A relatively recent hypothesis for the neurotoxicity associated with MDMA is that it causes the brain to over-heat (see: 1, 2, 3). This would make the sorts of environments in which people take it particularly hazardous (hot raves, nightclubs, warm baths, and wild sex).
I really hope this is the core main reason for MDMA’s long-term deleterious effects.
Because then the damage would be completely preventable! In particular, I would point you to the athletic performance-enhancing technology developed at Stanford in 2012 that uses rapid thermal exchange devices (aka. “the cooling glove”*) in order to cool your blood and allow you to compete at a higher level. This is an extremely efficient method to keep the temperature of your whole body (including your brain!) within a healthy range.
Sadly, the device is likely to get banned for athletic purposes (it would be, some say, an unfair advantage if some teams have access to the cooling glove and others don’t). Sports are, of course, completely inconsequential, so the fact that the device is likely to get banned for this application shouldn’t matter. Yet it does, because as a result many people seem to be losing interest in this line of research.
Maybe, I would posit, the device could be resurrected as part of a modern harm-reduction strategy. Imagine night-clubs with a chill-out space stocked with dozens of cooling gloves. Party for 30 minutes, cool down for 10 minutes, repeat. If this could allow people to take MDMA once every month for the rest of their lives without enduring the brain damage that doing this usually causes… wouldn’t that be wonderful? I would expect it to also be highly beneficial for the benevolence of culture and the overall mental health of our society.
And this is all to say: Who would have known… that “being cool” was the key to partying for the rest of your life? Cool it down and party it up!
*For a skeptical take on the device, see: Better Than Steroids? The hype behind Stanford’s magic “cooling glove” for athletes. And a comeback article that extends its use to more serious applications: Cooling glove developed by Stanford researchers helps athletes and patients.
MDMA produces certain oxidative metabolites that are neurotoxic. I believe the current best evidence from research implicates glutathione conjugates of the oxidized metabolites as the neurotoxic culprits. Research indicates the nootropic and beautifully structured compound memantine and probably bromantane block the neurotoxic compounds from being formed. We may be close to safe and effective prophylaxis.There are also analogs with close variations of the MDO ring that have been assessed and do not show neurotoxicity.
I have to say I am very inspired by this blog because I am a Phd natural products drug discovery chemist devoted to understanding consciousness and reality for 20 years. The content feels as if I could have written it out the interests in my heart if only I had found the words and wherewithal. I’m even getting connection to my interest in scent and flavor molecules and ancient essential oils used in temples. This web log inspires me to connect and communicate. My skills and interests have no where to go inside the pharmaceutical industry, so I left and feel lost. Thank you for sharing all this.
This is really great information, Andrew!
Also, thank you very much for the kind words!
Have read mdma.net yet? 🙂