What is MDMA?

MDMA, or Methelynedioxymethamphetamine (Ecstasy, Molly, E, X, XTC, Rolls) is an Empathogen-Entactogen Psychedelic Stimulant. It is one of the most commonly abused drugs.

What effects does MDMA produce?

MDMA is notorious for its euphoric, empathogenic, and tactile enhancement with stimulating effects. 

Common Cognitive Effects

  • Euphoria
  • Increased Sociability & Confidence
  • Empathy
  • Relaxed and reduced Anxiety
  • Increased sense of emotions
  • Sense of Inner Peace
  • Mild Hallucinations 
  • Altered sense of Time

MDMA’s effects are vastly varying taking in setting and scenarios, doses and administration all contribute to the level of certain effects.

Common Tactile Effects

  • Hyperthermia
  • Hyponatremia (Low Sodium Levels)
  • Dehydration (Links to Hyponatremia)
  • Bruxism (Clenched Jaw/Grinding Teeth)
  • Wakefulness
  • Perspiration or Sweating
  • Increased Heart Rate & Blood Pressure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mydriasis (Pupil Dilation)
  • Tactile Sensations (“Tingles”)

After Effects (“Crash”)

  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive Fatigue
  • DepreMethamphetamineentiation
  • Irritability
  • Motivation Suppression

Dosing (Oral)

Threshold:30-40 mg

Light:40-75 mg

Common:75-150 mg

Strong:150-200 mg

Heavy:200+ mg

Duration (Oral)

Total:3-5 hours

Onset:20-60 min

Peak:1.5-2.5 hours

Offset:1-2 hours


MDMA was first synthesized in 1912 by German scientist Anton Köllisch, and was patented by Merck Pharmaceuticals. Merck Pharma was interested in finding a substance to stop bleeding, but MDMA was an intermediate compound that was not of interest. In 1927, Scientist Max Oberlin studied MDMA’s pharmacology while he was looking for substances similar to adrenaline and ephedrine. His studies were cut short due to demand for compounds needed for synthesizing MDMA. In the 1950s several scientists investigated the substance for stimulant and circulatory effects. In the mid 50s the United States Army investigated the toxicity of chemicals like mescaline and relatives such as MDMA. In the early 1960s papers began tocbe published on MDMA. It’s use for recreational purposes didn’t show up until the early 1970s, as a replacement for MDA, which was placed in Schedule I class of substances under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. At Dow Pharmaceuticals, Psychopharmacologist and Chemist Alexander Shulgin synthesized MDMA in 1965. Shulgin sent the synthesis instructions to a chemistry lab in Los Angeles, and the instructions were then sent to other labs and this likely led to its rise in illicit use. After multiple Collegiate study and trials on MDMA, Shulgin investigated the drug on himself in 1976. David E. Nichols and Shulgin published a report on MDMA in which the effects were compared to “marijuana, Psilocybin and mediate doses of MDA.” Shulgin was impressed of the drugs effects. He recommended it to therapists for its empathogenic effects. In 1977 Shulgin, fond of the drug, suggested it to friends and colleagues, one of which, psychotherapist Leo Zuff used the substance widely in his practices, and called the substance “Adam” because he believed it caused primordial innocence. In this time it was used by psychologist for depression, relationship troubles, substance abuse, premenstrual syndromes, and autism among many things. In the 1970s to the 1980s the drug began to spread illicitly. Psychotherapists tried to slow the usage of MDMA for fear it would end up being scheduled like LSD or Mescaline. In the 1980s, MDMA became popular in rave scenes in New York City and Boston. It soon spread through the midwest. In 1985 the government put an emergency ban on MDMA in the Schedule I class. The drug had gained major media coverage by then. It is one of the most widely abused substances in the world, and is used in many formats from a party/rave euphoriant and stimulant, to therapeutic uses from its empathogenic effects provoking strong emotions and sociability allowing for deep talks, thoughts, and interconnected emotions. 


MDMA works primarily by  releasing the neurotransmitters Serotonin, Dopamine, and Norepinephrine in the presynaptic cleft at the TAAR1 receptors and VMAT2 recopters where it acts as an agonist and antagonists at each respectively. It is a substituted-Amphetamine and structuraly resembles Amphetamine and Methamphetamine, though its affects vary somewhat significantly. Though its stimulant effects are similar, its serotonergic effects are much greater than its Amphetamine cousins, which focus on trace amines (Dopamine, Norepinephrine) many studies have occured on MDMA for a plethora of informative and medical studies have occured and continue to come out. 


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