The drug MDMA may sound quite foreign to some. However, this substance, more commonly known as the supposed main component of Molly or Ecstasy, has shown promise in therapies for various conditions. While these results are not conclusive, the evidence is mounting that MDMA and other psychedelics may have a place in the world of medicine.
MDMA as Therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
There have been significant clinical trials where the use of MDMA in PTSD, has shown to be quite effective. In fact, part of the research includes the identification of treatment that can enhance the effects of psychotherapy and also make the extinction of traumatic memories happen faster while being effective. The neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are affected by the MDMA. This leads to the enhancement of psychotherapy treatment by reducing anxiety during recall of any trauma or reducing the effect of the PTSD triggers. This also lends to helping the patient feel better about themselves. Trials of this in various phases showed that MDMA-assisted treatment was quite effective in improving PTSD symptoms. Up to a year later, some 67% of those in clinical trials when surveyed, no longer met the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis.
MDMA as Therapy to Treat Anxiety
The part of the brain called the amygdala is responsible for the body’s response to fear and anxiety. MDMA is known to suppress the activity in the amygdala, and a study of MDMA-assisted treatment in autistic adults with social anxiety, showed significant improvement in the total score on the Leibowitz Social Anxiety Scale, as compared to the controlled groups that received the placebo. The MDMA acted to increase superior frontal cortex activity and increased connectivity between the amygdala and the hippocampus. This reaction and the subsequent effects may lead to the reduction of anxiety while dealing with emotionally challenging thoughts and memories.
Persons who were undergoing MDMA treatment for anxiety also showed:
- An increase in self-compassion
- Enhanced extinction of learned fear association
- Improved emotional regulation and engagement
- Decreased avoidance
Persons with Autism who were given between 75 – 125 mg of MDMA in clinical trials, showed rapid and durable improvement in social anxiety symptoms, and even up to six months after.
MDMA Therapy for Depression
Persons who are suffering from depression tend to have lowered or even depleted neurotransmitters in their bodies. MDMA acts to trigger the production which can lead to an increase in these chemical transmitters and this then leads to more feelings of well-being and pleasure. This also holds true for persons who may be predisposed to depression, and the onset of the MDMA effects are rapid and almost immediate as compared to the use of traditional first-line antidepressant medications, some of which may actually take up to 6 weeks to work. Knowing the rapid effect is also important as MDMA has been used in cases of treatment-resistant depression.
One of the more effective forms of therapy for depression as well is the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The use of MDMA seems to complement this therapy and also facilitates greater productivity in this form of treatment, helping persons be more open to the therapy. Using MDMA in depression treatment also increases cognitive insights, improves sleep habits and coping mechanisms, as well as helps to regulate the emotions of persons. These all work together towards positively improving the symptoms of depression.
MDMA Therapy for Alcoholism
There is some evidence that the use of MDMA and psychedelic medicine therapy is one of the more effective methods in the treatment of alcoholism. The cluster of these issues such as alcohol addiction, depression, and anxiety tend to occur in tandem. It has been shown that small doses of MDMA under the guidance of an expert can help to reduce a patient’s symptoms and make it easier for an addict to quit alcohol.
The use of MDMA again in conjunction with psychotherapy could help addicts overcome their alcoholism more effectively than conventional treatment. Of note – is that those who were given the MDMA treatment said that they did not feel any craving for MDMA afterward. One patient said that “the drug (MDMA) itself was more a mediator than anything…”
Further to this, with the controlled use of MDMA, there were no unexpected adverse events observed and across the group of persons improved psychosocial behavior was seen.
In conclusion, there is continuous research that shows the added benefits of the medicinal use of MDMA. Of course, the use of MDMA was used as part of an overall series of measured treatments and not as a stand-alone magic bullet.
*Please Note – This is not medical advice and is not intended to recommend or promote the use of MDMA or any other drug in any medical or recreational context. It is simply our opinion and information found based on research. Any medical decisions you make should be done under the care of a trained and licensed medical physician.