Taking ecstasy might reduce anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, a new study suggests.
Researchers in London found that the drug decreased activity in the parts of the brain linked to emotions and memory.
“These effects may be related to the feelings of euphoria that people experience on the drug,” said study author Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris in a press release.
Ecstasy, clinically known as MDMA, is an illegal drug that acts as a stimulant and causes users to hallucinate.
The study monitored 25 volunteers who received one ecstasy treatment and one placebo on separate occasions. The participants, who did not suffer from PTSD, did not know which substance they had been given.
The researchers then took MRIs of the participants to study their brain activity. While the participants were in the scanner, they were asked to recall their favorite and worst memories. Ecstasy appeared to lessen the impact of the users' painful memories.
The researchers said the study needs to be replicated among PTSD patients to see if the drug has a similar effect.
The findings were published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.
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