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Created Feb 2021



PRECURSOR OF MANY NARCOTICS | codeine methyl enol ether

DEA CODE 9333: Schedule 2 Narcotic


Thebaine (Seed Capsules)

The Opium poppy plant (Papaver somniferum) contains six alkaloids commonly used in medicine and commercial products. The three used most often in analgesics are Morphine, Codeine, and (to a lesser extent due to its greater toxicity) Thebaine. The substance is a precursor of one of history's oldest analgesics, Morphine, and is named for the ancient Egyptian city, Thebes. Thebaine is also known as paramorphine due to its stimulatory effects - as opposed to the depressant effects of Morphine and Codeine.

Normally, Opium contains between 0.3% to 1.5% Thebaine (as much as 6% has been reported in some species). It is classified as a narcotic and convulsant and, as such, is an internationally regulated product. Natural and synthetic Thebaine derivatives are used as "starting material" in some medications to aid in absorption. It can be found among a long list of compounds in a variety of prescription Opioids, including Buprenorphine, Oxycodone, Oxymorphone, and Naloxone.

The effects of Thebaine are similar to other Opioids but differ in distinct ways due to its tendency to cause involuntary convulsions. It can block pain signals but, as a partial agonist, is not strongly associated with the "high" caused by drugs like Vicodin and Heroin. Additionally, the substance is considered toxic.

Thebaine is not per se a drug of abuse; however, it is readily convertible to drugs of abuse. Its primary value is that it is readily convertible to codeine - the drug causing all the interest by the drug industry and medical professions. Also, it is convertible to other drugs known as oripavines having a potency of hundreds (thousands) of times that of morphine. Whether or not those substances will be abused is highly speculative.

Thebaine Definition:
An opium alkaloid that is chemically similar to morphine but has stimulatory effects. It comprises about 0.2% of natural opium. Although thebaine lacks the analgesic effect of morphine, it can be converted to several important opioid agonists and antagonists (e.g., buprenorphine, naloxone).

Monkeys get addicted (1980 Study):
Thebaine was long believed to have no morphine-like agonistic properties and many studies, old and recent, are supportive of this view. However, it is now evident that it has a meaningful dependence potential, both physical and psychological, when large doses are ingested over a certain period in the rhesus monkey.

  • Thebaine is a very strong basic compound (based on its pKa)
  • Minor constituent of opium
  • Belongs to the class of organic compounds known as morphinans

Cayman Chemical PDF Thebaine


While thebaine is not used therapeutically, it is the main alkaloid extracted from Papaver bracteatum (Iranian opium / Persian poppy) and can be converted industrially into a variety of compounds, including hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, nalbuphine, naloxone, naltrexone, buprenorphine and etorphine. Butorphanol can also be derived from thebaine

  • An opiate alkaloid
  • A minor constituent of opium
  • Thebaine is chemically similar to both morphine and codeine, but has stimulatory rather than depressant effects
  • The Papaver bracteatum seed capsules are the primary source of thebaine, with significant amount in the stem too.

Its name comes from the Greek Thebai (Thebes), an ancient city in Upper Egypt

In 2012 146,000 kilograms of thebaine were produced. In 2013, Australia was the main producer of poppy straw rich in thebaine, followed by Spain and then France. Together, those three countries accounted for about 99 per cent of global production of such poppy straw.

At high doses, it causes convulsions similar to strychnine poisoning

Poppy Seed Tea King to Forfeit Mansion After Overdose Death - Federal prosecutors are set to take possession of Antony Graziano’s mansion on March 1 after his poppy seed products were deemed to have caused the death of a Wisconsin resident.
Saturday February 10, 2024 -

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