How ecstasy and magic mushrooms can be used in medicine

Addictions expert says Australia is falling behind in psychedelic science 

It is time Australia embraced psychedelic science and accepted that MDMA (ecstasy) can effectively cure post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), says a Perth-based addiction expert.

Dr Stephen Bright from Edith Cowan University points to research from the US, Canada, Switzerland and Israel that shows MDMA has been successful in-hard-to treat cases of PTSD.

“Studies in the USA have shown that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy can effectively cure two-thirds of PTSD among people who haven’t respond to existing treatments.”

Dr Bright argues that after a 40-year embargo on psychedelic science, Australia is at risk of being left behind if it doesn’t start taking the results from MDMA therapy trials seriously.

“There is no excuse to delay researching these treatments locally,” he told 6minutes, adding that the FDA has fast-tracked phase III trials that are set to start within months.

“Clinical grade MDMA is very different to dropping an ecstasy pill and there are no serious adverse effects,” he says. 

Participants will be given 75mg of MDMA over three sessions to treat their PTSD. 

“The person has to experience enough fear that they are able to process the trauma but not so much fear that it is overwhelming."

MDMA turns off the amygdala in the brain so people are able to engage in reprocessing the trauma without that fear response, he says.

Dr Bright is also an advocate of psilocybin-assisted therapy for the treatment of end-of life anxiety.  Psilocybin is a psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms.

He points to “promising results” in trials of terminally ill cancer patients through Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Dr Bright, who is the co-founder of Psychedelic Research In Science and Medicine (PRISM), will be arguing his case on February 22 at Curtin University’s National Drug Research Institute.