How To Recover From An MDMA Hangover And Recharge The Brain
June 12th, 2014
Categories : Blog
Originally a favorite substance among psychotherapists and fellow intellectual circles, MDMA quickly spread into the clubbing as scene as more people became familiar with it. The drug had, and still has, and massive influence in the development of various electronic music styles. Still today, MDMA use is very widespread among young adults, and only cannabis attracts more first time users than MDMA.
MDMA is loved by many for the intensely positive feelings it produces - an open heart, emotional warmth, empathy and an overall sense of wellbeing. Unfortunately, what goes up must come down. The famed MDMA hangover can leave you feeling drained and mentally fatigued. While some are more affected by it than other, most users will experience the hangover at some point. But taking the right steps, it is possible to reduce the recovery to a minimum (e.g. with after-D).
MDMA releases an excess of neurotransmitters from their storage sites, leaving only small amounts for the following day. Simply put, MDMA floods the brain with feel-good neurotransmitters that are commonly released only sparsely. As the gates are open, reserves are being drained. Logically, those reserves are missing the next and need to be built up again.
The neurotransmitters in question are:
A neurotransmitter that is involved in many processes within the body, including sleep, pain, appetite and mood regulation. Feelings of sadness and irritation sometimes experienced in an MDMA hangover are often attributed to a lack of this important neurotransmitter.
This neurotransmitter is most commonly associated with the bodies reward system and happiness, and is released when we do things that the body deems to be good for it and for its survival. Examples of this are sex, eating, sleeping, exercising and just about anything else we find rewarding. It is an extremely important neurotransmitter that is also involved in memory, attention, motivation, mood, learning, movement and general cognition. The intense feelings of love and empathy when taking MDMA can in part be put down to dopamine (combined with serotonin) release. Conversely, the lack of concentration and inability to focus on tasks often experienced in an MDMA hangover the next day are because the dopamine is used up.
Also known as noradrenaline, norepinephrine is what is often known as the “fight or flight” chemical. Whilst dopamine makes your mind alert, norepinephrine brings your body to attention, ensuring it is ready to react. It does this by increasing heart rate, dilating the pupils and air passages to the lungs, as well as narrowing blood vessels to non-essential organs. The result is a pumped up feeling of energy, useful on a night out partying. Of course, this means that in addition to the mental fatigue created by the use of other neurotransmitters, an MDMA hangover can also induce feelings of physical fatigue – not from the lack of more norepinephrine, but often from the physical exertion that resulted from having lots the previous night.
Another short term effect of MDMA use is oxidative stress. Essentially, the high quantities of neurotransmitters being released together create serotonergic neurotoxicity, overloading the body’s ability to handle the amount of neutransmitters. This contributes to oxidative stress – the body cannot keep up with the amount of oxidising toxins in its systems as it tries to cleanse them. It is actually a bit more complicated than this, but it paints a general picture for those who do not want to get into the nitty-gritty science. This means that regular use of MDMA can actually be pretty harmful, as it not only tires you out mentally and physically, but also on a cellular level as well.
How to recover from the hangover
While there is no instant cure-all for a MDMA hangover, there are actions that can be taken to reduce the amount of time spent recovering – all of which revolve around replenishing the bodies source of building blocks it uses to create the spent up neurotransmitters, as well as the vitamins, mineral, fatty acids, anti-oxidants, and other nutrients that will have been burnt up from a night of physically active partying.
Firstly, we will talk about the things that can be used to get you back on your feet and pumping on all cylinders, then we will look at what you should actually be doing.
To replenish serotonin, the best thing to take is a tryptophan or 5-HTP supplement. Both of these are chemical precursors to serotonin, and are essential in its production. By stocking up the body with the resources it needs, you can ensure that new serotonin is produced as efficiently as possible. Generally speaking, tryptophan is preferable to 5-HTP, as comes with less risk and is actually comparatively more efficient when taken by itself. (See our article on tryptophan vs 5-HTP for a more detailed explanation).
Much in the same way as with replenishing serotonin, the best course of action is to provide the body with the building blocks it needs to make more as efficiently as it can. This is where Velvet Bean (Mucuna pruriens) comes in. This bean contains levodopa, which is the precursor to dopamine.
Staving off oxidative stress
When your body is undergoing a state of oxidative stress, it does not have enough anti-oxidants to effectively keep up with the toxins in your body. The answer to this is NAC, or N-Acetyl Cysteine. NAC is the precursor to glutathione, the body’s natural defence against free-radicals and oxidising toxins. It basically gives the liver all the extra ammunition its needs to defend and boost detoxification of the body.
In addition to NAC, it is good to also supplement it with vitamin C. Vitamin C will help NAC do its job efficiently, as it will help renew the NAC as it fights the toxins.
MDMA hangover recovery: putting theory into practice
Firstly, these precursors can take a few days to be converted into the neurotransmitters you need to replace. So consider taking tryptophan, velvet bean and NAC for 2-3 days before actually taking MDMA. This will give your body a stockpile to start building new transmitters with straight away when the MDMA dumps your current reserves into the brain. It is also a good idea to take multivitamins, to aid and support the bodily functions in this process.
In the morning after, once you have woken up to the pleasures of your MDMA hangover, it is time to start taking these supplements again: Tryptamine, Mucuna pruriens and NAC. Make sure you remain within the recommended dosage to keep things nice and safe. Now proceed to spend the day chilling out and relaxing. You do not want to put your body through anything overly exerting, as this will put unnecessary stress on your body and hinder its recovery. Sit down, relax, watch a movie or something, and maybe have a smoke.
Drink fresh made juice for the day. This will be packed to the brim with an array of nutrients that your body will be hungering for. Consider having some magnesium powder to help you relax, and supplement your food with either flax seed oil or hemp seed oil. These oils are rich in fatty acids that will help build you back up.
If you are interested in herbs, then the well rounded nature of tonics like Ginseng, Reishi, Catuba and Gingko can help build you back up to full mental and physical capacity.
If you do not want to take these things individually, then there is a product on the market called “After D”. This little package contains 1 pill and one capsule that combined contain almost everything you need to help the body recover. The tablet contains 1000mg of vitamin C, 50mg of rosehip extract, 10mg of bioflavonoid complex, plus 400 mg of tryptophan and 10 mg of vitamin b6.
After D is a great product for those looking for an easy way to help dose themselves, but don’t forget not to neglect things like NAC and Velvet Bean (as well as taking the required supplements a few days prior to having MDMA), as After D is mainly focused on recovering serotonin and combating the “downer” feeling post-MDMA can have.
Responsible MDMA use
We are all adults here, so you have to make your own decisions. MDMA is fun, but it can be damaging when overused. Do not take it more than once a month if you want to protect your brain. It is best to space out MDMA use as much as possible. At the end of the day, it’s all about your healthy brain.
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