MDMA-assisted therapy significantly reduces eating disorder symptoms in a randomized placebo-controlled trial of adults with severe PTSD

This trial (n=90) used the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) to assess the impact MDMA-assisted therapy has on symptoms of eating disorders (ED) in participants with PTSD. There was a significant reduction in total EAT-26 scores in the total group of PTSD participants following MDMA-AT versus placebo (p = .03). Overall, MDMA-AT significantly reduced ED symptoms compared to therapy with placebo among participants with severe PTSD.

Abstract

Introduction: Eating disorders (EDs) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are highly comorbid, yet there are no proven integrative treatment modalities for ED-PTSD. In clinical trials, MDMA-assisted therapy (MDMA-AT) has shown marked success in the treatment of PTSD and may be promising for ED-PTSD.

Methods: Ninety individuals with severe PTSD received treatment in a double-blind, placebo-controlled pivotal trial of MDMA-AT. In addition to the primary (Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale) and secondary (Sheehan Disability Scale) outcome measures, the Eating Attitudes Test 26 (EAT-26) was administered for pre-specified exploratory purposes at baseline and at study termination.

Results: The study sample consisted of 58 females (placebo = 31, MDMA = 27) and 31 males (placebo = 12, MDMA = 19) (n = 89). Seven participants discontinued prior to study termination. At baseline, 13 (15%) of the 89 individuals with PTSD had total EAT-26 scores in the clinical range (≥20), and 28 (31.5%) had total EAT-26 scores in the high-risk range (≥11) despite the absence of active purging or low weight. In completers (n = 82), there was a significant reduction in total EAT-26 scores in the total group of PTSD participants following MDMA-AT versus placebo (p = .03). There were also significant reductions in total EAT-26 scores in women with high EAT-26 scores ≥11 and ≥ 20 following MDMA-AT versus placebo (p = .0012 and p = .0478, respectively).

Conclusions: ED psychopathology is common in individuals with PTSD even in the absence of EDs with active purging and low weight. MDMA-AT significantly reduced ED symptoms compared to therapy with placebo among participants with severe PTSD. MDMA-AT for ED-PTSD appears promising and requires further study.

Authors: Timothy D. Brewerton, Julie B. Wang, Adele Lafrance, Chelsea Pamplin, Michael Mithoefer, Berra Yazar-Klosinski, Amy Emerson & Rick Doblin

Study details

Compounds studied
MDMA

Topics studied
PTSD Eating Disorders

Study characteristics
Placebo-Controlled Double-Blind

Participants
90 Humans

Authors

Authors associated with this publication with profiles on Blossom

Rick Doblin
Rick Doblin Ph.D. is the founder of MAPS. His persistent work since 1986 has been one of the main drivers behind why psychedelics (including MDMA) are now coming back to therapy.

Institutes

Institutes associated with this publication

MAPS
MAPS stands for Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, it's the front runner in making psychedelics a legal way to use (and improve) in therapy.