SYNTHESIS: A solution of 50 g 2,5-dimethoxybenzaldehyde in 100 g nitromethane was treated with 5 g of anhydrous ammonium acetate, and heated on the steam bath for 4 h. The solution was decanted from a little insoluble material, and the solvent removed under vacuum. The clear oily residue was dissolved in 100 mL boiling IPA which, after standing a moment, set up as dense crystals. After returning to room temperature, these were removed by filtration, the product was washed with IPA and air dried, yielding 56.9 g 2,5-dimethoxy-beta-nitrostyrene as spectacular yum-yum orange crystals with a mp of 119-120 °C. An analytical sample, from ethyl acetate, melted at 120-121 °C.
A suspension of 60 g LAH in 500 mL anhydrous THF was placed under an inert atmosphere, stirred magnetically, and brought up to reflux temperature. There was added, dropwise, 56 g of 2,5-dimethoxy-beta-nitrostyrene dissolved in THF, and the reaction mixture was maintained at reflux for 36 h. After being brought to room tem-perature, the excess hydride was destroyed with 40 mL IPA, followed by 50 mL of 15% NaOH. An additional 100 mL THF was required for easy stirring, and an additional 150 mL H2O was needed for complete conversion of the aluminum salts to a loose, white, filterable consistency. This solid was removed by filtration, and the filter cake washed with additional THF. The combined filtrate and washes were stripped of solvent under vacuum, and the residue dissolved in dilute H2SO4. Washing with 3×75 mL CH2Cl2 removed most of the color, and the aqueous phase was made basic with aqueous NaOH and reextracted with 3×100 mL CH2Cl2. Removal of the solvent yielded 39.2 g of a pale amber oil that was distilled. The fraction boiling at 80-100 °C at 0.4 mm/Hg weighed 24.8 g and was water-white product amine. As the free base, it was suitable for most of the further synthetic steps that might be wanted, but in this form it picked up carbon dioxide rapidly when exposed to the air. It was readily converted to the hydrochloride salt by dissolution in 6 volumes of IPA, neutralization with concentrated HCl, and addition of sufficient anhydrous Et2O to produce a permanent turbidity. Crystals of 2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine hydrochloride (2C-H) spontaneously formed and were removed by filtration, washed with Et2O, and air dried. The mp was 138-139 °C.
EXTENSIONS AND COMMENTARY: I know of no record of 2C-H ever having been tried by man. It has been assumed by everyone (and probably correctly so) that this amine, being an excellent substrate for the amino oxidase systems in man, will be completely destroyed by the body as soon as it gets into it, and thus be without action. In virtually all animal assays where it has been compared with known psychoactive drugs, it remains at the “less-active” end of the ranking.
It is, however, one of the most magnificent launching pads for a number of rather unusual and, in a couple of cases, extraordinary drugs. In the lingo of the chemist, it is amenable to “electrophilic attack at the 4-position.” And, in the lingo of the psychopharmacologist, the “4-position is where the action is.” From this (presumably) inactive thing have evolved end products such as 2C-B, 2C-I, 2C-C, and 2C-N. And in the future, many possible things as might come from a carbinol group, an amine function, or anything that can stem from a lithium atom.
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