In a world first, researchers will look into the effects of a combined treatment using MDMA and LSD.
A new clinical trial will investigate the therapeutic potential of a LSD-MDMA combination. It is the first time that the two substances will be investigated together to study its potential for therapeutic use.
Of course, this research goes further than realising the mere potential for a good trip. Research into using psychedelics for therapeutic purposes originally began in the 1950s. After a few decades of dormancy, its resurgence has slowly gained back its momentum.
Currently, (much like cannabis) regulations are reforming, its stigma is easing back, and its potential for therapeutic relief is increasing. In fact, psychedelic-assisted therapy is on the verge of changing the medical infrastructure of treating mental health.
But first, let's take a look at the trial and what it can do:
The study, conducted by the New York based psychedelic drug development startup, Mind Medicine Inc. is about to begin its Phase I trial.
Phase I trials test the safety of the substance. As a result, researchers will gain an understanding of how a substance is absorbed and metabolized in the body. Meanwhile, researchers can identify with any potential side effects in conjunction with dosages.
With this in mind, the aim for the study is to investigate it the LSD-MDMA duo is safe for use. At this stage, 24 participant volunteers will be used.
Participants will receive either the LSD-MDMA combo or a placebo. Those who receive the combo will get 100µg of LSD and 100mg of MDMA.
If the Phase I stage is successful, then the Phase II trial will be able to commence. If the trial successfully completes all three trial phases, proving its therapeutic potential, then the duo may be considered as a treatment.
Why Combine LSD and MDMA?
Based on case studies, an LSD-MDMA combo can elicit an "extremely powerful" experience, one that enhances the positive effects of MDMA. Commonly, combining MDMA with low doses of LSD is enough to induce a very fulfilling, aesthetically pleasing trip.
Therapeutically, MDMA induces empathy and trust, while LSD is associated with lowering paranoia and anxiety in some individuals.
Researchers believe that the combo will enhance the positive experience and have a longer-lasting impact on mental health recovery.
When combining the two, it not only results in a pleasant experience, but has the potential treat a spectrum of mental health issues. In fact, psychedelic-assisted therapy can treat PTSD, tobacco addiction, opioid addiction, and depression.
Mind Medicine Inc. Founder and CEO, RJ Rahn, stresses, however, that psychedelic use for treatment is far removed from the medical paradigm we use today.
Instead of prescription pill-taking, psychedelics will offer a therapy-styled experience under supervision. Trained specialists can guide patients through the experience in a safe, comfortable interpersonal setting.
In conjunction with therapy sessions, patients will also have the opportunity to discuss any breakthroughs with a specialist in a separate therapy session.
However, Rahn also acknowledges that it will be a while until psychedelic-assisted therapy will become entirely FDA approved.
Psychedelics as a Breakthrough Therapy?
Although FDA approval may seem like decades away, some psychedelics have already been acknowledged as breakthrough therapies. This means that the FDA will accelerate the development and review of the substance because of its potential benefits over existing therapies.
MDMA was officially labeled as a breakthrough therapy in 2017 for PTSD treatment. Currently, in Phase III trials, MDMA-assisted therapy will be open to FDA approval if trials are successful.
Meanwhile, psilocybin has also been designated as a breakthrough therapy for major depressive disorder (MDD) in 2019. In fact, last month saw the first time psilocybin therapy became medically exempt for four Canadian patients facing end-of-life care. The treatment aims to assist in end-of-life distress.
As it stands, while the LSD-MDMA trial is the first of its kind, it shows how the progression of research into psychedelic-assisted therapy is accelerating.
As regulations ease, stigma lifts, and therapeutic potential is reached, psychedelics will contribute to a newly formed paradigm of mental health treatment.
There's a long way to go, but education and research is the only way to get there.
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