Substituted cathinones in medical research

These compounds are chemicals that are extensively used in medical research. Due to ramping up patients’ energy and empathy, they have many beneficial applications, including facilitation of smoking cessation. Here are the main basic facts are known about these cathinones, including their structure, types, benefits, and drawbacks. 

Definition and structure

These are cathinone analogs which are produced artificially from different precursors. They are derived from phenethylamines. Structurally, all of these chemicals are distinguished by a beta-keto group on their side chain. A phenethylamine core is connected to the alpha carbon and it has an alkyl group connected to it, and a ketone group is connected to the beta carbon. There are also other substitutions. Ethcathinone, Methcathinone, 3-MMC, and Benzedrine are all substituted cathinones.

Medical use

Certain cathinones (for example, pyrovalerone and diethylpropion) have proved useful in medical settings. Bupropion has been shown to facilitate smoking cessation. The effects on the central nervous system in subjects are stimulating, which is based on the production of catecholamines (there are three: serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline), and blocking of reuptake by the nervous system (both central and peripheral). 

On the other hand, the drugs have the potential to reduce the transfer function of both dopamine and serotonin transporter function. In addition, they could hinder the effects of monoamine oxidase. It should be noted that different kinds of these man-made chemicals have demonstrated significantly varying potencies in vitro. 

Here is a list of positive effects observed in patients most commonly:

  • a surge of energy; 
  • heightened empathy (which is similar to the effects of some synthetic cannabinoids)
  • heightened libido;
  • others

Observed negative effects include: 

  • strong toxicity;
  • hyperactivity of serotonin (e.g., hyperthermia);
  • potential for dependence and abuse in subjects. 

The list of undesirable cardiovascular effects includes tachycardia and hypertension. From the neurological side, subjects could hallucinate, suffer from acute paranoia, as well as agitation, and recurring seizures. This underscores the importance of careful administration and supervision.

Consequences of overdose

Overdose is extremely dangerous, as there is no proven antidote and no effective treatment. Uncontrollable intake has detrimental effects on human health and wellbeing, just like it happens with Benzodiazepines. In the case of powerful toxic effects, the measures taken are primarily extrapolated from medical practice regarding cocaine and amphetamine addiction and overdose treatment. Caution is paramount, both from the therapist’s and the user’s side.

Production and distributionSubstituted cathinones have been in use since the early 2000s. Unlike steroids and hormones, which could be natural, these drugs are produced artificially. Cathinone, however, is produced in the plant khat. These research chemicals may be purchased online or from street retailers. Distributed in the form of powders, they may be self-administered – ingested orally, injected intravenously, or snorted. They are legal in some, but not all countries and governments encouraged controlled distribution.

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