We are in the midst of many cultural breakthroughs changing the old, suspicious narratives around certain chemicals. One such chemical is MDMA. Made illegal in the U.S. in the mid-1980s, MDMA has since been shown to have tremendous therapeutic benefit. Advocacy  groups, namely MAPS, have sheparded this change along. MAPS has advocated for decades for research into the benefits of MDMA. And in the past decade, researchers found that MDMA can have significant medical benefits for people suffering from depression or trauma. The stigmas around both this chemical and these illnesses may finally be lifting.

What is MDMA? MDMA is a chemical with distinctly euphoric effects on the human mind. Scientifically, these effects include increased levels of serotonin and oxytocin. So, what are serotonin and oxytocin? Both are mood-elevating hormones that can help you feel all sorts of ways. Serotonin creates feelings of overall stability and well-being. It also helps regulate necessary biological functions such as sleep and digestion. And, oxytocin is responsible for feelings of intimacy. It is released during attraction and orgasm, when you’re feeling all warm and melted. The presence of these hormones can offer feelings of connection and inclusion in a person. If someone hasn’t felt these in a while, making contact with them again can be therapeutic. 

Recent studies have shown that MDMA-based therapy may work for people with treatment-resistant PTSD. One study found that almost 70% of participants in MDMA-therapy no longer had PTSD after participating in the study. PTSD researchers have said there hasn’t been a new PTSD drug in almost two decades. The treatment itself has lapsed. Part of MDMA’s approach is that it reduces activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes fear. With less fear, people can express themselves more clearly. They can then return to the world and heal.