The Science of MDMA & Its Therapeutic Uses: Benefits & Risks


Huberman Lab

In this episode, I discuss Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), which is also commonly known as “ecstasy” or “molly,” including how it works in the brain to cause short- and long- term-shifts in emotional processing and its clinical applications for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol and other substance-use addictions. I discuss the neuronal mechanisms for how MDMA elevates mood, empathy, motivation, social engagement, and reduces “threat detection” and how these effects can synergistically support talk therapy. I also explain the ongoing debate about the potential neurotoxicity of MDMA, myths about the origins and treatments for post-MDMA “crash,” the evolving legal landscape around MDMA use for clinical purposes, and I caution recreational users about the extremely dangerous additives (e.g., fentanyl) now commonly found in black market MDMA. This should be of interest to those curious about MDMA, neuropharmacology, the origins of emotional processing in the brain, empathy, PTSD, neuroplasticity, mental health and psychiatry.

For the full show notes, visit

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(00:00:00) MDMA “Ecstasy”

(00:04:54) Sponsors: LMNT & Waking Up

(00:08:18) MDMA History & Synthesis; Legality

(00:14:45) MDMA, Methamphetamine (Meth), Dopamine & Serotonin

(00:23:30) MDMA vs Psychedelics vs Ketamine

(00:26:54) MDMA & Serotonin 1B Receptor, Subjective Feelings, Trauma

(00:30:12) Sponsor: AG1

(00:34:51) Amygdala & Threat Detection, Pro-Social Behavior, MDMA Dosages

(00:45:48) Interoception, MDMA & Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

(00:52:36) Long-Term Effects, Threat Detection & PTSD

(00:56:14) MDMA, Social Connection & Empathy; Meth, SSRIs

(01:07:22) Oxytocin & MDMA

(01:16:10) Safety & Neurotoxicity; Recreational Use, Caffeine & Fentanyl

(01:26:36) Is MDMA Neurotoxic?; Poly-Pharmacology, Body Temperature

(01:37:07) Post-MDMA “Crash”, Prolactin & P‑5‑P

(01:43:07) PTSD & Trauma; Talk Therapy, SSRIs

(01:54:09) PTSD Treatment: Talk Therapy + MDMA

(02:02:46) MDMA & Addiction; Dissociative PTSD & Empathy

(02:09:47) Side-Effects?, MDMA Efficacy & Legality

(02:15:22) Zero-Cost Support, YouTube Feedback, Spotify & Apple Reviews, Sponsors, Momentous, Social Media, Neural Network Newsletter

Title Card Photo Credit: Mike Blabac


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