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MDMA-Assisted Therapy For PTSD: The Miracle Cure

The Iraq and Afghanistan wars brought the concept of PTSD to the forefront of America’s cultural consciousness. Seeing so many soldiers come back seemingly unable to process or cope with what they saw or did during their tours of duty shed light on our severe inability to help heal those suffering.

We also realized that it could affect far more than just combat veterans, and in the search to help heal those who have PTSD, many believe MDMA holds the key.

What Is PTSD?

While all of the hype around MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD often centers around MDMA, it is critical to remember what this treatment aims to resolve.

PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) happens to those who have witnessed a traumatic event like a natural disaster, serious accident, combat, or those who have been personally assaulted.

They often relieve their experiences through nightmares or flashbacks and grow sad, angry, and detached from others. It can be difficult for patients to live everyday lives as seemingly benign events can “triggermemories of their traumatic experience, leading them to avoid everyday activities and places altogether.

We’re also learning PTSD doesn’t just affect someone with firsthand experience of an event. Those with secondary experience in an event such as police officers handling child abuse cases, emergency medical staff in a refugee camp, or even those working at inpatient drug rehab facilities can all experience PTSD.

It is estimated that 1 in 11 people will meet the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis in their lifetimes. That is a lot of people who need to heal.

Current PTSD Treatment Options

Pharmaceutical

Utilizing drugs like SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) and SNRIs (selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor)

Therapy

Therapy such as Cognitive Processing Therapy, which focuses on patients’ reactions to traumatic events and helps them work through their “stuck points.”

EMDR

Short for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, EMDR utilizes eye movement to help patients reprocess their trauma and negative self-perceptions.

However, we all know that antidepressants can be risky, and many patients are treatment-resistant to things like therapy and EMDR. This is where MDMA comes in.

MDMA Treatment Therapy For PTSD

What Is MDMA?

MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is an amphetamine.

In 1985 MDMA was classified as a Schedule 1 drug in the US, meaning it had no accepted medical value and a high potential for abuse.

MDMA, also called Ecstasy, is known for inducing euphoria, closeness, and empathy amongst users and is commonly used at dance raves and music festivals.

Unwanted Impurities That Cause Harm

To assess the therapeutic value of MDMA accurately, you must first test the drug for its pureness since it often contains amphetamines, PCP, cleaning supplies, and other harmful compounds.

Very rarely is Ecstasy pure MDMA, and thus Ecstasy containing unwanted impurities has adverse side effects.

Why Is Traditional Therapy Failing PTSD Patients?

Patients are often unable to process painful emotions because, understandably so, they cannot view the events from an objective perspective.

Their memory of the event is so inexorably tied with the feelings they felt during their experience that it is nearly impossible for patients to bypass these painful emotions to get to the actual event.

Many experts ascribe to the Emotional Processing Theory (EPT), which states that emotional processing begins only when patients can separate their emotions from the traumatic experience.

MDMA enables this separation more effectively than any other compound or therapy discovered thus far, which is why so many therapists believe it has the power to heal.

Why Does MDMA Improve Therapy?

MDMA increases the release of serotonin, prolactin, cortisol, and oxytocin in the brain.

An increase in oxytocin decreases our brain’s amygdala (the brain’s fear center) activation enabling patients to view their experience away from a place of fear.

Increased oxytocin also increases social bonding and improves patients’ ability to trust others, both of which PTSD patients struggle with.

MDMA Therapy For PTSD

MDMA is a tool used in therapy, but it is not the focal point. It is also important to remember that relatively few studies have been conducted using MDMA to treat PTSD, so there is no valid “standard” procedure yet.

With that said, the typical MDMA treatment consists of 15 total therapy sessions, only three of which involve MDMA.

The first three 90 minute therapy sessions do not include any MDMA and act to help therapists bond with patients.
Following the first three sessions, patients undergo their first MDMA session.

The MDMA Session

The actual MDMA session involves one male and one female therapist sitting with the patient, which has been shown to facilitate parental transference.

The therapists then engage in non-directive conversation with the patient, meaning they do not drive them toward any predetermined conclusions. Instead, therapists engage in the therapeutic alliance, anxiety management training, cognitive restructuring, and various other tactics to help patients effectively decouple their emotions from the traumatic incident.

What Is The Success Rate Of MDMA Therapy For PTSD?

While there are still relatively few studies done on MDMA-assisted PTSD treatment, they all show tremendous promise.

Patients had an improved mood, increased feelings of well-being, happiness, physical and mental relaxation, increased emotional sensitivity, and sociability.

Patients also feel more open and allow themselves to embrace intimacy in their relationships, something those struggling with PTSD have difficulty doing.

Combat veterans, in particular, cite MDMA as giving them an “ability to forgive themselves” for the atrocities they saw and were potentially part of throughout their time in combat.

The Numbers

CAPS (Clinical Administered PTSD Scale) is a system clinical physicians use to categorize a patient’s PTSD severity.

In one study, MDMA-assisted therapy reduced patients’ CAPS scores by 83%, compared to 25% in the control group that did not receive MDMA.

Several months after the study concluded, 14 of 16 patients stayed in remission (did not exhibit any PTSD symptoms) and reported long-lasting positive impacts from their participation in the study.

Of the three official Phase II trials of MDMA-assisted therapy to treat PTSD, 66% went into remission and saw their overall CAPS scores fall by 47%.

These numbers point to MDMA-assisted therapy as a far superior treatment option than traditional treatment options.

Is MDMA-Assisted Therapy For PTSD Safe?

As we mentioned before, it is imperative not to conflate MDMA with the street drug Ecstasy.

Administered in clinical settings, pure pharmaceutical MDMA is relatively safe.

No patients in the Phase II trials reported any long-term negative side-effects from their participation in the studies.

When Will MDMA-Assisted Therapy Be Legal?

The driving organization behind the legalization of MDMA for therapeutic use has been the Multidisciplinary Association For Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).

Thanks to MAPS, the FDA officially approved the first Phase III trial involving MDMA-assisted therapy.

MDMA has also recently achieved “breakthrough” status from the FDA, fast-tracking it to legalization in clinical settings.

If there are no further significant obstacles, MAPS foresees 2021 as the year MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD is finally a mainstream clinical practice.

MDMA-assisted PTSD treatment has the potential to help millions cope with and heal from their traumatic experiences.

We look forward to the day when patients can safely, effectively, and legally pursue this avenue of treatment.

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What Causes Some People to Feel Depressed After Ingesting MDMA?

The profound effects of ecstasy on the brain occur when you take the “love drug.” MDMA, ecstasy, or molly has been known to stimulate the activity of a minimum of three neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters work to transport messages through brain cells that help you perform functions.

By increasing the activity of neurotransmitters, ecstasy makes you feel euphoric and full of energy. The three neurotransmitters known to be affected by MDMA are serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Ecstasy works like amphetamines, so ecstasy’s effects on the brain stimulate brain activity.

Neurotransmitters are stored inside the brain and are released when ecstasy is consumed. The effects of ecstasy on the brain result in a massive release of serotonin, while dopamine and norepinephrine are released in somewhat lesser quantities.

Serotonin, The Most Significant Neurotransmitter

Among these three neurotransmitters, serotonin is the most significant. Most of the studies based on the effects of molly on the brain focus on the impact of serotonin release. Serotonin is important because it directs essential body functions such as:

  • Emotion
  • Appetite
  • Sleep
  • Pain
  • Mood

An increase in serotonin activity inside the body distorts standard behavior patterns. The brain needs a large amount of serotonin to function correctly. When serotonin is released, the brain loses one of its crucial neurotransmitters.

MDMA Use Associated With Depression

Many people report feeling depressed after coming down from MDMA. This depression is most often mild and lasts for a day or two.

However, some regular users that take higher doses or use it more frequently report feeling depressed for more extended periods after coming down from MDMA.

Most people, however, do not experience any depression while ingesting MDMA. So what is all the fuss about?

What Causes Some Users to Feel Depressed After Ingesting MDMA?

The Depletion of Serotonin

MDMA releases large amounts of serotonin into the brain. The release of serotonin causes people to experience an elevation of mood, feelings of empathy, and emotional closeness with those around them.

Escasty depletes the brain by releasing large amounts of serotonin, which takes the brain time to replenish the serotonin that was released.

So how long does it take for the serotonin levels to be fully restored after someone ingests molly?

It depends on your general health, the amount you took, your genetic makeup, diet, and other random factors.

So there is absolutely no way to tell; however, based on animal studies, scientists conclude that it could take 48 hours to an entire week.

So the mild depression some people experience could be due to the depletion of serotonin.

Too Much Serotonin in The Brain

The release of serotonin also causes the receptors to turn themselves off for a while. The brain tries to achieve balance through the up and downregulation of receptors. These receptors work in conjunction with serotonin and the regulation of mood.

The brain will maintain a balanced mood by responding to the amount of serotonin by turning itself on and off. Many of those receptors will turn off when the brain is flooded with serotonin from ingesting ecstasy.

The majority of receptors will turn on again as soon as the excess amount of serotonin is metabolized. Nevertheless, some receptors may stay off longer, perhaps for days, weeks, or months.

So the depression some users feel may result from serotonin receptors turning off for too long. How often this happens may essentially be due to a genetic factor unique to each individual.

Some people may be genetically predisposed to experience depression after ingesting MDMA.

Preexisting Depression

Some individuals who were previously depressed before ingesting molly might become depressed after consuming molly. Depression is a common mental illness that is usually untreated and undiagnosed. This is true for many teenagers and young adults who experience mild to moderate depression.

Many MDMA users may try to self-medicate their depression by ingesting MDMA. Ecstasy has been proven to be effective in treating patients with severe depression. However, it is not safe to self-medicate yourself without a medical professional.

Are There Ways to Reduce The Risk of Depression While Ingesting MDMA?

Absolutely. Below are a few suggestions that can make a difference.

Moderation

Frequent use of MDMA increases the likelihood of individuals experiencing depression.

Moreover, you should take the recommended dose according to your body weight. You should also wait a couple of months before you ingest MDMA again.

Eat Well

Your body produces serotonin by combining various amino acids. Maintaining a well-balanced diet that includes enough protein and proper vitamins and minerals will help you stay healthy and avoid serotonin depletion.

Sleep

Your brain’s restorative processes mainly take place while you sleep. Not sleeping well may significantly lengthen the time your brain takes to replenish serotonin.

Take Lower Doses

Do not take “booster doses” or take more when you come down. When you come down from MDMA, your brain has already depleted a lot of serotonin. So taking booster doses will lengthen the time your brain takes to replenish the lost serotonin.

Advantages of 5HTP in Ecstasy Comedown

Many molly users report that 5-Hydroxy-Tryptophan (5-htp) helps reduce depression caused by ingesting MDMA. The amino acid supplement (5-htp) is a direct precursor to serotonin in the brain.

5-Hydroxy-Tryptophan is found in most health food stores as an herbal supplement and is extracted from Griffonia seeds.

Clinical studies have shown that 5-htp has successfully relieved symptoms of depression in many people. The supplement relieves these symptoms by increasing the amount of 5-htp in the brain, allowing the brain to produce serotonin.

Supplementing with 5-htp may lessen post-E depression by quickly restoring your body’s serotonin levels.

The advantages of taking 5-htp are:

  • Improving your mood
  • Appetite
  • Sexual function
  • Body temperature
  • Reduce post-E depression
  • It helps restore your body’s serotonin levels

Clinicians widely prescribe 5-htp to help prevent depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Furthermore, 5-htp can also be used to treat drug addiction and rehabilitation, especially for ecstasy users.

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Magic Mushrooms Can Heal Depression and Anxiety

The hallucinogen in “magic mushrooms” can rapidly and successfully help deal with anxiety and depression in cancer clients, a result that might last for months, 2 little research studies show.

It worked for Dinah Bazer, who sustained a terrifying hallucination that rid her of the fear that her ovarian cancer would return. And for Estalyn Walcoff, who says the drug experience led her to begin a reassuring spiritual journey.

The work released Thursday is preliminary and specialists state more definitive research should be done on the effects of the substance, called psilocybin (sih-loh-SY’- bihn).

Magic Mushrooms in The Treatment of Depression and Anxiety

But the record so far reveals “very impressive outcomes,” said Dr. Craig Blinderman, who directs the adult palliative care service at the Columbia University Medical Center/New York-Presbyterian Healthcare Facility. He didn’t however participate in the work.

Psilocybin, likewise called shrooms, purple passion, and little smoke comes from certain kinds of mushrooms.

It is unlawful in the U.S., and if the federal government approves the treatment, it would be administered in clinics by specifically trained personnel, specialists state.

Nobody must try it on their own, which would be dangerous, said the leaders of the two research studies, Dr. Stephen Ross of New York University and Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Hallucinogens have looked promising in the past for dealing with distress in cancer patients. However, studies of medical use of psychedelics stopped in the early 1970s after a regulative crackdown on the drugs, following their prevalent recreational usage. It has gradually resumed in the last few years.

The Research Study

Griffiths said it’s not clear whether psilocybin would work outside of cancer clients, although he thinks it may work in individuals dealing with other terminal conditions.

Plans are also underway to study it in anxiety that withstands standard treatment, he stated.

The brand-new research studies, released in the Journal of Psychotherapy, are small. The NYU task, which also consisted of psychiatric therapy, covered simply 29 patients. The Hopkins study had 51.

Bazer, who lives in New York City, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2010 when she was 63. Treatment succeeded, however then she ended up being distressed about it returning.

I just started to be filled with a dreadful fear, she said in an interview. You’re awaiting the other shoe to drop…(The stress and anxiety) was destroying my life.

She swallowed a capsule of psilocybin in 2012 in the company of two staff members trained to guide her through the number of hours that the drug would impact her brain. As she listened to music through headphones, her eyes were covered with a sleeping mask, the drug went to work.

Suddenly I remained in a dark, terrifying place, lost in space, lost in time, she remembered. I had no bearings and I was really, truly frightened.

Then she saw her dread of a cancer recurrence as a black mass in her abdomen, and she yelled at it to leave.

As soon as that occurred, the worry was gone, she said. I was simply drifting in the music…like being carried in a river.

Then she felt a deep love for her family and friends and sensed their love for her.

It seemed like I was bathed in God’s love…I’m still an atheist, by the way, however that really seemed to be the only way to explain it.

Researchers said such magical experiences appeared to contribute to the drug’s restorative result.

Walcoff, 69, a psychotherapist in Rochester, New York, likewise entered the NYU study because of her stress and anxiety over a cancer reoccurrence, in her case, lymphoma. (Many individuals had active cancer.).

Psilocybin opened me up to pursue as pursue meditation and spiritual browsing, Walcoff stated, and as a result of that I have ended up being reassured and persuaded that phase of my life is over and it’s not going to return.

The majority of financing for the studies originated from the Heffter Research Institute, a not-for-profit company that supports research studies of psilocybin and other hallucinogens.

Magic Mushrooms Showed Promising Results

In both studies, psilocybin treatment had more of an impact on anxiety and depression than a placebo did.

For example, day by day after treatment, about 80 percent of the treated NYU patients no longer qualified as clinically anxious or depressed by standard measures.

That compares to about 30 percent for the placebo group. That’s an incredibly fast reaction, professionals stated, and it sustained for the seven weeks of the comparison.

The research studies took different methods for developing a placebo. At NYU, patients were offered niacin, which simulates some effects of psilocybin. At Hopkins, the placebo was an extremely low dosage of psilocybin itself.

Researchers in both research studies eventually gave complete psilocybin treatment to the placebo groups and followed all the patients for about six months.

The beneficial effects appeared to continue over that period. But the evidence for that is not as strong as for the much shorter term, because there was no longer any placebo comparison group.

No serious negative effects occurred from the treatment.

Dr. William Breitbart, chief of the psychiatry service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, who didn’t participate in the research studies, said they were improvements over prior research study on the topic.

However there were still sufficient drawbacks to make him cautious about drawing conclusions, he stated.

In any case, Bazer and Walcoff state the treatment impacted more than their cancer anxieties.

Walcoff said it has helped her deal with being less judgmental and more self-accepting. Bazer stated it made her a more patient driver and more active socially.

It truly changed everything for me, Bazer stated. And I still do not have anxiety about the cancer coming back.

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The Importance of Testing LSD

What is Acid?

Acid, the more quotidian name of LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a psychedelic that was produced in 1938 by scientist Albert Hoffman, who was working for the Swiss business Sandoz Pharmaceuticals.

He had actually intended for it to be used as a respiratory and circulatory stimulant, without having realized its psychoactive properties.

It took him an additional 6 years to uncover and appreciate its psychedelic qualities: First, he accidentally ingested a little bit of LSD on April 16, 1943, and after three days he purposely took another hit on April 19 and rode his bicycle home, high on acid. This day is now recognized as the holiday Bicycle Day.

While LSD was used as a “truth serum” by the CIA, it was additionally made mainstream most particularly during the 1960s by nonconformity symbols Timothy Leary and Ram Dass (otherwise known as Richard Alpert), both psychology professors at Harvard at that point, and early psychonauts.

Effects of LSD

LSD binds to various 5-Hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) receptors in the mind, which causes an abundance of serotonin in the synaptic cleft between neurons.

LSD can alter perception, mood, and cognitive processes by acting upon the serotonergic framework.

It similarly follows up on the dopaminergic framework, which impacts processes like learning, reward systems, and motivation.

The increased levels of dopamine and serotonin on LSD can make you feel energetic and give you an extroverted experience.

Acid can help the creative mind and faculties, invigorate thoughts, cause sensations of euphoria, universal connection, or on the opposite side anxiety or paranoia, and can produce hallucinations.

As a conventional psychedelic, LSD in sufficiently high doses may trigger temporary ego dissolution that can prompt mystical experiences and a feeling of transcendence.

Before it was illegal by the Nixon administration under the Controlled Substances Act, LSD was utilized as a powerful apparatus in psychotherapy.

Today, researchers are returning to acid as a tool for addiction treatment, alongside anxiety, depression, and other different conditions.

How Long Does LSD Last?

The impacts of LSD can last somewhere in the range of eight to 12 hours, or in some cases significantly more.

What Does Acid Look Like?

LSD mostly comes in the form of a fluid, or as a tab (whereupon that fluid has been dispersed with a dropper), torn from a piece of perforated paper.

In other cases, acid may be in the form of tablets, capsules, or gelatin squares.

Testing Acid

The LSD market looks somewhat different from MDMA. Till as of late, LSD counterfeits weren’t considered particularly hazardous.

Anyway, the influx of a class of drugs known as NBOMes around ten years sooner adjusted that. Variations of NBOMe, which addresses N-benzyl methoxy, at the same time thicken the blood and constrict vessels, potentially causing heart attacks, kidney failure, or stroke.

Fentanyl and analogs like carfentanyl moreover appear as counterfeits or adulterants in the LSD market today.

In recent years, the illicit markets have, somewhat, cleaned themselves up (with certain distributors currently refusing to sell fentanyl or fentanyl analogs for instance), an inconceivable determination of pristine, illegal mixtures and illicit compounds struck the market each year.

Other than limitations and growing demand, factors contributing to the illegal market today include the rise of the dark web and the front of protection provided by cryptocurrencies.

At the point when it concerns the expectations of illicit producers and vendors, WIM Scientific Laboratories, gives these people the upside of the uncertainty.

Instead, a few producers and sellers are likely ignorant of the intricate details of new particles or research study synthetic substances which, much of the time, mimic the effects of the better-known drugs, but carry more risks. Some probably won’t have a clue of what they’re selling.

Testing Acid at a Glance

The most recent decade has really seen an extension of drugs sold on blotter paper resembling LSD, however with significant degrees of toxicity.

NBOMes mimic the effects of LSD but extensively carry more risk; the analog known as 25i NBOMe is highly toxic.

Between 2013 and 2016, roughly an individual passed away one month after ingesting an NBOMe sold as LSD; fortunately, the rate has since slowed down.

Carfentanyl, a staggeringly powerful fentanyl analogue, is- – like LSD- – active at the microgram level. Since it’s regularly sold on blotter paper, disarray in the middle of the two drugs can emerge.

The DO series of drugs, including DOB and DOC, are psychedelics, at times sold as LSD, that commonly have longer-lasting effects and are not well documented for safety.

LSD testing kits are simpler than those for MDMA: Ehrlich’s reagent turns purple within the presence of LSD or other related drugs.

Drug Testing and The Law

Law enforcement and harm reduction endeavors have a checkered relationship. For instance, about half of U.S. states have laws criminalizing testing agents and paraphernalia.

Anyway, with regards to testing, these laws are rarely implemented. To our knowledge, no one with WIM Scientific Laboratories- – staff, volunteer, or festival-goer- – has ever been imprisoned for taking an interest in drug testing.

In some cases, WIM Scientific Laboratories works under pardon concurrences with local law enforcement – that bodes well from a delicate perspective, considering the reality that fewer deaths and injuries happen when testing and other harm reduction strategies are at play.

The Psychedelic Renaissance and Drug Testing

There are various factors for the comeback of psychedelics. They’re a productivity hack in small doses and a socially-bolding apparatus created for dancing. They likewise help quench the yearning many of us need to comprehend the self corresponding to the whole – to see past deception and step into another way of being.

In light of psychedelics’ forthcoming remedial uses for PTSD specifically, we believe that the current renaissance is a means of aggregate recuperating from 9/11- – and today, amidst the Covid crisis, we may see much more important relevance for the restorative therapeutic uses of psychedelics.

Notwithstanding, as long as prohibition perseveres through, the counterfeiting issue will remain.

The more compelling the Drug War is at taking action against genuine MDMA and LSD, the more inspiration there’ll be for making and selling counterfeits.