What is MDMA?

3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (also known as ecstasy, E, XTC, emma, molly, mandy, and MDMA) is a classical entactogen substance of the amphetamine class. MDMA is considered to be the parent compound of the entactogens, a diverse group that includes MDA, methylone, mephedrone, and 6-APB. It produces its psychoactive effects by promoting the release of neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain.

MDMA was first developed in 1912 by the pharmaceutical company Merck. However, there is no documentation of human use prior to the 1970s, when it became known in underground psychotherapy circles in the United States. In the early 1980s, MDMA spread into nightlife and rave culture, eventually leading to its federal scheduling in 1985. By 2014, MDMA was estimated to be one of the most popular recreational drugs in the world, alongside cocaine and cannabis. Recreational MDMA use is popularly associated with dance parties, electronic dance music, and the club and rave scene. Researchers are currently investigating whether MDMA may assist in treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety in autistic adults, and anxiety in those with life-threatening illness.

Subjective effects include stimulation, anxiety suppression, disinhibition, enhanced empathy and sociability, relaxation, and euphoria. MDMA is classified as an entactogen due to how it facilitates feelings of closeness with one’s self and others. Tolerance to MDMA builds unusually quickly and many users report that it dramatically loses its effectiveness if used on a frequent basis. It is commonly recommended to wait one to three months between each use to give the brain adequate time to restore serotonin levels and avoid toxicity. Additionally, using excessively high doses and multiple redosing is highly discouraged as these are thought to significantly increase toxicity.

MDMA has been shown to be extremely effective again PTSD/CPTSD , people who we have treated MDMA for PTSD have reported that it is nothing short of a miracle. Years of suffering have ended sometimes after just one session! Please read the Papers published in our Clinical Research Section.

History and culture of MDMA

MDMA was first synthesized in 1912 by the German chemist Dr. Anton Köllisch while employed at the pharmaceutical company Merck. Köllisch was in the process of developing agents that would help manage excess bleeding and was interested in MDMA synthesis because it was an intermediate in the production of methylhydrastinin, the methylated analogue of the hemostatic agent hydrastinine. There are no indications of interest in MDMA as an active agent itself. MDMA was not mentioned again until 1927, when Dr. Max Oberlin conducted the first proven pharmalogical tests at Merck while searching for compounds with a similar action spectrum to adrenaline or ephetonine. Despite promising results, research was halted due to rising substance prices.

What is MDMA

In 1965, the American chemist Alexander Shulgin synthesized MDMA as an academic exercise but did not test it for psychoactivity. Shulgin claims to have first heard about the effects of MDMA in 1967 from a student and decided to experiment with it himself. He was impressed with the effects of the substance and believed it could have therapeutic utility. He advertised it to therapists and psychiatrists which led it to gain some popularity as an adjunct treatment for various psychological disorders. During this period, psychotherapist Dr. Leo Zeff came out of retirement and subsequently introduced the then-legal MDMA to over 4,000 patients. From the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s there was a growth of clinicians using MDMA (then known as “Adam”) in California.

From the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s there was a growth of clinicians using MDMA (then known as “Adam”) in California.

Recreational use of MDMA became popular at around the same time, particularly in nightclubs, eventually catching the attention of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). After several hearings, a US Federal Administrative Law Judge recommended that MDMA should be made a Schedule III controlled substance so that it could be used in the medical field. Despite this, the director of the DEA overruled this recommendation and classified MDMA as a Schedule I controlled substance.

In the United Kingdom, the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, which had already been altered in 1977 to include all ring-substituted amphetamines like MDMA, was further amended in 1985 to refer specifically to Ecstasy, placing it in the Class A category.

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