Thebaine (paramorphine), also known as codeine methyl enol ether, is an opiate alkaloid, its name coming from the Greek Θῆβαι, Thēbai (Thebes), an ancient city in Upper Egypt. A minor constituent of opium, thebaine is chemically similar to both morphine and codeine, but has stimulatory rather than depressant effects. At high doses, it causes convulsions similar to strychnine poisoning. The synthetic enantiomer (+)-thebaine does show analgesic effects apparently mediated through opioid receptors, unlike the inactive natural enantiomer (−)-thebaine.[3] 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.[4]

Skeletal formula
Ball-and-stick model
IUPAC name
Other names
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.003.713 Edit this at Wikidata
MeSH Thebaine
  • InChI=1S/C19H21NO3/c1-20-9-8-19-12-5-7-15(22-3)18(19)23-17-14(21-2)6-4-11(16(17)19)10-13(12)20/h4-7,13,18H,8-10H2,1-3H3/t13-,18+,19+/m1/s1 checkY
  • InChI=1S/C19H21NO3/c1-20-9-8-19-12-5-7-15(22-3)18(19)23-17-14(21-2)6-4-11(16(17)19)10-13(12)20/h4-7,13,18H,8-10H2,1-3H3/t13-,18+,19+/m1/s1
  • COC1=CC=C2[C@@H](C3)N(C)CC[C@@]24C5=C3C=CC(OC)=C5O[C@@H]14
Molar mass 311.37 g/mol
Low [2]
O-demethylation [1]
Legal status
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Infobox references

Thebaine is controlled under international law, is listed as a Class A drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 in the United Kingdom, is controlled as an analog of a Schedule II drug per the Analog Act in the United States, and is controlled with its derivatives and salts, as a Schedule I substance of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in Canada.[5] The 2013 US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) aggregate manufacturing quota for thebaine (ACSCN 9333) was unchanged from the previous year at 145 metric tons.

This alkaloid is biosynthetically related to salutaridine, oripavine, morphine and reticuline.[6]

In 2012 146,000 kilograms of thebaine were produced.[7] 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. The Papaver bracteatum seed capsules are the primary source of thebaine, with significant amount in the stem too.[8][9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Mikus, G.; Somogyi, A. A.; Bochner, F.; Eichelbaum, M. (1991). "Thebaine O-demethylation to oripavine: Genetic differences between two rat strains". Xenobiotica. 21 (11): 1501–9. doi:10.3109/00498259109044400. PMID 1763524.
  2. ^ WHO Advisory Group (1980). "The dependence potential of thebaine". Bulletin on Narcotics. 32 (1): 45–54. PMID 6778542. Archived from the original on 2014-05-12.
  3. ^ Aceto, M. D.; Harris, L. S.; Abood, M. E.; Rice, K. C. (1999). "Stereoselective μ- and δ-opioid receptor-related antinociception and binding with (+)-thebaine". European Journal of Pharmacology. 365 (2–3): 143–7. doi:10.1016/S0014-2999(98)00862-0. PMID 9988096.
  4. ^ "DEA Diversion Control Division" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-06-11. Retrieved 2014-07-12.
  5. ^ "Controlled Drugs and Substances Act". Justice Laws Website. Government of Canada. 2012-11-06. Archived from the original on 2013-11-22. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
  6. ^ Novak, B.; Hudlicky, T.; Reed, J.; Mulzer, J.; Trauner, D. (2000). "Morphine Synthesis and Biosynthesis-An Update" (PDF). Current Organic Chemistry. 4 (3): 343–62. CiteSeerX doi:10.2174/1385272003376292. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-06-19.
  7. ^ Narcotic Drugs 2014 (PDF). INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS CONTROL BOARD. 2015. p. 21. ISBN 9789210481571. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-06-02.
  8. ^ "Narcotic Drugs: Estimated World Requirements for 2015; Statistics for 2013" (PDF). International Narcotics Control Board. United Nations International Narcotics Control Board. 2015. p. 151 ff. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 2, 2015. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  9. ^ Whoriskey, Peter. "Johnson & Johnson companies used a super poppy to make narcotics for popular opioid pills - Washington Post". Washington Post. Retrieved 27 March 2020.