Can Ecstasy Be Anti-Anxiety Medication? MDMA, Its Active Ingredient, Could Have Medicinal Benefits.

It could be used to treat social anxiety in autistic adults.

As a notorious recreational party drug, ecstasy — or Molly, as it's otherwise also colloquially known — could soon carve a reputation for its medicinal usage. Following the benefits shown in earlier, less stringent testing, California scientists are set to study ecstasy's active ingredient, MDMA, as anti-anxiety medicine for autistic or terminally ill patients.

In a review published in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, researchers outlined the successes of MDMA in earlier studies. The ingredient has been administered to more than 1,133 patients to proven advantages, the review stated, adding:

"As in the case with classic hallucinogens and other psychedelic drugs, MDMA catalyzes shifts toward openness and introspection that do not require ongoing administration to achieve lasting benefits."

When used in approved clinical settings, pure MDMA has been shown to be much safer than the recreational use of ecstasy or Molly.

According to the review, the ingredient is much safer when its usage is clinically controlled, and MDMA-assisted therapy has the potential to reduce social anxiety and increase one's social adaptability. Currently, treatments for social anxiety in autistic patients are lacking.

Researchers said that some of the effects of MDMA are qualities that could ease such anxiety: a boost in confidence, heightened bonding and an increased understanding of social cues. The study's co-investigator Alicia Danforth told the Daily News:

"We're not looking to affect any of the course or traits of autism. We're looking to help individuals who are sometimes held back from living life to the fullest."

Cover image via iStock.