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ARCHIVE:  February 7, 2003

2,5-dimethoxy-4-bromophenethylamine (2C-B)

Dear Dr. Shulgin:

What is 2C-B? What are its effects? --Brian


Dear Brian:

Let me start by discussing how it got its name.

The compounds has a chemical name of 2,5-dimethoxy-4- bromophenethylamine. And if you are not a chemist, that is a hopeless collection of numbers and words. Let me retreat to a little bit of hand waving

All of the simplest one-ring psychedelics have one of two molecular skeletons. The first has a separation of the benzene ring itself from the defining amine group, by just two carbon atoms. So you have the ring (the phenyl) and the two carbon atoms (two carbons hooked together is an ethyl) and then the nitrogen atom itself (the amine). Looking from left to right, you have:

so you have the parent name-sake, phenethylamine:
       phen ethyl amine

The second of the one ring psychedelic families again has an identical two-carbon separation between the ring and the nitrogen atom except that there is a third carbon atom attached to that carbon atom next to the nitrogen. Again, looking from left to right, you have:


and you have the parent name-sake, alpha-methyl phenethylamine, or amphetamine:

phen ethyl amine
  (with the right-hand
carbon atom having a
second carbon atom
hanging down)

Be patient with this, as it will all suddenly pop into place. The two families of simple psychedelics are either

  • phenethylamines
  • or amphetamines

This entire research world started with mescaline, which is a phenethylamine. Many of the earliest names were named as derivatives of mescaline. As the research progressed into more complex and more potent phenethylamines, it was noted that the amphetamine analogues were more potent and more aggressive. These were initially named with an "A" at the end of the initial code. There was TMA, MDA, MDMA, and on and on. As these became more complex, they deserved short initial identifiers of their own, and names such as DOM, DOB, DOI, DOET, DOT and on and on. As further progress was made, it became obvious that the phenethylamines that corresponded to these amphetamines were indeed less potent but much more friendly and gentle.

The synthetic psychedelic world developed from the two (carbon chain) to the three and then back to the two. Since these latter had the original two-carbon chain, they were given names based on the identifier of the last letter of the amphetamine prototypes with a prefix that said, there are only two (not three) carbons in the molecule. Thus, there appeared 2C-M, 2C-B, 2C-I, 2C-E, 2C-T and on and on. And when modifications of them were made and found to be active, they were named with sequential numbers, such as 2C-T-2, 2C-T-7, 2C-T-21, and on and on. Anyway, that is how 2C-B got its name -- it was the two-carbon analogue of the extremely potent and long-lived three-carbon amphetamine counterpart, DOB.

And what is its action? It is, in my opinion, one of the most graceful, erotic, sensual, introspective compounds I have ever invented. For most people, it is a short-lived and comfortable psychedelic, with neither toxic side-effects nor next-day hang-over. Its effects are felt very much in the body, as well as in the mind, and thus it has found clinical use as a follow-up to MDMA. Once the MDMA has shown you where your problems are, the 2C-B opens up the emotional, intuitive and archetypal area of your psyche to help you solve them. It was probably one of my favorite drugs, back in those yesteryear days when one could explore one's consciousness with legal immunity.

-- Dr. Shulgin

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