Emde degradation

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The Emde degradation (also called Emde-reaction or Emde-reduction) is a method for the reduction of a quaternary ammonium cation to a tertiary amine with sodium amalgam [1][2][3]


This organic reaction was first described in 1909 by the German chemist Hermann Emde and was for a long time of great importance in structure elucidation of many alkaloids, for example that of ephedrine.

Alternative reducing agents exist for this reaction; for instance, lithium aluminium hydride.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ H. Emde. Ber deutsch chem Ges 42 (1909) p2590
  2. ^ W Pötsch. Lexikon bedeutender Chemiker (VEB Bibliographisches Institut Leipzig, 1989) (ISBN 3817110553
  3. ^ M B Smith, J March. March's Advanced Organic Chemistry (Wiley, 2001) (ISBN 0-471-58589-0)