What is 2C-B?
2C-B, also known as 4-bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, is a synthetic psychedelic drug synthesized from 2,5-Dimethoxybenzaldehyde by the American chemist Alexander Shulgin in 1974. 2C-B is typically compared to both LSD and MDMA in terms of its effects, with many psychonauts saying it’s “as if LSD and Molly had a baby.”(1)
Shulgin created over 200 psychoactive compounds, including 2C-B, and documented their effects in his book PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story. Alexander and his wife Ann Shulgin used 2C-B to treat more than 200 individuals for everything from anxiety, depression, and PTSD to nightmares – and even one case of supposed “possession” – before it became illegal in the 1990s.(1, 2)
Shulgin referred to 2C-B as part of his “magical half-dozen,” which was a list of phenethylamines that he considered particularly noteworthy. They include other psychedelics like mescaline and additional members of the 2C family of psychedelics such as 2C-E, 2C-T-2, and 2C-T-7. However, Shulgin wrote that 2C-B was by far one of his fondest creations and would go on to call it his favorite psychedelic, often describing the experience as a “warm hug.”(1, 2)
The popularity of 2C-B grew in the 1980s, particularly in the nightclub scene, where it became known as a “party drug” due to its euphoric and psychedelic effects. It was also briefly marketed as an aphrodisiac in the 1990s under names like Nexus, 2CB-FLY, and B-Dub. Furthermore, German pharmaceutical company Drittewelle briefly marketed 2C-B under the name Erox. More recently, it has begun to gain some notice within the scientific community. Currently, there is one active study, sponsored by University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland, comparing the effects of different doses of 2C-B to MDMA, psilocybin, and a placebo. The study is currently recruiting via Clinicaltrials.gov.(3, 4)
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How long will this last, this delicious feeling of being alive, of having penetrated the veil which hides beauty and the wonders of celestial vistas? It doesn’t matter, as there can be nothing but gratitude for even a glimpse of what exists for those who can become open to it.– Alexander Shulgin, Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story (ed. 1995)
What to Expect from a 2C-B Trip
The effects of 2C-B can vary depending on the dose, but generally, users experience psychedelic and euphoric effects. Some users report that the positive impacts of 2C-B include increased sensory perception, heightened emotions, and enhanced creativity. Users may also experience enhanced libido and sociability. Other effects include increased visual acuity and music appreciation, and heightened awareness of one’s surroundings. Objects (usually walls) may appear to “breathe” in and out, and loved ones may also look as though they are surrounded by a radiant glow.(1, 5)
Unlike other psychedelics, the visuals do not tend toward organic shapes and movements. Rather, they are typically more geometric. Some user reports indicate that 2C-B can make one view themselves more positively. People often feel that they become aware of their best attributes, and are able to appreciate themselves as uniquely beautiful beings. Users also report smiling more readily and often find themselves laughing, playing, and enjoying life more fully while on 2C-B.
The room was cool, and for the first hour, I felt cold and chilled. That was the only mildly unpleasant part. We had been hanging crystals earlier that day, and the visions I had were dominated by prismatic light patterns. It was almost as if I had become the light. I saw kaleidoscopic forms – similar to, but less intense than, when on acid – and organic forms like Georgia O’Keefe flowers, blossoming and undulating. My body was flooded with orgasms – practically from just breathing. The lovemaking was phenomenal, passionate, ecstatic, lyric, animal, loving, tender, and sublime. The music was voluptuous, almost three-dimensional. Sometimes the sound seemed distorted to me, underwater-like. This was especially so for the less good recordings – but I could choose to concentrate on the beauty of the music or the inadequacy of the sound’s quality, and mostly chose to concentrate on the beauty.– Alexander Shulgin, 2C-B, Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story (ed. 1995)
Anecdotal reports, as well as descriptions of 2C-B drawn from PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story, draw parallels between 2C-B, LSD, and MDMA. With 2C-B often being described as the “love child of LSD and MDMA.” The 2C-B experience is said to be intense and introspective, and one may experience a deeper sense of self-awareness. Similarly to other psychedelics, users report experiencing a sense of connectedness with those around them and a feeling of “oneness with the universe.”(1)
However, these claims should be taken with a grain of salt, as they are gathered from user reports, and other anecdotal sources, as well as Ann and Alexander Shulgin’s personal descriptions of the 2C-B experience. However, one study showed that the participants experienced “well-being and euphoric reactions closely related to other drugs such as MDMA.” Mood changes were more frequent than changes in perception.(1, 5)
2C-B use is anecdotally reported to come with a clearer headspace than substances such as LSD. Some individuals claim that the drug allows them to think rationally, and that they are less likely to become confused or agitated. It is important to note that 2C-B is extremely dose-dependent. Shulgin discusses this in PiHKAL: A chemical love story.(1, 5)
2C-B Dosing Guide
According to Shulgin’s descriptions of the drug, 2C-B is one of the most potent psychedelics, and as such, users do not need to take a large amount. However, it is very easy to take too much or too little. The effects vary greatly between a low dose (15 mg) and a very high dose (35 mg).(1)
The dosing chart below was created using information from the works of Alexander Shulgin, anecdotal sources, and PiHKAL.(1)
Minimum Effective Dose
Normal/ Museum Dose
Shulgin writes that the usual duration of a 2C-B trip is between four to six hours, with some particularly powerful trips lasting up to eight hours. There is currently no known lethal dose, and Shulgin reports that one unnamed Californian psychiatrist accidentally took 100mg with no lasting ill effects. However, Shulgin does caution against taking anything more than 45mg.(1)
(As with any psychedelic, caution is advised, and one should take an anecdotal report of a high dose with no ill effects with lots of skepticism. More research is needed.)
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The Downside of 2C-B
In one study, the following subjective negative side effects were reported by participants:(5)
According to PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story, higher doses may cause users to experience confusion and anxiety. 2C-B is also known to cause adverse psychedelic events at extremely high doses. Again, this drug is very dose-dependent and requires precise measurements to get the desired effects. If too much is consumed, the 2C-B trip can be extremely distressing.(1)
Many users report feeling sober once the drug has run its course, with little to no lingering effects. However, as noted, most user data is anecdotal in nature, and there are few studies on the effects of 2C-B.(1, 5)
2C-B Legality and Research
2C-B is classified as a Schedule II drug under the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances, making it illegal in most countries. In the United States, 2C-B is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning it is considered to have a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use.(6, 7)
Unfortunately, research into the therapeutic effects of 2C-B is extremely underdeveloped. There have only been a scant handful of high-quality studies using this interesting chemical. One such study, published in 2023, showed that 2C-B has subjective effects very similar to psilocybin. The study recruited 22 healthy volunteers who had previous psychedelic experiences. After the 2C-B was administered, the participants were asked to complete a questionnaire that measured the effects of the drug. The study found that 2C-B had a positive effect on mood and cognition and was described as “lighter” than the comparison drug, psilocybin (the active chemical in magic mushrooms).(8)
The 2C-B event was also shorter in duration than psilocybin: lasting no more than six hours for most of the participants.(8)
The Importance of Studying 2C-B
The potential therapeutic effects of 2C-B (as reported by Ann and Alexander Shulgin), as well as the few available studies, suggest that it may have potential as a treatment for mental health disorders. Given the limited options for treating conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD, exploring the potential of 2C-B as a treatment option is crucial.(1, 5, 8, 9)
There are quite a few questions about the safety and efficacy of 2C-B as a potential treatment, and more research is needed to fully understand the drug’s positive and negative effects and determine the most appropriate dosing and administration methods.(1, 9)
As with any psychedelic drug, it will be important to consider the risks and benefits of using 2C-B in a medical setting. Ann and Alexander Shulgin extolled the potential held by their “love child” as a tool for better mental health, self-exploration, growth, and play. But, It is up to the public to continue to push for more and better research.
This material is not intended as a replacement or substitute for any legal or medical advice. Always consult a medical professional about your health needs. Psychedelics are widely illegal in the United States, and readers should always be informed about local, state, and federal regulations regarding psychedelics or other drugs.
This article contains expert opinion, and recommendations based on the writer’s personal and professional experience, as well as their knowledge of psychedelics.
- Shulgin, A., & Shulgin, A. (1991). PiHKAL: A chemical love story. Transform Press.
- Shulgin, A., & Carter, M. F. (1980). Centrally active phenethylamines. Psychopharmacology Communications, 1(1), 93-98.
- Clark, R. (n.d.). 2C-B | DanceSafe. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://dancesafe.org/2c-b/
- University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland. (2023, January 30). Acute Effects of 2C-B Compared With MDMA and Psilocybin in Healthy Subjects. Clinicaltrials.gov. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT05523401?term=2C-B&draw=2&rank=1
- Papaseit, E., Farré, M., Pérez-Mañá, C., Torrens, M., Ventura, M., Pujadas, M., de la Torre, R., & González, D. (2018, February 23). Acute pharmacological effects of 2C-B in humans: An observational study. Frontiers. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2018.00206/full
- Drug Enforcement Administration. (2022). Drug scheduling. https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling
- United Nations. (1971). Convention on Psychotropic Substances. https://www.unodc.org/pdf/convention_1971_en.pdf
- Mallaroni, P., Mason, N. L., Reckweg, J. T., Paci, R., Ritscher, S., Toennes, S. W., Theunissen, E. L., Kuypers, K. P. C., & Ramaekers, J. G. (2023, January 1). Assessment of the acute effects of 2C-B vs. psilocybin on subjective experience, mood, and cognition. bioRxiv. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2023.02.16.528808v2
- Sessa, B., & Fischer, F. M. (2015). Underground MDMA-, LSD- and 2-CB-assisted individual and group psychotherapy in Zurich: Outcomes, implications, and commentary Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2050324515578080