Ecstasy Approved As Anti-Anxiety Medicine, MDMA Trial Starts In California

The party drug ecstasy could soon be used as a cure for crippling anxiety and depression if a medicinal trial in California goes well.

San Anselmo psychiatrist Dr. Philip Wolfson will start a clinical trial with 18 adults using ecstasy, MDMA, to help with clinical therapy with permission from the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Wolfson told the San Francisco Chronicle, taking ecstasy could help patients overcome their fears when used in a safe clinical setting.

"It's a substance that supports deep, meaningful and rapidly effective psychotherapy."
Wolfson, along with co-therapist Julane Andries, hopes the ecstasy treatment will help patients with deep seated fear or anxiety over the death of a loved one or diagnosis of a severe disease like cancer.

The trial will start with 18 patients. Then 13 of them will take ecstasy during an eight-hour therapy session and five will be given a placebo.

After the initial sessions the patients will contacted for follow-up counseling and psychological testing to determine if they benefitted from the ecstasy therapy.

Co-therapist Andries told the San Francisco Chronicle ecstasy helps patients empathize with others.

"MDMA can help us experience awe, and that eases anxiety and depression. Later, you can hold onto that memory of feeling vital, alive, happy and full of awe."
This isn't the only study to use psychedelic drugs.

Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, told the San Francisco Chronicle there are several studies using psychedelic drugs currently under way.

"It's a really interesting and a very powerful new approach. It's not just taking MDMA. It's taking it in the context of a treatment that involves improved insight and increased skills and using this in the broader context of psychotherapy."
In 2014, a study of autistic adults found patients who took ecstasy felt closer to their therapist and more open to discussing their feelings, according to Science Direct.

Ecstasy became popular in the 1970s and 1980s as a party drug, but the positive side effects of euphoria and emotional warmth are well known.

In 2012, Canadian health officials declared ecstasy safe for adults to take in its pure form saying it only becomes dangerous when mixed with other drugs, according to the Inquisitr.

If the clinical trials in San Anselmo go well, it could open the way for ecstasy to be used more widely in therapy sessions combating depression and anxiety.

What do you think about this new treatment?

[Photo courtesy of U.S. Customs/Newsmakers]