Researchers have discovered that Ecstasy is an excellent treatment for Parkinson's disease, despite the fact that in the past, the drug was condemned for causing it. New animal studies show Ecstasy can dramatically reduce Parkinson?s uncontrollable arm and leg movements.
Scientists became interested in testing ?E? after former stuntman Tim Lawrence claimed it helped him regain control of his body for hours at a time. Parkinson's is caused by a loss of the dopamine-producing cells in the brain, and symptoms include rigidity and a shuffling gait. Since the late 1960s, doctors have treated it with L-dopa, but this results in the development of uncontrollable movements after patients have been taking it for awhile. Parkinson's experts at the University of Manchester decided to test Lawrence?s claims by giving the drug on marmosets with a form of the disease.
Six hours after being given Ecstasy, the marmosets experienced these movements no more than 15% of the time, showing that ?E? somehow reduces the bad side effects of L-dopa without blocking its beneficial effects. "The magnitude and quality of the effect took us by surprise," says researcher Jonathan Brotchie. "It was always possible that Tim's response to Ecstasy was unusual."
But doctors warn patients not to take Ecstasy by themselves. "It's impure, illegal and dangerous," says Robert Meadowcroft, of Britain's Parkinson's Disease Society.
Not everyone agrees. "People who are suffering should have the right to decide carefully for themselves whether or not to take (Ecstasy)," says Rick Doblin.
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