MDMA post-loading with 5-HTP

I have read about using foods rich in triptophan (MDMA post-loading with 5-HTP). According to my sources, this diminish negative MDMA effects and reduce neurotoxicity. Do you have any food supplement recommendation to reduce the bad effect of MDMA?

Originally posted in SR 2.0 6/5/14 . Reviewed 20/2/22

Pre-loading/post-loading via herbal and/or pharmacological products in relation to the effects of MDMA is a relatively common practice (up to 40-70% of users, according to some studies) .

5-HTP (hydroxytryptophan) or tryptophan are the most commonly used substances. 5-HTP is the precursor of serotonin, the neurotransmitter allegedly responsible of MDMA  psychological effects . MDMA produces a rapid release of a large amount of serotonin in neurons.

However, this release is also believed to be the cause of the acute adverse effects that occur 24-48 hours after consumption This includes depressed mood and fatigue, as well as the potential neurotoxic effects.

To combat these adverse effects, some users turn to herbal supplements or tryptophan-rich foods: chocolate, peanuts, or bananas. Typical «post-load formulas» contain Vitamin C, magnesium, alpha-lipoic acid or green tea extract.These guidelines are based on recommendations in Internet forums or some books on MDMA.

  • Pre-loading (taking supplements before consuming MDMA) seeks to enhance the effects of the substance by theoretically increasing the amount of serotonin available.
  • Post-loading (taking supplements after consuming MDMA) aims to help the body recover from the potential adverse effects of MDMA. Neurotoxicity, oxidative stress, and depletion of certain neurotransmitters , linked to depression and other negative effects.

Interestingly, the «midweek blues» have only been reported in recreational users, while therapeutic use has been associated with  an «afterglow» in which residual empathogenic effects remain 24-48 hours longer. So this implies that the «crash» of MDMA has more to do with contextual aspects (lack of sleep, physical exercise, mixing with other substances…) than with its pharmacology.

Thus, users who use moderate doses and frequencies, occasionally, programmed and without too many excesses should not suffer very accentuated acute psychological adverse effects. There is also no evidence that, in the usual patterns of consumption in humans, MDMA produces irreversible neurotoxic damage. On the contrary, heavy users are more prone to such effects.

So,  data to support the use of post-load supplements are based on the subjective experience of users. There are no clinical trials that have evaluated this type of strategy. And there is also no consensus on appropriate dosages. Some authors recommend «50 mg of 5-HTP for 3 days 24 hours after the last intake». Others use doses of 100-300 mg for 5-7 days.

Post-MDMA intake of bananas, peanuts, or chocolate is unlikely to have any consequence (unless overindulged)

With the available data it is not possible to recommend a guideline or to consider its efficacy. Then.  a diet rich in bananas, peanuts and chocolate is unlikely to have any negative impact after taking MDMA. But it has not been shown to have any effect on either moderate users (in whom it is probably unnecessary) or intensive users (in whom it is probably ineffective for its intended purposes).