Wednesday, December 07, 2005

4-Hydroxy-5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine, Psilocybe mushrooms, Psilocin

Dear Dr. Shulgin:

I have been puzzled, why this compound (4-HO-5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine) wasn't included in TIHKAL -- for me it looks very appealing. Have you by the way, ever looked into cathinone (beta-keto-amphetamine) analogues of some of the psychedelic amphetamines (DOB, TMA-2, etc.) The MDMA-analogue (Methylone) is active indeed, do you think the 2,4-5-substitution pattern could be applied onto the CATs?


Dear _Anon_,

I totally agree with you.

4-Hydroxy-5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine would be a fascinating compound to explore. The reason it's not in TIKHAL is that it is virtually unknown. The only report of it in the chemical literature was a paper published by Marc Julia's group at the Pasteur Institute in 1965. They reported the synthesis and physical properties of the compound but to my knowledge it has never been explored in any way. The synthesis is quite a frightening thing. It starts with ortho-vanillin and takes approximately 10 steps to get to the 4,5-HO-MeO-DMT. I'm not surprised that no one has pursued the compound.

However there is a very interesting study that took place in Leipzig about 15 years ago. Jochen Gartz, a mushroom explorer whom I know quite well, has done some fascinating studies with Psilocybe species by raising them on solid media containing strange tryptamines that are alien to the mushroom. Apparently the enzymes that are responsible for the 4-hydroxy group of psilocin are indifferent to what it is they choose to 4-hydroxylate. He has taken things like DPT or DIPT and put them in the growth media and the fruiting bodies that came out contain 4-hydroxy-DPT or 4-hydroxy-DIPT instead of psilocin. In fact, he has a patent on the process. These active compounds are made by the mushroom so they really are natural and yet they never have been observed in nature. I'll give you even odds that if you put spores of a psilocybe species on cow droppings loaded with 5-MeO-DMT you would come out with mushrooms containing 4,5-HO-MeO-DMT. This way you avoid a 10 step synthesis by growing a psychoactive mushroom that contains no illegal drug.

Your idea of making analogues of the psychoactive amphetamines with the carbonyl that is characteristic of CAT would probably be a disappointment. Cathinone itself is rather unstable because there is a primary amine and a ketone in the same molecule. It will tend to dimerize and become inactive. In the example of METHYLONE (as with methcathinone) the amine is a secondary amine and the compound is quite stable. But all of the psychoactive amphetamines (except for MDMA) are primary amines.

- Dr. Shulgin