Forgotten Psychedelics: What Is 2C-B?

2021-12-25 12:30:00

4-Bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine (also known as Nexus, Erox, or 2C-B) was synthesized by a famous American pharmacologist and psychonaut, Alexander Shulgin, in 1974.

When you think of psychedelics, substances such as LSD, psilocybin, or perhaps even MDMA, immediately come to mind. The 1970s, however, was a golden age of discovery in the pharmacological world of psychedelics, leading to 2C-B.

The substance is unique: it’s understudied, its effects are unlike other psychedelics, and it’s often unheard of. Here we’ll explore the history, the effects, and the potential therapeutic application, of this unique psychedelic.

Tripping Through Time: The History of 2C-B

4-Bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine (also known as Nexus, Erox, or 2C-B) was synthesized by a famous American pharmacologist and psychonaut, Alexander Shulgin, in 1974.

In his lifetime, Shulgin was responsible for the synthesis and discovery of over 230 novel psychoactive compounds. More than that, he was a devout psychonaut, exploring the realms of his consciousness with all of his pharmacological creations (he allegedly tripped some 10,000 times). However, 2C-B was up there as one of Shulgin’s most preferred psychedelic journeys.

In 2003, he told the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics, “[2C-B] 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.”

Due to these relatively comfortable effects, 2C-B found its favor in the recreational club scene of the ’80s and ’90s. After MDMA became a Schedule I substance in the US, many people migrated to the use of 2C-B, which was relatively unknown by the DEA at the time. It was packaged and sold in sex shops, head shops, and some nightclubs from the mid-’80s to the early ’90s. Whilst it was primarily used for partying, these establishments advertised that “it would alleviate impotence, frigidity and diminished libido”.

The legal use of 2C-B came to a stop in 1995, when the DEA classed it as a Schedule I substance in the US.

Tripping on This Forgotten Psychedelic

An average dose of 2C-B is somewhere in the range of 10 and 25mg. Users will most often orally ingest 2C-B, either in a pill or ‘bomb it’ (wrapping it in a cigarette skin or piece of toilet paper) in powder form.

What makes the effects of 2C-B particularly interesting is the chemical crossroads it finds itself in. It’s classed as a phenethylamine, a chemical cousin of mescaline. Some effects are therefore similar to classic psychedelics, like LSD; open-eye visuals are commonplace, with patterns and outlines of shapes moving and undulating throughout the trip.

However, the substance also has a stimulating quality, with certain sensual aspects emerging (as Shulgin described). Much like MDMA, 2C-B takes on entactogenic properties, increasing empathy, heightening tactile sensations, and inducing euphoria.

This mish-mash of psychedelic and entactogenic effects make a 2C-B trip quite unique in its nature when compared to other well-known psychoactive substances. Some classify the effects as a cross between LSD and MDMA.

2C-B as Therapy?

The golden age of psychedelic research, the 1950s and ’60s, saw a huge number of clinical studies being conducted. However, the infamous ban on psychedelics in 1971 shut down the burgeoning field of psychedelic research. As 2C-B wasn’t even created by this time, this left no room for the drug to be officially investigated as a therapeutic substance.

The ban on psychedelics, however, led to a broad network of underground psychedelic therapy emerging. While little is publicly known about the ongoings of this underground world, Dr. Ben Sessa, a psychedelic researcher, published a paper about his conversations with the German psychiatrist Friederike Fischer. Dr. Fischer and her husband frequently used 2C-B in combination with MDMA for therapeutic purposes. They treated some 97 clients in total, until the couple’s arrest in 2009.

The psychotherapeutic work conducted by the pair did not lead to any clinical conclusions about the use of 2C-B in combination with MDMA, as no quantitative data was collected about clients’ progress. However, outcomes of the therapeutic work were “overwhelmingly positive. There were no serious adverse reactions to the substances, no psychoses, no hospitalizations, and no suicides of any clients who were actively undergoing psycholytic therapy.”

Despite this, we can’t be sure of how effective this forgotten psychedelic is on specific mental health conditions (the 97 clients of Fischer’s had a range of issues). As the therapeutic effects of 2C-B are massively understudied, more controlled research should be conducted to establish the positive effects of this unique psychedelic.

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