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[Contents][Appendix 1]
[Reference 140][Reference 142]

E is for Ecstasy by Nicholas Saunders

Appendix 1: Reference Section

141 Visit from Stuart Frescas of Purdue University, 11/1/94

Frescas is one of a team of 13 scientists who have been working under Dr. David Nicholls at Purdue University since the early seventies. Their work is backed by the US government health department and is devoted to understanding the human mind through the effect of psychoactive drugs. They not only test the effect of existing drugs but also synthesize new drugs for this purpose, and in this context have produced a psychedelic many times more potent than LSD besides drugs with very specific effects such as one that lowers pitch of notes by a precise amount.

Unlike Shulgin, they do not test new drugs on humans but use rats that have been trained to distinguish between various drugs - this is the established technique but is slow, expensive and does not show up subtleties such as the 'warmth' of MDMA. One of the team's major projects is to develop a new assay for psychoactive drugs based on electrodes planted in several specific regions of rats' brains. Computers will analyse information transmitted by the electrodes to produce comparable charts, allowing the effects of drugs to be compared objectively. This assay should provide a reliable way of assessing the psychoactive effects of a new drug by comparing its chart with those of drugs with known effects. This, along with new techniques of synthesis, is one of many developments that is likely to lead to the discovery of new psychoactive drugs.

A range of drugs act on both Dopamine and Serotonin in varying proportions. At the dopamine (speedy) end is Methamphetamine; then comes the Indan Amphetamines; then MDA, MDEA and MDMA and finally MBDB at the (warm) serotonin end. However, Frescas is intrigued by the empathy associated with MDMA, and thinks there is more to it than the known effects on serotonin and dopamine. He believes this subtle quality is also produced by Mescaline, which would explain why it is used in Peyote ceremonies. The similarity is confirmed by tests on rats that will substitute Mescaline for MDMA but not other psychedelics. While these two drugs 'close the gap' between people, the opposite is true of other psychedelics.

Frescas believes the effects of psychoactive drugs vary greatly according to the situation in which they are used, and quotes Dr. Nicholls as saying that in some situations, such as while dancing, users may not notice the difference between MDMA and methamphetamine. The full subtle effects of MDMA (and other drugs) can be best experienced when taken in isolation from external stimulus.

However, he says there is a possibility that LSD varies according to its 'brand'. This is because LSD decomposes into different active compounds in heat, air and light (in a few hours near a fluorescent tube). Thus "window pane" acid is protected from air but not light while blotters kept in the dark are protected from light but not air and so, after storage, may contain different active compounds.

Research done on monkeys, he believes, may have produced misleading results. They fight to avoid being injected, have to be chained to a chair and hate the researcher. In this restrained state they may well prefer the relaxation produced by MDMA, but this should not be interpreted as evidence of abuse potential (as it has been).

Toxicity. In animals, the axions (that produce serotonin) of some brain cells wilt and die back with high doses of MDMA. Although they regenerate, they appear to be more coarse than before, and this may be considered as permanent damage. Fenfluramine has almost precisely the same effect. However, no damage to brain functions has been observed associated with the damage to axions. Similar damage is also caused by methamphetamine, and Dr. Frescas is concerned that the use of MDMA together with methamphetamine may increase the toxicity to a dangerous level. He thinks the best hope of avoiding toxicity is to find a more potent substitute, since a smaller dose would be required. He doubts whether fluoxetine really has no effect on the MDMA experience (as has been claimed), and if taken afterwards thinks it would only prevent part of the toxicity.

Sex. Dr. Frescas mentioned that there has been much commercial research into trying to find a drug that will help people have satisfying sexual experiences, but without success. He thinks that good sex is the result of many components of which MDMA provides one and 2CB another.

Asked his opinion on reports that 1 in 12 Ecstasy users are at risk due to a genetic susceptibility, Dr. Frescas says these people would probably be aware of their sensitivity to amphetamine and non-prescription drugs such as Contac (for colds) and Sudafed, which would make them sleepless and agitated. Sensitive people should take smaller doses.

Dr. Frescas also mentioned that black current juice is a MAO inhibitor, and when one bottle (diluted) is drunk with MDMA or amphetamine the effect can be felt with increased blood pressure and heart rate. It should therefore be avoided.

[Contents][Appendix 1]
[Reference 140][Reference 142]
E is for Ecstasy by Nicholas Saunders (
HTMLized by Lamont Granquist (