May 10, 2010: Are there any “PiHKALs” in Tennessee?

Absolutely.  PiHKAL stands for “phenylethylamines I have known and loved” with the most readily recognized PiHKAL being 3-4 methylenedioxy-n-methylamphetamine, better known as ecstasy.  This classification includes any compound whose primary structure has a phenylethylamine skeleton, which is the basic structure for most amphetamine derivatives.  This skeleton is modified by adding or changing the side groups on the phenyl group to enhance the hallucinogenic properties of the drug. Some of these “newer” derivatives have abbreviations like DOB (which has bromine and methoxy groups added), 2-CI (which has iodine instead of bromine), DOM (which has methoxy groups and a methyl group), or BOD (which looks structurally like DOM but has an extra methoxy group on the ethyl chain), etc.


In the end, the intent of these different derivatives of the amphetamine structure is to create molecules that provide more of the hallucinogenic effects with less of the sympathomimetic effects. Websites are available to give “guidance” as to the methods of synthesis of these compounds. Although the prevalence may not be as high as other larger metropolitan areas, the TPC occasionally receive calls about these exposures in the middle Tennessee area. The difficulty is that the patient may have ingested what he/she thought was one of these designer amphetamines, but turns out to be something else.


Question prepared by: Saralyn Williams, MD  Medical Toxicologist


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Donna Seger, M.D.

Medical Director

Tennessee Poison Center


Poison Help Hotline: 1-800-222-1222