The Essential Guide to 2C-B
(Nexus, Venus, Bromo mescaline, Bees, Toonies)
2C-B is a synthetic psychoactive substance of the phenethylamine family. Variously described as a stimulant, empathogen, hallucinogen, and psychedelic, the compound draws comparisons to LSD and MDMA—though it’s not quite the same as either. It’s most commonly found as a powder, tablet, or capsule.
The first of the 2C-x group to be synthesized, 2C-B is also the best known. It was listed in PiHKAL (Phenethylamines I Have Known And Loved) as one of legendary psychopharmacologist and author Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin’s “magical half dozen”—the six phenethylamines he saw as the most important (and all but one of which he designed).
2C-B has been used as an aphrodisiac, entheogen, dance drug, ecstasy adulterant, and psychotherapeutic aid; however, it has never gained widespread acceptance. Since the mid-1990s, it has been banned in most countries.
History & Stats02
2C-B was discovered in 1974 by Shulgin. The following year, he described it as “beautifully psychoactive” and compared its effects to mescaline and LSD. He also noted the compound’s empathogenic properties and—as with MDMA—recommended it to a small number of psychotherapists for experimentation with their clients.
2C-B remained largely underground throughout its early days. It was first encountered by the DEA in 1979, but—aside from the seizure of several clandestine laboratories—no legislative action was taken.
When MDMA was banned in 1985, 2C-B’s popularity surged as a legal alternative. It was also developed as an aphrodisiac by the German pharmaceutical company Drittewelle (meaning “third wave,” interestingly enough!), and marketed under the brand names Erox, Nexus, and Performax. By the early 1990s, America had become the world’s largest consumer of this over-the-counter treatment for impotence and frigidity, although many were using it for its psychedelic effects.
The FDA banned the remedy in 1993, urging other countries to do the same. In South Africa, it had already become popular among Xhosa-speaking sangomas (or “diviners”), who used Drittewelle’s product in lieu of their own increasingly scarce traditional plant medicines. Specifically for them, the drug was repackaged and distributed as Ubulawu Nomathotholo: “Medicine of the Singing Ancestors.”
Between 1994 and 1995, 2C-B was added to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in the United States. South Africa and others followed with legislation of their own. In response, numerous research chemical analogues, such as βk-2C-B, have been developed to circumvent the law.
According to the Global Drug Survey 2014, 2C-B ranks among the top 20 drugs for past-year prevalence in nine different countries, with the highest prevalence in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and the Netherlands.
Phenethylamines like 2C-B are known as “simple” psychedelics for their one-ring structure—contrasted with the more complex structure of indoles (e.g. tryptamines). Some other phenethylamines include amphetamines, mescaline, mephedrone, ephedrine, and cathine and cathinone from khat. 2C-B is so-called for the two carbon atoms (2C) that join the phenyl ring to the amino group, and for the bromine atom (B) substituted at the R4 position. Like the other 2Cs, 2C-B has methoxy groups at positions R2 and R5.
Relatively little is known about the pharmacodynamics of 2C-B, but it shows binding affinity for the 5-HT2 serotonergic receptors. Unlike the classical psychedelics, it selectively antagonizes (blocks) the 5-HT2A receptor subtype usually involved in hallucinogenic effects. Its psychoactivity is thought to be at least partially related to agonism (activation) of 5-HT2C receptors, or to signaling pathways coupled to 5-HT2A. Further agonism of α1-adrenergic receptors may be responsible for 2C-B’s stimulant effects.
Safety and toxicity
2C-B is metabolized by the monoamine oxidases (MAOs) A and B, so it likely poses a risk for people on MAO inhibitors (MAOIs). These include some types of antidepressants, as well as ayahuasca.
For instance, some users report taking up to 10 times the highest recommended dose with no lingering health problems. While a number of fatalities have been linked to other substances in the 2C family (including 2C-T-7 and 2C-I-NBOMe), none have been attributed to 2C-B alone. That said, virtually nothing is known about the medium- to long-term health risks and some users may be more susceptible than others.
One female user experienced severe headaches, brain dysfunction, and weak limbs within 48 hours of taking liquid 2C-B. In a similar sort of time frame, a male user with no family history of psychosis began to experience auditory hallucinations, increased irritability, and paranoid delusions. These symptoms persisted for two months until he was treated with the antipsychotic medication risperidone. It should be noted, however, that in neither of these highly unusual cases was the presence of 2C-B confirmed.
2C-B is commonly swallowed, either as a tablet, capsule, or powder. The powder may be dissolved in a liquid or “bombed,” i.e. wrapped in a cigarette paper and swallowed. The threshold oral dose is 2-5 mg, while a light effective dose is around 5-15 mg. Most users take between 15 and 25 mg, and anything above that is considered strong. 50 mg seems to be a good upper limit.
What to expect
The onset of effects lasts roughly 45-75 minutes, with a 15-30 minute “coming up” period. During this time you may feel a sense of anticipation or anxiety, along with a pleasurable warmth or tingling—like electricity or pins and needles—going up and down the body. There may be signs of physical and sexual arousal, including raised hairs, muscle spasms, erection, chills, tremors, and dilated pupils. Some users also report gastrointestinal issues such as gas, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Visual effects might include geometric patterns, after-images and tracers, facial distortions, environmental drifting (e.g. melting or flowing surfaces), and enhanced or shifting colors. Closed-eye visuals are often richer, with profound fantasy imagery. You may also experience auditory hallucinations. At higher doses, these visual distortions and hallucinations can be unpleasant, ugly, or even frightening.
Peak effects plateau for two to four hours. Unlike on MDMA, sexual arousal can be maintained throughout. Tactile awareness and perceptions of smells, tastes, colors, and sounds tend to be strong. Many report feeling squarely “in the body”—aware of their muscles and nerves and merging with physical nature. The nausea and discomfort of the onset will generally be gone by this point.
Mood enhancement, along with a stimulant effect, are common during the plateau—but with less “pushiness” than MDMA. Users often describe 2C-B as far more malleable, allowing them to go in and out of baseline consciousness, sometimes abruptly, even during peak effects. Others find themselves dealing with unwanted emotions like anger, grief, and fear.
Communicating with others may become difficult or confusing, although it can also be easier for some. In any case, empathy and sociability are generally increased. Conceptual thinking, introspective insights, and spiritual ideation are also common—especially when alone. There may be a slight softening of the ego.
After the plateau, the effects of 2C-B can take up to two hours to subside. Some find their appetites returning and can eat immediately. Sleep may also be possible, often characterized by vivid dreams, and cheerfulness can persist for days—even after an unpleasant trip.
As with other psychedelics, set and setting are pivotal with 2C-B. So it’s best to avoid during times of psychological distress, or too soon after difficult life experiences. Public settings should also be avoided, at least to begin with.
Because spatial coordination and attention span are negatively impacted by 2C-B, the ideal setting will be as free from hazards as feasible. The drug’s mild anesthetic effect can sometimes allow injuries to go unnoticed. Driving is especially dangerous while under the influence and should always be avoided.
Dosage is another important factor, as increments of just 2 mg can disproportionately affect the experience. It’s best to start out with a low dose of 8 mg, weighed on a precisely accurate scale and taken on an empty stomach. Confirming that a substance is in fact 2C-B before taking it is also good practice. This can be done using a Marquis reagent test (available online), as 2C-B is the only drug known to turn this reagent a bright greenish-yellow color.
“2C-B is a cheap MDMA substitute”
Although 2C-B has sometimes been sold as MDMA, the effects are substantially different—as outlined above. Also, 2C-B doesn’t tend to be much cheaper. In the United States it can reach similar prices to MDMA and sometimes even more.
“2C-B causes violent aggression”
Horror stories in sensationalist media have portrayed 2C-B as a deadly threatening drug.And while its toxicity profile has yet to be fully established, such reports are dubious to say the least. Aside from the fact that aggression and violence are rarely mentioned in users’ reports, 2C-B is difficult to detect in the body. So unless the compound is confirmed in a lab, it’s fair to assume that other, lesser-known drugs are responsible.
Clinical research into the therapeutic uses of 2C-B is lacking. In one 2015 study, the drug was found to make human participants emotionally more open and less aggressive; however, aside from noting its possible use in anger management, the researchers were not particularly impressed.
Shulgin believed the compound’s relatively short duration and empathogenic effects would be of value to psychologists and psychotherapists. He was especially enthusiastic about its synergy with MDMA, the insights from which could be reinforced by 2C-B.
If (or when) MDMA gains mainstream acceptance for use in psychotherapy, 2C-B is likely to receive more attention. But for the time being, the cost of research ultimately outweighs any returns expected by pharmaceutical companies footing the bill.
2C-B is often described as an “entactogen”—a term proposed by David Nichols in 1986 to replace the more restrictive “empathogen” in reference to MDMA. It defines a class of drugs that produce a “touching within,” or introspective state.
Many users find 2C-B to be a kind of cathartic self-therapy tool, offering powerful, sometimes life-changing, insights about themselves and the nature of their reality. Feeling “at one with the universe” is common on the drug, as are fresh perspectives on negative personality traits, thought patterns, and destructive behaviors.
More specifically, because of the malleability of the 2C-B experience, users can focus on positive thoughts over negative ones and come to understand the impact of habitual thought processes. According to D. M. Turner, 2C-B can also be used to strengthen parts of the ego while dissolving others, ultimately resulting in a more positive self-image.
In South Africa, 2C-B (as Ubulawu Nomathotholo) has been linked to revelatory closed-eye visions of spirit animals and tribal ancestors, including meetings with the Xhosa creator deity. Following these “journeys,” users found greater confidence and resolutions to longstanding grief, among other personal benefits.
Like MDMA, 2C-B promotes empathy and understanding between people. One mother who took the drug with her son—who had recently moved away—learned how to let go as a parent and accept his individuality. Importantly for their relationship, she came to appreciate him as a separate, self-contained being.
2C-B is a Schedule I substance in the United States, which means it’s illegal to possess, manufacture, or distribute. In the United Kingdom, it’s Class A—also punishable by the severest drug crime penalties.
In Canada 2C-B is only a Schedule III substance, but still carries a maximum three-year prison sentence.
2C-B is also illegal in the EU, Australia, and many other countries.
Can it be detected in a drug test?
2C-B cannot be detected in either standard or extended drug tests. While it could potentially trigger a false positive for amphetamines, this is unlikely given the small doses involved.
Will 2C-B make me crazy?
Despairing thoughts, paranoid delusions, and frightening visuals (like facial distortions) may occur. At very high doses, some have definitely questioned their sanity. One user even reported an alarming fear of anything alive—even plants.
Nevertheless, the few cases of long-term psychosis attributed to 2C-B are highly questionable, with doubt cast on whether the drug was even involved.
To minimize negative experiences on 2C-B, always keep in mind the 6Ss of psychedelic use and prepare appropriately.
Are there risks?
2C-B affects the heart rate, blood pressure, and the central nervous system. It may be unsafe for people with convulsive seizure disorders (e.g. epilepsy), heart problems, diabetes, schizophrenia, or a history of mental illness.
What is the best way to take 2C-B?
The most common way to take 2C-B is also the easiest: swallowing it as a liquid, tablet, capsule, or “bomb.” Other methods include snorting, vaporizing, and “plugging” (rectal administration).
Snorting 2C-B is almost unbearably painful because of its insolubility in water. However, the effects tend to be more intense, with a shorter onset, and a much smaller required dose. Shulgin suggested snorting the more water-soluble acetate or hydrobromide salt for the same effects with little to no pain.
Vaporizing freebase 2C-B in a glass pipe is reportedly more potent and faster-acting than oral use, but with a shorter total duration. “Plugging” liquid 2C-B into the rectum with a needleless syringe has similar effects, even on a full stomach.
Can I microdose with 2C-B?
Users who microdose with 2C-B have had mixed results, with some casual experimenters getting nothing out of the experience. Others have reported crisper vision, enhanced tactile awareness, and a mental energy boost comparable to caffeine.
It’s unclear whether it’s worthwhile to microdose with 2C-B.
Does it produce tolerance?
Most, not all, users report a tolerance effect from regular use (more than once every five to seven days). Since 2C-B doesn’t tend to be habit-forming, this isn’t usually a problem.
Can I mix it with other drugs?
Shulgin once described 2C-B as a kind of “pharmacological tofu”—best enjoyed with other substances. His personal recommendation was to take it at the tail-end of an MDMA trip. Others have found it combines well with ketamine, making it easier to move without nausea and improving recollection of the K-hole.
There are some drugs that 2C-B should not be mixed with, however. It is potentially very dangerous in combination with MAOIs, tramadol, mescaline, amphetamines, cocaine, and others.
Click here for a detailed chart of safe drug combinations.
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