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MDMA is a synthetic substance commonly known as ecstasy , although the latter term has now been generalised to cover a wide range of other substances. Originally developed in by the Merck chemical company, it was never marketed as such. Although proposed as an aid to psychiatric counselling, therapeutic use is extremely limited.
It acts as a central nervous system CNS stimulant and has a weak hallucinogenic property more accurately described as increased sensory awareness. MDMA is under international control. MDMA is an abbreviation for m ethylene d ioxy- m ethyl a mphetamine. MDMA is a member of the larger group of ring-substituted phenethylamines. As with other phenethylamines, and like its close relative methamphetamine , MDMA also exists in two enantiomeric forms R and S. The most common salt is the hydrochloride CAS which occurs as a white or off-white powder or as crystals soluble in water.
The phosphate salt is also encountered. Illicit products are seen principally as white tablets with a characteristic impression logo , less commonly as white powders or capsules. MDMA base is a colourless oil insoluble in water. Whereas phenethylamines without ring substitution usually behave as stimulants, ring substitution as in MDMA le to a modification in the pharmacological properties.
Ingestion of MDMA causes euphoria, increased sensory awareness and mild central stimulation. It is less hallucinogenic than its lower homologue , methylenedioxyamphetamine MDA. The terms empathogenic and entactogenic have been coined to describe the socialising effects of MDMA. Following ingestion, most of the dose of MDMA is excreted in the urine unchanged. Major metabolites are 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine MDA and O -demethylated compounds. Following a dose of 75 mg, the maximum plasma concentration of around 0. The plasma half-life is 6—7 hours.
In animals, MDMA causes neurotoxicity, as evidenced by anatomical changes in axon structure and a persisting reduction in brain serotonin levels. The ificance of these findings to human users is still unclear, although cognitive impairment is associated with MDMA use. Some of the pharmacodynamic and toxic effects of MDMA vary, depending on which enantiomer is used.
However, almost all illicit MDMA exists as a racemic mixture. Fatalities following a dose of mg have been noted, but toxicity depends on many factors, including individual susceptibility and the circumstances in which MDMA is used. There are four principal precursors which can be used in the manufacture of MDMA and related drugs: safrole, isosafrole, piperonal and 3,4-methylenedioxyphenylpropanone PMK.
Safrole is the key starting material in so far as the other three can be synthesised from it. In the original Merck patent of , safrole was reacted with hydrobromic acid to form bromosafrole, which was converted to MDMA using methylamine. Many illicit syntheses start with PMK and use either the Leuckart route or various reductive aminations including the aluminium foil method.
All of these methods produce racemic MDMA. MDMA in tablet form is almost always used orally ingested , but the powdered form could also be snorted, inhaled or injected, although the latter route is rarely observed in the context of recreational ecstasy use. As some of the above names suggest, MDMA is a derivative of amphetamine and a member of the phenethylamine family.
A of homologous compounds with broadly similar effects, e. These and many other more distant relatives of MDMA have now been subsumed by the generic term ecstasy. Mitsubishis, Love Doves and many others. Using gas chromatography, the limits of detection in plasma and urine are 1.
Prison and drugs in Europe June Iversen, L. King, L. Moffat, A. United Nations , Recommended Methods for the Identification and analysis of amphetamine, methamphetamine and their ring-substituted analogues in seized materials revised and updated , Manual for Use by National Drug Testing Laboratories , United Nations, New York.
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Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or 'Ecstasy') drug profile