Plant Medicine Podcast: MDMA Scientific Research with Marcela Ot’alora

Summary: Listen to the Plant Medicine Podcast to hear psychotherapist and MAPS-sponsored researcher Marcela Ot’alora G. discuss MDMA research with host Dr. Lynn Marie Morski. Marcela reviews the history of MDMA research through present day, the neurochemistry of MDMA as well as potential risks associated with MDMA, and her personal experience working on clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD.

Originally appearing here.

Marcela Ot’alora G is a psychotherapist with over 20 years of experience working with trauma, specifically PTSD. Having dedicated her professional life to teaching and research, Marcela has served as principal investigator and therapist on various phase-II and phase-III MDMA assisted psychotherapy studies.

In today’s MDMA scientific research episode, Marcela describes some of the history of the research into the uses and effects of MDMA. Before it became a Schedule I substance, MDMA was widely used in various therapeutic settings, particularly in couple’s therapy. That changed with its classification as a Schedule I drug in the mid-1980s. However, the research into MDMA’s potential uses in therapy continues.

With her particular focus in treating PTSD, Marcela explains some of the neurochemistry behind MDMA’s use in treating this disorder. Research has shown that MDMA activates parts of the brain that are suppressed as a result of trauma and helps people suffering from it make healing connections that they previously were unable to. As an active researcher in MDMA, Marcela describes what has been gleaned from various recent and ongoing clinical studies.


In this episode:
Some of the early uses of MDMA in therapy
The effects of MDMA in treating PTSD
The results of recent phase-II and phase-III trial into the therapeutic possibilities of MDMA
What it means to have breakthrough therapy status
What the research says about how addictive MDMA actually is
Potential adverse effects of using MDMA


“It was so powerful that I decided that I really wanted to advocate for this work and try to bring it to more people.”[1:25]

“They are a grounding place for you to be able to access these traumatic memories that are very difficult or painful.” [7:44]

“More research is needed and definitely more will be done. PTSD is just the focus at the moment.” [26:50]