Phenethylamine (PEA) is both a molecule of its own and a base structure for many psychoactive compounds.

Natural Sources

Cocoa Nibs

Phenylethylamine occurs naturally in cocoa nibs (Theobroma cacao) and is therefor found in chocolate candy. The amine concentration in cocoa nibs increases in fermentation of cocoa and decreased during roasting and alkalization. Its concentration in chocolates is dependent on non-fat cocoa contents. [1]

Aldimines have been found in cocoa powders, which arise from the condensation of phenylethylamine and serveral aldehydes in cocoa. The main component of these products is N-phenylmethyl-N-phenylmethylene amine a condensation product of phenylethylamine and the aldehyde benzaldehyde.[1] As much as 20 different aldehydes were found to occur in cocoa beans. The main aldehydes found were benzaldehyde (2.26%) and benzenacetaldehyde (1.5%). Acetic aldehyde, isobutyric aldehyde, propionic aldehyde, butyric aldehyde and others made up only 0.1-0.35% of the beans.[2]

Pharmacological Actions

Agonist: TAAR, D2, alpha-adrenergic
Antagonist: GABA-B, NMDA
Positive Allosteric Modulator: AMPA

Subjective Effects

If correctly activated PEA will produce a peaceful yet not necessarily sedated experience. It produces a state of bliss without a crash, due to its initial antagonism of GABA-B and the subsequent upregulation of GABA-B. It is not a stimulant in the sense of amphetamine because of its alpha-adrenergic agonism, though it retains the ability to increase heart rate. It is not addictive due to its D2 agonist and GABA-B and NMDA antagonist actions which block dopamine impulses in the nucleus accumbens. It does not inhibit VMAT like amphetamine and methamphetamine, and therefore does not release dopamine in an addictive manner.

PEA's D2 agonism produces a slightly dissociated psychedelic effect with cartoon-like visuals. This is weak but noticeable.


300-1000 mg

Side Effects

Increased heart rate. Possible vasoconstriction, sedation, and anxiety at high doses.

Endogenous Phenethylamine

PEA is produced within dopamine neurons and stored within the vesicles of those neurons. CB1 receptors have been shown to cause an endogenous release of phenethylamine, boosting concentrations up to four times above baseline. This is theorized to be the primary effect of CB1 agonism: endogenous PEA release.

Chemical Properties

Phenethylamine Freebase

Synonyms: phenylethylamine; β-phenethylamine, 2-phenethylamine; beta-phenylethylamine
PubChem Compound ID: 1001
Molecular Weight: 121.17964 [g/mol]
Molecular Formula: C8H11N
XLogP3: 1.4
Physical state: Clear to light yellow liquid
Melting point: -60 c
Boiling point: 197-200 c
Specific gravity: 0.965
Solubility: Soluble in water
pH: Strong base
Vapor density: 4.2
IUPAC Name: 2-phenylethanamine
InChI: InChI=1S/C8H11N/c9-7-6-8-4-2-1-3-5-8/h1-5H,6-7,9H2
Canonical SMILES: C1=CC=C(C=C1)CCN

Phenethylamine Hydrochloride

PubChem Compound ID: 9075
Molecular Weight: 157.64058 [g/mol]
Molecular Formula: C8H12ClN
Physical state: While crystalline solid
Melting point: 220-222 °C(lit.)
Boiling Point: 196.5 °C at 760 mmHg
Flash Point: 90.6 °C
Solubility: Soluble in cold water. Insoluble in diethyl ether. Soluble in alcohol.

1. Ziegleder G, Stojacic E, Stumpf B.;
Occurrence of beta-phenylethylamine and its derivatives in cocoa and cocoa products; Fraunhofer-Institut für Lebensmitteltechnologie und Verpackung, München, Bundesrepublik Deutschland.; Z Lebensm Unters Forsch. 1992 Sep;195(3):235-8.; PubMed PMID: 1413998
2. Vivian N. Pletney
Focus on Food Engineering Research and Developments; Page 477; Nova Publishers, 2007; ISBN 1600218989, 9781600218989
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