Re: virus: Ecstasy causes long-term brain damage: study

Tim Rhodes (
Tue, 15 Jun 1999 13:53:33 -0700

Richard forwarded:

>Ecstasy causes long-term brain damage: study
>Experiments on monkeys showed that as little as four days of using
>Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, can cause damage that persists for up
>to seven years.

Your spreading bad memes again, Richard.

This blatant mis-information and scare tactics. (Which is nothing new from the National Institute on Drug Abuse--a policy arm of the DEA.) It's little more than shameless propaganda in the cause of their Drug War. And as you would expect, what they don't tell is as important as what they do.

For instance, a little publicized sociological study conducted by Jerry Beck, Ph.D for the NIDA at a cost of over $200,000 (of your money) found that:

"Based on MDMA's reputed qualities, one might assume that a significant number of users would eventually experience major problems resulting from abuse and/or dependence in the pursuit of "Ecstasy". However, the low levels of such problems seen with MDMA are perhaps best explained by limiting factors intrinsic to the experience itself."

Yet these types of results seldom make it to the media.

The study sited in the article you point to is ten years old and well know (McBean et al, 1990). Its results are inconclusive with regards to humans. It used intervienous MDMA in doses a hunderd times greater than human use, administered directly into the monkeys brain, rather than being absorbed orally. So it's a small wonder they got those results.

For current research underway using MDMA in humans check:

For a review of FDA approved human toxicity trials and their results (including MRI imaging) check:

Harbor-UCLA MDMA Research Phase 1 (1995)

MDMA Research Update: Phases 1 and 2 (1996):

As for MDMA'a neurotoxicity, it has been known since 1993 that the use of seritonin re-uptake inhibitors (such a Prozac) up to six hours AFTER the use of MDMA effectively neutralizes any possibility of serotonin changes.

"If someone were seriously concerned about neutralizing the possibility of serotonin changes, (though I think the evidence doesn't justify the effort), animal research has shown that combining the prescription drug Prozac with MDMA prevents neurotoxicity, even when Prozac is taken up to six hours after the MDMA. This works because Prozac binds to the same serotonin re-uptake sites which can be damaged by MDMA metabolites (though only when MDMA is administered at doses higher than the standard therapeutic or non-medical amount). The presence of Prozac at the re-uptake sites prevents the neurotoxic MDMA metabolites from binding, eliminating its potential effect on the re-uptake sites. An interesting paper by Dr. McCann and Dr. Ricaurte discusses the effects of the MDMA/Prozac combination (Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, 13 (3): pp. 214-217, 1993.)"

MDMA Neurotoxicity Update (1994)

Another excerpt from the same article:

"The results of Dr. Ricaurte and Dr. McCann's multi-year study were first presented at a neurosciences conference in mid-November,1993 and will be reported on in more detail in the next issue of the MAPS newsletter. The study found that the MDMA-experienced group had on average 30% lower levels of a serotonin metabolite in their spinal fluid than did the control group. Interestingly enough, the only functional and behavioral differences between the MDMA group and the controls were that the MDMA users "reported less impulsive and hostile personality traits, and greater constraint and control". As Drs. Ricaurte and McCann point out, these differences are generally considered positive. Furthermore, these findings are perplexing in that the generally held view is that lower serotonin levels lead to more hostile and impulsive behavior, not less. As with most MDMA neurotoxicity studies so far, this one raises more questions than it resolves. More research is required to sort out the findings."

One of the things the NIDA does not like to discuss is why MDMA is a Schedule 1 drug (in the same catagory as heroin) when it has been shown effective in combination with psychotherapy in treatment of tramas. Schedule 1 drugs are suppose to have no clinical use whatsover and a very high incidence of abuse. They cannot be used in ANY clinical trials (without special permission from the FDA) as a result of this clasification. Yet MDMA has shown no evidence of abuse and in trials in Switzerland from 1988-93 showed great promise when combined with psychotherapy:

"Patients were asked if they experienced any changes both during and after treatment and, if so, what the quality of those changes were. During their course of therapy, good improvement was reported by 46.3%, slight improvement was reported by 38.8%, no change was reported by 5.8%, and slight deterioration was reported by 4.2%. Five percent said they experienced fluctuating changes, with both improvement and deterioration. After their period of treatment, good improvement was reported by 65%, slight improvement was reported by 25.6%, no change was reported by 4.1%, and slight deterioration was reported by 2.5%. Two and a half percent said they experienced fluctuating changes, with both improvement and deterioration.

"To summarize, the percentage of patients who considered themselves to have experienced good improvement or slight improvement during their psycholytic treatment was 85.1%. After treatment, that percentage climbed to 90.9%. As a point of comparison, in a follow-up study undertaken by Mascher (1967) in Germany, 62% of the 82 patients treated by Leuner et al. considered themselves to have experienced good improvement or slight improvement."

As with anything you put in your body, users should be well informed of the data out there and the research being done and make an informed decision based on as much information as possible.

-Prof. Tim