Tinnitus, a health condition effecting over 50 million people where chronic noise is heard even without any outside stimulation, has become a worldwide epidemic in electronic dance music for producers, DJs, and fans alike. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that roughly 20 million Americans deal with tinnitus chronically, and over 2 million have debilitating and extreme cases, making tinnitus one of the most common health conditions in the nation. Unfortunately, there is no known cure.
However, there might be hope from an unlikely place for those dealing with the persistent and frustrating ‘ringing in the ears.’ At the University of Auckland in New Zealand, researchers are knee deep in a two years study in curing tinnitus with the help of the banned party drug, MDMA, a component of ecstasy. There have been two separate studies involving a small number of participants in placebo-controlled trials, where participants were given a trivial amount of MDMA and monitored for over four hours. Since the dosage was so low (only 30mg and 70mg) in both studies, and strictly dispensed by pharmacists, the participants could not feel any side effects or euphoric stimulation that famously accompanies the drug. According to Stuff, three hours after the dosage, many surprisingly reported some relief from tinnitus symptoms, and the positive effects of the trial controlled any further symptoms for a week or more.
“Our goal is to try and find a medication for tinnitus. It can have catastrophic effects,” said University of Auckland senior lecturer Grant Searchfield. “Whether MDMA is it or whether it’s a trial for us to identify what is going on in the brain is still an open question.”
Though these controlled trails are a promise of hope for curing the often debilitating condition, this is just the first step on a very long journey. The study will need more funding to continue their trials, and there will be many issues with opening the drug to the public as a pharmaceutical, such as the potential of drug abuse, side effects, and addiction.