A study published earlier this week in the journal of Psychopharmacology, conducted by the BAP (British Association for Psychopharmacology) surmised that chronic MDMA usage basically impairs social intelligence by “damaging serotonin receptors” and that this effect compounds over time as well. The Last American Vagabond would like to place a heavy amount of scrutiny on this conclusion–a conclusion that is so presumptuous and speculative that the scientists of the study itself couldn’t actually draw any definitive claims from their data.
Instead, they seemed to have produced some half-baked study in order to slap another negative connotation on MDMA, and stop the legal tidal wave of MDMA into the legal realm of psychotherapeutic administration. Aside from the numerous scientific studies that have come out proving the efficacy and safety of the drug beyond speculation with conclusions proven by empirical data, MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) are in the final stages of bringing MDMA to the Food and Drug Administration for a re-scheduling that allows prescriptions in psychotherapy. In addition to this, MAPS is currently working to raise $400,000 in order to purchase a kilogram of medical-grade MDMA for clinical trials in psychotherapy.
When looking at the methodology behind this study produced in the UK, it becomes everything but undeniable that this is an attempt to convolute the clinical progress that has been made with the substance lately; and not only is the methodology questionable at best, but in fact this study’s speculation goes against what has already been proven as fact by other scientific studies, which just about eviscerates the quality of the study at hand. However, it should be said that the scientists at hand are not meant to be villainized. Rather, it seems that their hypothesis (a hypothesis that was bought by corporate funds) was perhaps misguided and originally meant to produce results with a negative connotation to MDMA. When nothing definitive came out, they decided to roll with the negative connotation anyway. This is very typical of the Rockefeller-Medicine era.
The study is summarized nicely by the title, reading, “Cortical oxygenation suggests increased effort during cognitive inhibition in ecstasy polydrug users” and already there are holes to be picked apart. Firstly, every user of MDMA in the study was a “poly-substance user” meaning that they used at least another substance regularly along with MDMA–and the study did not account for what these excess drugs were. The study did however account for behavioral history and sleep habits. The methods of the study were conducted as follows,
“Twenty ecstasy-polydrug users and 20 drug-naïve participants completed an inhibitory control task (Random Letter Generation (RLG)) while prefrontal hemodynamic response was assessed using functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS).”
“Haemodynamic response” is where the conclusions of the study were drawn from, and before explaining this in detail, it is crucial to note that while the study claims that the drug damages receptors, the study itself found no statistical differences in the results of the intelligence tasks between the drug-users and non-drug-users.
Haemoglobin or hemoglobin, is the oxygen-transport protein in the red blood cell that contains iron. Hemoglobin also is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, and because of this, it is an essential metabolic function of the body. During the brain scans of the participants, the “hemodynamic response” was much more significant in the brains of the drug-users than that of the non-drug-users, suggesting that chronic MDMA use modulates this hemodynamic response. The study thus theorized that this was a result of lasting drug-impairment in the brain, and that the excess hemoglobin was being transported to the brain to compensate for the damage sustained.
Here are some basic examples of why this study’s conclusion of its data is not much more than scientific propaganda:
1) Just because something is a compensatory mechanism does not intrinsically mean that something has been damaged or is biologically negative. Instead, the only thing that “compensation” can empirically be deduced to is “adaptation.” This is not to say that any form of compensation is a positive adaptation, but rather that adaptation has no positive or negative context to begin with. The situation of the adaptation gives it the context, but adaptation itself is simply an organism minimalizing the amount of “friction” between its functions and the environment it lives in. So even if this hemodynamic response is an adaptation to chronic MDMA use, the fact that the drug-users’ results of the intelligence tests were no different from non-users’ results suggests a positive adaptation to their environment, not a negative one.
2) “The Difference Between Medicine and Poison is the Dose” as the song by Circa Survive explains. Opium has been effectively used for both shamanic experience and medical practices by mankind for thousands of years and the efficacy of the plant has itself been demonstrated, but this does not mean that chronic usage of opium won’t result in a physical dependency, or even a possible overdose. This means that, even if this study were to accurately demonstrate that MDMA damages the prefrontal cortex from chronic usage, the fact that heavy use over a long period of time could theoretically produce some damage shows that the user is abusing the Eastern principle of “Everything in Moderation” and has crossed over from “medicine” to “poison.”
3) As mentioned beforehand, the efficacy and safety of MDMA for psychotherapeutic administration has already been proven by a great deal of research which has the drug nearly ready for a reassessment by the FDA. MAPS has a projected goal to have MDMA legal for psychotherapy prescription by 2021.
While MDMA does seem to modulate this hemodynamic response in the brain, the actual results of the study suggest that this is a positive adaptation and not a damaging one, and this study seems to have been produced for no reason other than to give the Anti-MDMA/Psychedelic-Therapy voices something to continue ranting about.
Sources: http://jop.sagepub.com/content/29/11/1170.abstract, https://www.thelastamericanvagabond.com/health/mdma-new-study-under-psychotherapy-settings-demonstrates-ptsd-rehabilitation/, http://thump.vice.com/en_us/article/a-nonprofit-is-raising-400000-for-a-kilo-of-mdma-by-hosting-psychedelic-dinner-parties?utm_source=thumptwitterus