THC MDMA damage Tourino, Andreas Zimmer, and Olga Valverde published a provacative article demonstrating that THC can protect against MDMA (ecstasy) induced brain damage. The authors note that the negative effects of long term MDMA use arise from it’s metabolism. High temperatures cause “the formation and uptake of MDMA toxic metabolites that increase oxidative stress, causing nerve terminal damage…and eventually axonal degeneration.”
Basically current research suggests that taking MDMA (ecstasy) and going dancing may increase brain damage associated with long term use.
The authors also site evidence that MDMA is often consumed with cannabis . They point out that THC has been widely reported to lower body temperature, decrease inflammation, and is a potent anti-oxidant. Interestingly, in animal models of drug abuse THC and MDMA appear to “counter balance” each other. THC is able to attenuate many effects of MDMA including hyperthermia (overheating), hyper-locomotion, and anxiety. However, these authors are the first to explore if THC can actually protect brain cells from MDMA’s toxic effects.
This image shows a vehicle or untreated brain compared to MDMA and THC treated brains. Notice the pale complexion of the MDMA brain slice? This decrease in staining indicates a reduction in important brain proteins, this unwanted protein reduction is prevented when THC is given to the mice.
They also discuss some of the implications of their findings:
“The frequent co-use of both drugs makes it particularly interesting to study the effects of their combination Indeed, previous studies describe the effects of THC and MDMA together in animal models of locomotor activity, temperature, anxiety, reward and THC-dependence. However, the neuroprotective effects of THC on MDMA neurotoxicity have never been reported. In addition, the dose of THC used in this study (3 mg/kg, i.p.) could be considered a dose consumed by regular moderate cannabis users, and for that reason similar doses are used in the previously reported animal studies.”
So what does this mean to humans?
A few clinical studies on polydrug use have shown that use of cannabis and MDMA leads to deficits in brain function. Yet, the authors point to three studies which suggest that MDMA users that also consume THC have less ‘brain problems’ than “pure MDMA users.”
MDMA also has a therapeutic role in diseases such as PTSD. Given that THC may reduce possible negative effects associated with MDMA use, i.e., hyperthermia and listening to techno music. Future clinical studies that are examining a therapeutic role for MDMA, should consider including groups of patients that receive a measured dose of both drugs.