02 August 2004

I Did Not Know It Can Be Useful

An article from Boston Globe reports that a small group of determined "researchers and doctors at Harvard University and the University of California, Los Angeles," have finally gained approval from the US Drug Enforcement agency (DEA) to conduct human research studies on the drug methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA), commonly known as Ecstasy or "X" and "E" among users.

All this time, I thought it was a dangerous drug. I never imagined it can have some therapeutic value.

Led by Michael Mithoefer, who is a psychiatrist, the article says that the researchers are "studying whether Ecstasy can help trauma victims heal their emotional wounds.

Doing a little research myself, I found that Ecstasy has been available for nearly 100 years already. I have found a picture which details all ecstasy pills available here and I have found its history here.

Like antidepressants, Ecstasy works by making the neurotransmitter serotonin available at synaptic endings. This brings on a feeling of "ecstasy" or a heightened feeling of happiness that lasts 4 to 6 hours. But since the brain has a limited supply of serotonin, users often try to increase the dose of Ecstasy intake to bring on more feelings of pleasure. A heavy ecstasy usage often produces a shortage of serotonin and may instead produce depression rather than happiness.

Critics of the Ecstasy study have warned that the illegal drug "has been proved to cause permanent harm to the brain, particularly to memory."

In my opinion, this is like the marijuana case, wherein an illegal drug is now supposed to have curative benefits for nausea, vomitting, and glaucoma. This website discusses details about the science of medical marijuana.

I think the opportunity for abuse is greater than any benefit we may possibly find using these illegal drugs. I feel uncomfortable hearing about doctors advocating research on established harmful drugs. If its just a case of finding solutions for nausea, vomitting or helping "trauma victims heal their emotional wounds," I am sure there a LOT OF OTHER DRUGS --- not as harmful or addictive --- that can be discovered, researched on, and eventually put to good use.

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