E for Ecstasy by Nicholas Saunders
Appendix 1: Reference Section
- 86 The Psychological and Physiological Effects of MDMA on Normal
Volunteers, by Joseph Downing, from Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Vol.
- This study examined the effects of MDMA on 21 healthy volunteers, including
13 men and 8 women, between the ages of 20 and 58. Their average age was
39. The volunteers had all previously used MDMA, an average of 8 times.
All thought they had benefited from it and had recommended its use to others.
Doses were chosen by subjects and ranged from 0.8 to 1.9 mg/kg of subjects'
body weight, averaging 165 mg. There were no added doses.
- Downing notes that oral doses administered in therapy are less than
1 per cent of the LD50 (the dose that kills 50 per cent of rats or mice
given the drug), implying a high margin of safety.
- 80% of the subjects experienced jaw clenching, 60% headaches, and 60%
eyelid twitches. None objected to these effects.
- Blood pressure and pulse rate increased in all subjects. The peak was
between half and one hour after taking the drug. Peak blood pressure was
over 100 mg mercury, with one subject's blood pressure reaching "200/100"
and their pulse increasing from 72 to 148 within 30 minutes, and subsiding
to 128. Most subjects' blood pressure had dropped to below the level it
was at before they took the MDMA after 6 hours. Some subjects' blood pressure
was still below this level after 24 hours. This did not depend on dosage.
Blood analysis yielded no significant results.
- Subjects were examined before ingestion; in the second and the fourth
hours after taking the drug and 24 hours after.Subjects' state of consciousness,
measured by alertness and lucidity, was not impaired at any time. There
was no evidence of confused thinking at any point. All reported their attention
focused on the here and now.
- Subjects' short-term memory was unchanged, but half the subjects had
difficulty multiplying numbers, apparently because of difficulty in focusing
on the task. Nearly half the subjects' judgement was impaired, implying
that decision-making should be postponed or decisions should be re-evaluated
after taking MDMA.
- All subjects had dilated pupils and reflex to light was maintained.
Nastygmus was present in nearly half the subjects, usually ceasing within
2 hours but lasting 24 hours in 2 cases. Half the subjects had jaw clench,
which ended within 4 hours except with one subject who had it mildly after
- Finger-to-nose testing was impaired in 2 subjects. Gait and coordination
were affected in a third subject, suggesting driving could be dangerous.
All the subjects' appetites were depressed over 24 hours.
- Downing concludes that under the conditions tested, "MDMA has remarkably
consistent and predictable psychological effects that are transient and
free of clinically-apparent major toxicity".
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