Study shows MDMA may have potential to treat PTSD and anxiety disorders Watch

glousck
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http://www.mdconnects.com/articles/2...eutic-uses.htm

Main article in below spoiler

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Brain imaging experiments have revealed for the first time how ecstasy produces feelings of euphoria in users.

Results of the study at Imperial College London, parts of which were televised in Drugs Live on Channel 4 in 2012, have now been published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

The findings hint at ways that ecstasy, or MDMA, might be useful in the treatment of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

MDMA has been a popular recreational drug since the 1980s, but there has been little research on which areas of the brain it affects. The new study is the first to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on resting subjects under its influence.

Twenty-five volunteers underwent brain scans on two occasions, one after taking the drug and one after taking a placebo, without knowing which they had been given.

The results show that MDMA decreases activity in the limbic system - a set of structures involved in emotional responses. These effects were stronger in subjects who reported stronger subjective experiences, suggesting that they are relatedCommunication between the medial temporal lobe and medial prefrontal cortex, which is involved in emotional control, was reduced. This effect, and the drop in activity in the limbic system, are opposite to patterns seen in patients who suffer from anxiety.

MDMA also increased communication between the amygdala and the hippocampus. Studies on patients with PTSD have found a reduction in communication between these areas.

The project was led by David Nutt, the Edmond J. Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, and Professor Val Curran at UCL.

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris from the Department of Medicine at Imperial, who performed the research, said: "We found that MDMA caused reduced blood flow in regions of the brain linked to emotion and memory. These effects may be related to the feelings of euphoria that people experience on the drug."

Professor Nutt added: "The findings suggest possible clinical uses of MDMA in treating anxiety and PTSD, but we need to be careful about drawing too many conclusions from a study in healthy volunteers. We would have to do studies in patients to see if we find the same effects."

MDMA has been investigated as an adjunct to psychotherapy in the treatment of PTSD, with a recent pilot study in the US reporting positive preliminary results.

As part of the Imperial study, the volunteers were asked to recall their favourite and worst memories while inside the scanner. They rated their favourite memories as more vivid, emotionally intense and positive after MDMA than placebo, and they rated their worst memories less negatively. This was reflected in the way that parts of the brain were activated more or less strongly under MDMA. These results were published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology.

Dr Carhart-Harris said: "In healthy volunteers, MDMA seems to lessen the impact of painful memories. This fits with the idea that it could help patients with PTSD revisit their traumatic experiences in psychotherapy without being overwhelmed by negative emotions, but we need to do studies in PTSD patients to see if the drug affects them in the same way."


A research project led by Professor David Nutt has investigated the use of MDMA (the chemical 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine) for therapeutic purposes including for the treatment of anxiety disorders and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

There has been previous evidence (see spoiler at the end of paragraph) for the successful therapeutic use of MDMA, however a study of this size and in such depth has never been conducted before. As can be seen from the linked article, the results are very promising.

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In the year 2000, Doctor Jose Carlos Bouso preformed the first clinical trial of MDMA for use in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Since 2009, two randomized, controlled trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder were published. Although small, these trials are consistent with earlier results. The patients treated with two or three sessions of MDMA-psychotherapy showed greater improvement than the ones treated by placebo-psychotherapy or placebo-inactive dose of MDMA.This improvement was generally maintained on a follow-up several years later.


Given the authorisation of the study of the Class A drug for research purposes, one can only hope this reflects a change in attitudes towards alternative treatment for mental health issues. For those who find no improvements (or, simply, 'feeling zombified', as if one is no longer the same person) through current available options such as counselling or drugs like SSRI's with many negative side effects (even including suicide ideation), the potential future option of MDMA as an alternative is surely only a good thing. The potential success of the drug is seen in the 2009 study to have effective and long lasting results instead of proviing a mere quick fix - surely this can only be more of an incentive for further research into the therapeutic properties of MDMA.

As someone who has suffered with mental health issues in the past and known many, many, many people who have also suffered with mental health issues who have not responded to counselling/CBT/antidepressants, the thought of an alternative to these options is surely something to be very hopeful about. Whilst my mental health is currently well, I still know of those who aren't in the same boat and as such, if MDMA can be used for therapeutic reasons to help them, then I passionately see this as something that undoubtedly needs to be investigated further.

Recently we have seen a change in Government attitudes towards marijuana in some states in America, with the legalisation of marijuana for medicinal purposes. It certainly feels that, within the last few years at least, marijuana is being viewed in a more liberal and accepting way by a vaster majority, not least due to its potential for therapeutic or medicinal use. One can only hope that MDMA, in many years time, can be viewed in the same way, if further trials come to the same conclusion as Professor Nutt's study..

However, it is also clear to see that approval of the drug for prescription purposes only would prove problematic. Abuse of prescription drugs in the UK is a severe problem, with Diazepam (Valium) being a key example. It is easy to see why many could worry about the possibility of illegal distributions of prescription MDMA to the wider public for recreational use, and as such is likely to be the key deterrent in the Government approving this, regardless of the success of MDMA trials in treating PTSD and anxiety disorders. Conversely, prescription MDMA would also guarantee a 99%+ pure drug, whilst if someone in the UK currently wanted to self-medicate with MDMA, they run the risk of ingesting a highly impure chemical, one that might not even contain any MDMA at all.

Personally, I find the findings of the research very interesting. In a way, it is a shame that MDMA is so closely associated with the rave and party culture because this will prove harder to convince people that "prescription MDMA" has a purpose not just for recreational purposes, but for therapeutic purposes too.

TSR - what are your thoughts?
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Spetznaaz
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Good man Prof. Nutt, been to a few of his lectures. I'm surprised he got the go ahead for this study as i remember him saying how difficult it is to research illegal drugs due to our laws.

It's been well known for a while that MDMA can have great medical uses but of course it's been very hard for scientists to get permission to study. From what i know about MDMA and PTSD, i don't think it would ever be prescribed as such - I think it is only beneficial when taken in a controlled setting with a psychotherapist.
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imtelling
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i agree that MDMA can be used as therapy but only if the taker is extremely strict with their intake.

these euphoric effect these drugs create is extremely unnatural and taxing on the system and if these kind of drugs are misused it will be thousand times worse for the patient in the long run.

anyone who has ever taken MDMA will know first hand of the extreme comedown which can last for days -- this comedown effect isa clue as to how these drugs 'deplete' the brain of its natural chemical balance. i would say this type of therapy must be higher controlled.
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glousck
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(Original post by imtelling)
i agree that MDMA can be used as therapy but only if the taker is extremely strict with their intake.

these euphoric effect these drugs create is extremely unnatural and taxing on the system and if these kind of drugs are misused it will be thousand times worse for the patient in the long run.

anyone who has ever taken MDMA will know first hand of the extreme comedown which can last for days -- this comedown effect isa clue as to how these drugs 'deplete' the brain of its natural chemical balance. i would say this type of therapy must be higher controlled.
I think that whilst you're correct about the initial effects with regards to MDMA - euphoria followed by a comedown - the study researched the potential use of the drug in terms of after effects. For example, if used during therapy, the subject may be able to talk freely and with ease about issues they may have been bottling up their whole lives, or to see difficult problems in a positive light. These positive aspects can stick with the patient and help alter their life for the better even after the initial effects (euphoria to comedown) have subsided. With supplements such as 5-HTP, if used for at least 7 days before ingesting MDMA, the comedown is significantly less severe to manage, and as such if it was used in therapy then one would hope a therapist would advise of this.
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