Friday, February 05, 2010

MDMA Treatment Trials for PTSD

About time - we have known for decades that MDMA (ecstasy) is effective in treating and resolving a variety of trauma induced dysfunctions, but the ludicrous laws labeling MDMA as a scheduled narcotic (and it is not a narcotic, nor is LSD or marijuana, which are also listed in the same way) have prevented research since the early 1980s.

As happy as I am to see this kind of research resuming, I have some concerns.

We know that MDMA damages serotonin systems in the brain unless precautions are taken. In none of the studies I have seen that are underway has there been any mention of the risks or of any measures to prevent the damage (citalopram, vitamin C, and alpha lipoic acid (1) administered prior to the MDMA injection and a few hours post-usage inhibit the damage to the serotonin systems). Researchers MUST include efforts to prevent damage as part of the studies.

Treating Agony with Ecstasy

First FDA-approved Trial Evaluating the Street Drug's Therapeutic Applications

This article was written by David Jay Brown of Discover.

Post-traumatic stress disorder-PTSD-can linger years after someone has experienced or witnessed something extremely upsetting. It may be accompanied by panic attacks, flashbacks, and nightmares, and it can be fiendishly difficult to treat. But experimental types of treatment could soon lend a hand.

In a pilot study, South Carolina psychiatrist Michael Mithoefer is targeting PTSD with a controversial drug: methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA, commonly known as Ecstasy. He gave MDMA, along with psychotherapy, to 21 participants who had developed treatment-resistant PTSD as a result of experiences with crime or war.

Only 15 percent of the MDMA-treated subjects continued to experience PTSD afterward, as opposed to 85 percent of the subjects who received psychotherapy with a placebo. Mithoefer considers the findings especially notable given that 20 of the 21 participants had previously failed to obtain relief from FDA-approved treatments.

"The next step is to find out if this can be replicated elsewhere," he says. The study, sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, was the first FDA-approved trial evaluating MDMA’s therapeutic applications. Additional clinical tests examining MDMA-based treatments for PTSD are under way in Switzerland and Israel.

Other potential PTSD drugs also show promise. Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City report that one or two treatments with a compound called RU38486 can disrupt traumatic memories in rats without affecting normal memories. And investigators at Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University in Israel find that an injection of the steroid cortisol immediately following a trauma reduces PTSD-like effects in mice. Both of these therapies are slated for human clinical trials.

(1) Aguirre N, Barrionuevo M, Ramirez MJ, Del Rio J, Lasheras B. 1999. “Alpha-lipoic acid prevents 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)- induced neurotoxicity” Neuroreport

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