α-Ethylmescaline · 2-Amino-1-(3,4,5-trimethoxyphenyl)butane · 1-(3,4,5-Trimethoxyphenyl)-2-aminobutane
#1 AEM SYNTHESIS: To a solution of 45 g 3,4,5-trimethoxybenzaldehyde in 1.2 L IPA, there was added 125 g nitropropane and 67.5 g tert-butylammonium acetate and the reaction mixture was held at reflux for 16 h. This was poured into 6 L H2O, and extracted with 2×250 mL hexane. The pooled extracts were stripped of solvent under vacuum giving a residue that slowly set to a crystalline mass. On filtering, there was obtained 9.4 g of a crude yellow product which, on recrystallization from hexane provided 8.7 g of slightly sticky bright yellow crystals of 2-nitro-1-(3,4,5-trimethoxyphenyl)butene-1, with a mp of 71–73 °C. A second recrystallization from hexane gave fine yellow crystals with a mp of 72–73 °C. Attempts at the preparation of this nitrostyrene by the more conventional methods with ammonium acetate in acetic acid led either to the formation of a white product C23H30N2O8 which was composed of a molecule of the nitrostyrene, one of the benzaldehyde itself, and a molecule of ammonia, or to 3,4,5-trimethoxybenzonitrile, from reaction with the decomposition products of nitropropane.
A stirred suspension of 5.9 g LAH in 310 mL anhydrous Et2O was held at a gentle reflux in an inert atmosphere. A solution of 8.5 g 2-nitro-1-(3,4,5-trimethoxyphenyl)butene-1 in 125 mL Et2O is added drop-wise over the course of 0.5 h. The reaction was maintained at reflux for 6 h, then cooled, and the excess hydride destroyed by the cautious addition of 300 mL 1.8 N H2SO4. The phases were separated, and the aqueous phase brought to a pH of 6 by the addition of a saturated Na2CO3 solution. The neutral solution was brought to a boil, and clarified by filtration through paper. To the hot filtrate there was added a solution of 8.9 g picric acid in 100 mL boiling EtOH. The mixture was stirred and cooled, with the formation of a heavy yellow crystalline mass. After standing in the ice tub for several hours the mixture was filtered, providing 8.0 g of the picrate salt with a mp of 176–181 °C from H2O. A solution of this salt in 300 mL boiling H2O was treated with 60 mL concentrated HCl. On cooling, there was a deposition of picric acid, which was removed by filtration. The aqueous filtrate was washed with 3×50 mL nitrobenzene, then with 3×50 mL Et2O. The pH was brought above 9 by the addition of aqueous NaOH, and the filtrate was extracted with 3×100 mL CH2Cl2. Removal of the solvent from the pooled extracts gave a nearly colorless oil, which was dissolved in 300 mL anhydrous Et2O and saturated with hydrogen chloride gas. The white crystals of 2-amino-1-(3,4,5-trimethoxyphenyl)butane hydrochloride (AEM) were removed by filtration, Et2O washed, and air dried. They weighed 4.72 g.
DOSAGE: greater than 220 mg.
DURATION: unknown.
EXTENSIONS AND COMMENTARY: The extension of the two-carbon chain of by alpha-methylation to the three carbon chain of approximately doubled the potency of the compound. And it was felt to be a completely logical possibility that, by extending it one more carbon atom, to the four carbon chain of α-ethylmescaline, it might double again. And following that logical progression, the doubling of potency with each additional carbon atom, the factor would be 2 to the 7th power by the alpha-octyl (or 256× that of mescaline, or a milligram as active dose) and with a side chain of a 70-carbon alkyl group (α-heptacontylmescaline) it would take just a single molecule to be intoxicating. This was rich fantasy stuff. As an active compound, just where would it go in the brain? With an 80-carbon side-chain, would one-thousandth of a single molecule be enough for a person? Or might a single molecule intoxicate a thousand people? And how long a chain on the alpha-position might be sufficient that, by merely writing down the structure on a piece of paper, you would get high? Maybe just conceiving the structure in your mind would do it. That is, after all, the way of homeopathy.
Maybe it was just as well that this added two-carbon side-chain with lowered activity was already enough to disprove the doubling pattern. But by the time this non-activity had been learned, the alpha series had already been pushed out quite aways. The machinery of making the appropriate nitroalkane was straightforward, by reaction of the alkyl halide with nitrous acid, and separating the unwanted nitrite ester from the wanted nitroalkane by fractional distillation. The nitrostyrenes all formed reasonably although often in terrible yields, and reduced reasonably, and all formed crystalline picrates for isolation and crystalline hydrochloride salts for pharmacological manipulation. But since the first of these, AEM, was not active, there was no enthusiasm for tasting anything higher. This family was never published; why publish presumably inactive and thus uninteresting material? The Table presents the properties of the precursor nitrostyrenes, and the product picrate and hydrochloride salts, at least whatever information I can still find after thirty years:
Table: Physical Properties of the α-Alkylmescaline Homologues and their Precursor Nitrostyrenes
Code Name NS mp °C Picrate mp °C HCl mp °C
  1. S is for septyl, to distinguish heptyl from hexyl.
  2. Never made, as no nonylbromide could be located to make the needed nitrononane.
  3. The synthesis got as far as the nitrostyrene stage when the inactivity of AEM was determined, and the project was dropped.
α-Propylmescaline 82–83   214–218
α-Butylmescaline 73–74 169–174 182–184
α-Amylmescaline 54–55 162–163 155–158
α-Hexylmescaline 51–52    
α-Heptylmescaline 43–44    
α-Nonylmescaline3 46–47    
21 May 2016 · Creative Commons BY-NC-SA ·

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. Many, many others have since been added.
I have tried here to expunge any artifacts introduced by the earlier transcriptions and restore the typographic niceties found in the printed edition. I’ve also made minor changes to some chemical names in line with current nomenclature practice. Typically the change is little more than expanding a prefix or setting it in italics. The history 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.
Though 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,
Box 13675
Berkeley, CA 94701

510 · 934 · 4930 (voice)
510 · 934 · 5999 (fax)