Also known as

sassafras, sass, mandy, medusa, methylenedioxyamphetamine, love drug


Psychedelic, stimulant


MDA is a man-made (synthetic) recreational drug noted for its stimulant and psychedelic properties that has been used since the 1960's as a clubbing and sex-enhancing substance, with some similarities to LSD and MDMA (ecstasy). MDA can give people a sense of wellbeing, empathy, intimacy with others and a state of euphoria. However the negatives include jaw clenching, hyponatremia, nausea and a rather unpleasant comedown where one can feel depression and fatigue [1].

What does it look like?

White powder or pills of various colours [1].

Why take it?

Sought after effects

  • visual hallucinations,
  • euphoria,
  • heightened feelings of intimacy [1].

Undesired effects

  • anxiety,
  • panic attacks,
  • sweating [1].




  • threshold - 20 - 40 mg,
  • light - 40 - 60 mg,
  • common - 60 - 100 mg,
  • strong - 100 - 145 mg,
  • heavy - 145 mg + [2].

How long do its effects last?

Onset of effects

  • oral - 30 - 90 minutes [2].
  • all ROA's - 20 - 90 minutes [3], [4].

Come up

  • oral - 15 - 45 minutes [2].


  • oral - 2.5 - 4 hours [2], 2 - 4 hours [4].


  • oral - 2 - 3 hours [2].

Duration of effects

  • oral - 5 - 8 hours [2], 4 - 8 hours [4].
  • all ROA's - 2 - 5 hours [3].


  • oral - 4 - 48 hours [2], 3 - 24 hours [4].
  • all ROA's - 1 - 12 hours [3].


Two optical isomers of MDA exist. These are mirror image versions of the molecule. One version (the S-MDA) is more potent than the other (R-MDA), and possesses more psychoactive stimulant properties, similar to MDMA. Shulgin describes the effects of this version as 'more peaceful and MDMA-like' at lower doses. Generally, MDA seems to be longer lasting than MDMA. MDA acts on three transporter molecules in the brain, SERT, NET and DAT that cause an increase in the serotonin, norepinephrine (noradrenaline) and dopamine neurotransmitters, respectively [1].

MDA acts as a releasing agent and reuptake inhibitor of the neurotransmitters known as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine [5], [6]. It also functions as a 5-HT2A [7], 5-HT2B [8], and 5-HT2C [9] receptor agonist and shows affinity for the TAAR1, α2A-, α2B-, α2C-adrenergic receptors and 5-HT1A and 5-HT7 receptors [10].

The effect on serotonin may explain the similar euphoric and empathogenic effects of the two compounds MDMA and MDA. However, MDA has a higher efficacy in stimulating the 5-HT2A receptor than MDMA; thus MDA tends to cause more psychedelic-like effects, such as visual geometry and hallucinations. Whilst MDMA can also produce psychedelic-like visual effects, these are generally less pronounced than those of MDA, or require a heavier dose to become apparent. It's worth noting that the role of these interactions and how they result in the psychedelic experience continues to remain elusive [2].

Mode of use

Swallowed, or sometimes sniffed [1].


Physical effects

  • excessive yawning,
  • physical euphoria,
  • pupil dilation,
  • spontaneous physical sensations,
  • bodily control enhancement,
  • perception of bodily heaviness,
  • stamina enhancement,
  • stimulation,
  • tactile enhancement,
  • appetite suppression,
  • perception of bodily lightness,
  • sedation,
  • brain zaps,
  • dehydration,
  • difficulty urinating,
  • increased blood pressure,
  • increased heart rate,
  • increased perspiration,
  • seizure,
  • teeth grinding,
  • temporary erectile dysfunction [2].

Cognitive effects

  • anxiety,
  • cognitive euphoria,
  • compulsive redosing,
  • depression,
  • derealisation,
  • irritability,
  • laughter fits,
  • mindfulness,
  • suicidal ideation,
  • time distortion,
  • creativity enhancement,
  • dream potentiation,
  • emotionality enhancement,
  • focus enhancement,
  • immersion enhancement,
  • increased libido,
  • increased music appreciation,
  • increased sense of humour,
  • motivation enhancement,
  • novelty enhancement,
  • stamina enhancement,
  • thought acceleration,
  • wakefulness,
  • anxiety suppression,
  • cognitive fatigue,
  • disinhibition,
  • motivation suppression,
  • thought deceleration,
  • thought disorganisation,
  • existential self-realisation,
  • unity and interconnectedness [2].

Visual effects

  • acuity enhancement,
  • colour enhancement,
  • pattern recognition enhancement,
  • after images,
  • symmetrical texture repetition,
  • tracers,
  • vibrating vision,
  • geometry,
  • autonomous entities,
  • external hallucinations,
  • internal hallucinations,
  • peripheral information misinterpretation,
  • perspective alterations,
  • scenarios and plots,
  • settings, sceneries, and landscapes,
  • transformations [2].

Auditory effects

  • auditory distortion,
  • auditory enhancement,
  • auditory hallucinations [2].


  • extreme mood lift,
  • increased willingness to communicate,
  • increase in energy (stimulation),
  • ego softening,
  • feelings of comfort, belonging, and closeness to others,
  • feelings of love and empathy,
  • forgiveness,
  • increased awareness & appreciation of music,
  • increased awareness of senses (taste, smell, touch, hearing, vision),
  • profound life-changing spiritual experiences,
  • neurotically based fear dissolution,
  • sensations bright and intense,
  • urge to hug and kiss people [4].


  • decreased appetite,
  • visual distortion,
  • nystagmus,
  • mild visual hallucinations,
  • moderately increased heart rate and blood pressure (increases with dose),
  • restlessness, nervousness, shivering,
  • change in body temperature regulation,
  • strong desire to do or want more when coming down [4].


  • inappropriate and/or unintended emotional bonding,
  • tendency to say things you might feel uncomfortable about later,
  • trisma, bruxia,
  • difficulty concentrating & problems with activities requiring linear focus,
  • short-term memory scramble or loss & confusion,
  • muscle tension,
  • erectile disfunction and difficulty reaching orgasm,
  • increase in body temperature, hyperthermia, dehydration (drink water),
  • hyponatraemia (don't drink too much water),
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • headaches, dizziness, loss of balance, and vertigo,
  • post-trip crash - unpleasantly harsh comedown from the peak effect,
  • hangover the next day, lasting days to weeks,
  • mild depression and fatigue for up to a week,
  • severe depression and/or fatigue (uncommon),
  • possible strong urge to repeat the experience, though not physically addictive,
  • possible psychological crisis requiring hospitalisation (psychotic episodes, severe panic attacks, etc) (rare),
  • possible liver toxicity (rare),
  • neurotoxicity,
  • small risk of death. assuming similar risk to mdma, approximately 2 per 100,000 users have extreme negative reactions resulting in death (rare) [4].


Many users report feeling extremely drained the day after MD(M)A use. This 'day after' effect means for many MD(M)A users that they need to plan 2 days for the experience: one for the peak experience and one recovery day, with very little planned. Many users also experience some level of post-MD(M)A depression, often starting on the second day after the experience and lasting for up to 5 days. A small percentage of users report depressive symptoms for weeks afterwards. Alternately, some users report feeling better than normal for a week or so after taking MD(M)A . The negative after-effects of taking MDMA appear to be worse with higher frequencies of use, higher dosages, and perhaps total lifetime usage [4].


Can you get addicted

As with other stimulants, the chronic use of MDA can be considered moderately addictive with a high potential for abuse and is capable of causing psychological dependence among certain users. When addiction has developed, cravings and withdrawal effects may occur if a person suddenly stops their usage [2].


Tolerance to the psychedelic effects of MDA are built almost immediately after ingestion. However, tolerance to the stimulant and entactogenic effects are built up after repeated and heavy usage in a manner that varies between individuals. After that, it takes about 3 days for the tolerance to be reduced to half and 7 days to be back at baseline (in the absence of further consumption). MDA presents cross-tolerance with all psychedelics and most stimulants, meaning that after the consumption of MDA all psychedelics and some stimulants will have a reduced effect [2].

Dangerous interactions

  • 25x-NBOMe - Both the NBOMe series and this compound induce powerful stimulation and their interaction may cause severe side-effects. These can include thought loops, seizures, increased blood pressure, vasoconstriction, increased heart rate, and heart failure (in extreme cases).
  • Alcohol - It is dangerous to combine alcohol, a depressant, with stimulants due to the risk of excessive intoxication. Stimulants decrease the sedative effect of alcohol which is the main factor most people consider when determining their level of intoxication. Once the stimulant wears off, the effects of alcohol will be significantly increased, leading to intensified disinhibition as well as respiratory depression. If combined, one should strictly limit themselves to only drinking a certain amount of alcohol per hour.
  • DXM - This combination may cause increased heart rate and panic attacks.
  • MXE - Increased heart rate and blood pressure may occur.
  • Tramadol - This combination can increase the risk of seizures.
  • Cocaine - This combination may increase strain on the heart [2].


  • αMT,
  • Tramadol - Tramadol and stimulants both increase the risk of seizures.
  • MAOIs - MAO-B inhibitors can increase the potency and duration of phenethylamines unpredictably. MAO-A inhibitors with amphetamine can lead to hypertensive crises [3].


  • DOx - The combined stimulating effects of the two can lead to an uncomfortable body-load, while the focusing effects of amphetamine can easily lead to thought loops. Coming down from amphetamines while the DOx is still active can be quite anxiogenic.
  • NBOMes - Amphetamines and NBOMes both provide considerable stimulation. When combined they can result in tachycardia, hypertension, vasoconstriction and in extreme cases heart failure. The anxiogenic and focusing effects of stimulants are also not good in combination with psychedelics as they can lead to unpleasant thought loops. NBOMes are known to cause seizures and stimulants can increase this risk.
  • 2C-T-x - Stimulants increase anxiety levels and the risk of thought loops which can lead to negative experiences. In extreme cases, they can result in severe vasoconstriction, tachycardia, hypertension, and in extreme cases heart failure.
  • 5-MeO-xxT - The anxiogenic and focusing effects of stimulants increase the chance of unpleasant thought loops. The combination is generally unnecessary because of the stimulating effects of psychedelics.
  • DXM - Both substances raise heart rate, in extreme cases, panic attacks caused by these drugs have led to more serious heart issues.
  • PCP - This combination can easily lead to hypermanic states [3].

Mixing with other drugs

No drug combination is really safe. The risks could be divided into three categories: ones with the fewest reported physical problems, ones with a higher chance of problems and ones that are dangerous [11].

Drugs with a small chance of problems in combination with MDA -

Drugs with a higher chance of problems in combination with MDA -

  • speed (amp/meth) - may increase toxicity (can be dangerous to combine stimulants),
  • alcohol (can increase dehydration),
  • MDMA (no cross tolerance between the two, same dangers as speed, plus increased risk of serotonin syndrome),
  • LSD/Mushrooms/Mescaline (no physical dangers noted, may be overwhelming mentally) [11].

Drugs that are dangerous in combination with MDA -

  • MAOI's (monoamine oxide is the chemical that breaks down 5ht, increased risk of serotonin syndrome, very dangerous),
  • DXM (may interfere with the enzyme that breaks down MDA, plus affects body's ability to regulate temperature),
  • Ritonavir (prescription protease inhibitor, can be life threatening to take with MDA) [11].

If you chose to use a combination, realise that the effects of the two drugs will not just be added together, they can be many times more powerful than a single drug. Be sure you fully understand your body's reaction to both drugs you wish to combine, and take smaller doses of both than you normally would [11].

Harm reduction

MDA seems to be toxic at higher levels, and more so than MDMA. Acute toxicity causes agitation, sweating, increased blood pressure and heart rate, convulsions and sharp increase in body temperature.

If one were to take MDA, it is extremely important to stay properly hydrated, making sure that you are not over heating or that you are not over hydrated.

It is also important that you do not take too much of the drug in one session, and only taking a little at first as you may not know the source of the drug; one batch may be more potent than others. The more you take, the greater probability of experiencing acute toxicity [1].


MDA was first synthesised in 1910 by G. Mannish and W. Jacobson. First human trials for MDA was in 1941 in order to investigate any medicinal qualities for Parkinson's syndrome, and later if it could be used as an anti-depressant.

On the 8th of January, 1953, the first MDA overdose was recorded during an experiment funded by the U.S army, who were working on finding a truth serum.

In 1963 and 1964, MDA began to be used by various countercultures, and slowly grew in popularity.

The drug is now scheduled under the Misuse of Drugs act of 1971, as a Class A [1].

MDA was first synthesised by G. Mannish and W. Jacobson in 1910.

It was first ingested in July 1930 by Gordon Alles who then licensed the drug to Smith Kline and French. MDA was first used in animal tests in 1939, and human trials began in 1941 in the exploration of possible therapies for Parkinson's disease. From 1949 to 1957, more than 500 human subjects were given MDA in an investigation of its potential use as an antidepressant and/or anorectic by Smith, Kline & French.

The United States Army also experimented with the drug, code named EA-1298, while working to develop a truth drug or incapacitating agent. One human subject died in January 1953 after being intravenously injected with 450 mg of the drug.

MDA was patented as a cough suppressant by H. D. Brown in 1958, as an ataractic by Smith, Kline & French in 1960, and as an anorectic under the trade name "Amphedoxamine" in 1961. Several researchers, including Claudio Naranjo and Richard Yensen, have explored MDA in the field of psychotherapy.

MDA began to appear on the recreational drug scene around 1963 to 1964. It was then inexpensive and readily available as a research chemical from several scientific supply houses. Although now illegal, MDA continues to be bought, sold, and used as a recreational 'love drug', due to its enhancement of empathy [4].


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