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Q: I have heard rumours about Ecstasy and brain damage. Can you tell me what is actually true and what is not? Also, if one takes Ecstasy but gets no effects, does it still do damage?

A: Two recent journal articles have been published discussing results from a series of studies done at Johns Hopkins University. The studies were done on human subjects and looked at "brain damage" and "memory damage" caused by the use of MDMA. Both of the journal articles are available at Erowid :

MDMA Neurotoxicity Study

MDMA Memory Study

Along with the original journal articles are also listed a series of responses
to the studies, pointing out some possible areas of concern regarding study
methods and interpretations of the results.

A reasonably careful review of the neurotoxicity study suggests that heavy
MDMA use can cause measurable changes in brain chemistry. It's still
unknown, however, whether those changes cause any noticable effect in
behavior or functioning. Interpretations of the data range from claims of
"brain damage" to those who argue that the effects could be beneficial.
Until more clinical research is done into actual behavioral changes of those
who use MDMA frequently, the issue is still quite unclear.

The memory study results were a recent attempt to pin down some of these
behavioral changes. The primary result reported by the media were that MDMA
users "can have problems remembering what they have seen and heard". But if
you look at the results of the study this is quite an exaggeration of what
they found. The study includes data from only 24 MDMA users and while some
did have lower scores in memory tests than non-MDMA users...others had HIGHER
scores than the non-MDMA using group. The largest effect on memory appeared
to be in the group of MDMA users who used most frequently in any given
month...rather than those who had used MDMA the greatest number of times.

As far as what to do to minimize damage if you ARE going to use MDMA. Some basic suggestions are :

  1. Give yourself time in between uses. Try to avoid multiple weekends in a row.

  2. Take antioxidants with your MDMA. Antioxidants include Vitamin E, Selenium, Beta-carotene and others. Take these before, during and after a trip.

  3. Prozac, when taken at the tail end of an MDMA experience, has been shown in laboratory tests to minimize neuronal changes.

  4. As always, drink an adequate quantity of water during the trip. A couple of large glasses of water.

  5. Don't become overheated. Take breaks from dancing to cool down.

If you're interested in more technical information about MDMA neurotoxicity, a good resource is the neurotoxicity section of Lamont's 'Yet Another MDMA FAQ'.

Asked By : Anonymous
Answered By : fire
Published Date : 8 / 9 / 1999
Last Edited Date : 8 / 9 / 1999
Question ID : 6

Categories: [ MDMA (Ecstasy) ] [ Health ]

Ask Erowid v1.7 - Jul, 2005

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