Ecstasy drains spinal fluid?

Originally Published: October 1, 1993 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: June 1, 2007
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Dear Alice,

Does ecstasy drain spinal fluid? Or is this a dumb myth?

Dear Reader,


Ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA) is a recreational drug that is gaining popularity worldwide. Often used at raves, it has been associated with producing a combination of heightened arousal and mellowing effects. Unfortunately, research on the physiological effects of the substance in human users is limited. What is known is that it induces a rise in body temperature (hyperthermia.) In a party setting, hyperthermia can easily escalate into severe dehydration.


Ecstasy appears to exert its effects through increasing levels of serotonin (a brain chemical) in your body. In regards to your question about ecstasy draining spinal fluid, rest assured that the popular theory is nothing more than a myth. The rumor likely derived from a 1994 study in which levels of serotonin breakdown products were measured in the spinal fluid of several long-term ecstasy users. In order to obtain spinal fluid from their subjects, the experimenters had to insert a needle into the lower backs of the participants and remove some of their cerebrospinal fluid. It seems that somehow, this procedure was distorted in the popular imagination into a myth that the drug itself depletes spinal fluid. As one of the myth-busting sites Alice visited explained, "it is "MDMA research", not "MDMA" that may drain your spinal fluid!" Although there are many other reasons that ecstasy use is dangerous and harmful to your body, the theory that it drains you of your spinal fluid holds absolutely no water.