033: MDMA | Medicinal Ecstasy

Psychedelic pattern for MDMA episode of This Medical Life

In 1912, Merck Pharmaceuticals was searching for a blood clotting agent to compete with a competitor in the market. One of the agents, a chemical by-product (and not even named) was produced and patented without any significant testing. This was a drug that we would come to know as MDMA or Ecstasy.

In the 1960s, this drug found it’s way into use by a Chilean psychiatrist for psychotherapy, Dr Claudio Naranjo. He found that it helped patients to open up, it intensified emotions, gave access to suppressed memories, and provided insights.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the recreational use of MDMA became prevalent but also became a focus in the war on drugs with both political and scientific powers advocating strongly against its use. Today, the experimental studies confirm that MDMA is very useful in a controlled medical setting for the use of patients suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Our special guest is Dr Stephen Bright who is a clinically-trained psychologist, senior lecturer at Edith Cowan University, researcher into psychedelic science and co-founder of Psychedelic Research in Science & Medicine (PRISM), an Australian non-profit research association that supports formal research into psychedelics such as primarily MDMA.

There is additional information for GPs about MDMA posted here.

Sign up for our mailing list!