Hello, my name is Jordan and since I was young, I have always been interested in chemistry and how all types of drugs work, and how they are made. In the last while organic chemistry and the chemistry of the brain and pharmacology have seemed interesting to me. I chose the topic of fascinating amines as nitrogen seems to always pop up in the most fundamental molecules of life, amino acids to neurotransmitters and hormones and so on.
Two classes of these types of compounds – Phenethylamines and Tryptamines – appeal to me specifically as their nature, purposes and applications are so broad. They are some of the most important molecules in our body, some will get you thrown into jail, and some will be given to treat ADHD in the form of compounds known as amphetamines, which can also be harmful and must be used with great care!
I commissioned my younger brother to help with the artwork for this project. Referencing images is painful, and I wanted to try and convey my own fascination and awe at these powerful molecules by explaining the history, function and structure of the molecules to him, for him to translate to digital art.
I read “Aroused” by Randi Epstein and “The Doors of Perception” by Aldous Huxley.
“Aroused” furthered my interest in physiology, biochemistry, and the endocrine system. I included many hormones in my project, reading “Aroused” inspired me to research hormones further and look into how they work in the brain and the body, although the book itself gave me a good starting point.
The Doors of Perception, while technically not a chemistry book, actually includes a lot about the chemists researching mescaline, psychologists discussing its effects and potentials, pharmacologists commenting on its therapeutic potential and low toxicity. The book opens with the story of Ludwig Lewin, a German pharmacologist who, in 1886, who first studied the cactus. I didn’t buy this book with intent of using it for the project but it really interested me and even drew on some concepts I remember from the introduction to medicinal chemistry module, like SAR (structure activity relationship) as they discuss the similarity of mescaline, adrenaline and the psychotropic effects of adrenochrome.
These two books inspired me to research our hormones and neurotransmitters but also to research the compounds which alter our normal state through the same internal mechanisms through which our hormones and neurotransmitters function