You may not be a health food nut,
but there are some very handy things on the shelf of your local
store. Some supplements can reduce side effects, help the hangover,
and possibly even help keep you safe.
We've all seen oxidation. It's
what rusts metal. It's what turns a slice of apple or banana brown
if left exposed to the air. Oxidation is what's happening when laundry
bleach ruins your clothes, or hydrogen peroxide lightens your hair.
(Chemically, "oxidation" means electrical charge is being
pulled off a molecule/atom.)
Why does this matter to you and me?
Because oxidation is also something that's constantly going on in
our bodies. Virtually all of our metabolic processes produce oxidizing
chemicals (like hydrogen peroxide.) As our metabolism and demands
on our body go up, more of these oxidizing chemicals are produced.
When we take a drug, our body's breakdown of the drug creates even
more oxidative stress on our cells and tissues.
In fact, it's this process of producing
oxidizing chemicals while drugs are being broken down that can cause
liver damage from many drugs such as alcohol. In the case of amphetamine-type
drugs (including MDMA) this has a special significance, since these
drugs are drawn into your brain and
broken down, which can lead to neurotoxicity (damage to brain cells)
in extreme cases.
The good news is, your body knows
exactly how to deal with such things. First, it has enzymes that
these oxidizers as they are being produced. Second, your body has
a lot of antioxidants floating around in it. An antioxidant
is a chemical that neutralizes oxidizers (but is used up in the
As a result, unusual demands on your metabolism (such as smoking,
drinking, or using MDMA) tend to reduce levels of antioxidants
they use them up.)
What does this mean for you,
the responsible drug user? Well, it means that taking some antioxidants
before and after your drug use can help prevent damage to your cells.
Some popular antioxidants:
Vitamin C: Also known
as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is found in large amounts in citrus fruits
like limes, oranges, and grapefruit. Besides being an antioxidant,
vitamin C is important to the immune system. Vitamin C is a water
soluble vitamin, so it mainly stays in the blood and other water-rich
parts of cells like the cytoplasm.
Vitamin E: Nutritionally
important, this vitamin is also a good antioxidant. Vitamin E is lipid
(fat) soluble, which allows it to penetrate deeply into fatty
tissues (including the brain) and even get inside of cell walls. In
one experiment, mice fed a severely vitamin E deficient diet suffered
serious neurotoxicity when given a large dose of MDMA, while mice
on a normal diet were unharmed!
ALA is an interesting antioxidant because it's both lipid-soluble
and water-soluble, allowing it to get virtually anywhere in the
As a downside, ALA is more irritating to the stomach than E and C,
limiting the amount that can be comfortably taken. ALA may also
broken down very quickly in the body.
sold as a sleep aid, melatonin is a very effective antioxidant on
a per-weight basis, but at the doses recommended (as little as 0.25
mg) would be fairly ineffective to use simply as an antioxidant. Since
I don't know what the consequences of high doses (100 mg or more)
would be, I don't recommend melatonin for this purpose.
Green Tea, Grape Skin Extract,
etc.: These substances have significant antioxidant properties,
but are relatively unresearched.
What should I take? How much?
For antioxidants, I suggest Vitamin C and
E, simply because they are generally well-tolerated, inexpensive,
readily available, and fairly well researched (in the context of
both general health and MDMA use.) Vitamin C and E are also two
body's main normal antioxidants and work well together. Try 2-4 tablets/capsules
of each over the course of the day before and/or the day of MDMA
A little more the day after can't hurt either. If you don't want
to be bothered with elaborate plans, a few capsules each of C and
hours before use should still be beneficial.
Is taking antioxidants necessary?
Not at all. But, it's such an easy
and cheap way to help your body deal with stress and recover that
it seems perverse not to.
A word on the benefits of antioxidants:
There isn't a magic or 'special' antioxidant that you need. Any
at all should be helpful, and taking many different ones isn't necessarily
better than taking one or two. They also aren't a cure-all. Antioxidants
can probably give you a larger safety margin, but do not guarantee
that nothing bad can happen. Take all the usual precautions (avoiding
dancing in hot environments, if dancing get moderate
(but not excessive) water intake, and don't mix drugs.
What the heck is 5-HTP?
5-HTP is the chemical your brain turns
into serotonin. Since MDMA use depletes serotonin levels, 5-HTP is
a quite useful tool for recovering after use. Taking a little
5-HTP can prevent the more notorious possible aftereffects of MDMA
use, such as depression and anxiety for a day or two (which is partly
due to low serotonin levels.)
5-HTP has traditionally been taken
as a sleep aid, natural antidepressant, and weight loss aid (all
are the result of its enhancement of serotonin levels.) It has become
much more popular with the realization of how it could benefit MDMA
How should I use 5-HTP?
In the context of using MDMA, I'd suggest
one capsule two hours before taking the MDMA (entirely optional),
another capsule when you come down, and one a day for several days
afterwards. If you feel irritable or depressed, take one more capsule
Can taking a bunch of 5-HTP before using MDMA make the high more
To some extent, yes. By increasing
the amount of serotonin available to be released, 5-HTP can help
work. However, doing so introduces a new unknown factor. If you try
this, take one or two capsules two hours before taking the MDMA.
(You need to have some time between taking the 5-HTP and MDMA or
the MDMA's effects can be blunted. Some people report that
even three hours is not enough to prevent this effect.) The effect
isn't likely to be dramatic, but can help ensure that you
get the full effect of the MDMA.
Could I get high just from taking 5-HTP?
Sort of. If being slightly cheerful
and giddy for 10-15 minutes is worth a day of feeling sick (severe
gas, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.) One of the things that has constantly
amazed me is the adventurousness of drug users: If you can think
of it, somebody has probably tried it. Massive doses of 5-HTP have
been tried, and the results were less than encouraging if you wanted
a recreational effect.
Where do you get 5-HTP?
Health food stores and drug stores/pharmacies
in the US often carry 5-HTP, or you can order some online (just
search for "5-HTP" at Google.)
Mail order can be much less expensive. (Unfortunately, 5-HTP is
not available over-the-counter
in some countries, although one could always just
mail-order some from overseas if there are local restrictions on
users report that taking magnesium supplements reduces the
to clench your teeth while on MDMA. I haven't tried it myself, but
the idea makes some sense. (Mg++ ions are involved in controlling
nerve firing.) Magnesium may also reduce the 'eye wiggles' side
effect sometimes seen with MDMA, although that one doesn't seem to
potassium: No known benefit, and may make jaw clenching, etc.
worse. (These small metal ions promote nerve firing.)
and Alanine: These are precursors to dopamine,
just as tryptophan and 5-HTP are precursors to serotonin. L-DOPA
is normally prescription-only,
and should be considered dangerous. Tyrosine is considerably less
potent at producing dopamine, alanine is the least effective of all.
Both are sometimes used to enhance the MDMA high by supporting dopamine
(and norepinephrine) production. I regard this practice as being
of questionable safety: Dopamine and norepinephrine appear
to be major contributors to heatstroke
in animal overdose and neurotoxicity experiments. While the risks
terribly great, I cannot recommend this practice in the absence of
further research. Besides, if you can't enjoy MDMA for what it is,
perhaps it's time to give it up.
• Grapefruit juice: Some
grapefruit juice has a (naturally occurring) chemical in it that
can interfere with the metabolism of certain drugs by inhibiting
an enzyme in your liver called CYP3A4. If a drug is
aggressively broken down by this 3A4 enzyme, then grapefruit juice
can significantly increase the drug's effect by interfering with
its breakdown. Although MDMA can be broken down by this enzyme, it's
a minor contributor to the drug's metabolism. As such, inhibiting
CYP3A4 would likely have little effect.
On to The Art of Rolling....