Pseudoephedrine works great for a stuffy nose. What about meth?

Just an idle thought - would low quality ‘shake and bake’ meth unplug one’s stuffy nose like the pseudoephedrine it was made from? What about the high quality recrystallized stuff? Just an idle question, taking up a meth habit because you have a stuffy nose would be like immediately switching to injectable heroin because you stubbed your toe.

Methamphetamine is a chiral molecule, meaning that it has two versions of its molecular structure that are mirror images of each other. These are usually called “left-handed” and “right-handed” versions of the molecule. Only the “right-handed” version of the molecule has euphoric or addictive properties; the “left-handed” version, meanwhile, is actually sold over-the-counter in the USA as an inhalant for nasal decongestion.

In general, it’s tricky to get a chemical reaction to produce only one of the mirror images of a chiral molecule, and Walter White notwithstanding, most meth cookers are not experts in chemistry. So I would assume that a lot of “street” meth would be a mixture of both the “left-handed” and “right-handed” versions. If so, it would probably clear out your nose as well as destroying your life.

(Mods: I debated about answering this question due to its subject matter, but all of the above information is available on Wikipedia, so I figured it would be fair game. Still, if this will run the board into legal trouble, feel free to delete this post.)

If nothing else, it’s possible to use N-methylamphetamine as a starting material for the synthesis of psuedephedrine.


Remember that when amphetamines were legal in OTC preparations, benzedrine was sold as a bronchodilator in inhalers. Like other amphetamine preparations, it created problems when people started abusing the things recreationally - they would remove the benzedrine soaked strip from the inhaler and chew on it or swallow it.

As noted above, benzedrine was once quite popular as an inhalant for nasal congestion. More info here:

Modern meth, no way. For one thing, there’s no practically methamphetamine in it. It’s almost entirely made up of various blends of cut* that will only clog your nose worse.
*citrated caffeine, epsom salts, vitamin C or E crystals, etc.

Garbage on the street sold as meth that could be anything from from actual chemically correct methamphetamine to any random crap that looks similar enough to get you to give someone some cash. Who knows.

OTOH, actual, pharmaceutical grade amphetamines, yes, it does work for a stuffy nose. That I can tell you first hand. Over the years I’ve taken, mostly by mouth, various ADD meds (containing various flavors of amphetamines). (ETA, all prescribed by a doctor, did some editing, didn’t realize that got left out, nothing illegal here)

I recall early on when I first began taking them, I woke up one day with a nasty cold and was concerned about feeling like crap and being sped up from the pills. I took them anyways and was surprised that about 20 minutes later my congestion was totally cleared up. Later (like months or years later), I learned that most/many stimulants also work as decongestants.

I’ve mentioned this phenomenon here many times as well. In fact, when I finished up college I had a ton of ADD meds left and kept them for when I had colds. They worked like a charm.
So, if it worked, it would work because both pseudoephadrine and meth would both be nasal decongestants, not because you made one from the other. At least I don’t think that would be the reason. In my head that’s like saying that both bread absorbs water because flour absorbs water and you made bread from the flour. No, it’s just that they bother happen to do have the property.

Stop saying “meth!” It is stupid!

Yes, we know meth is stupid: That’s why we don’t use it. But it’s not so stupid that just saying the name will cause ill effects. Unless you’re saying that “meth” isn’t the name, in which case you’re wrong, because that’s what the vast majority of people call it.

Chronos: I think kayaker is referring to this thread.

Wow, what an entertaining thread! How did I miss that?