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Amphetamine is a strong physical and mental stimulant available widely in both prescription and on the street. It is the standard against which all other stimulants are measured. Other names are Speed, Dex, Adderall, Dexamphetamine.




Amphetamine was first synthesized in 1887 by the Romanian Lazăr Edeleanu in Berlin, Germany. He named the compound phenylisopropylamine. It was one of a series of compounds related to the plant derivative ephedrine, which had been isolated from Ma-Huang that same year by Nagayoshi Nagai. No pharmacological use was found for amphetamine until 1929, when pioneer psychopharmacologist Gordon Alles resynthesized and tested it on himself, in search of an artificial replacement for ephedrine. From 1933 or 1934 Smith, Kline and French began selling the volatile base form of the drug as an inhaler under the trade name Benzedrine, useful as a decongestant but readily usable for non-medical purposes. One of the first attempts at using amphetamines as a scientific study was done by M. H. Nathanson, a Los Angeles physician, in 1935. He studied the subjective effects of amphetamine in 55 hospital workers who were each given 20 mg of Benzedrine. The two most commonly reported drug effects were "a sense of well being and a feeling of exhilaration" and "lessened fatigue in reaction to work". During World War II amphetamine was extensively used to combat fatigue and increase alertness in soldiers. After decades of reported abuse, the FDA banned Benzedrine inhalers, and limited amphetamines to prescription use in 1965, but non-medical use remained common. Amphetamine became a schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act in 1971.

The related compound methamphetamine was first synthesized from ephedrine in Japan in 1918 by chemist Akira Ogata, via reduction of ephedrine using red phosphorus and iodine. The German military was notorious for their use of methamphetamine in World War II. Adolf Hitler received daily shots of a medicine his doctor called "vitamultine", which contained various essential vitamins in addition to methamphetamine. The pharmaceutical Pervitin was a tablet of 3 mg methamphetamine which was available in Germany from 1938 and widely used in the Wehrmacht, but by mid-1941 it became a controlled substance, partly because of the amount of time needed for a soldier to rest and recover after use and partly because of abuse. For the rest of the war, military doctors continued to issue the drug, but less frequently and with increasing discrimination as the war progressed onwards towards Nazi Germany's and the Axis' eventual defeat in 1945.

In 1997 and 1998, researchers at Texas A&M University claimed to have found amphetamine and methamphetamine in the foliage of two Acacia species native to Texas, A. berlandieri and A. rigidula. Previously, both of these compounds had been thought to be human inventions. These findings have never been duplicated, and the analyses are believed by many biochemists to be the result of experimental error, and as such the validity of the report has come into question. Alexander Shulgin, one of the more experimented biochemical investigator and creator of hundred of new substances of that chemical family, tried to contact and verify that finding but the authors of the paper never answered, so natural amphetamine remains most likely a false discovery.

Amphetamines were still in use in the US Air Force as of 2003. They are believed to have played a role in the deaths of four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan involved in a friendly fire incident.

Amphetamine effects

Increased alertness, increased motivation, increased talkativeness, positive mood shift, sense of well-being


(from PDR 1998's amphetamine prescription information) Individual patient response to amphetamines varies widely. While toxic symptoms occasionally occur as an idiosyncracy at dosages as low as 2mg, they are rare with doses of less than 15mg; 30mg can produce severe reactions, yet doses of 400 to 500mg are not necessarily fatal. In rats, the oral LD50 of dextroamphetamine sulfate is 96.8 mg/kg.

External links about Amphetamine