2C-E: Psychedelic Information & Safety

Justin Cooke Last Updated: September 13, 2021

Public interest in psychedelics has been on a steady incline for the last couple of years — with most of the attention centered around substances like LSD, magic mushrooms, mescaline, and DMT.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of research chemicals — such as 2C-E — that have been circulating around the psychonaut community for the last 50 years.

In this guide, we’re going to focus on 2C-E — which is a close relative of mescaline and 2C-B, but with its own distinct experience.

What is 2C-E?

2C-E (2,5-dimethoxy-4-ethylphenethylamine) is a synthetic psychedelic substance invented by the late Alexander Shulgin in the 1970s.

This compound is just one of over a dozen compounds in the 2C-X family that were reported by Shulgin in his book PiHKAL (1990). He listed this compound as one of his “magical half-dozen” — which are a list of 12 chemicals he felt had the greatest significance.

The most popular compound in this class by a long shot is 2C-B, but 2C-E, 2C-C, 2C-I, and 2C-P are also popular among the psychonaut community.

A US study surveyed 356,413 people from 2008 to 2016 to explore the use of psychedelics in the general population [4]. The study reported 2C-E as the third-most commonly used substance in the 2C-X class. The most popular was 2C-B (30%), followed by 2C-I (24%) and 2C-E (15%).

The chemical structure of 2C-E is similar to mescaline — which is the active ingredient in the psychoactive species of cacti, San Pedro, Peyote, and the Peruvian Torch Cactus. 2C-E has similar psychedelic effects as mescaline but with a distinct flavor of its own.

While many people enjoy the effects of 2C-E, it’s also gained a reputation for being one of the more challenging psychedelics.

2C-E can be euphoric and pleasantly introspective — but also dark and depressing. The experience is completely unreliable from one person to the next or one trip to the next.

Tread cautiously with this one.

Only people with a lot of experience using psychedelics and know how to manage a “bad trip” should experiment with 2C-E.

2C-E: Specs & Technical Details

Chemical Name2,5-Dimethoxy-4-ethylphenethylamine
Level of RiskLow
Street NamesAquarust, Eternity, Hummingbird, & Europa
Most Common Side-EffectsNausea & muscle-tension
Duration of Effects8–12 hours
LegalityIllegal in most parts of the world

Trip Sitter Safe 2C-E Guidelines

  1. Learn the four pillars of responsible psychedelic use — set, setting, sitter, & substance
  2. Know your dose — keep your dose to 15 mg or less for the first session
  3. Test your substances — always test your 2C-E with a reagent test kit before you start
  4. Know the timeline — the effects of 2C-E are going to last between 8 & 12 hours
  5. Have a trip sitter nearby — someone you trust who remains sober throughout the experience
  6. Don’t mix — it isn’t safe to mix 2C-E with other drugs, medications, or alcohol
  7. Know when to avoid 2C-E — don’t take 2C-E if you have underlying heart, neurological, or psychiatric disorders

What’s the Dose of 2C-E?

The inventor of the drug, Alexander Shulgin, listed the oral dose as 10 to 25 mg in his book — PIHKAL.

This dose range can be further divided into a light dose (recommended) and a strong dose (only for experienced users):

  • Light dose — 5–15 mg
  • Strong dose — 15–30 mg

If you’re planning on insufflating (snorting) the drug, it’s important to note the dose is going to be much lower (1–12 mg).

The same dose of 2C-E will have a different effect on each person.

This compound can be pretty unpredictable. A 20 mg dose may produce only minor euphoric effects in one person and a powerful psychoactive experience for another.

Be cautious when using this substance for the first time. Start with the lower-range of the dose and avoid taking any more for the duration of the trip. If you felt the experience could have been stronger, take a slightly higher dose the next time.

Never take a second dose mid-trip, even if you feel like the effects aren’t as intense as you’d like them to be.

What Does 2C-E Feel Like?

This psychedelic is unpredictable in its effects and highly dose-sensitive. The difference between a dose that feels like a mild euphoria — to a powerfully hallucinogenic experience is very subtle.

There’s also a particularly high “body load” from 2C-E — which is a term that describes the bodily or tactile sensations brought on by psychoactive substances. This substance has a tendency to cause muscle tightness and tingling in the arms and legs, as well as feelings of nausea or cramping.

At the least, these effects are described as intense; at the most, they’re very uncomfortable.

Common Experiences on 2C-E Include:

How Long Does 2C-E Last?

2C-E has a long duration of effects. It can last anywhere from 8 to 12 hours. Some users on Reddit report the residual effects of the drug last even longer — up to 20 hours in total.

It takes around 30 to 60 minutes before you start feeling the effects. Insufflated 2C-E (snorted) kicks in much faster — usually within around 10 or 15 minutes.

How Strong is 2C-E vs. Other Psychedelics?

While 2C-E isn’t the strongest psychedelic by any metric, it’s still a formidable psychedelic — especially at the higher doses.

Unfortunately, higher doses are also much more likely to result in a bad trip, and the intensity of the body load with this psychedelic can make the experience uncomfortable.

2C-E is also much more introspective than other synthetic drugs, comparable in this respect to magic mushrooms, only without the confusion and indecisiveness that accompanies a shroom high.

2C-E vs. 2C-B

The most relatable psychedelic to this psychedelic is 2C-B — which is, by far, the most popular member of the 2C family. It’s far less likely to result in a bad trip, it has a lower and more comfortable body load, and it has much stronger euphoric effects than 2C-E.

2C-E lasts longer than 2C-B (12 hours vs. 8 hours, respectively) and is more introspective in nature.

Is 2C-E Safe?

Most of the members of the 2C family have a high level of safety, including 2C-E.

Even very high doses of this substance don’t result in lasting damage for the vast majority of users. These experiences with very high doses are almost always reported as being psychologically traumatic but don’t appear to leave any lasting physical damage.

There’s been a few reported deaths from people using 2C-E. One notable case involved a group of people at a party who were snorting 2C-E in very high doses. Eleven people were taken to the hospital for overdose, and one of the members died. It’s important to note that other substances were also being consumed, including alcohol. 

Another case involving an overdose on 2C-E was determined to be caused by selective destruction of the white matter of the brain. It’s unclear what the effects of 2C-E are on the white matter of the brain in the recommended dosage range.

The long-term safety of 2C-E is not well established and there has never been any formal research on the short or long-term health impact of this substance. Use at your own risk.

Caution: 2C-E Adulteration!

2C-E is sold as a fine white powder. It’s very difficult to know for sure what’s inside the powder without testing it with a chemical drug test kit. It’s not uncommon for drug dealers or manufacturers to mix other psychoactive and potentially dangerous chemicals with the powder. This is referred to as adulteration.

Sometimes substances are added as a cheaper alternative; other times, it’s done by accident. There are also more nefarious reasons for doing this — there have been cases where drug dealers add highly addictive drugs like fentanyl to the power to get people hooked, so they keep coming back for more.

Some of these chemical adulterants are very dangerous and can lead to long-term physiological or psychological damage or death.

Drug adulteration is a serious issue with any synthetic substances — not just 2C-E.

Always test your substances before you use them. You can buy chemical reagent test kits for $30 or less that provide enough reagent for hundreds of tests. You also only need a tiny sample of the drug to test it. 

2C-E Drug Interactions

There’s very little research available on the pharmacodynamics of 2C-E, but there’s quite a bit available on the related compound, 2C-B.

It’s likely that 2C-E is metabolized by monoamine oxidase (MAO), which is also involved in the metabolism of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Therefore, it’s very likely for negative interactions to occur between 2C-E and MAO inhibitors or other medication that affect the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain.

It’s wise to avoid mixing 2C-E with any other medications. We don’t have enough information about this drug to know what’s safe and what isn’t.

In both of the above cases involving 2C-E overdose and death, other substances were considered to play a factor. Never mix alcohol, other psychedelics, stimulants (such as Adderall or MDMA), heart medications, antidepressants, antipsychotics, or antimicrobials with 2C-E.

Benzodiazepines are often used in hospitals to reverse the effects of overdose on psychedelic drugs, including 2C-E. These drugs are often used as trip killers among people who are going through a particularly bad trip. While this is useful in a hospital setting, it’s dangerous to attempt doing this yourself, and the impact of mixing these drugs together remains unknown.

2C-E Side-Effects

There are a few uncomfortable side-effects one may encounter when using 2C-E. The main side effects of this drug come from the intense body load. This primarily includes abdominal tightness, muscle tension or pain, and nausea.

Side-Effects of 2C-E Include:

  • Jaw-clenching
  • Pupil dilation
  • Frequent urination
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle tension
  • Seizures
  • Excessive stimulation & anxiety

Is 2C-E Addictive?

There are no official reports of addiction to 2C-E, and we couldn’t find any mention of addiction issues to this substance on popular forums where users share their experiences with this and other psychoactive drugs.

Most psychedelics have a notoriously low incidence of addiction or abuse — but it’s not impossible.

The substance itself isn’t likely to produce physical addictions the way opiate or benzodiazepine drugs do, but it’s possible to become addicted to the euphoric and pleasurable experiences it produces.

The propensity for causing a bad trip makes 2C-E much less likely to be used repeatedly long-term. Usually, when someone experiences a bad trip on this drug, they stop using it. The more often you use it, the more likely you are to experience one of these bad trips.

How Does 2C-E Work?

There’s very little research on the effects of 2C-E and how it works. The best study we have available is an observational study published in 2020 that highlighted everything we already knew about the subjective effects of 2C-E [6].

In terms of how 2C-E actually works — we have to rely on the research available for related phenethylamine substances such as mescaline or 2C-B.

Most phenethylamines act on the 5HT2A serotonin receptors to produce their effects. This is also the same receptor involved with the psychoactive effects of LSD, psilocin from magic mushrooms, and DMT.

However, the interaction is complex — some studies suggest the related compound, 2C-B, may even inhibit the 5HT2A receptors rather than stimulate them [2]. A lot more research is needed to fully understand how 2C-E and other 2C drugs exert their psychoactive effects.

The related compound, 2C-B, was also shown to act on the 5HT2C receptor [3] — which is thought to contribute to the hallucinatory effects as well.

There are a lot of other mechanisms involved that lead to the overall 2C-E experience — it’s believed this compound interacts with other serotonin receptors (such as 5HT1A or 5HT2B), dopamine receptors, adrenergic receptors, and more.

Is 2C-E Legal?

2C-E is not legal. The entire 2C family of drugs have been banned globally, starting with the United States in 1995. All members of this family were added to the UN Convention of Psychotropic Substances in 2001 — which led all UN-member countries to integrate this ban into their local laws.

In the US, 2C-E is a schedule I drug — which places it among the ranks of drugs like LSD, heroin, and cocaine.

Final Thoughts: What’s The Future of 2C-E?

2C-E is one of the more popular research chemicals on the market today, lagging behind substances like DOMS and 2C-B.

There are a lot of user-reports from experienced psychonauts dabbling in 2C-E, but it’s rare for people to form the same level of cult following with this compound as substances like LSD, magic mushrooms, or DMT. This could be due to the complete lack of interest from the academic community, the higher propensity for “bad trips,” or simply because the experience just isn’t as beneficial or enjoyable as it is with these other psychedelics.

Either way, until more research is done on 2C-E or any of the other 2C-x drugs, it’s very unlikely we’re going to see these substances offered legally. We don’t really know how they work, how safe they are long-term, and whether they’re helpful or harmful for mental health.

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References Cited In This Article

  1. Sacks, J., Ray, M. J., Williams, S., & Opatowsky, M. J. (2012, October). Fatal toxic leukoencephalopathy secondary to overdose of a new psychoactive designer drug 2C-E (“Europa”). In Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings (Vol. 25, No. 4, pp. 374-376). Taylor & Francis.
  2. Villalobos, C. A., Bull, P., Sáez, P., Cassels, B. K., & Huidobro‐Toro, J. P. (2004). 4‐Bromo‐2, 5‐dimethoxyphenethylamine (2C‐B) and structurally related phenylethylamines are potent 5‐HT2A receptor antagonists in Xenopus laevis oocytes. British journal of pharmacology, 141(7), 1167-1174.
  3. Rickli, A., Luethi, D., Reinisch, J., Buchy, D., Hoener, M. C., & Liechti, M. E. (2015). Receptor interaction profiles of novel N-2-methoxybenzyl (NBOMe) derivatives of 2, 5-dimethoxy-substituted phenethylamines (2C drugs). Neuropharmacology, 99, 546-553.
  4. Sexton, J. D., Crawford, M. S., Sweat, N. W., Varley, A., Green, E. E., & Hendricks, P. S. (2019). Prevalence and epidemiological associates of novel psychedelic use in the United States adult population. Journal of psychopharmacology, 33(9), 1058-1067.