KELOWNA, British Columbia — MDMA, better known as ecstasy or molly, is typically associated with recreational use in night clubs, parties, and raves. While ecstasy has been written off as an unhealthy synthetic drug by most people, a new international study finds that MDMA may be an effective treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Researchers from the United States, Canada, Israel, and Switzerland say that MDMA use led to substantial mental improvements in individuals suffering from PTSD who did not respond to other types of treatment. This study is the most comprehensive evaluation thus far on the safety and effectiveness of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy on PTSD patients.
“PTSD symptoms decreased after one session of MDMA together with psychotherapy,” explains University of British Columbia associate professor of psychology Zach Walsh in a statement.
Additionally, 54% of the study’s participants no longer met the PTSD criteria after just two sessions. MDMA treatment also improved participants’ depression symptoms.
Researchers examined the results of six clinical trials involving 103 study participants. The participants were men and women dealing with treatment-resistant, chronic PTSD for a variety of reasons.
“These findings are promising and indicate the need for larger studies,” says Walsh. “Too many people with PTSD struggle to find effective treatment, and use of MDMA in a supportive environment with trained mental health professionals could be an important addition to our treatment options.”
Based on the study’s results, the US Food and Drug Administration has granted breakthrough therapy designation to MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as a treatment for PTSD. The FDA writes that ecstasy “may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies.”
Additional trials are already underway in the United States, Canada, and Israel, with European studies set to begin soon as well.
The study is published in the scientific journal Psychopharmacology.