New research suggests that marijuana may help autistics (although they’d have to be old enough to smoke it!) and the party drug Ecstasy may help veterans with PTSD. Many of these medicines (like LSD) were originally developed to ease psychiatric symptoms.
MDMA, better known as Ecstasy, can induce pulses of euphoria and a radiating affection. The drug was criminalized in 1985, but researchers are allowed access to it.
A new therapy that combines psychotherapy with a dose of MDMA has found that 15 of 21 people who recovered from severe post-traumatic stress in the therapy in the early 2000s reported minor to virtually no symptoms today. In the November 20th edition of the New York Times, Benedict Carey quotes one soldier who took Ecstasy as saying, "I’m a different person because of it."
We have natural marijuana-like chemicals in our brains all the time, and increasing these might help kids with autism. These naturally-occurring endocannabinoids share a similar chemical structure with THC, the primary psychoactive component of marijuana.
2-AG, which is in a class of chemicals called endocannabinoid transmitters that naturally occur in the brain, allow for the efficient transport of electrical signals at synapses, which is severely limited in people with fragile X syndrome, the most common genetic cause of autism.
In the Huffington Post, Kathleen Miles quotes a recent report as saying that mice dosed with 2-AG showed "dramatic behavioral improvements in maze tests measuring anxiety and open-space acceptance."
Miles quotes behavioral researcher Daniele Piomelli as saying, "What we hope is to one day increase the ability of people with fragile X syndrome to socialize and engage in normal cognitive functions."
Since no one wants to encourage kids to smoke joints, Miles quotes researcher Kwang Mook Jung as saying, "It would be either an oral or injected drug but that’s at the very end stage of drug discovery, and we are at the very early stage of drug discovery."
Carey quotes psychiatrist John H. Krystal as saying that "there is a tremendous need to study novel medications."
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