November 23, 2023

MDMA: Can Ecstasy Cure Your Agony?

by Science Vs

Background show artwork for Science Vs

Molly, ecstasy, MDMA: whatever you call it, this drug is blowing up. Some say MDMA can be a legitimate medicine to treat conditions like PTSD. But others reckon it's a dangerous drug that can fry your brain, and even kill you — from just one bad pill. Who's right? That's what we're snorting up today. We talk to psychiatrist George Greer, public health researcher Prof. Joseph Palamar, former DEA special agent James Hunt, and neuroscientist Prof. Harriet de Witt.

Find our transcript here: 

This is an updated version of our MDMA episode from a few years ago. 


In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Chapter 1: Cops and club kids

(05:02) Chapter 2: Therapists try MDMA

(09:05) Chapter 3: Your brain on MDMA

(15:36) Chapter 4: Can MDMA cure racism? 

(20:33) Chapter 5: Can MDMA Cure PTSD? 

(23:14) Chapter 6: Is the MDMA comedown real? 

(26:40) Chapter 7: Can MDMA damage your brain? 

(30:06) Chapter 8: Can MDMA kill you? 

(33:22) Chapter 9: Buying MDMA on the street

(37:54) Chapter 10: Conclusion

This episode was produced by Heather Rogers and Wendy Zukerman, with help from Shruti Ravindran, Kaitlyn Sawrey, Rose Rimler, Joel Werner, Nick DelRose and Michelle Dang. Edited by Blythe Terrell. Fact checking by Michelle Harris, Ben Kuebrich and Diane Kelly. Sound design by Martin Peralta, Haley Shaw and Bumi Hidaka. Music written by Bobby Lord, Peter Leonard, Emma Munger, So Wylie and Bumi Hidaka. Thanks to all the researchers we reached out to for this episode, including Prof. Jerrold S. Meyer, Prof. Niamh Nic Daéid, Dr Brian Earp, Dr. Carl Roberts and Dr. Matthew Baggott. An extra thanks to Lucy Little, Johnny Dynell, Jesse Rudoy, Joseph Lavelle Wilson, and the Zukerman family. 

Science Vs is a Spotify Studios Original. Listen for free on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Follow us and tap the bell for episode notifications.