Even though it’s a “Schedule I” narcotic, researchers have been studying how MDMA and other psychoactive drugs can treat mental illness and PTSD for several years. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder affects over 5 million people every year. And due to a series of clinical studies, there’s a good chance MDMA could soon be available as a treatment for PTSD.
FDA Gives The Greenlight For Final Clinical Trials
MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy or molly, is a synthetic drug people use recreationally to heighten euphoria, sympathy, and pleasurable sensations. However, there are several negative side-effects to the drug. And until very recently, people claimed MDMA had no medical value at all.
But a recent New York Times article says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug for a new round of clinical trials to study how well MDMA helps PTSD patients.
The new phase of research will be the largest yet. The study will involve over 200 people living with PTSD. The study is also focusing foremost on veterans and victims of sexual assault.Statistics show women are twice as likely to develop PTSD than men during their lifetime.
The final phase the FDA approved is the last hurdle before the FDA will decide whether to make the drug available as a prescription. Previous phases of research showed that MDMA could successfully reduce the intensity of PTSD symptoms.
More Effective Than Standard Therapy
Patients involved in the previous research phases say that ecstasy is more effective than their standard treatments. One compelling testimony comes from Tony Macie, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In a video posted online, Macie said after taking MDMA, “I reconnected with myself and did a lot of internal work, and afterward, it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.”
Macie, along with 83% of MDMA trial participants who report their symptoms disappeared after two months of treatment. An organization called the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies conducted the trials. They focused on making MDMA treatment part of a comprehensive mental health plan. Along with MDMA, patients met regularly with a psychotherapist.
Cannabis Can Also Treat PTSD and Anxiety
The story of these trials resembles the many stories about people who prefer cannabis over other treatments. More and more, cancer patients are turning to cannabis to treat chemotherapy symptoms. Athletes and people suffering from chronic pain know cannabis is a safer painkiller than opioids. PTSD patients have found relief using cannabis. And parents of children with autism are getting more positive results using medical cannabis.
Cannabis is widely recognized as having medical value. That’s why nearly 30 U.S. states have legalized it. However, it’ll take some more time to convince people that MDMA, or ecstasy, does too. So for now, researchers are being patient. They’re encouraged by the results, but know MDMA isn’t a miracle cure either. “We think it works better as a catalyst that speeds the natural healing process,” said researcher Michael Mithoefer in an interview for the Times.
The new round of research is slated to begin early in 2017. It will take 5 years to complete. Then, the FDA will decide whether MDMA is safe and effective medicine.