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Invisibleveggie

Registered: 07/26/04
Posts: 13,985
MDMA Use Studied to Ease Fear in Terminally Ill
    #3546493 - 12/27/04 02:39 AM (12 years, 7 months ago)

'Ecstasy' Use Studied to Ease Fear in Terminally Ill
Monday, December 27, 2004
washingtonpost.com

For some, the diagnosis comes out of the blue. For others, it arrives after a long battle. Either way, the news that death is just a few months away poses a daunting challenge for both doctor and patient.

Drugs can ease pain and reduce anxiety, but what about the more profound issues that come with impending death? The wish to resolve lingering conflicts with family members. The longing to know, before it's too late, what it means to love, or what it meant to live. There is no medicine to address such disease.

Or is there?

This month, in a little-noted administrative decision, the Food and Drug Administration gave the green light to a Harvard proposal to test the benefits of the illegal street drug known as "ecstasy" in patients diagnosed with severe anxiety related to advanced cancer.

The drug, also known as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA, has been referred to by psychiatrists as an "empathogen," a drug especially good at putting people in touch with their emotions. Some believe it could help patients come to terms with the biggest emotional challenge of all: the end of life.

The FDA's approval puts the study on track to become the first test of a psychedelic substance since 1963 at Harvard, where drug guru Timothy Leary lost his teaching privileges after using students in experiments with LSD and other hallucinogens.

It also marks a milestone for a small but increasingly effective movement favoring a more open-minded attitude toward the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs, virtually all of which have been criminalized and disparaged for decades as medically useless.

Already, MDMA is being tested for its ability to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. And two U.S. studies are looking at the usefulness of psilocybin -- the active ingredient in "magic mushrooms" -- in terminally ill cancer patients and in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

In the coming year, advocates also hope to submit to the FDA an application to test psilocybin and LSD as treatments for a debilitating syndrome known as cluster headaches.

That would be a fitting birthday present for Albert Hofmann, the chemist who discovered both compounds while working for the Swiss drug company Sandoz and who turns 99 in January, said Rick Doblin, president of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. The Sarasota-based nonprofit has organized and funded much of the new research.

Hofmann, who has expressed support for clinical studies such as the one being planned at Harvard, has referred to LSD as his "problem child" -- a reference to his belief that despite its widespread abuse, the mind-altering drug has the potential to help some people.

Although they vary in their chemical structures and specific effects, many psychedelic drugs work on the parts of the brain that regulate serotonin -- the same brain chemical that is the target of many FDA-approved antidepressants. That does not indicate that the drugs are necessarily safe; indeed, they all carry some medical and psychiatric risk.

Yet even scientists who have been vocal about those risks have expressed at least guarded support for the idea that, in the company of a therapist and with proper medical monitoring, moderate doses might benefit some people.

"When taken under adverse circumstances by ill-prepared individuals, there are substantial psychological risks," said Charles Grob, a psychiatrist at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. "But when taken in the context of carefully structured and approved research protocols and facilitated by individuals with expertise, adverse effects can be contained to a minimum."

Grob is leading an FDA-approved study in which terminally ill cancer patients are being given psilocybin to see whether it can help them sort through emotional and spiritual issues. He said the patients take a "modest" dose of synthetic psilocybin, equivalent to two or three illicit mushrooms. They spend the next six hours or so in a comfortable setting with a psychiatrist -- talking, thinking and sometimes listening to music with headphones.

"So far they have had very impressive results in terms of amelioration of anxiety, improvement of mood, improved rapport with close family and friends and, interestingly, significant and lasting reductions in pain," Grob said of the first few patients to enroll. "These are extraordinary compounds that seem to have an uncanny ability to reliably induce spiritual or religious experiences when taken in the right conditions."

Promising results have also been reported at the University of Arizona from a 10-person study of psilocybin for obsessive-compulsive disorder, which locks people into repetitive thoughts and actions. And Charleston, S.C., psychiatrist Michael Mithoefer has seen no complications in any of the five patients who have enrolled in his 20-person study of MDMA for victims of violence struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.

With the FDA's Dec. 17 approval of the Harvard MDMA protocol -- and permission in hand from ethics review boards at Harvard and the nearby Lahey Clinic, where patients will be recruited -- the only remaining hurdle is getting a special license from the Drug Enforcement Administration. A dozen subjects with less than 12 months to live will get either low or moderate doses of MDMA during two sessions a few weeks apart, along with counseling and a variety of psychological tests before and after treatment.

The approach has its doubters.

"Even in antiquity, some groups thought it was especially important to take whatever their local psychedelic was -- including alcohol -- when confronting mortality, whether it's to see into the hereafter, improve spiritual growth or just numb yourself to the reality," said Joanne Lynn, president of the Washington-based Americans for Better Care of the Dying and director of RAND Health, a science and policy research center. But drugs can be disorienting, she said.

"It's sometimes poetic, sometimes majestic, but often mundane work to wrap up one's life," Lynn said. "I think it's unlikely there's a pill that will make that go away."

John Halpern, associate director of substance abuse research in the biological psychiatry lab at Harvard's McLean Hospital, who will lead the MDMA study there, agreed that it is not for everyone. But creating a sense of connection with something greater than oneself "may be helpful" for many facing death, he said.

Halpern emphasized the differences between his study and the freewheeling experiments conducted by Leary in the 1960s.

"This is not about hippy dippy Halpern trying to turn on the world. I'm not looking at this as a magic bullet," he said. "But for a lot of people, the anxiety about death is so tremendous that there is no way to get their arms around the problems that were ongoing in their family. This could be a substantial contribution to the range of palliative care strategies we're trying to develop for people facing their death."

Laura Huxley, widow of the author and metaphysical pioneer Aldous Huxley, said her husband asked for -- and she provided -- a dose of LSD as he lay dying in 1963. "He wanted to be aware," the 93-year-old supporter of the new research said last week. "It's a very important moment."

Leary took a wide array of psychedelics in the weeks leading up to his death from cancer in 1996. Some suspect the drugs clouded rather than sharpened his perceptions, but he died with a positive attitude.

"It's kind of interesting really," he said of dying, talking to a friend in his final days. "You should try it sometime."


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Invisibleveggie

Registered: 07/26/04
Posts: 13,985
FDA OKs Ecstasy Study for Cancer [Re: veggie]
    #3550915 - 12/28/04 12:53 AM (12 years, 7 months ago)

FDA OKs Ecstasy Study for Cancer
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
www.katc.com

WASHINGTON (AP) — The illegal club drug Ecstasy can trigger euphoria among the dance club set, but can it ease the debilitating anxiety that cancer patients feel as they face their final days?

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a pilot study looking at whether the recreational hallucinogen can help terminally ill patients lessen their fears, quell thoughts of suicide and make it easier for them to deal with loved ones.

"End of life issues are very important and are getting more and more attention, and yet there are very few options for patients who are facing death," Dr. John Halpern, the Harvard research psychiatrist in charge of the study, said Monday.

The small, four-month study is expected to begin early next spring. It will test the drug's effects on 12 cancer patients from the Lahey Clinic Medical Center in the Boston area. The research is being sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a nonprofit group that plans to raise $250,000 (184,816 euro) to fund it.

MAPS, on its web site, touted the study's approval, saying "the longest day of winter has passed, and maybe so has the decades-long era of resistance to psychedelic research."

The FDA would not comment, but this will be the second FDA-approved study using Ecstasy this year. South Carolina researchers are studying the effects of Ecstasy on 20 patients suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Ecstasy, known scientifically as MDMA for methylenedioxymethamphetamine, is a chemical cousin of methamphetamine and typically induces feelings of euphoria, increased energy and sexual arousal. But it also suppresses appetite, thirst and the need to sleep, and in high doses can sharply increase body temperature, leading to kidney and heart failure, and death.

It peaked in 2001 as a trendy recreational drug used by youth at gatherings called "raves" and dance clubs.

Halpern, who has done other research on the effects of hallucinogenic drugs, said that some, when used properly, can have medical benefits. He said that unlike LSD, Ecstasy is "ego-friendly," and unlike some pain medications it does not oversedate people and make them foggy and unsteady.

Instead, he said, it can reduce stress and increase empathy. There are anecdotal reports, he said, of people dying of cancer who take Ecstasy and they are able to talk to their family and friends about death and other subjects they couldn't broach before.

"I'm hoping that we can find something that can be of use for people in their remaining days of life," he said. If there are no significant problems, he said broader studies would follow this one.

In addition to FDA approval, the study has also received review board authorization from the Lahey Clinic and Harvard Medical School's psychiatric facility, McLean Hospital. Halpern is awaiting a license from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

It's been more than 40 years since Harvard has been the site of psychedelic drug research — including the infamous LSD studies of Timothy Leary in 1963 and the Good Friday Experiment in 1965, done by Leary's student Walter Pahnke, studying the effects of psilocybin mushrooms on religious people.

But "this is not about trying to create some sensationalistic storm," Halpern said. "This is about trying to help these patients in a meaningful way."


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OfflineVulture
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Re: FDA OKs Ecstasy Study for Cancer [Re: veggie]
    #3551077 - 12/28/04 01:27 AM (12 years, 7 months ago)

...now thats some pretty damn good news is you ask me :smile:


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Work like you dont need the money.

Love like you never been hurt.

Dance like nobody is watching.


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Offlinesocratesmind
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Re: FDA OKs Ecstasy Study for Cancer [Re: Vulture]
    #3551230 - 12/28/04 02:05 AM (12 years, 7 months ago)

hooray.....finally uh ..... well almost :/


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Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.
- Abraham Lincoln: Speech in the Illinois House of Representatives, Dec 18, 1840.


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Invisibleblink
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Re: FDA OKs Ecstasy Study for Cancer [Re: veggie]
    #3551458 - 12/28/04 03:09 AM (12 years, 7 months ago)

It should be noted that halpern is the man known in this community as the one who robbed us of "Leonard Pickard's acid-from-a-silo", and fed the DEA information about the whole thing

[url=http://216.239.63.104/search?q=cache:VvDUNuzD-FQJ:www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n1031/a08.html%3F38430+halpern+lsd+pickard&hl=en&client=firefox-a]Clicky clicky...[/url] :thumbdown:


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Invisiblewandrnshaman
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Registered: 09/21/03
Posts: 1,196
Loc: Pinellas Co, FL
Re: FDA OKs Ecstasy Study for Cancer [Re: blink]
    #3551771 - 12/28/04 08:22 AM (12 years, 7 months ago)

No, Skinner did that.

Don't think Pickard's hands were clean though. He'd been an informant for years. :thumbdown:


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Offlinebaraka
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Re: FDA OKs Ecstasy Study for Cancer [Re: wandrnshaman]
    #3552199 - 12/28/04 12:56 PM (12 years, 7 months ago)

Yuk, all i know is before picard got busted there was a lot of gellies and liquid flooding the scene after picard shit got super rare :frown:.


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This is the only time I really feel alive.


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Invisiblederx
who run it
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Re: FDA OKs Ecstasy Study for Cancer [Re: baraka]
    #3552603 - 12/28/04 03:31 PM (12 years, 7 months ago)

has anyone read this book? http://www.inch.com/~jholland/


--------------------
better living through chemistry

OVERGROW the government!!

it's not a war on drugs, it's a war on personal freedom, ok, thats what it is.


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Invisibleveggie

Registered: 07/26/04
Posts: 13,985
Re: FDA OKs Ecstasy Study for Cancer [Re: veggie]
    #3563886 - 12/31/04 02:17 AM (12 years, 7 months ago)

....another article

Split over clinical use of ecstasy as US test begins
December 31, 2004
smh.com.au

The party drug ecstasy could be used to alleviate depression and anxiety in terminally ill patients after US authorities approved a trial of the substance.

The test, the first involving a psychedelic substance since Timothy Leary's infamous LSD experiments at Harvard in the 1960s, was welcomed by Australian doctors.

The US Food and Drug Administration has authorised the use of controlled doses of ecstasy, or methylenedioxymetamphetamine, or MDMA, for cancer patients struggling to cope with their impending death.

"Ecstasy is extremely efficient in changing people's mood," said David Caldicott, emergency research fellow at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. "If it wasn't, it wouldn't be pursued so enthusiastically as a recreational drug."

It is not the first time ecstasy has been used in a clinical setting. It was originally patented as a weight-loss drug by the German pharmaceutical company Merck, in 1914. In the '60s it was used by a group of psychoanalysts as a way of relaxing people and "accelerating the therapeutic process", Dr Caldicott said.

More recently, MDMA has been investigated in the US for use in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders. Initial results were good, Dr Caldicott said. "The precedent exists for its use medicinally."

The ecstasy trial is the latest in a string of experiments using illicit drugs in medical settings.

In the US, doctors are researching the effects of psilocybin - the active ingredient in "magic mushrooms" - on terminally ill patients and people with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Marijuana has been tested for the relief of nausea and pain.

Successful testing of these drugs could create dilemmas for governments with a prohibitionist approach to recreational drugs, Dr Caldicott said. "If you take a position that all drugs are evil, it becomes hard to turn around and say, 'We don't mind if you use it for some things,"' he said.

Buck Reed, the chief executive of first-aid provider UniMed, said the political environment surrounding party drugs was at odds with medical thought on the subject. "Doctors will always try to find a new use for something, but that doesn't mean politicians and law enforcement officers will like it," he said.

Gordian Fulde, the director of emergency medicine at St Vincent's Hospital, said all recreational drugs, including ecstasy, could have positive effects when taken in a clinical setting by patients who had been properly screened. "Ecstasy can make you feel euphoric, and the chemical basis of that is very sound," he said. "I think it's really good that official places are trying to find out if we can help patients with illegal drugs."

Dr Fulde said the therapeutic use of ecstasy was no different to the use of opiates in pain relief. It was also a cheap drug to manufacture, he said.

But the head of palliative care at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Paul Glare, said he was sceptical about any "silver bullet" treatment.

"When people are suffering from terminal illnesses they need a multidisciplinary approach," he said. "To think that there would be some magic drug to solve everybody's problems is unrealistic."

Most palliative-care patients were elderly, Dr Glare said, and more prone to side effects from mood-changing drugs.

"Young people at a dance party might get a benefit from it, but these patients sometimes find euphoria unpleasant," he said.

About 50 per cent of terminally ill patients suffered from depression and anxiety, Dr Glare said. Most could be treated with "talking therapy"; a minority were prescribed antidepressant medication. "I don't think ecstasy is likely to be the answer," he said.


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Invisibleveggie

Registered: 07/26/04
Posts: 13,985
Re: FDA OKs Ecstasy Study for Cancer [Re: veggie]
    #3582769 - 01/05/05 04:29 AM (12 years, 7 months ago)

HMS Will Give Ecstasy to Terminal Cancer Patients
Program will be Harvard's first study of psychedelic drugs since the 1960s
The Harvard Crimson January 05, 2005

More than 40 years after Harvard dismissed Timothy F. Leary for using undergraduates in his LSD experiments, Harvard scientists are reopening the door to psychedelic drug research.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a study looking at the potential therapeutic effects of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-an illegal hallucinatory drug also known as 'Ecstasy'-in terminally ill cancer patients at McLean Hospital, a major teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School (HMS).

Until 2002, the FDA had not approved a study involving the therapeutic impact of psychedelic drugs since the 1970s. The Harvard study is the fourth such study to be approved in the past two years-the other studies examine the drug's potential salutary effects for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

"This has the potential to be the base to coordinate psychedelic research going on around the country," said Richard E. Doblin, president of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), the organization sponsoring the Harvard study.

Normally, MDMA induces feelings of empathy, decreased anxiety, and decreased tension in users. It is this aspect which renders MDMA a potential therapeutic drug, according to John H. Halpern, associate director of substance abuse research at McLean Hospital and leader of the study.

"Terminally ill cancer patients experience extreme anxiety due to their medical condition," said Halpern. "In [a drug-induced] state, a person would be better able to talk about matters that are causing them to have an anxiety attack."

Halpern said MDMA has more therapeutic potential than other hallucinatory drugs because it rarely results in a 'bad trip.'

"MDMA, unlike traditional hallucinogens that can make a person lose their sense of self, lets a person keep their identity," said Halpern, who is also a HMS instructor of psychiatry.

What's important, Doblin said, is how patients "build a bridge from that experience into your daily life." Doblin, who is a graduate of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, said that MDMA has already helped patients. He cited his work with a friend's father, who was dying of cancer in his 50s.

"He was focusing all of his attention on the time that he didn't have," Doblin said. "MDMA made him appreciate the time that he did have."

Doblin stressed that MDMA is not a miracle drug.

"It does not take you away from the pain, but rather through the pain," he said. "You go through a more fluid emotional state."

According to Doblin, it was this unrealistic set of expectations that threw public opinion about psychedelic drugs wildly into disfavor in the 1960s, after the 'fiasco' with Leary's research at Harvard.

"Socially, it swung too far in each direction," he said. "I wish for a more moderate approach."

In 1963, Leary, then a lecturer in clinical psychology at Harvard, was dismissed along with then Assistant Professor of Clinicial Psychology Richard Alpert amidst a flurry of controversy involving their studies of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and psilocybin mushrooms.

Doblin said that Leary's dismissal effectively shut down psychedelic drug research.

Charles S. Grob, chief of the division of child and adolescent psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, said that the Harvard study marks significant progress in the development of psychedelic drug research, although he maintains that there is still much to be done.

"Getting approval for the study is significant insofar as getting work going in the area," he said. "Progress has been very slow and halting, because very few psychiatrists have expressed their interest in looking at this area."


Edited by veggie (04/24/05 01:46 AM)


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Invisibleveggie

Registered: 07/26/04
Posts: 13,985
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Re: FDA OKs Ecstasy Study for Cancer [Re: veggie]
    #4090420 - 04/24/05 02:08 AM (12 years, 3 months ago)

Ecstasy: A Possible New Role for A Banned Club Drug
May 2, 2005 Issue - Newsweek

Imagine a homey hospital suite: skylights flood the room with sunlight; violins play softly from a CD player. A terminally ill cancer patient rests in a soft bed, but she is having trouble confronting the fears that come with the end of life. Doctors could prescribe antidepressants, but they opt for a more powerful drug instead. In scientific lingo, the pill is called methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA. But you may recognize its other name: ecstasy.

Two decades after the Drug Enforcement Administration outlawed the club drug, ecstasy is enjoying a controversial renaissance in mental-health circles. At McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., where the sunlit suite is ready for service, Harvard doctors plan to start testing MDMA in 12 terminally ill cancer patients with moderate or severe anxiety as soon as the DEA grants approval. And at a private clinic in South Carolina, researchers are already testing it in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder—the first FDA-approved MDMA psychotherapy study. The clinic will soon begin treating a handful of traumatized vets from Iraq and Afghanistan. Critics are outraged, saying the trials could legitimize a dangerous substance. (The drug's reported possible side effects include paranoia, seizures and heart attacks.) But Rick Doblin, head of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a nonprofit in Sarasota, Fla., that is bankrolling both trials, says it's about time. "I think there's a cultural opening taking place," he says.

For abusers, ecstasy's lure is its mind-altering effect - the very quality that also interests scientists. At the PTSD trial in South Carolina, each patient gets 125 milligrams of MDMA, about the same as the average street dose. Antidepressants are the conventional treatment for PTSD, but they can take weeks to start working. Ecstasy takes effect within 30 minutes and lasts three to five hours. "Our hypothesis is that MDMA lowers fear and increases trust, a combination that allows patients to revisit trauma in a therapeutic way," says principal psychiatrist Michael Mithoefer.

Just ask Marcela Gomez and Sue Stevens, two women who used MDMA in underground therapy. Gomez, 47, a rape victim, spent years suffering from panic attacks. Ecstasy, she says, helped her express her fears more openly. "MDMA lets you open a door and not be traumatized," she says. In 1996, Stevens, now 36, and her dying husband, Shane, used MDMA illegally to explore why they were wasting their last months fighting or not talking at all. The couple were lucid through the experience, occasionally telephoning a therapist for guidance and calmly planning Shane's funeral. "It wasn't like after drinking, when you can't remember what was said," recalls Stevens. "It was all still there."

The MDMA trials are designed carefully. The PTSD study, for example, includes a $1 million insurance policy and $40,000 for an emergency-room doctor and nurse during each session. Doblin says the DEA has visited McLean and checked out its drug safes to make sure that no MDMA can be stolen. A DEA spokes-man would not comment on the safes, saying only that the agency's role is "largely record-keeping and safety."

For critics, however, safety isn't the only concern. "Kids will say, 'Hey, it's a medicine, they give it out at Harvard'," says David Murray, policy analyst with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, who argues that the trials are too small to result in a conclusive outcome. Even the trial's supporters, like oncologist Todd Shuster, who will recommend patients for the cancer trial, were skeptical at first. "I thought of MDMA as the rave drug," says Shuster. "But the more I read, the more I realized this was a scientific question worth asking." All eyes are watching to see if he's right. - Eve Conant


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Invisibledblaney
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Registered: 10/03/04
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Re: FDA OKs Ecstasy Study for Cancer [Re: veggie]
    #4091287 - 04/24/05 12:56 PM (12 years, 3 months ago)

Quote:

Critics are outraged, saying the trials could legitimize a dangerous substance.




It would be so awful to actually find a helpful, beneficial, good use for something that's mostly considered a drug of abuse!

Quote:

For critics, however, safety isn't the only concern. "Kids will say, 'Hey, it's a medicine, they give it out at Harvard'," says David Murray, policy analyst with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, who argues that the trials are too small to result in a conclusive outcome.




They complain that the trial is too small, but chances are if it were bigger they would complain it was too big and thus risky for people and society at large.


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"What is in us that turns a deaf ear to the cries of human suffering?"

"Belief is a beautiful armor
But makes for the heaviest sword"
- John Mayer

Making the noise "penicillin" is no substitute for actually taking penicillin.

"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." -Abraham Lincoln


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Invisibleveggie

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Ecstasy Study results promising so far [Re: veggie]
    #4155053 - 05/09/05 11:02 PM (12 years, 3 months ago)

Ecstasy Study results promising so far
A nonprofit group in Sarasota funds medical research on methylene-dioxymethamphetamine, also known as ecstasy.

May 9, 2005 - sptimes.com

If Rick Doblin had his way, ecstasy, an illegal drug popular at all-night dance parties, would be available soon at a physician's office near you.

Doblin heads a nonprofit corporation in Sarasota that is funding the first U.S. government-approved medical research on the chemical methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also known as ecstasy.

The study takes place in South Carolina in a private doctor's office where psychiatrist Michael Mithoefer gives the drug, manufactured by a chemist at Purdue University, to posttraumatic stress disorder patients. Already, eight people have been enrolled in a program that will eventually include 20.

Researchers believe that ecstasy, which acts on the same brain chemicals as popular antidepressants, will make psychotherapy more productive for victims of violence whose emotional scars have not healed with other types of treatment.

It's a theory that has intrigued the likes of Peter Lewis, former CEO of Progressive insurance, who contributed $250,000 to Doblin's organization for ecstasy studies.

The South Carolina project is part of a new wave of research that focuses on the possible medicinal benefits of illegal drugs - ecstasy, psychedelic mushrooms, LSD and marijuana.

Mithoefer said early results of his ecstasy study, which started last year, have been promising.

Participants - including a drive-by shooting victim from California and a rape victim plagued by nightmares for 25 years - report relief from their stress symptoms. They have fewer nightmares, startle less easily and experience a fuller range of emotion, Mithoefer said.

"These are all people that have failed other treatments," he said. "They've had therapy and medicines and still have PTSD symptoms."

In Mithoefer's care, the patients receive two months of psychotherapy. During two eight-hour drug sessions, they take either ecstasy or a placebo.

Patients lie on a futon while wearing eyeshades and listening to instrumental music.

Mithoefer and his co-therapist, wife Ann Mithoefer, encourage the patients to drift between talking about their traumatic past and "paying attention to their inner experience," Mithoefer said.

After the study, the placebo patients can do it all again - this time with the ecstasy.

To do the study, Mithoefer won approvals from the Food and Drug Administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and an Institutional Review Board that includes physicians and scientists who ensure medical research is safe for human subjects.

Funding for Mithoefer's study comes entirely from Sarasota's Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies, an organization Doblin founded in 1986 when he was a student at New College of Florida, the state's liberal arts honors college.

Raising money, winning approvals and fighting legal battles for studies has become the life work of 52-year-old Doblin, who guesses he has used ecstasy 100 times over the past 23 years, including recently.

The past 18 months have been big for him.

The ecstasy study began in South Carolina. He helped get FDA approval for a similar study at Harvard University of end-stage cancer patients, and expects a decision from the DEA on the study in the next two weeks.

In the past two months, he has met with government officials and researchers from Switzerland, Israel and Spain who are interested in supporting ecstasy trials. And the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on a medical marijuana case in which Doblin filed a legal brief of support.

"Everything is hitting a crescendo right now," said Doblin, who currently lives outside Cambridge, Mass. "It's a pivotal time for us."

The Psychedelic Studies office in Sarasota serves as ground zero for his work.

It's in a home he built to be a "centering place," in 1975, three years after dropping out of New College.

He started taking classes again in 1982, graduated in 1987 with a degree in psychology and moved to Massachusetts, where he earned a doctorate in public policy at Harvard.

Doblin returned often to Florida and taught a class on drug policy at New College in 2001.

Three of his former students now live and work in the Sarasota home office. A fourth woman works out of her home in Bradenton.

Whenever news breaks about the organization, employee Valerie Mojeiko said, city officials come knocking to see if Doblin's people are giving out drugs. They're not, she said. That's in South Carolina.

In Sarasota, they push papers for study approvals, schmooze donors and create a journal and e-mail newsletter for 1,600 supporters, who pay $20 or more a year for the privilege. The organization took in more than $1-million in 2003-04. The money came from private donations and grants. About $147,000 goes to modest salaries for Doblin and his staff.

Most backers are medical professionals and hippies, but "there's this middle group of people you would never suspect, that don't meet the stereotypes," Doblin said.

Men's Wearhouse founder George Zimmer and his family directed $15,000 to Doblin's organization through the Zimmer Family Foundation.

"Mr. Zimmer's long-standing interest in this research stems from his experience caring for his mother, who died of cancer without the benefit of alternative therapies," said Kirk Warren, the foundation's administrator.

Civil libertarian John Gilmore, who earned his fortune as an early engineer for Sun Microsystems, serves on the Psychedelic Studies association's board of directors and has donated more than $700,000. He said he supports Doblin's work because he believes the nation's drug policy exaggerates the danger of drugs and is based on the Nixon administration's desire to attack antiwar activists.

"Drug policy has not yet recovered from that political stigma," Gilmore said.

* * *

Anti drug-abuse groups argue that exploring the medical benefits of drugs such as ecstasy is dangerous and fueled by those with hidden agendas.

Bob DuPont, a Maryland physician and founding director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said even discussion of therapeutic uses furthers the cause of those in the drug legalization movement.

"It sends a message that is socially harmful, and that is that this stuff is good for you. That's a problem," DuPont said.

The research on ecstasy, he said, can be defended because it's a carefully synthesized drug and the dosage can be controlled. Still, he doesn't think it will ever become an approved medication because of its high potential for abuse.

Joyce Nalepka, president of Drug-Free Kids in Silver Spring, Md., has been involved with the antidrug movement for more than 20 years.

People like Doblin just want to weaken drug laws to pave the way for recreational use, she said, noting, "All they want is the freedom to put whatever drug they want in their bodies."

Doblin acknowledges he supports legalization.

He points out that Oxycontin, a prescription medication, is often abused, and cocaine, while illegal on the street, is used as an anesthetic during nose and throat surgery.

"The government wants to characterize it all as evil and makes no distinction between use and abuse," he said.

Some scientists distance themselves from Doblin, and even Mithoefer makes a point of separating his work from Doblin's fundraising methods.

"I leave the fundraising to Rick," Mithoefer said. "He's the sponsor. I'm the investigator."

In October, Doblin's organization hosted a fundraiser in New York City that drew about 200 people.

Some paid $100 each to hear lectures by the nation's leading psychedelic researchers, including Mithoefer; Charles Grob of the University of California at Los Angeles, who has treated dying cancer patients with a compound found in psychedelic mushrooms, as part of a study on easing anxiety; and John Halpern, associate director of substance abuse research at Harvard University's McLean Hospital.

Guests included nearly two dozen New College graduates and Tampa neurologist Juan Sanchez-Ramos, a University of South Florida researcher who thinks psychedelics might offer a physiological fix for brain diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Chemicals found in some psychedelic mushrooms stimulate cell growth in the part of the brain damaged by those diseases, he said.

After the lectures, the academics left - Mithoefer and Sanchez-Ramos, among them - and the second prong of Doblin's fundraiser began in a yoga room turned nightclub. People paid $25 each to attend.

It was a rave, an all-night dance party, and guests offered one another ecstasy.

Some took it; others abstained.

A man wearing only cotton briefs danced with a thin blond woman in black underwear and a tiny silver top. A man with glow-sticks woven into his dreadlocks partnered with a young woman in a crinolin skirt and belly-dancer top.

Doblin had fretted a little about hosting a rave as a fundraiser because the parties have a negative connotation. People risk drinking and dancing themselves to fatal dehydration. He made a point of providing plenty of water and no alcohol.

The way he sees it, psychedelics have been around for thousands of years to enhance spiritual experiences. Dance is often a part of that process. The trancelike state of the dancers at raves is no different, he said.

While the rave went on, he sat on pillows in an adjacent art gallery, watching the people come and go, declaring it all a success.

* * *

With Mithoefer's study under way, Doblin thinks more research will follow.

It took 17 years to get federal approval to launch the South Carolina study.

It took less than three years to get FDA approval for Harvard's planned study using ecstasy to treat anxiety in end-stage cancer patients. That study will be conducted by John Halpern, who also wants to study LSD as a treatment for severe headaches.

Halpern - once a defense witness in the trial of Valessa Robinson, a Tampa teenager and LSD-user convicted in 2000 of killing her mother - said dealing with death or trauma often requires a mental transformation that psychedelics might help create.

"If we're right, we're going to help people," he told people at the October fundraiser.

If ecstasy did get approved for therapy, it would only be given in specialized settings, Mithoefer said. "Nobody would be getting it prescribed to take home and not anybody could prescribe it."

Research on therapeutic uses for psychedelics hasn't been done in the United States since the early 1970s, when the antidrug movement began.

Studies switched focus to addiction treatment and testing for physiological effects of drugs.

Doblin attributes the renewed interest in psychedelic research in part to the popularity of antidepressants and psychotherapy.

Ecstasy acts on the same brain chemicals - including serotonin - as Prozac, Zoloft and other popular pills.

"It makes it easier for us to explain why it might work," he said.

The choice of research subjects - terminal cancer patients and trauma victims - is no accident. Even the most conservative can sympathize with them, Doblin said.

"People may be afraid of drugs," he said.

"But they're more afraid of dying in pain and dying in fear."



Edited by veggie (05/10/05 12:22 AM)


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Invisibledblaney
Human Being

Registered: 10/03/04
Posts: 7,894
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Re: Ecstasy Study results promising so far [Re: veggie]
    #4156532 - 05/10/05 09:57 AM (12 years, 3 months ago)

Quote:

veggie said:
Anti drug-abuse groups argue that exploring the medical benefits of drugs such as ecstasy is dangerous and fueled by those with hidden agendas.




They aren't exactly hidden...

Quote:


People like Doblin just want to weaken drug laws to pave the way for recreational use, she said, noting, "All they want is the freedom to put whatever drug they want in their bodies."




Is that so much to ask?


--------------------
"What is in us that turns a deaf ear to the cries of human suffering?"

"Belief is a beautiful armor
But makes for the heaviest sword"
- John Mayer

Making the noise "penicillin" is no substitute for actually taking penicillin.

"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." -Abraham Lincoln


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Offlinedelta9
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Re: Ecstasy Study results promising so far [Re: dblaney]
    #4157370 - 05/10/05 02:12 PM (12 years, 3 months ago)

From the first article:
Quote:

He said the patients take a "modest" dose of synthetic psilocybin, equivalent to two or three illicit mushrooms.



This shit is laughable, unfortunately.


--------------------
delta9


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InvisibleSuperD
Cacti junky
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Re: Ecstasy Study results promising so far [Re: delta9]
    #4158169 - 05/10/05 05:35 PM (12 years, 3 months ago)

the fact that someone can label a naturally occuring lifeform as "illicit" and be absolutely serious about it is very laughable.


--------------------
:super:D
Manoa said:
I need to stop spending all my money on plants and take up a cheaper hobby, like heroin. :lol:

Looking for Rauhocereus riosaniensis seeds or live specimen(s), :pm: me if you have any for trade


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Invisibledblaney
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Registered: 10/03/04
Posts: 7,894
Loc: Here & Now
Re: Ecstasy Study results promising so far [Re: SuperD]
    #4158597 - 05/10/05 07:37 PM (12 years, 3 months ago)

For the most part, but there are plants, like hemlock for example, which are very toxic, and probably should be illegal because they could kill people, and have (eg Socrates)


--------------------
"What is in us that turns a deaf ear to the cries of human suffering?"

"Belief is a beautiful armor
But makes for the heaviest sword"
- John Mayer

Making the noise "penicillin" is no substitute for actually taking penicillin.

"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." -Abraham Lincoln


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InvisibleSuperD
Cacti junky
 User Gallery

Registered: 10/05/03
Posts: 6,648
Loc: The bridgesii bridge
Re: Ecstasy Study results promising so far [Re: dblaney]
    #4165998 - 05/12/05 12:31 PM (12 years, 3 months ago)

labelling anything as illegal won't necessarily keep people from ingesting it though. labelling it toxic as you also mentioned in your reply is one way to keep people far from it. now that illegal / toxic / dangerous have all the same meaning in the war on drugs, people really don't know what the fuck to think about an uncommon plant that *may* or may not have psychoactive properties. the sooner the lies end and the truth is told, the better it is for those who aren't as educated as we on plants and fungi in general.


--------------------
:super:D
Manoa said:
I need to stop spending all my money on plants and take up a cheaper hobby, like heroin. :lol:

Looking for Rauhocereus riosaniensis seeds or live specimen(s), :pm: me if you have any for trade


Edited by SuperD (05/12/05 12:31 PM)


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