Euphoria, neon lights, bass-thumping music. MDMA is known within our society as a party drug, a pill you take to enhance your experience; although illegal in every country, most young adults have a positive connotation with the synthetic substance, with the number of people taking it gradually increasing each year.
In recent events, microdosing has become a popular topic in the psychedelic community – consuming a relatively smaller dose of the compound to experience the positive effects but remaining functional enough to carry out daily activities. How would microdosing MDMA affect people? In this article, we will explore the substance and the potential of microdosing MDMA.
Overview of MDMA
MDMA is a synthetic drug that essentially alters your mood and perception, taken as a capsule or pill. Ecstasy is also known to be MDMA, however, it is often altered and mixed with other substances. The drug increases activity in three different brain chemicals; dopamine (reward system/reinforcing behaviors), norepinephrine (increases heart rate and blood pressure), and serotonin (plays an important role in the regulation of mood, sleep, pain, appetite, and other behaviors – elevates the mood.) Alternatively, the drug reduces activity in the Amygdala (the part of the brain that processes fear.) A normal dose of MDMA usually lasts in your system for three to six hours; however, this is certainly not the case with microdosing.
Microdosing is typically a tenth to the twentieth amount of a normal dose. People tend to microdose to enhance their daily experience, increase creativity, energy levels, emotional stability, and in some cases can be used to alleviate anxiety, depression, and addiction.
The History of the Psychedelic
EA-1475 (no, that’s not the name of Elon Musk’s newborn) is the code assigned by the U.S. Army to refer to the drug, EA standing for Edgewood Arsenal. MDMA was first introduced by a psychologist named Adam who initially used it during his psychotherapy sessions.
Although the US recorded the code, the first public recording of the preparation and properties of MDMA was a German patent filed in 1912 and issued in 1914 originally known as “Methylsafrylaminc.” Originally it was a medication intended to control bleeding or control appetite, but psychiatrists discovered that it actually enhanced communication in sessions and subsequently became widely used in the street. This is very interesting to note, as a lot of people who have taken MDMA are known to become more truthful, and many people recommend taking the drug with people who you are very close with, as you will be more inclined to share your deepest thoughts. In 1985, the DEA declared an emergency ban on MDMA as this substance. In the early ’90s, the first human trial exploring the use of MDMA to relieve pain in terminally ill patients was used with psychotherapy, which kick-started the use of MDMA in clinical trials – now tested for alleviating the pain of PTSD, anxiety, and autism in adults.
The start of clinical trials is an interesting concept that can be applied to the increasing use of microdosing MDMA, People use it to overcome past trauma and enhance sociability. With MDMA, a microdosage is generally 5-25 milligrams or even 200 micrograms.
Ideally when taking MDMA, you experience optimum desirable effects where everything is perfect, you’re euphoric (extremely happy), authentic, and can feel like yourself, you feel as if you can connect with others easily. You feel in touch with yourself, you’re alive, and in general more loving. That relief and happiness you feel are comparable to losing your car keys and finally finding them, or feeling drunk but level headed, but you feel that sensation for four to six hours.
Unfortunately, not everyone experiences the same desirable effects. During the sessions, the most frequent side effects experienced are tension in the jaw, dry mouth, lack of appetite, thirst, restless legs, impaired balance, and perspiration – these can last from a few hours to a few days after taking the drug (Appendix A).
Common effects of microdosing MDMA will include increased energy levels, decreased anxiety, improved sociability, and mild euphoria. Essentially positive effects of a normal dose of the drug but softened and lasting for a longer period of time.
Potential Benefits and Risks
Sometimes there are lasting effects of a normal dose of MDMA, it opens up a new perspective, they feel joy again and feel capable of fixing their relationships, regaining self-esteem, and overall enhancing their quality of life. Recreational users of MDMA have been informally reporting the positive effects of MDMA on their mental health for years. It’s encouraging that there is more research going into the potential benefits of MDMA. The benefits of the drug are evident in the euphoria and pleasure when experiencing the effects.
The use of MDMA in the social scene is not in its pure form usually called “ecstasy” or “molly”, this drug will have only 2% of genuine MDMA in the pill. Most ecstasy pills will have a mixture of other substances such as cocaine, amphetamine, LSD, heroin, methamphetamine, and sometimes even rat poison or caffeine. The risk in taking these party drugs is that you’re never sure what’s in the drug; it could be MDMA with heroin or the one with rat poison. Pure MDMA is one of the least dangerous drugs known; however, there are risks involved and rare fatalities that have occurred. Statistics show that there’s a one in six chance of dying, professor David estimated that the risk of death was greater from horse riding rather than ecstasy
Medical purposes and future research
There are many potential health benefits of the use of MDMA, In research environments, the drug is in its purest form and precisely dosed.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
“A chemical security blanket” is what a spokesman for the MDMA trial sponsor is calling MDMA for PTSD, having recently moved into phase III for trials on drug testing PTSD with promising research results. It is expecting approval for the drug by 2021. The potential use of MDMA will be used simultaneously with psychotherapy as researchers have found that 54% of patients who took MDMA had improved to the point where they don’t even fit the diagnosis for PTSD anymore.
Like mentioned before, MDMA tamps down activity in the amygdala, which leads to the feeling of safety and the need for social connection. Patients are more likely to be able to talk about their experiences, and because of the neurological wiring involved with MDMA intake, they are more inclined to be truthful.
New research using MDMA to treat autism and social anxiety have been proven helpful and promising. The success is due to the drug improving social aspects and helping interaction with others. A vice article explains how MDMA, microdosing, and using Molly helped her long-term anxiety. She says “Life inside my head isn’t always easy. But ultimately I saw myself faced with two options: Numbing the fear, or building up the joy and love that are even greater than the fear.” The use of MDMA let her be free from the constraints of her mental illness, as she was able to take control of her life and gained newfound confidence to say yes and feel alive.
Recently there has been new research investigating the use of MDMA to treat depression, despite the research not being as conclusive and favourable as those for PTSD and anxiety. The research is/was done by using results from treatments of anxiety and translating those into depression treatment. MDMA has the potential to act as an antidepressant through its delivery of the 5-HT system and as an augmentation strategy in cognitive therapy is the science behind it. Researchers believe that MDMA’s potential to calm and allow people to trust and be willing to share may be helpful in a therapy environment where patients will be more inclined to share their thoughts and open the conversation.
The encouraging precedent of MDMA treating PTSD is opening doors for future use of the drug for treatment and other medical purposes, as well as introducing microdosing to society. There has only been one study in a therapeutic study where microdosing on MDMA was used and it was not used to study the effectiveness of microdosing, but rather the effects of MDMA on PTSD. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the therapeutic effects of MDMA and the potential for it to be used in clinical settings. The issue and risk that comes with recreational use of the drug is that usually in ecstasy or molly form, it’s a very minimal amount of the actual MDMA drug and sometimes and can feel like you’re playing russian roulette because you have no idea what other substances are included in the drug. Although the risks are quite low, the minimal regulation (because it is illegal) makes it difficult for people to use it to help manage their mental illnesses. The increasing scientific research and possibility of approval by the FDA for MDMA would potentially decrease the stigma surrounding psychedelics, open up opportunities for it to be used therapeutically and benefit patients in need of help. MDMA has always been known as the party drug, used to amplify the environment in party and rave scenes, but with this new research, maybe it’s time to open up the possibility that this drug and microdosing can actually benefit many people around the world.
Side effect during use
|Jaw clenching/tight jaw||60%|
|Lack of apppetite||66%|
|Lack of energy||0%|
|Rapid eye movements||23%|
|Jaw muscle spasms||21%|
|Urge to urinate||7%|