Symbescaline · 3,5-Diethoxy-4-methoxyphenethylamine
#144 SB SYNTHESIS: A solution of 15 g 1,3-diethoxybenzene and 15 mL of N,N,N′,N′-tetramethylethylenediamine in 200 mL anhydrous Et2O was placed in a He atmosphere, magnetically stirred, and cooled to 0 °C with an ice bath. Over the course of 10 min there was added 63 mL of a 1.6 M solution of butyllithium in hexane, which produced a fine white precipitate. After an additional 15 min stirring, 20 mL of tributyl borate was added which dissolved the precipitate. The stirring was continued for an additional 15 min. The reaction was quenched by the addition of 50 mL of a concentrated aqueous solution of ammonium sulfate. The resulting “cottage cheese” mass was transferred to a beaker, treated with an additional 300 mL of the ammonium sulfate solution, and allowed to stir until the solids had dispersed to a fine texture. The organic phase was separated and the aqueous phase extracted with 2×100 mL Et2O. The organic phases were combined, evaporated under vacuum, and the off-white residue dissolved in 100 mL MeOH. This cloudy solution was cooled (ice bath) and, with stirring, 20 mL of 35% hydrogen peroxide was added portionwise, . The reaction was allowed to continue stirring for 15 min, and then with the addition of 600 mL H2O, crystalline solids were formed. These were removed, washed with H2O, and upon drying yielded 15.4 g of 2,6-diethoxyphenol with a mp of 79.5–81.5 °C. Efforts to diethylate pyrogallol produced mixtures of 2,6-diethoxyphenol and the isomer, 2,3-diethoxyphenol, and these proved difficult to separate. The pure 2,3-isomer was synthesized from ortho-diethoxybenzene by the process used above, and the product was an oil. Both phenols yielded crystalline 3,5-dinitrobenzoates. This derivative of 2,6-diethoxyphenol, upon recrystallization from CH3CN had a mp of 161–162 °C. The derivative from 2,3-diethoxyphenol, also upon recrystallization from CH3CN, melted at 167–168 °C. The mixed mp was appropriately depressed (mp 137–140 °C.).
A solution of 7.6 g 2,6-diethoxyphenol in 40 mL MeOH was treated with 4.9 g of a 40% aqueous solution of dimethylamine followed by 3.6 g of a 40% aqueous solution of formaldehyde. The mixture was heated 1 h on the steam bath, and all volatiles were removed under vacuum. The residual dark oil was dissolved in 36 mL IPA and 10.3 g of methyl iodide was added. There was spontaneous heating, and the deposition of fine white solids. After standing for 10 min, these were removed by filtration, and the filter cake washed with more IPA. The crude product was freed from solvent (air dried weight, 1.7 g) and dissolved in 7 mL hot H2O. To this hot solution there was added 1.7 g sodium cyanide which slowly discharged the color and again deposited flocculant white solids. After cooling, these were removed by filtration, washed with H2O, and after thorough drying the isolated 3,5-diethoxy-4-hydroxyphenylacetonitrile weighed 0.5 g and had a mp of 107.5–108.5 °C. Anal. (C12H15NO3) C,H.
To a solution of 2.1 g 3,5-diethoxy-4-hydroxyphenylacetonitrile in 20 mL anhydrous acetone, there was added 30 mg triethyldecylammonium iodide, 4.6 g methyl iodide, and finally 2.3 g powdered anhydrous K2CO3. This mixture was held at reflux for 5 h. The reaction mixture was quenched with 200 mL acidified H2O and extracted with 3×75 mL CH2Cl2. The extracts were pooled, washed with 2×75 mL 5% NaOH, and finally once with dilute HCl. The solvent was removed under vacuum, and the residue distilled at 110–115 °C at 0.3 mm/Hg to provide 3,5-diethoxy-4-methoxyphenylacetonitrile as a solid. This weighed 1.3 g and had a mp of 58–59 °C. Anal. (C13H17NO3) C,H.
To 30 mL of a 1 M solution LAH in THF that had been cooled to 0 °C with vigorous stirring, under a He atmosphere, there was added dropwise 0.78 mL of 100% H2SO4. When the addition was complete, there was added dropwise a solution of 1.3 g of 3,5-diethoxy-4-methoxyphenylacetonitrile in 10 mL anhydrous THF. The reaction mixture was brought to room temperature and stirred an additional 10 min, then refluxed on a steam bath for 1.5 h. After cooling to room temperature the excess hydride was destroyed by the addition of about 2 mL IPA, followed by sufficient 15% NaOH to make the reaction basic to external pH paper and to render the aluminum oxides white and filterable. These were removed by filtration, the filter cake was washed with IPA, then the filtrate and washes were combined. The solvents were removed under vacuum and the residue dissolved in dilute H2SO4. This was washed with 2×75 mL CH2Cl2, the aqueous phase made basic with 5% NaOH, and extracted with 3×75 mL CH2Cl2. The extracts were pooled, the solvent removed under vacuum, and the residue distilled at 120–140 °C at 0.3 mm/Hg to yield 0.9 g of a white oil. This was dissolved in 4 mL of IPA and neutralized with concentrated HCl to an end-point determined by damp external pH paper. There was the immediate formation of solids which were removed by filtration and washed first with IPA and then with Et2O. This provided 1.0 g of 3,5-diethoxy-4-methoxyphenethylamine hydrochloride (SB) as white crystals, with a mp of 186–187 °C. Anal. (C13H22ClNO3) C,H.
DOSAGE: above 240 mg.
DURATION: unknown.
QUALITATIVE COMMENTS: (with 120 mg) “There were no effects. Sleep that evening was strange, however, and I was fully awake at 4:00 a.m., alert, and mentally restless. And there was a strange outburst of anger in the mid-morning. Might these be related to the material the previous day?”
(with 240 mg) “There was a slight chill that reminded me that I had taken symbescaline a half hour earlier. There was what might be called a vague threshold for about three hours, then nothing more. This material had a God-awful taste that lingers in the mouth far too long. If ever again, it will be in a gelatin capsule.”
EXTENSIONS AND COMMENTARY: It must be concluded that SB is “probably” not active. There was no convincing evidence for much effect at levels that would clearly be active for . This is the kind of result that puts some potentially ambiguous numbers in the literature. One cannot say that it is inactive, for there might well be something at 400 or 800 or 1200 milligrams. But since it has been tried only up to 240 milligrams, I have used the phrase that the activity is greater than 240 milligrams. This will be interpreted by some people as saying that it is active, but only at dosages higher than 240 milligrams. What is meant, is that there was no activity observed at the highest level tried, and so if it is active, the active dose will be greater than 240 milligrams, and so the potency will be less than that of . However you phrase it, someone will misinterpret it.
13 May 2016 · ·

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.
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