Thanks to the work of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), MDMA treatment for PTSD has gone into the third and final research state before it is approved as a medicine in the United States and possibly Europe. This weekend was announced Dutch veterans will join the international research.

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PTSD has been problematic in particular for the United States, with around 870.000 veterans suffering from PTSD. The pharmaceutical industry hasn’t come up with a solution and is neither working on one.

Medicinal dose of MDMA

The medicinal dose of MDMA in the research is a maximum of one-third of what is normally used in the party circuit. The patient does not get hallucinations or psychedelic experiences. The MDMA allows the patient to look back on what has happened to him without fear and panic. Then the processing process can begin.

‘The research results with MDMA so far are so beautiful, perhaps too good to be true’

In the Netherlands, the Arq Psychotrauma Expert Group, of which the nationwide trauma institute Centrum ’45 is part, is part of the American research. ‘The research results with MDMA so far are so beautiful, perhaps too good to be true,’ says Eric Vermetten, who works at Arq, also professor by special appointment of psychotraumatology at the University of Leiden / LUMC and head of the research center of the military cleric health care of defense. “In one of the studies, 83 percent recovered. In other experiments: three quarters. There was no relapse. Healing is difficult in my profession.” The studies with MDMA are not large, but according to Vermetten, the research design meets ‘the gold standard’.

How MDMA can help veterans

‘If the positive results repeat themselves, MDMA can be a recognized medicine in combination with psychotherapy in 2021.’

There are four thousand psychotherapists on the waiting list in the US to be trained in the new treatment method. Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder – in whom other therapies failed – like to participate in the studies. During a training session in the US, Vermetten saw videos of veterans who were being treated. They opened his eyes, he says. “A veteran relived the moment when he was attacked in his caterpillar vehicle and burned his buddy alive next to him. The fear of the re-experience is so great that many veterans do not go into therapy. But with MDMA, the patient remains calm, so that what has happened can be discussed and the processing process gets a chance. ‘

MDMA treatment legal by 2021

More than two hundred Americans and 30 to 40 Europeans will participate in the final phase of the study. According to Vermetten, the drug authorities of America and Europe, the FDA and the EMA, look over the shoulders of the researchers. ‘If the positive results repeat themselves, MDMA can be a recognized medicine in combination with psychotherapy in 2021.’

Medical cannabis for PTSD

In addition, MAPS is also studying whether smoked medical cannabis can help veterans with PTSD. Veterans tend to have nightmares that make them unable to sleep well and live a healthy life. Medical cannabis could help veterans get the sleep they need, without the nightmares.

Want to help psychedelic research? Visit the take a look at the maps.org website to learn how.