Research studies at Harvard University and in South Carolina, Switzerland and Israel could determine whether there are legitimate medical uses for the club drug MDMA, a.k.a. ecstasy.
Slate reported that researchers are examining ecstasy's possible uses in treating post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety and pain among terminal cancer patients. Recreationally, the drug is known to make users feel relaxed and energetic.
The U.S. government currently classifies ecstasy as a Schedule I drug, meaning it has no accepted medical uses. But some researchers say the drug is unique in that it eases fear without sedation. “There is nothing else like this in psychiatry — a fast-acting anti-anxiety medication that makes people alert and talkative,” said Julie Holland, a psychiatrist at the New York University Medical Center.
Ecstasy may impair memory, some studies indicate, so researchers need to determine whether the drug's benefits are worth the risks. Both the Harvard and South Carolina projects are randomized, double-blind controlled trials, and will look at both psychotherapy benefits and adverse reactions.