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Structural formula of adrenochrome
Ball-and-stick model of the adrenochrome molecule
IUPAC name
54-06-8 N
ChemSpider 5687 YesY
Jmol-3D images Image
PubChem 5898
Molar mass 179.17 g·mol−1
Density 3.264 g/cm³
Boiling point (decomposes, 115-120 °C)
Except where noted otherwise, data is given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa)
 N verify (what isYesY/N?)
Infobox references

Adrenochrome (catecholamine o-quinone),[1] chemical formula C9H9NO3, is a compound produced by the oxidation of adrenaline (epinephrine). The derivative carbazochrome is a hemostatic medication. It is unrelated to chrome (chromium).


In vivo, adrenochrome is synthesized by the oxidation of epinephrine. In vitro, silver oxide (Ag2O) is used as an oxidizing agent.[2] Its presence is detected in solution by a pink color. The color turns brown upon polymerization.

Effect on the brain[edit]

Several small-scale studies (involving 15 or fewer test subjects) were done in the 50s and 60s, reporting that adrenochrome triggered psychotic reactions like thought disorder, derealization, and euphoria.[3] It has never been scientifically accepted, however, that adrenochrome has psychedelic properties.[4] Researchers Abram Hoffer and Humphry Osmond claimed that adrenochrome is a neurotoxic, psychotomimetic substance and may play a role in schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.[5] In what they called the "adrenochrome hypothesis",[6] they speculated that megadoses of vitamin C and niacin could cure schizophrenia by reducing brain adrenochrome.[7][8]


Adrenochrome is unscheduled by the Controlled Substances Act in the United States, but if sold as a supplement, sales must conform to U.S. supplement laws. If sold for consumption as a food or drug, sales are regulated by the FDA.[9][unreliable source?]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Adrenochrome is mentioned in The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley as "a product of the decomposition of adrenaline" that can "produce many of the symptoms observed in mescaline intoxication."
  • Author Hunter S. Thompson mentions adrenochrome in his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In the book it is derived from a living donor's adrenal gland (“It's no good if you get it out of a corpse."). As such, it is purported to be very exotic, and very intense: "the first wave felt like a combination of mescaline and methedrine".[10] Thompson reported a significant perceived rise in body temperature that led to paralysis. The adrenochrome scene also appears in the novel's film adaptation. In the DVD commentary, director Terry Gilliam admits that his and Thompson's portrayal is a fictional exaggeration. In fact, Gilliam insists that the drug is entirely fictional and seems unaware of the existence of a substance with even a similar name. Thompson also mentions the substance in his book Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72.
  • The harvesting of an adrenal gland from a live victim to obtain Adrenochrome for drug abuse is a plot feature in the episode "Whom the Gods would Destroy" of the British TV series Lewis (2008).[11]
  • Adrenochrome is a song by British band The Sisters of Mercy, originally released on their 1982 single Body Electric, and subsequently on their compilation album Some Girls Wander by Mistake. The band You Shriek released a cover in April 2012.
  • Adrenochrome Dreams is a song by the heavy metal band Otep, originally released as a hidden track on their 2007 album The Ascension.
  • Appetite for Adrenochrome is the title of the debut album by Sacramento, California pop-punk band the Groovie Ghoulies.
  • Adrenochrome is a song by the band Emeralds, released on their 2012 album, Just to Feel Anything.
  • Adrenochrome is the title of a 2013 album by Italian electronic group XP8.
  • Drencrom is sold in one of the milk plus varieties in A Clockwork Orange at the Korova Milk Bar. In the film, it supposedly helps you to be "ultra-violent".
  • Adrenechrome is a Heavy Metal band formed in 2010. Based out of Orillia, Ontario Canada.


  1. ^ COMMENTARY, John Smythies; Neurochemistry Section, Brain and Perception Laboratory, Center for Human Information Processing, UCSD Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, Electronic Seminars, 1999
  2. ^ MacCarthy, Chim, Ind. Paris 55,435(1946)
  3. ^ John Smythies (2002). "The adrenochrome hypothesis of schizophrenia revisited". Neurotoxicity Research 4 (2): 147–150. doi:10.1080/10298420290015827. 
  4. ^ "The controversy that these reports created just sort of died away, and the adrenochrome family has never been accepted as being psychedelic. No one in the scientific community today is looking in and about the area, and at present this is considered as an interesting historical footnote." As seen at: Alexander Shulgin and Ann Shulgin (1991). "#157 (TMA)". PiHKAL - A Chemical Love Story. Transform Press. 
  5. ^ Hoffer, A. Osmond, H., Smithies, J.; Schizophrenia: a new approach. Journal of Mental Science #100 (January, 1954)
  6. ^ Hoffer, A (Q1 1990). "The Adrenochrome Hypothesis and Psychiatry". Retrieved 2011-07-25.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ Hoffer, A. and Osmond, H. The Hallucinogens (Academic Press, 1967).
  8. ^ Hoffer, A., Osmond, H., & Smythies, J. (1994). An Evolutionary Defense Against Severe Stress. Schizophrenia: A New Approach (pp. 205-221). Victoria, Canada: Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine
  9. ^ Erowid. "Adrenochrome Law". Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  10. ^ Thompson, Hunter S. (1971). Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Random House. ISBN 0-679-78589-2. 
  11. ^

External links[edit]