First off, I'm new here and I cant tell if this is a chemistry or a biology question. It's both and if I ask on biology forums, they say to ask on chemistry forums and vice versa. So sorry if this question is more geared towards biology.

I am really amazed that our brain produces Phenethylamine any time we do something rewarding. I need to confirm this, because if this is true, I'm high right now... (wait so meth isn't bad?)

Phenethylamine gets biosynthesized in our brain to get converted into dopamine (and also L-DOPA). But the funny thing is that the molecular formula of Phenethylamine is exactly the same as methamphetamine just without the two methyl groups.

From my understanding, if you consume methamphetamine the liver metabolizes methyl groups into hydroxyl preventing it from metabolizing Phenethylamine instantly and making the hydroxyl group a free radical, so the hydroxal group is separated once it reaches the brain, therfore consuming methamphetamine would be 10x more potent then if you consume Phenethylamine. The same way the high from Dextroamphetamine (the chemical used in Adderall which is the same as methamphetamine, just with one methyl group instead of two, making it not as potent) is 5x weaker then methamphetamine.

Consuming pure Phenethylamine would make the liver metabolize 90% of it making the brain receive only around 10% of it. Phenethylamine is naturally occurring and is sold on Amazon as pure powder.

So my question: is Phenethylamine the same as meth, just with 1/10th of a high, considering that is what methamphetamine gets metabolized into?

I didn't mean get high on methamphetamine in the title, but the end product of methamphetamine (apples and oranges)

And does that mean that meth isn't that bad as the media claims it is (besides hepatoxicity)?

  • $\begingroup$ Strictly speaking we get naturally high on analogues of methamphetamine just as we suppress pain with natural analogues of NSAIDs and opiates. None of this says that the artificial versions are good for you. $\endgroup$
    – matt_black
    Feb 16, 2017 at 11:34

1 Answer 1


All the drugs I know of are closely related to a molecule we produce naturally or are a molecule that gets produced by our body. This is kind of the point of drugs. But the main issue is the dose. We all have uranium in our bodies, does that mean consuming it isn't bad for you? Or to put it differently: We all have bones, don't we? But putting another bone into your body isn't really considered healthy.

First of all: Chemically, those two molecules of course are not the same. Let's get the obvious out of the way.

I think this is the wrong forum again because really what you are asking is more of a legal/ethical question than a scientific one (both questions). But I'll try to answer the 2nd question "scientifically" with a light esoteric touch: Consuming drugs means messing with a delicate balance in our brains that is so complicated we do not even begin to understand it. I'm not saying don't use drugs, I'm just saying maybe you want it to be not as bad as it really is.


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