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Psychiatrist.comLegalizing MDMA for PTSD Treatment: Phase 3 Clinical Trial Results

Researcher Jennifer Mitchell has observed individuals who started out with debilitating PTSD and then no longer meet the qualifications for a diagnosis within the span of three months.

Short-term MDMA therapy, combined with psychotherapy, has shown promising results in the treatment of PTSD, potentially offering a transformative approach to patient care.

Key Points:

  • MDMA, commonly known as “ecstasy” or “molly,” has been under rigorous clinical testing for its potential in treating PTSD.
  • The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) recently concluded phase three clinical trials, suggesting FDA approval for MDMA therapy could be within a year.
  • In the MAPS study, participants receiving MDMA-assisted therapy were twice as likely to recover from PTSD than those on a placebo. 67% no longer met the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis, and 88% experienced significant symptom reduction.
  • MDMA acts on the amygdala, aiding in the processing of fear-related memories, and promotes the release of oxytocin, fostering feelings of connection and self-compassion.

Additional Points:

  • MDMA has faced stigma due to its recreational use and associated safety concerns.
  • Although there have been concerns about MDMA’s effects on the cardiovascular system, current clinical settings have not observed cardiac burdens.
  • MDMA therapy doesn’t erase traumatic memories but may help patients approach them with less avoidance and shame.
  • Limitations of MDMA therapy include its cost, time intensity, potential for addiction, and unknown effects on individuals with comorbidities.


  • Although MDMA therapy presents potential drawbacks, its transformative effects on PTSD patients in clinical trials suggest a promising future for its therapeutic use, especially when combined with psychotherapy.

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“You wouldn’t send this home with people to do on their own in their living room. You do it in a good, trained treatment facility and that way, you don’t have to worry as much.”

Jennifer M. Mitchell
Professor of Neurology
University of California, San Francisco
MAPS Clinical Investigator
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