Study Suggests MDMA Could Boost Resilience to Chronic Social Defeat Stress

Psychedelics are poised to play a significant role in the evolution of the psychiatric industry. Hallucinogenics have revealed in several studies that they are capable of treating a variety of mental health disorders with minimal side effects.

Researchers have found that psychedelics such as MDMA can aid in the treatment of social anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. In a recent study from Japan, scientists discovered that MDMA, also called ecstasy, could increase people’s resilience to chronic social defeat stress.

The Japanese researchers created a rodent model to observe the effect of a chronic social defeat stress condition on mice and found that exposure led to the development of health conditions in mice. However, the mice that had received repeated injections of MDMA seemed not to have adverse health conditions after exposure to a chronic social defeat stress condition.

Like several other psychedelics, MDMA seems to have significant and long-term effects on mental health. MDMA has been found to decrease the likelihood of suicidal thinking, depression and severe psychological stress in adults. The psychedelic has also shown significant promise as an aid in the treatment of PTSD, with several recent studies finding that MDMA can significantly reduce the intensity of symptoms in PTSD patients.

As such, lead researcher Youge Qu and her team were eager to see if MDMA could help people become more resilient to the negative effects of chronic social defeat stress. Over the study period, seven-week-old mice were exposed to social defeat stress over 10 days and also received MDMA. Another group of mice was exposed to chronic social defeat stress and given a saline solution. The last group — the control group — wasn’t exposed to social defeat stress and was given a saline solution.

The mice that were exposed and received a saline solution had anhedonia (loss of ability to feel pleasure) and elevated levels of adverse effect indicators while those that received MDMA did not have any adverse change or indicators of negative effects.

The researchers also found that changes in gut microbiome seen in mice that had received a saline solution were absent in those that had received MDMA. Through the association between gut microbes and the brain (gut-microbiota-brain axis), they posited that these changes may increase the risk of developing stress-related disorders.

However, they did not indicate how the gut-microbiota-brain axis was involved in the development of stress resilience or whether the MDMA’s effects in mice could be replicated in humans.

It remains to be seen what other discoveries enterprises such as Mind Medicine Inc. (NASDAQ: MNMD) (NEO: MMED) (DE: MMQ) will bring to light in the psychedelics space, especially if ongoing research continues to indicate the substance’s  beneficial effects.

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