7 g ammonium acetate and heated on a steam bath for 1 h. The solvent was removed under vacuum, and the residue dissolved in a minimum of hot MeOH. Cooling provided, after filtration and air drying, 2.3 g of bright yellow crystals of 3,5-dimethoxy-4-ethoxy-β-nitrostyrene, with a mp of 105–107 °C.

A solution of 2.25 g LAH in 45 mL anhydrous THF was vigorously stirred and cooled to 0 °C under He. There was added 1.5 mL 100% H2SO4 dropwise, followed by 2.3 g 3,5-dimethoxy-4-ethoxy-β-nitrostyrene in anhydrous THF. After the addition was complete, the mixture was allowed to stir for 30 min, and then brought to room temperature. The unreacted hydride was decomposed with 2.3 mL H2O in THF, followed by the addition of 9.2 mL of 15% NaOH. The white suspension was filtered, the filter cake was washed with THF, the filtrate and washings combined, and the solvent removed under vacuum. The residue was dissolved in 300 mL dilute H2SO4, washed with 2×75 mL CH2Cl2, made basic with 25% NaOH, and the product extracted with 3×75 mL CH2Cl2. After removal of the solvent, the residue was distilled at 110–120 °C at 0.3 mm/Hg yielding 1.4 g of a colorless oil. A solution of this oil in 20 mL IPA was neutralized with 17 drops of concentrated HCl and diluted with 100 mL anhydrous Et2O. After a few minutes there was the spontaneous formation of white crystals of 3,5-dimethoxy-4-ethoxyphenethylamine hydrochloride (E) which was recrystallized from 40 mL boiling EtOAc containing 1 mL MeOH. The mp was 165–166 °C.

DOSAGE: 40–60 mg.

DURATION: 8–12 h.

QUALITATIVE COMMENTS: (with 40 mg) “This is a powerful and complex intoxicant—I could not have coordinated any rational muscular activity. I could not walk; I could not tie my shoe-laces. There is analgesia and an incoordination that I cannot shake. My menstrual flow started a bit ahead of time, but it was light.”

(with 50 mg) “I felt that the body tensions outweighed the psychological and sensory rewards, in that I had a lot of dehydration and my sleep had a nightmare quality. This pretty much offset the few virtues that I felt I had obtained.”

(with 60 mg) “There is a quality of rational analysis and insight that is totally impressive. Many subtle factors in my life can be viewed with insight, and usefully dissected. I got into a deep discussion, but I was not argumentative or even defensive and I remained detached and kept a tone of cool impersonality. I had a good appetite. But I also had some tachycardia and muscular tension. There was unquestionable sensory enhancement, but without an intellectual component. Overall it was most pleasant.”

EXTENSIONS AND COMMENTARY: In an isolated situation, there is easy fantasy, but little synthesis of external sensory inputs such as music or visual stimulae. A gradual decline brings the subject back to a restful baseline somewhere before the 12th hour. The following day is often seen as one of tiredness and low energy. An anonymous flyer appeared in the California drug community in 1984 stating an effective range to be 50 to 100 milligrams, but it described the drug as the sulfate. The above data all pertain to the hydrochloride salt.

The replacement of that one methyl group with an ethyl group leads to a nice jeu de mots. The play on words depends on a remarkable coincidence. The name of the alkaloid mescaline stems from an ancient Nahuatl word for a drink (Mexcalli) which also provided the source of the term Mescal (an Agave of entirely different pharmacology). The prefix for the simplest, the one carbon organic radical, is methyl. This is from the Greek word “methy” and represents wine from wood. Such is, indeed, methyl alcohol, or methanol, or wood alcohol, the simplest one-carbon drink and a rather dangerous one for the human animal. And this is the group that is on the central oxygen of mescaline.

It is customary to refer to homologs (bigger-by-one) of methanol by their classical chemical names, so the natural extension of methyl is ethyl, and that of mescaline would be escaline. One carbon-chain on the 4-position oxygen becoming a two-carbon chain. This is all entymologically appealing, but there is no botanical support for any of it. The ethyl group is much more rare in nature. It is just a happy coincidence that mescaline (the plant), and methyl (the alkyl group involved), and methoxy (the group on the 4-position of the aromatic ring) all happen to start with the letter “M”.

Very few of the homomescaline phenethylamines have been synthesized as their three-carbon chain counterparts, the corresponding analogues of amphetamine. And only three of them have been explored in man (four, if you count the amphetamine analogue of mescaline itself, TMA). The obvious names for these compounds have, unfortunately, already been used. It would be logical to use the letter M for a methoxy, and the letter E for ethoxy, etc. and simply read the groups from around the ring. But this is the naming system for the 2,4,5-trisubstituted amphetamines. MEM is, for example, 2,5-dimethoxy-4-ethoxyamphetamine (in sequence, methoxy, ethoxy, methoxy reading around the ring, and a fascinating compound talked about at length in this book), so this term cannot represent 3,5-dimethoxy-4-ethoxyamphetamine.

A truly simple code employs the length of the carbon chain. The phenethylamine chain is two carbons long, and the amphetamine chain is three carbons long.

If a drug has been initially developed (and initially named) as an amphetamine derivative (three carbon chain) then the two-carbon chain analogue will use the original name (or a symbolic part of it) with the term 2C ahead of it. The two-carbon analogue of DOB (a three-carbon chain compound) will become 2C-B. DOI becomes 2C-I, DON becomes 2C-N, and DOET becomes 2C-E. Each of these is a substituted amphetamine derivative lacking one carbon atom, thus becoming a phenethylamine derivative. Most of these have 2,4,5-substitution patterns.

And if a drug has been initially developed (and initially named) as a phenethylamine derivative (two carbon chain) then the three-carbon chain analogue will use the original name with the term 3C ahead of it. The three carbon analogue of E (escaline, a two-carbon chain compound) will become 3C-E. P becomes 3C-P and CPM becomes 3C-CPM. Most of these have 3,4,5-substitution patterns.

Thus, “2-C” implies that a known amphetamine drug has been shortened to a phenethylamine, and “3-C” inplies that a known phenethylamine has been lengthened to an amphetamine. A great number of the former have been made and have proven to be most rewarding. Only a few of the latter are known, but most of them will eventually prove to be potent psychedelics.

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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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