Lawmakers and Veterans Affairs officials on Tuesday touted the potential for psychedelic drugs to treat mental health conditions and prevent veteran suicide, but they said additional research and FDA-approval is needed before the therapies could be available.
In one of the first hearings in Congress on psychedelics since 1966, when Dr. Timothy Leary testified on the therapeutic potential for LSD, a House Veterans Affairs panel drilled VA physicians and advocates on psychiatric treatments that use MDMA, known recreationally as molly or ecstasy, and psilocybin, or magic mushrooms.
Researchers for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, have studied the safety and effectiveness of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder since 2004. The protocol calls for patients taking MDMA in the presence of a therapist, who then leads them through counseling. The treatment involves three eight-hour sessions.
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In September, scientists published results of a recent clinical trial of MDMA-assisted therapy that showed 87% of patients had significant improvement in PTSD symptoms four months after treatment, and by the study's end, 71% no longer met the diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder.
The treatment, designated a “breakthrough therapy” by the Food and Drug Administration in…