Researchers presented promising data showing that MDMA can be used to treat PTSD at the Psychedelic Science 2017 conference in Oakland last week, adding to the growing body of work on the subject. The results were from clinical trials involving 107 people diagnosed with PTSD who were treated with a combination of MDMA and communication with a mental health professional, reports Nature.
The research was undertaken by affiliates of the Santa Cruz-based nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and it showed that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy can help reduce PTSD symptoms such as anxiety and nightmares. When their conditions were assessed more than a year after two or three sessions of MDMA-assisted therapy, about 67 percent of the participants no longer had reported PTSD. Only 23 percent of the control group, which received psychotherapy and a placebo, experienced the same result.
These were phase II trials, and after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviewed the unpublished results last November, they encouraged the researchers to move ahead with phase III trials. The drug could be officially approved as a PTSD treatment by the US government after that final stage.
In 2017, MAPS researchers will train therapists from the United States and Israel to provide MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, and they hope to have up to 300 participants in the upcoming phase III trials.
About seven or eight of the United States population will have PTSD at some point in their lives. Common treatments for the illness include medications such as antidepressants and psychotherapy.
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