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Researchers Study MDMA as a Potential Cure for Tinnitus

Most commonly associated with noise-induced hearing loss and age, tinnitus is the perception of sound when there is no presence of external noise.

The sounds present are most commonly described as a ringing noise but there are reported cases of sounds ranging from a loud roaring to hearing phantom music in rare instances. Considered one of the most commonly occurring health conditions in America, tinnitus affects an estimated 15% of the population in some degree. While the majority of tinnitus cases are fairly minor and are primarily associated with hearing loss, more severe cases of tinnitus have been linked as contributors to several psychological conditions including anxiety, depression, and difficulty concentrating.

To this point there is little in the way of a long term solution to curing tinnitus, however this may be changing. Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, more commonly known by MDMA or Ecstasy, is being researched as a potential cure, or at the very least a more effective solution for alleviating the symptoms for those suffering from tinnitus.

PSA: This will not cure your tinnitus

In a joint study by two New Zealand institutions; the University of Otago and the University of Auckland, trials were conducted in an effort to determine if the popular party drug is a viable means of treating tinnitus. A small group of participants were given a low dose of MDMA (30mg or 70mg) over two separate trials and were observed over a 4 hour period in order to determine if MDMA has any effect on the participant's tinnitus symptoms. What the researchers found during the trials was that while many of the participants reported at least partial alleviation of their tinnitus; the researchers believe a large placebo effect was present amongst the participants however.

The primary goal of the study is to hopefully discover a medication for tinnitus as one doesn’t currently exist. Further funding will be necessary in order to conduct further trials on the subject, but the research team is currently studying brain scans taken during the trials in order to determine how they should proceed in the event that they do discover something promising.

Though research regarding MDMA’s effects on tinnitus are fairly recent; studies on the potential medical and therapeutic uses of the drug have occurred for several decades.

In 2016 a group of researchers at Stanford University called for a in-depth study and exploration of MDMA, supporting the belief that a better understanding of the drugs effects may pave the way for some huge discoveries in medicine.

In theory, an understanding of the drug may assist scientists in understanding and aiding those with disorders like post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Autism in the future. This is actually beginning; in 2013 clinical trials were conducted to see if MDMA could be used to help patients suffering from PTSD. More recently in 2016 the United States Food and Drug Administration agreed to a new round of trials in order to further study the effects of MDMA as relief for PTSD patients, showing a growing support for researching into fully understanding the drug.

Despite all of this the reputation of MDMA remains that it’s an unregulated and often abused party drug and for the most part this is true. The electronic music scene and music festivals are heavily associated with abuse of MDMA as well as other drugs, with reported overdoses at major music festivals occurring every year. It is impossible to control the choices people choose to make but with a better understanding and knowledge of the effects of MDMA it’s possible that future research could aid in better education and safety for those who consume MDMA recreationally. This is in no way an endorsement of the use of illegal substances but the truth of the matter is this research has the potential to improve and even possibly save lives.

H/T: Thump