Saturday, February 12, 2011

Is MDMA Useful?

     Methylenedioxymethmphetamine or MDMA is the active ingredient in ecstasy.  Ecstasy fueled a party culture in the 1980's and 90's in North America and Europe.  Ecstasy goes by the nickname "E" which stands for euphoria, energy, empathy, and escape.  Rumors swirled that it could cause nervous breakdowns, Parkinson's disease, memory loss, and even death. MDMA has been accused of being many things including a killer.  However, some therapists claim that it can help patients move beyond horrible feelings that torture them and help light the way out of an unspeakable past.  It's kind of like MDMA started getting a bad reputation because of ecstasy. 
     Thousands of practitioners have risked their licenses to use MDMA in underground clinics since 1985.  It was labeled as a Schedule I by the Drug Enforcement Administration or DEA, for substances with no approved medical use and a high risk for abuse.  The effects of a dose lasts for 4 hours.  It initiates a surge in serotonin and dopamine.  They are neuro-chemicals associated with feelings of happiness and pleasure.  It also gives a surge of oxytocin. This chemical gives a feeling of trust and bonding.  MDMA controls the fear center in the brain, the amygdola, and suppresses the fight-or-flight response.  The apprehension, that a trauma patient could suffer, is silenced with no sedative effects of anti-anxiety medications.  It helps a victim of abuse or an injured veteran live a life free of pain.  Also, it can be used to treat depression, eating disorders, end-of-life anxiety, chronic pain, and PTSD.
     Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, leaves psychological scars on the human brain.  When a person experiences a traumatic event such as a tour of duty, a rape, or a car accident, the amygdola sends panic messages to the body.  past events resurface in the present in the form of flashbacks and nightmares.  With PTSD, you exhaust your energy trying to get work, paying the bills, and keeping up the facade that you are "normal."  Then, when something else goes wrong, it triggers fight-or-flight and you panic.

     Of course, it is not all good.  There are risks with MDMA.  Along with increasing blood pressure and heart rate, it causes the heart to pump inefficiently.  MDMA can have adverse effects when taken with other medications causing serotonin syndrome.  This is when the brain overdoses on serotonin, resulting in tremors, sweating, and hallucinations.  In more serious cases, it can lead to hyperthermia or an increase in body temperature, which can bring on seizures, a coma, renal failure, and possibly death.
     The some professionals believe the safer alternative to MDMA is prolonged exposure or PE therapy.  PE therapy is when patients go over the details of their trauma in 8 to fifteen weekly sessions.  There is a 95% success rate in cases where the patients complete the course.  But, 20% of the people that start PE therapy, drop out.
     MDMA is risky to an extent but most drugs are.  It's a case of risk versus reward.  If I was a military veteran that suffered from PTSD, would I want some take MDMA and get some of my sanity back?  Or if I were a rape victim, would I want to end all of those horrible nightmares?  I feel a big part of the negativity of MDMA has to do with the fact that it is associated with ecstasy.  What do you think?  Do you think that trauma patients should have to go with PE therapy, where they relive their traumatic experience over and over or be able to use MDMA where they can basically face and forget the event with a clean mind?


  1. good question, i don't know enought to say. question is it an monentery excape or a release of the pain of the past.

  2. Good information. But there are always a number of people who wants to miss use it.

  3. I dont take drugs so this is a strange topic for me.

    Its uncanny the effect they have on our bodies as well as minds

    Well done for educating me. :)


    My latest blog:

  4. Good question and I like the open view you are suggesting here. Though I would have concern with abuse, I suppose if it were medically monitored very closely I could see a use for it with types of cases suggested. Of course I could see problems with what "E" is known to do with folks doing dangerous stuff while on it. I do think perhaps some study should done toward it. BTW, thanks for visiting my blog over at

  5. You always make me think..Good POst thanks for the information

  6. Stupid... There are so many better, HEALTHIER alternatives. If one is suffering from a mental illness regarding a serotonin deficiency... there are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Other, natural and healthy choices are exercise, a healthy diet, counseling, sufficient sleep (which one could use anti anxiety meds if they have trouble falling asleep due to their mental illnesses).

    Doctors regard a healthy life style (exercise, healthy diet, sufficient sleep) as one of the best ways to overcome a mental illnesses. Of course, one would also be on certain meds and therapy to assist them in their recovery.

    Two of MANY articles online discussing exercise and mental health.

    One of the mental disorders you stressed was PTSD. Along with a healthy life style, these websites state a variety of different methods of overcoming PTSD, which none of them involve the illegal and HARMFUL drug MDMA:

    These are just some websites I found in just a few minutes. There are probably so many more, even better, ones.

    PTSD patient + MDMA + long run = bad results. Don't want to go into the whole hoola-baloo... but you can read the effects MDMA has over people who just finish their "high" (increased anxiety, or depression, both of which are not the results someone suffering from PTSD is looking for...).

  7. I agree. I have heard of people commiting suicide the day after taking "E" or MDMA. The extreme depression was so bad due to the drop of seretonin in the brain. I also heard a girl was so thirsty while on "E", that she drank so much water she drowned herself. This drug should be avoided no matter what!!!



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