One of the most popular natural and organic brands, Dr. Bronner’s natural soap company, has long been a champion not only for the organic and fair trade movements, but also in the health freedom arena.
For years, the company has been a huge supporter of the medical marijuana movement as well as the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods, and now they’re taking a stand for scientific research and legalization of one of the most popular psychadelic drugs, one that could have a positive impact on the health of hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Dr. Bronner’s Donates Millions for Psychadelic Research
Recently, the Vista, California based company decided to donate $5 million ($1 million a year for the next five years) to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which is known for supporting scientific research of illegal drugs (including MDMA, LSD, Ibogaine, Ayahuasca, and medical marijuana for example).
The MDMA drug is currently on Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, and it is a synthetic one at that. However, it has shown so much potential in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — which does not answer to most existing treatments — that many groups are now fighting for its legalization.
It is also not the same drug as ecstasy, according to MAPS. Ecstasy or molly that is being sold on the streets may contain MDMA, but many such drugs also may contain dangerous additives. The MDMA that MAPS is promoting is pure MDMA, and is typically only used a couple of specific times in therapeutic settings. It is not without risks (there has been one adverse reaction out of 780 subjects in one study), but it is a lot different than taking a street drug.
The FDA has recently given the green light to Phase 3 studies of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treating PTSD, and MAPS has a plan and a budget for this clinical research.
“This is the crucial moment to step up for one of the most important causes on the planet. There is tremendous suffering and pain that the responsible integration of MDMA for treatment-resistant PTSD will alleviate and heal,” according to Dr. Bronner’s statement.
This is hopeful news for many people struggling with PTSD, as MDMA has already been proven to be a lifesaver in many cases. Actually, 83% of all tested patients were no longer diagnosed with PTSD after MDMA treatment.
One of these patients is Jessi Appleton.
Jessi suffered from childhood abuse, which left her fighting PTSD for decades. She was put on a cocktail of medications, from anti-depressants to anti-anxiety pills. She also tried multiple therapies, but nothing was helping. The only thing that worked was Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), but Jessi was still struggling.
“I was hitting a wall. I was suicidal. I was like this ghost sort of thing, walking through life. And I felt like nothing was going to change,” Jessi told PBS.
That’s when she tried therapy under the influence of MDMA with her therapist. The results were evident after just three sessions.
“I felt like my soul snapped back into place,” she said.
The treatment involved taking between 75 and 125 mg of MDMA, and lying on a couch mostly in silence while two treatment specialists kept watch, always a man and a woman.
“It’s a lot of inner dialogue. Sometimes you’re terrified, sometimes relaxed, sometimes it’s other emotions. It’s intense, and by the end it’s exhausting,” Jessi explained what happened inside her mind.
This MDMA therapy was available to Jessi through a study arranged and funded by MAPS, the organization that received $5 million from Dr. Bronner’s.
The next phase of the FDA- approved study requires $25 million total. MAPS received $5 million from their former board member when she passed. They will also receive another $5 million from Dr. Bronner’s, and the rest will need to be raised by other donors.
This study and the potential of MDMA legalization is important as PTSD is hard to treat, and it affects nearly 1 in 15 Americans: especially war veterans, and victims of abuse.
People suffering from PTSD often feel overwhelmed with a strong emotion of fear that occupies their lives, reliving painful past memories over and over.
“It comes out of the fundamental terror part of the brain. It doesn’t allow you to focus on anything new, because you’re preoccupied with the past threat,” said Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a psychiatrist and trauma researcher in Boston.
On the other end of a spectrum, it can make a person numb to emotions all together. In both cases, MDMA can help. It calms people down, opening them up to repressed emotions at the same time. This happens because MDMA decreases fear, while increasing empathy. It also increases the release of oxytocin and prolactin, trust and bonding hormones, which help patients open up about their emotions and therefore release them.
“PTSD is always distracting you from facing your problems, because it’s terrifying. On the MDMA, you’re finally able to face the stuff that you’ve been pushing down for so many years,” Jessi explained.
Despite these successes, MDMA and other psychedelics have gotten a bad rap in the past. But that all started to change when Dr. Michael Mithoefer of MAPS received permission to study them in 2004. Since then, multiple studies have come out showing that different psychedelics are a great aid for people with various mental disorders.
Dr. Bronner’s hope is that once MDMA is legalized, it will open up the possibility of also legalizing magic mushrooms or their active component psilocybin, which has been shown to successfully treat anxiety and opioid addiction.
“The FDA’s approval of MDMA will also pave the way for other psychedelic medicines to follow, such as psilocybin for end-of-life anxiety and ibogaine for opiate addiction.”
While many are skeptical and concerned about a “drug” being legalized, recent ongoing research has now opened the eyes and minds of many to its amazing healing capabilities when used appropriately.
Jessi is just one of the examples of how MDMA can change people in a positive direction.
“Everyone says, ‘you look better, you’re not slouched over. I used to always make myself so small. I’m still myself, but it’s different. It feels great,” she said.