MDMA Deemed “Breakthrough Therapy” for PTSD

| September 3, 2017


The Washington Post is reporting MDMA, known by its street name as Ecstasy or Molly, is emerging as a promising medication for the treatment of PTSD, and has been named by the Food and Drug Administration as “breakthrough therapy” putting it on a fast track for review and a possible approval.

Government and military leadership are both hesitant to accept psychedelics due to the stigma associated with the drug, and its classification by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“We’re in this odd situation where one of the most promising therapies also happens to be a Schedule 1 substance banned by the [Drug Enforcement Administration],” said retired Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, who until 2010 was the highest-ranking psychiatrist in the U.S. Army.

Due to recent and ongoing wars, PTSD in the military has become epidemic, with estimates between 11 and 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffering from the disorder. It is typically triggered by experiencing violence, and can leave its victims with audio hallucinations, inability to sleep, and sudden panic episodes. Only Zoloft and Paxil are currently approved for treating PTSD. Both have been largely ineffective.

“If you’re a combat veteran with multiple tours of duty, the chance of a good response to these drugs is 1 in 3, maybe lower,” said John Krystal, chairman of psychiatry at Yale University and a director at the VA’s National Center for PTSD. “That’s why there’s so much frustration and interest in finding something that works better.”

MDMA is a favorite because of its effect on users of intense feelings of euphoria. A side effect of the drug includes reduced fear and a sense of love of themselves and others- exactly the therapy needed to counter PTSD symptoms. By giving controlled doses of MDMA during three, eight-hour therapy sessions, chronic PTSD patients have processed and moved past their traumas. In clinical trials conducted by the FDA, 61 percent had major reductions in their symptoms to the point where they no longer fit PTSD criteria; follow up studies a year later increased that number to 67 percent.

“If you were to design the perfect drug to treat PTSD, MDMA would be it,” said Rick Doblin, who three decades ago founded the California nonprofit behind the clinical trials. It is no accident that the group — the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) — chose PTSD as its argument for ending the government’s ban on psychedelics. “We wanted to help a population that would automatically win public sympathy,” he said. “No one’s going to argue against the need to help them.”

Large scale trials, “Phase 3” involving 200-300 patients will be conducted next year at 14 locations. If those trials produce like results, the FDA could approve MDMA as a treatment for PTSD as soon as 2021.

I hope for a successful Phase 3 trial and speedy approval by the FDA.

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……….I’m going to admit it: I’m a little sceptical about this treatment…..

Treating PTS, absolutely, 100% needs to be done. But this stuff puts holes in your brain. Take enough of it, and your brains forgets how to be happy on its own. Forever.

Only a layman’s perspective, happy to be proven wrong.


Pharmaceutical grade, standard and consistent dosage, without all the street-drug contaminants and unknowns. That right there probably removes much of the negative chemistry.

-Limited- and -controlled- use, under -professsional- supervision.

The “phased study” approach works out the details of potential negatives and positives, plus determines the future dosing regime(s). It is an -extraordinarily- controlled process, heavily regulated and monitored.

I think we owe it to our people to run this through the process,and determine the potential benefits and side effects, based on established scientific method, and not on the dippy behavior of street-level recreational chemists.

If it is just BS, that will show up too, and the results will be -very- hard to dispute.


Yeah, and kiss away and 2nd Ammendment Rights you may still have had.

Top W Kone

I would say from the article, that these are controlled limited doses given in three separate eight hour therapy session’s.

Not taking it at night before you go to bed, or go out on the town.

Of course this will lead people to say I’m treating myself, just like I treat my medical problems with pot.


Yeh, your choice, you can be an addict if your prefer! Drug companies love it!

Perry Gaskill

It’s no surprise MAPS is based in Santa Cruz. The city is home to the UC school you go to when you’re too weird for Berkeley. Rick Doblin also sounds like one of those annoying people who was born after his mom got funky at a Grateful Dead concert, and now spends week-ends wearing a dashiki, and playing bass tambourine in drum circles.


Go Banana Slugs!


That stuff don’t work!

-closes the curtains, puts on funky lights and heavy bass music-

Uhn Tiss Uhn Tiss Uhn

But for real, I knew a group of guys that had a rough tour. One of the drugs with a short peepee exposure they did was MDMA. They swore by it and seemed GTG for work call on Monday. I can’t say the same about those who got into too much hootch or the nose candy.


Worse case, .


Worse case…closes curtains, puts on old LP of WHAM and calls ex-wife to tell her you forgive her and still love her.


WHAM?! Duran Duran, A Flock of Seagulls, or The Cure before WHAM, jus’sayin’.


Having seen what ecstasy does to the ladies, I think The SARC and I feel some PTSD coming on. 😉

Just kidding. Sort of. 🙂

The Other Whitey

If it works, great, so long as it’s carefully managed to avoid the obvious pitfalls. But, as with marijuana, watch how quickly the idiots out there start claiming a medical need for their intoxicant.


Yes. I know about 500 career surf bums (great guys by the way) between NorCal and SoCal who all of a sudden developed hypertension when medical ganja became a thing. 😉

Perry Gaskill

Dude, it’s the gnarly climate change!


Speaking of surf bums. Watched a short documentary last night on Netflix by the name of Resurface


Overheard at the Medical Marijuana clinic “I’ve never seen so many 20 year olds with glaucoma in my life”


lol…MJ isn’t even useful in glaucoma.That idea came from research in the 70s, but the amount of MJ that needs to be smoked and the limited effect it produces makes it impractical and ineffective for glaucoma treatment.


I asked my Doctor why he wouldn’t recommend mj for me based on research that, at the time, had it as the most effective treatment by about half a lap over the second place drug, and I asked if it was because of the Feds. He said no, it was because mj is an hallucinogen and that ruled it out as a medicine. I agreed then and I agree now. (I really just wanted to hear what a highly qualified professional had to say, as opposed to laymen who recommend weed with names like “Train Wreck,” “Twister” and “Loco-motion” as ‘good for what ails you.’


I am skeptical about this. Are they trying to treat the PTSD or are they trying to treat the symptoms? This sounds more like they are trying to treat the symptoms rather than actually treat the underlying problems.

Also, I have to agree with Steve. Ecstasy use, even in the short-term, is dangerous. Unlike most drugs that introduce chemicals, to mimic those released naturally in the body in order to compensate for deficiencies, it causes those chemicals to be over-produced within the body itself.


Nothing inherently wrong with that. My understanding is that some diabetes medications work similarly by causing the diabetic’s pancreas to produce more insulin than it normally would otherwise – thus obviating the need for insulin injections.

If the body temporarily needs more of something it normally produces for medical reasons, having it temporarily “overproduce” the natural version internally sounds to me like a helluva lot better idea than introducing a synthetic version of the same.

If it pans out in clinical trials, great. If not, we’ll still have learned something.


Skepticism is a critical component of the scientific method. Lack of skepticism and the over use of flowery language promoting a substance in a “research article” is generally, a red flag.


Agreed – and hence my sentence starting, “If it pans out in clinical trials . . . .” Lotsa things that originally look promising don’t pan out.


Yes. LSD was “a promising treatment” for many psyche problems when I was a lot younger. Actual science proved otherwise, eventually.


Yeah the a century earlier cocaine was a legit treatment for a toothache!

MDMA is awful for your brain. End of story.


Cocaine is actually a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor as well as a local anesthetic.

At the time it served a purpose. Unfortunately, it is not a selective re-uptake inhibitor and affects dopamine as well which is the pathway for addiction. Another side effect is it promotes spasm of the coronary arteries.

What we know about cocaine now was not known when therapeutic drugs were very limited in psychiatry.

Cocaine solution is still used as a vasoconstrictor in procedures such as rhinoplasty.


The current SSRIs are no better therapeutically than the Tricyclics that preceded them, but they have the advantage of fewer side effects and the patient can’t readily commit suicide with them.

That advantage allowed a lot of people to gain outpatient treatment that would otherwise have to remain hospitalized.

MSG Eric

So, uh, cocaine bad? Except for one thing?

MDMA maybe bad? maybe good?

Buku big words in there. I had to look away, I was going cross-eyed.


cocaine was several drug breakthroughs before Prozac (SSRI), before the SSRIs there were progressively safer drugs (MAOIs, tricyclics) with fewer side effects and risks….point is, it takes time and research.


sorry…I tried to make it clear without being verbose…I am however very methylxanthinated (caffeined out):)


Now I know with certainty that the “IDC” part of your handle stands for Independent Duty Corpsman. Thanks for the lucid info, “Doc.”

JarHead Pat

Fucking that, it will fry your brain for sure, and we all know some Vets that will sell it on the street to crackheads or abuse the shit out of it.

MSG Eric

Well if it works and a “Doctor” is going to be the one controlling it and administering to a patient, there is possibility of it being worthwhile.

I can imagine this being treated like plutonium if it gets through the FDA testing.


This isn’t being addressed at all: what happens when one of these patients in the study has metabolized the MDMA but not eliminated it entirely, and is involved in some traffic event where he’s injured, and taken to a non-VA hospital?

Some of these drugs take a long time to leave the system completely. LSD was widely known to generate flashbacks in its users.

I just don’t like this idea at all.


There’s a lot that isn’t being addressed. In the research stages you generally can’t have all the answers.


I’m just pointing out that one of these people would be tested for drugs and alcohol and MDMA would show up in the test.
Then what happens? He gets busted for taking an illegal street drug that is part of the study, because he may not be able to speak for himself.


So what…there are innumerable drugs that would cause a patient to piss hot. That’s why when you have the test you list your medications.

I don’t see where this is being prescribed in the exact molecular configuration of the street drug yet.

They might be ably to isolate a property or produce a stereoisomer that produces the desired effect without being the exact drug that in the beginning spawned the research.

Kinda damned if you do damned if you don’t action on this thread without any factual basis in the light.

The wording from the FDA is that “the drug MAY demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints…”

That seems pretty conservative.



What happened to that hormone or compound where they found that on average SOF dudes had 10x the normal level in their blood?

I heard they were using it to treat PTSD, especially in squishies.


They’re still analyzing that as far as I know. Haven’t seen any major revelations.


I’d like to see something less harmful used instead of a drug that may or may not have severe consequences in the long run, that’s all.
I know that trials are necessary. I just think there is a better solution than this particular chemical, that’s all.


I certainly wouldn’t advocate obtaining it on the street and experimentally sef-medicating any more than I would suggest harvesting your own foxglove and producing homemade Digoxin.

Green Thumb

This is stupid.

Lets get high and blame the PTSD!


Phase III?

Do we have an MD/Clinical PhD who has signed of on this and been published?

And a “credible” one at that?

Folks, its called “off market” intent.

And do we have ANY preliminary data?



Get ready for the substandard discharge crowd!!!!

“Man, I had the PTSD. That was why I got kicked out because I had to cope. I failed the urinalysis, but, hey, I had to deal with it! And now I cannot get shit. But, man, it was the PTSD! I was self-medicating and helping my problem out back then. Man, I need my bennies!”

Fuck, em.


With all due respect, there has to be preliminary data of some sort to get the status it has achieved. It can just as quickly be abandoned of the research does not pan out.

I found 39 references(2008-2017)in Nature Magazine citing MDMA in this general category of use.

Green Thumb


But I can guarantee this is not in a clinical stage through a reputable government/medical agency. It appears they are being run by an NPO:

“Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)”. Uh. Yeah. No.

I would love to see the IRB and informed consent on the study. And I would love to see this “study pool”.

I would also like to see the dose study and a double-blind randomized trial. Sham or no sham.

They have used synthetic drugs in the past in experimental phases such as amphetamines and psilocybin with less than positive results (I will say with the amphetamines there actually has been some positive data driven in a few studies).

Additionally, what is the composition of said chemicals and is the qualitative component all based on self-reported data? Also, is this going to be used as a “maintenance” drug? What I mean is this: is it a one time thing or will it be required (like a cough suppressant, if you will, when you cough)over many years? If that is the case, what are the deleterious effects and other side effects living in the community (employment, social interaction, school, etc.). Not to mention physical side effects or withdrawal issues.

While I do believe there could potentially be an off-market use (value), our generation is more fixated on just getting high. This can and will be abused.


In MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, MDMA is only administered a few times, unlike most medications for mental illnesses which are often taken daily for years, and sometimes forever.

From MAPS: “MDMA is not the same as “Ecstasy” or “molly.” Substances sold on the street under these names may contain MDMA, but frequently also contain unknown and/or dangerous adulterants. In laboratory studies, pure MDMA has been proven sufficiently safe for human consumption when taken a limited number of times in moderate doses.”


sorry…skewed that C&P a little bit.


Medical sciences still doesn’t know everything about the human brain – it’s one of the least understood organs in the body. While the initial indications from the limited study are promising, I’d like to see what any large and long term studies reveal.

Green Thumb

“limited study”.



I would love tho see the IC and IRB.

MSG Eric

I don’t need to be a doctor or scientist to know that in some people, the brain only exists to make phlegm. Just like the Ancient Egyptians thought it did.


“Most men are of naught more use in their lives but for turning food into shit.”


If it makes dudes with legitimate PTSD live happier lives I don’t give a fvck if it treats symptoms or causes.

Line ’em up. They earned a party lasting the rest of their lives.

A Proud Infidel®™

All I can say after reading about the side and after effects of MDMA is that I’m skeptical as hell about it right now, let’s not forget that the US Military administered doses of LSD to Soldiers in the early 60s as an experiment.

A Proud Infidel®™

Yeah I remember reading about this dude named Alexander Fleming..he was trying to get people to take some crap he got from moldy bread.

Thass just cray cray.


One side effect is “sudden death”. That lets the VA off the hook for compensation pretty quickly doesn’t it. But don’t forget “You signed the paperwork”. Isn’t that what they say all the time after you join the military and they’re abusing you?


I could inject you with any number of standard drugs at the wrong concentration/dose and produce the same effect.

“The solution to pollution is dilution”


How about I get some research monies for treating PTSD with some fly fishing on a palatial New England river in the middle of nowhere, after a breakfast of all the runny scrambled eggs and thickcut applewood smoked bacon you can eat with a cup of thickass coffee, black, shot of good whisky for flavor. 6 hours a session or until you run outta tobacco for yer pipe.


That’s the psychological principle of sublimation, a healthy coping mechanism.

Find the real-estate, become the CEO, assemble your team and go for it. 🙂


I’d go for that. Where do I sign up?

A Proud Infidel®™

I’d like to apply for a grant to study that as well, except in the Missouri Ozarks and the Rocky Mountains, and cigars would also be allowed along with Bourbon, Rum, and good beer.


My resume’ is inbound


Suddenly I feel a slight touch of the PTSDs and am looking at the Orvis website for flyrods.


Those rods are fine pieces of equipment.
I’m glad I struck a cord with y’all.
Here in CT fall turkey bow season opens in 11 days…


I think there’s a recipe for fish (bluegills, trout, bass) baked in foil, stuffed with herbs, and encrusted in a seasoned flour. I have to find that.

Only runny scrambled eggs? Pancakes, man! Pancakes with sausages and heavy on the butter and maple syrup.


Men eat protein and saturated fats, it’s how we escape the shackles quicklier.

Doc Savage

Makes me wonder how many “spontaneous PTSD” cases will develop in California….

MSG Eric

Oh about 7,362,490. Coincidentally, the same number of people in the state that voted for Hillary.

Green Thumb


Dave Hardin

The rampant over diagnosis of PTSD is epidemic. Of course MDMA makes you feel better, it makes anyone feel better…for a while.

So we will now give tens of thousands who have a VA diagnosis for PTSD that is bogus access to more drugs they should not be taking.

PTSD is not an MDMA deficiency

Alcoholism is not a Valium deficiency

Undisciplined children do not have a Ritalin deficiency.

The problem is, was, and will continue to be people being vastly over-diagnosed for conditions they do not and never have had.

But what the hell, lets dope them up anyway…nobody has the balls to pull their monthly check.

I feel bad for the very few that do suffer from these conditions…they have to live with the other 90% that are full of shit.


I agree, the people of this country are the most over-diagnosed and over-drugged populace in the history of the planet. And now we are legitimizing more “recreational” drugs. In ten years one will have to look long and hard to find anyone who is not high or on some type of mind altering drug.


and living longer than ever to bitch about it


anesthetics were discovered partly by serendipity when at the time the agents were being used recreationally and it was found that the recreational users were feeling no pain when they suffered even serious accidental injuries


dunno if the phrase “hold my beer’ was uttered prior to any of those injuries 🙂


It was in my experience. That’s why MRS D is a nurse.


Why are you putting such a stigma on drug use? Drugs aren’t “bad” when they help people live a better life.


Good points, but it doesn’t necessarily imply someone has an MDMA deficiency per se. If the targeted receptors bind the molecule, because they have an affinity for them and bridge the synapses in neurons that have become incapable of functioning within physiological norms it may be valuable if for no other reason that it identifies a substance which can cross the blood brain barrier and restore function. That can lead to a lot of insight and a possibility of finding similar substances or synthesizing them to perform a similar function.

That binding is the reason that undesirable substances/drugs/alcohol exert their effects.

A whole basic classification of neurons are called nicotinic or muscarinic receptors because it was found that in the autonomic nervous system those nerves bound one or the other more readily. That was not a nicotine or muscarine deficiency either, but it provided valuable insight in formulating drugs with important broad and targeted effects to treat a variety of problems and even during resuscitative efforts during cardiac/respiratory arrest.

Benzodiazepines are given during alcohol detox to minimize the withdrawal effects which can result in fatality.

and yeah, it could also be a bunch of BS

Dave Hardin

It sounds like you know where I am coming from. In regards to one drug in particular…Alcohol, it is the most fatal drug during withdrawal.

Last time I checked, of those patients that went into full Delirium Tremors while in the hospital over 60% prove fatal.

I stopped using anything other than MagSulfate in a dip during detox. It minimizes the physical onset of seizures without numbing the patient to the experience. I want people to remember ants eating their skin and shadow people trying to steal their breath…what fun is Detox if the staff can’t be entertained?


I’ve never seen percentages reported that high..usually single digit for in medical facility detox and up to low double digits for home detox.

I imagine those numbers are somewhat unreliable though, since the cause of death may have reflected something more specific as the cause of death even though it was related to the detox.

Dave Hardin

They are that low for simple Detox, I am referring to those who actually go into DT’s from alcohol withdrawal.

In my experience, we medicate patients in the Detox Ward for the staffs benefit not the patient.

Doped up patients are easier to manage.


Ok…withsrwal/detox…I was using them in an inclusive manner. Withdrawl is part of the detox process…but I don’t wanna get hooked on semantics.

As I understand it the mag sulfate is to combat the mag deficiency, partly to decrease the incidence of seizure and allows for a lower dosage of benzos which are used to placate the GABA receptors that are roiling from the lack of inhibition caused by the D/C’d ETOH.


Withdrawal is physiologically similar to what happens in tetanus…lack of inhibitory signaling that results in widespread excitatory signaling…the target neurons are just different than in tetanus


Of course people with tetanus don’t generally have the metabolic acidosis, system damage, effed up NAD+/NADH ratio, electrolyte abnormalities, Thymine deficiency etc that hardcore alcoholics suffer that complicate the withdrawal process and contributes to the mortality….sure go cold turkey at home…what could happen, right?


medical people jus out to make a munniez offa patientz

Dave Hardin

Yep, I did some google fu and it is still being used to prevent/stop the onset of seizures and labor. Not by many sadly, as I said, it is very effective but does not dope the patient up…so the staff has to deal with spiders on the wall and dripping light bulbs etc.


Thank you for the reminder to get a TDAP booster, IDC_SARC.

Really don’t want that or trichinosis. Always cook the pork or bear meat thoroughly.

Dave Hardin

Magnesium sulfate even in pharmaceutical quality costs near nothing. You hit the nail on the head.

I would screen SMA 6 and 12, again low cost analysis. Actin antibody tests can be useful in determining if the chronic use of alcohol is sufficient for the onset of DT. If it was, MgSO₄ was administered…if I was wrong there is not harm done.

I first came across its use when talking with an OBGYN who was sent to my treatment facility. We were under direction at the time to reduce costs and transition to a 28 day treatment modality.

I don’t miss being on call every other weekend.


Sounds…dreadful. Admirable work though. I never did the day in day outs in such a place.


What are you guys talking about? Alcohol ith tokthik? Never did anything like that to me. It never did anything but make me fall asleep with my face in the mashed potatoes and gravy, and I didn’t want to drown so I reserved it to weekends with fruit and bread and brie.


lubbs me some whizzkey…but I’m still a cheap drunk. couple of shots and I’m feeling niiiiice.


Dave, you forgot the snakes. And the monster size spiders.

Perry Gaskill

I’ll just leave this…


Let them do 20 years of research on it and then come back and tell us how it messed up veterans bad and now they’re all service connected for the side effects. I wouldn’t touch anything new that comes out of these sick drug companies. This stuff will mess you up. You are aware it can cause sudden death as a side effect? So anyone taking it to be apart of the test better not have much to lose.

Tom Huxton

Cocaine solution is still used as a vasoconstrictor in procedures such as rhinoplasty.

Ironic….. most of my cracker friends got their deviated septum from snorting the powder; then they get a dose while fixing it. moisture combines with the chloride fraction, producing hydrochloric acid. bad for noses. then they turn to freebasing to remove the irritant (sarc)


topical cocaine solution for ENT procedures is very weak one or two percent.

Deplorable B Woodman

I could be wrong, or out-of-date on this, but aren’t medical doctors having trouble getting approval to study marijuana (a class I? really?) for medical purposes?
And yet VA is getting approval to study ecstasy for PTSD?
I don’t want to stop the ecstasy studies, but I would like a little consistency (HA!) to allow doctors to get approval to study MJ to put to rest many of the anecdotal “evidence” that says “MJ cured my epilepsy” (or whatever).


go to the link above…same people doing MDMA research are doing MJ studies and others.


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