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Methcathinone skeletal.svg
Clinical data
Routes of
Vaporized, insufflated, injected, taken orally
Legal status
Legal status
Pharmacokinetic data
CAS Number
PubChem CID
E number{{#property:P628}}
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Chemical and physical data
Molar mass163.22 g/mol


Methcathinone(2-(methylamino)-propiophenone, α-methylamino-propiophenone) is a psychoactive stimulant. It is sometimes used as a recreational drug and is considered to be addictive. It is usually snorted, but can be smoked, injected, or taken orally. Methcathinone is currently a DEA Schedule I controlled substance in the United States.

The C=O bond at the Rβ-position (directly right of the benzene ring) is slightly polar, and as a result the drug does not cross the lipid blood-brain barrier quite as well as amphetamine. Its effects differ slightly from the amphetamines, especially in its ability to act as an serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Nevertheless, it is a potent CNS stimulant and dopamine reuptake inhibitor. Chronic high dosage abuse may result in acute mental confusion ranging from mild paranoia to psychosis. These symptoms typically disappear quickly if use is stopped.

Unlike methamphetamine, methcathinone is not legal under any circumstances due to its classification as a Schedule I substance. In contrast, methamphetamine has certain medical uses such as treatment of morbid obesity, narcolepsy, and ADHD.


Methcathinone was first synthesized in Germany in 1928. It was used in the Soviet Union during the 1930s and 1940s as an anti-depressant. Since the 1960s, methcathinone has been used as a recreational drug in the (former) Soviet Union.

Circa 1994, the United States government recommended to the UN Secretary-General that methcathinone should be added to Schedule I of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances.[1]


Methcathinone is very similar in structure to ethcathinone, rare cathinone analogue and cathinone, a stimulant alkaloid occurring in the shrub Catha edulis (Khat), the synthetic stimulant methamphetamine, and other phenethylamines.

Methcathinone has a single chiral carbon atom, thus yielding enantiomeric + and - forms.

Methcathinone is most commonly made by the oxidation of ephedrine. Oxidation of ephedrine to methcathinone requires little chemistry experience, making it easy to synthesize. Potassium permanganate (KMnO4) is most commonly used as the oxidant.[2]

Synthesizing methcathinone using either potassium permanganate or various chromates is considered undesirable because of the low yields. A method that yields more methcathinone is oxidizing ephedrine with sodium hypochlorite.[3] If done in a proper laboratory using the proper procedures, however, potassium permanganate can be a high-yielding reactant.[4]

Methcathinone as free base is very unstable; it easily loses its ketone status and converts back into an alcohol. Structurally, this occurs when the C=O bond at the Rβ-position is converted into a C-OH bond. In other words, basic methcathinone will turn into ephedrine, from which it was synthesized.

Methcathinone acts on the body and brain much like methamphetamine and amphetamines do.


Methcathinone hydrochloride increases spontaneous rodent locomotor activity, potentiates the release of dopamine from dopaminergic nerve terminals in the brain, and causes appetite suppression.[citation needed] Users can easily forget to consume fluids and a state of thirst and dehydration is apparent.

The effects of methcathinone are similar to those of methamphetamine, initially deemed to be less intense by the inexperienced user, and often more euphoric. The effects have been compared to those of cocaine, since it commonly causes hypertension (elevated blood pressure) and tachycardia (elevated heart rate). Reported effects include:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Increased alertness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Inability to stop talking
  • Increased empathy and sense of communication
  • Both decreased and increased sexual function and desire
  • Loss of cognitive ability relating to the distinction of relative importance of matters (ie. one might spend days thinking that he or she is being productive but later realize that the activity and/or product was not even necessary)

The effects of methcathinone usually last from four to six hours.

Methcathinone's effects differ in various characteristic ways to that of methamphetamine. The effects seem to be of somewhat similar intensity to methamphetamine, differing in the nature of the shiny white effect which characterises the first few methamphetamine uses, and the dopamine and serotonin effects are quite apparent and also produce a shiny white effect which is quite different to that of methamphetamine and is more localized to the head.[citation needed]

The first time user often makes the mistake of thinking that methcathinone is less powerful than cocaine or methamphetamine. The experience is governed by factors such as quantity of dosing (initial build up) and the dose and interval used between maintenance. The effect of methcathinone has been described as somewhere between coffee and cocaine.[citation needed] This comparison is completely inaccurate and might be expressed by the first time user or one who is converting from cocaine. The sudden burst of euphoria and then sudden fall as experienced by cocaine users does not occur on methcathinone causing some users to prefer cocaine.[citation needed] The effects of methcathinone are closest to that of methamphetamine.

Another difference between methamphetamine and methcathinone is that tolerance seems to build up faster for methamphetamine than for methcathinone and the recovery period from methcathinone is faster, both in terms of physically recovery, and also in terms of magnitude of highs.[citation needed]

Methcathinone has a mild yet distinct hallucinogenic quality especially at higher doses and when aggravated by sleep deprivation.[citation needed]

Use and pharmacology

Anecdotal reports have provided some information on patterns of methcathinone use. The most common route of administration is via nasal insufflation (snorting).[citation needed] Other routes of administration include oral ingestion, intravenous injection and smoking.

Methcathinone binges resemble amphetamine binges in that the user may not sleep or eat, and takes in little in the way of liquids. The methcathinone binge is followed by a "crash" characterized by long periods of sleep, excess eating and, in some cases, depression.[citation needed]

Use of this substance has recently been associated with symptoms similar to those seen in patients with Parkinson's Disease (Manganism) due to the compound Manganese Dioxide which is a byproduct of synthesis with Permanganate (Arch Neurol. 2007;64:886-889)

Street names

Cat, Jeff, Bathtub Speed, Wannabe-Speed, Kitty, Meth's Cat, Meth's Kitten

In Europe, methcathinone is primarily known as Ephedrone.

In (Australia): Goey, Speed, Gas, Go, Tweak (primarily distributed in a gel-like form measured in points(1/10 of a gram); although it can be "cut" -(mixed with) epsom salts and other products) which then usually turn the substance into a powder based form and/or to a liquid)-

In South Africa it is primarily know as CAT or occasionally KAT. There it is also confused (via name alone, not presentation) with Khat (and sometimes (under the confusion) spelt Qat). Another confusing name is that given to Tik - the local name for methamphetamine.


In preclinical studies, methcathinone hydrochloride produces an abuse potential similar to that of the amphetamines.

Methcathinone can be highly psychologically addictive, and can produce methamphetamine-like withdrawals, which is somewhat less in intensity than methamphetamine. It is highly unlikely for a methcathinone user to experience addiction on their first or even several subsequent administrations of the drug.

In drug discrimination studies, methcathinone hydrochloride evokes responses similar to those induced by both (+)-amphetamine sulphate and cocaine hydrochloride. When examined in particular pharmacological assays for psychomotor stimulant-like activity, both the d and l enantiomeric forms of methcathinone hydrochloride have been found to be pharmacologically active. In these assays, the l-form of methcathinone is more active than either d-methcathinone or (+)-amphetamine. Racemic methcathinone hydrochloride is intravenously self-administered by baboons, thus indicating that methcathinone produces reinforcing effects in this laboratory animal, and suggesting that the drug has a potential for abuse in the human population.

Clinical use

As a Schedule-1 drug, there is no legal clinical use. Research without a specific DEA permit is prohibited.

Furthermore, anecdotal reports from USENET posts in the 1990s indicate that unlike many stimulants, Methcathinone probably doesn't have the inhibitory effects (mediated by norepinephrine) seen in other stimulants that make them useful as medications to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

See also

Other related phenethylamine drugs and plants:

Other CNS-active phenyl-ethylamino ketones (Drugs that contain the cathinone core structure):

External links