SYNTHESIS: A suspension of 4.0 g LAH in 300 mL anhydrous Et2O was stirred and heated to a gentle reflux in an inert atmosphere. There was added 3.9 g 3,4-methylenedioxy-beta-nitrostyrene (see under BOH for its preparation) by allowing the condensing Et2O to leach it out from a Soxhlet thimble. After the addition was complete, the reaction mixture was held at reflux for an additional 48 h. It was then cooled and the excess hydride was destroyed by the cautious addition of 300 mL of 1.5 N H2SO4. When both phases were completely clear, they were separated, and the aqueous phase washed once with 50 mL Et2O. There was then added 100 g potassium sodium tartrate, followed by sufficient base to bring the pH >9. This was extracted with 3×75 mL CH2Cl2, and the solvent from these pooled extracts was removed under vacuum. The residue was dissolved in 150 mL anhydrous Et2O and saturated with anhydrous HCl gas. There was a heavy crystallization of 3,4-methylenedioxyphenethylamine hydrochloride (MDPEA) which weighed 3.0 g and had a mp of 212-213 °C.
DOSAGE: greater than 300 mg.
QUALITATIVE COMMENTS: (with 200 mg) It was taken twice at different times in a dosage of 200 milligrams each time, without the slightest peripheral or central effects.
(with 300 mg) My tinnitus had disappeared. Probably nothing.
EXTENSIONS AND COMMENTARY: How strange. Even more than DMPEA, this cyclic analogue MDPEA is a potential prodrug to dopamine, and would be a prime candidate for central activity. So why is this drug not active? The usual reason advanced by the pharmacologists is that the body is full of potent enzymes known as monoamine oxidases, and this is a monoamine, and so the body simply chews away on it in an oxidative manner, inactivating it before it ever makes it to some target receptor.
That is the pitch given in the textbooks. Phenethylamines are subject to easy enzymatic oxidation, hence they are not active. The presence of an alpha-methyl group (the corresponding amphetamines) blocks the compound from easy access to the enzyme, and since that protects them from oxidative destruction, they are active. The oft-quoted exception is mescaline, and even it is largely destroyed, as evidenced by the large amount needed for activity (a fraction of a gram). Sorry, I can’t buy it. This entire book is peppered with phenethylamines that are active at the few-milligram area. Why aren’t they also destroyed as well? The textbooks simply are not right.
MDPEA was one of the seven compounds evaluated as to toxicity and animal behavior at the University of Michigan under contract from the Army Chemical Center. Its Edgewood Arsenal code number was EA-1297. The number for MDA itself was EA-1298.
The beta-hydroxy analogue of MDPEA is the ethanolamine MDE, standing for methylenedioxyethanolamine. This is an old term, and in the more recent literature, since 1975 certainly, MDE has been used to represent methylenedioxyethylamphetamine. The ethanolamine compound is discussed in the recipe for DME.
There is a family of compounds, to be discussed elsewhere, that is called the Muni-Metro (see under METHYL-J). The simplest member is this compound, MDPEA, and under its chemically acceptable synonym, homopiperonylamine, it can be called RHS. Following that code, then, the N-methyl homologue of MDPEA is METHYL-H, and it has been looked at, clinically, as an antitussive agent. N-METHYL-MDPEA, or METHYL-H, or N-methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyphenethylamine is effective in this role at dosages of about 30 milligrams, but I have read nothing that would suggest that there were any central effects. I have tried it at this level and have found a little tightness of the facial muscles, but there was nothing at all in the mental area.