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MDMA and Aspirin

Ecstasy and Aspirin

"Effects of salicylate on MDMA-induced neurotoxicity in rats"
S.Y. Yeh, Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav. 58: 701-708, 1997.

Salicylate (an analgesic drug with effects and uses very similar to those of aspirin) was given to rats in a test to see if it could protect against MDMA-induced neurotoxicity.

Salicylate is known as a free radical-trapping agent and one theory is that MDMA metabolites which require P450 enzymes and NADPH-generating systems may induce neurotoxicity, suggesting that superoxide and/or hydoxy-free radicals may be involved.

The study found that twice daily dosing* with MDMA decreased 5-HT and 5-HIAA in the frontal cortex of rats.

The same decrease occurred when salicylate was given one hour before MDMA treatment over the same period.

5-HIAA was also decreased when salicylate alone was given for four days.

A single dose of MDMA did not cause any change in 5-HT or 5-HIAA, nor did a single dose of salicylate.

However, MDMA combined with salicylate in a single dose decreased 5-HT levels and, under cage conditions without proper ventilation, there was a significant increase in core body temperature with the MDMA/salicylate combination which was not seen with either drug separately.

So, there was no support in this study for the theory that MDMA toxicity is from hydroxyl free radicals, and it also remains unclear that 5-HT changes are associated with neurotoxicity, especially as this paper suggests that even aspirin causes the same effects. It is also unclear whether the effects would also occur in humans.

However, the evidence of increased body temperature and sweating in crowded conditions with MDMA and salicylate together is something that those who take MDMA in rave conditions should be aware of if they have also taken, or intend to take, aspirin.

*The dosage was 20 mg/kg/day in the acute (single dose) study while in the chronic (4 day) study it was 10mg/kg twice per day at 8:30am and 5:30pm.