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MDMA capsulesMDMA is Schedule I in the United States. This means it is illegal to manufacture, buy, possess, or distribute without a DEA license.

Addictive Potential: Low (MDMA is not considered physically addictive, yet it may be psychologically addictive)

Emergency Room Visits Yearly: 21,836 hospital visits related to the use of MDMA or ecstasy were reported in 2010 in the United States

Mandatory Minimum Sentence: 6 years for 800 pills

Mechanism of Action: Increases the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, among others. See more below…


MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), a common component in ecstasy pills and powders, is an entactogen that has gained popularity over the past 20 years because of its ability to produce strong feelings of comfort, empathy, and connection to others.

MDMA is frequently sold in tablet form, although it is also occasionally sold in capsules or as a powder. It is most often taken orally and rarely snorted. MDMA use is closely tied to the underground rave scene throughout the world; however, prior to becoming illegal, it was also widely used by therapists as an adjunct to psychotherapy. Read this interesting Journal article about the history of MDMA

The Difference Between MDMA and Ecstasy

MDMA for PTSD on Amazon Kindle

The Positive & Negative Effects of MDMA

MDMA Pharmacology – The Basics

MDMA Pharmacology – A More In-Depth Look at Receptor Affinity

The graph below (Ray, 2010) shows the affinity of MDMA for forty-two receptors, arranged in order of decreasing affinity (click the image to enlarge).


As explained by Ray (2010), “The black vertical bar represents a 100-fold drop in affinity relative to the receptor with the highest affinity. As a rule of thumb, this is presumed to be the limit of perceptible receptor interaction. Receptors to the right of the black bar should be imperceptible, while receptors to the left of the black bar should be perceptible, increasingly so the further left they are” (p. 14).

Substance Identification:

            Marquis Reagent     Simon’s Reagent   
MDMA  Dark Purple/Black Dark blue

(Info provided by DOJ, 2014Erowid, 2014)

Substance Test Kits – What You Need to Know

Side Effects and Adverse Reactions:

Common adverse side effects of MDMA ingestion include rise in blood pressure and heart rate, nystagmus (eye-wiggling), trismus (jaw tension), bruxia (teeth grinding), sweating, agitation, a post-peak crash, muscle tension, headaches, nausea & vomiting, dry-mouth, liver problems, water retention, fatigue, confusion, mood swings, black outs, etc (Erowid, 2008).

According to Liechti et al. (2001), “Adverse effects were more frequently reported by women compared to men and mainly included jaw clenching or increased tension in maxillary muscles, dry mouth, and lack or loss of appetite. Sweating and nausea were more frequent in men. At the onset of the MDMA effect some subjects reported nausea, hot flushes, paresthesia, and dizziness. Tremor and increased restlessness were observed in about one-third of the subjects. Side effects were generally considered mild and were similar to those reported in previous controlled studies (Vollenweider et al. 1998a) or by Ecstasy users (Peroutka et al. 1988; Solowij et al. 1992). There were no complications requiring medical intervention.”

Many users describe an MDMA back-end, or period of feeling depressed and drained after use. Curran & Travill (1997) concluded that, “Weekend use of MDMA may lead to depressed mood mid-week.” They continued to explain that “…the results of this study imply that MDMA use at the weekend is associated with subsequent low mood mid-week and with impaired attentional function. It is not clear to what extent this may reflect a temporary serotonergic depletion, a more serious serotonergic neurotoxicity or a psychological consequence of the acute `high’ mood induced by weekend MDMA use.”

Nutrients that may help with the MDMA back-end (to be taken the week after use) are listed in the table below:

Nutrient Therapeutic Dose Method of Action
500mg three times daily
Increases Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Epinephrine
100mg daily
Increases Serotonin

This MDMA Recovery Smoothie recipe may also help with the low mood and decreased energy during the week following an MDMA experience.

Long Term Damage:

A meta analysis performed by Kalechstein et al. (2007) reviewed all of the major research currently available that studied the connection between MDMA use and loss of attention/concentration, verbal and nonverbal learning and memory, psychomotor speed, an executive systems functioning. They concluded that, in all 33 studies reviewed, MDMA was associated with neurocognitive deficits in each domain. Small to medium effects sizes were generally observed. They also discussed the possibility that MDMA damage may be healed by a period of abstinence and/or a tryptophan-rich diet. Some of the foods that are high in tryptophan are listed in the table below:

Tryptophan food sources
Tryptophan content (gram/100 grams food)
flax seed, raw
cowpea, catjang, mature seeds, raw
Salami, Italian, pork
lentils, raw
Turkey, all classes, meat only, raw
Peanuts, all types, raw
Turkey, fryer-roasters, meat and skin, raw
Chicken, broilers or fryers, thigh, meat only, raw
Chicken, broilers or fryers, wing, meat and skin, raw
Turkey, breast meat, raw
Nuts, almonds
Egg, yolk, raw, fresh
Nuts, walnuts, english
Egg, whole, raw, fresh
Beef, round, top round, separable lean and fat, trimmed to 1/8″ fat, select, raw
Beef, top sirloin, separable lean only, trimmed to 1/8″ fat, choice, raw
Turkey, sausage, fresh, raw
Egg, white, raw, fresh
Milk, whole, 3.25% milk fat

Leibovitz (1993) believes that users can block phenethylamine (MDMA) damage caused by free radicals by taking the supplements in the table below (to be taken a few hours before the experience):

Nutrient Preventive Dose Therapeutic Dose Form
5 mg
15 mg
Consider supplements of other carotenoids (e.g., lycopene) as they become available
2 grams
6 grams
Mixed bioflavonoids from a variety of sources
Coenzyme Q10
100 mg
300 mg
Only one form available
L-Ascorbic acid
2-4 grams
6-12 grams
Free acid or calcium, magnesium salt
1 gram
3 grams
L-carnitine HCl or, if possible, less hygroscopic salts (e.g., L-carnitine magnesium citrate)
N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)
2 grams
6 grams
Only one form available; do not use L- cysteine
250 mcg
500 mcg
Form not critical — inorganic (e.g., selenite) as effective, and less expensive, than organic forms (e.g., selenomethionine)
Vitamin E
1,000 IU
3,000 IU
Available data indicate that form is not critical

* From Phenethylamines, Free Radicals, and Antioxidants by Brian Leibovitz, Ph.D.

More Info on Preventing and Treating MDMA/Ecstasy Neurotoxicity:

More Videos:

Drug Interactions:

MDMA and the Potential for Medical Use:

Other Notable Research Studies and Journal Articles:

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