Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, helps the body relax, reduces inhibitions and increases energy and brings feelings of euphoria. Ecstasy also provides a feeling of empathy and, in some users, can lead to emotional healing, although it can have potential damage. This drug burst onto the club scene in the 1980s and its use escalated in the 1990s, particularly among adolescents and young adults. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 5 percent of all graduating seniors in the US have tried the drug at least once.
Benefit for PTSD
Adding MDMA - otherwise known as the party drug ecstasy - to talk therapy help patients cope with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a preliminary study presented Friday at the Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century meeting in April 2010. MDMA gained notoriety in the 1980s as a recreational drug, and the Drug Enforcement Agency outlawed it in 1985. Before then, a small network of therapists had experimented with the drug as an adjunct to traditional talk therapy.
California scientists announced in May 2015 they are testing whether the psychoactive drug commonly known as Ecstasy could help alleviate anxiety for terminally ill patients.
Ecstasy and brain damage
Taking the drug Ecstasy, even just a few times, can harm the brain. Brain imaging studies performed in 56 non-users and 59 first-time ecstasy users, who had taken an average of just six tablets, revealed subtle changes in cell architecture and decreased blood flow in some areas of the brain in the young adults. A decrease in verbal memory was also seen in new ecstasy users compared with non-users, Dr. Maartje de Win of Academic Medical Center at the University of Amsterdam reported in 2006 at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago. It's not known where these harmful effects on the brain are fleeting or permanent. "There is some evidence, in heavy ecstasy users, that part of the brain recovers," de Win said, "although we don't know if brain cells recover, whether their function is the same." Studies have shown that long-term or heavy ecstasy use can damage neurons in the brain and cause depression, anxiety, confusion, difficulty sleeping and memory impairment. De Win's study, however, is the first to look at the neurotoxic effects of low doses of ecstasy on first-time users. Ecstasy, which is highly addictive, stimulates the release of the brain chemical serotonin, producing a high that lasts from several minutes to an hour. The drug's "feel-good" effects vary by the individual, the dose and purity, and the environment in which it is taken.
Arch Toxicol. 2014 Feb 13. MDMA impairs mitochondrial neuronal trafficking in a Tau- and Mitofusin2/Drp1-dependent manner.
Risk of death
Fabrizio Schifano of the University of Hertfordshire, believes the so-called "club drug" ecstasy is more likely than other stimulants like speed or crystal meth to kill young, healthy people who are not known as regular drug users. Fabrizio Schifano says deaths from ecstasy are more common in victims who are young, healthy, and less likely to be known as drug users and young people aged between 16 and 24 seem to suffer extreme consequences after excessive intake of this drug.
Frequent use could make it harder to have erections, and sometimes Herbs used for Erectile Dysfunction could help reverse the problem when used a few days after use.
Ecstasy and Memory
Taking the drug Ecstasy can impair memory and learning, but giving up the drug can stop the slide in mental capacity. However, heavy Ecstasy users can have damage to memory that may persist even after they quit. Researcher at the University of Toronto at Scarboroug had previously shown that people who used Ecstasy, also known by the chemical name MDMA, experience a decline in their memory over a one-year period. The 15 study participants' reported using the drug from 3 to 225 times over the course of the year. The researchers looked at the same 15 people after another year had passed. Seven were still using the drug, while eight had become abstinent. The researchers evaluated their memory and learning. In all of the former users who had been abstinent for at least 32 weeks, test scores improved compared with their scores one year previously. However, some individuals' scores stayed the same. Current users showed continued decline, with more frequent and longer-term use of the drug tied to greater loss of memory and learning function. The worst impairments were seen in episodic memory, meaning the sort of memory a person uses while watching a news story on television and then trying to describe it to another person later. Damage to memory and learning is just one harmful aspect of Ecstasy use, which also has been tied to depression. However, one must keep in mind that may Ecstasy users also smoke marijuana. Whether this was taken into account in the study is not clear. Source: Neurology 2006;66:740-741.
Ecstasy and diet
A high-fat diet may make people more vulnerable to a potentially lethal side effect of the drug ecstasy. Most ecstasy-related deaths are caused by hyperthermia, severe overheating that can lead to organ failure. The over-heating effect of ecstasy drug is exacerbated by the conditions in which ecstasy is often used, which typically includes crowded clubs or parties where people dance, heat up, and become dehydrated. Dr. Jon E. Sprague of Ohio Northern University in Ada and colleagues conduction experiments with rats fed either a high- or low-fat diet for four weeks. Rats on the high-fat diet were more susceptible to ecstasy -induced hyperthermia. British Journal of Pharmacology, online May 29, 2007.
Comments: Drinking plenty of cold water could reduce body temperature.
Ecstasy and Prozac
The combination of the antidepressant drug Prozac and the "club drug" Ecstasy increases the risk of acute toxic effects of Ecstasy, and may explain the increasing number of Ecstasy-related deaths. In presenting the research, Dr. Vijay V. Upreti, of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, said an increasing number of Ecstasy abusers are combining the drug with Prozac in an effort to counteract the depression that occurs after the drug's high wears off. Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, helps the body relax, reduces inhibitions and increases energy and brings feelings of euphoria. Upreti and colleagues measured brain and blood levels of MDMA in mice after a 5 mg/kg-dose. Levels were also measured after pretreatment with Prozac followed by 10 mg/kg MDMA. They found that pretreatment with Prozac increased brain and plasma MDMA levels by 40 percent in the animals. The "half-life" of MDMA, meaning how long the drug is present, increased from 2 hours to 5 hours with Prozac pretreatment. There was also a 26 percent reduction in MDMA clearance when the drugs were combined. Upreti concludes that Prozac co-administered with MDMA decreases the disposition of MDMA and its metabolite, "and may lead to increased risk of MDMA acute toxic effects."
Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2013. Ecstasy use and serotonin syndrome: a neglected danger to adolescents and young adults prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The increasing incidences of recreational ecstasy use and SSRI pharmacotherapy among multiple psychiatric disorders in the adolescent population have made this an overlooked yet increasingly relevant danger, which poses a threat to public health. This can be curbed through further research, as well as greater health care provision and attention from a regulatory body owing.
Q. Is 5-htp useful in helping with the long term effects of heavy Ecstacy usage? (does it influence memory, mood swings and depression in particular).
A. We have not studied the connection between 5htp and MDMA in a scientific way, but we do know people who have used Ecstasy- MDMA - and some say it helps them when they use 5htp, but there can be a risk for increased serotonin related side effects. We think pretreatment with antioxidants may be helpful, such as alpha lipoic acid or a good multiple like MultiVit Rx. So, in summary, we don't have any exact scientific studies, but we think using antioxidants may, at least partially, protect the brain cells from Ecstasy harm. Other mood lifters and antioxidants are Mind Power Rx and Eyesight Rx. Getting regular deep sleep is also very helpful in protecting brain cells and keeping them healthy.
New research is currently being done for MDMA to be a part of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved prescription medicine.