Ecstasy Was Just Labelled a ‘Breakthrough Therapy’ For PTSD by The FDA

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), also known as ecstasy, is a ‘breakthrough therapy’ in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Thanks to this designation, the drug could have a faster path to pharmaceutical approval.

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) announced the FDA’s ruling last week, revealing that they can now move forward on two of their upcoming ‘Phase 3’ trials.

The goal of these trials is to determine how effectively the drug can be used to treat those suffering from PTSD. The trials will include 200 to 300 participants, and the first trial will begin to accept subjects in 2018.

“For the first time ever, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy will be evaluated in Phase 3 trials for possible prescription use, with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD leading the way,” said Rick Doblin, Founder and Executive Director of MAPS.

The trials will be held in the U.S., Canada, and Israel, and MAPS plans to open talks with the European Medicines Agency in the hopes of expanding testing to include Europe. For now, the focus is on securing the funding they require.

According to Science, the organisation is still in the process of raising money for the trials, and thus far, they’ve only managed to secure US$13 million, about half of their goal.

Since 1986, MAPS has been conducting MDMA trials in the hopes of proving the drug’s therapeutic value. Following the 2011 release of a small study in the US, the drug has gained traction as a potential treatment for PTSD.

Since then, scientists have been pushing for additional testing, but ecstasy’s stigma as a harmful street drug has hindered progress. The FDA’s new designation could change that.

“This is not a big scientific step,” David Nutt, a neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London, explained to Science. “It’s been obvious for 40 years that these drugs are medicines. But it’s a huge step in acceptance.”

Previous MAPS trials exploring how well MDMA could treat PTSD have yielded favourable results, contributing to the FDA’s aforementioned decision. In the association’s Phase 2 trails, 107 people who had PTSD for an average of 17.8 years were treated using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.

After two months, 61 percent of the participants no longer suffered from PTSD. After a year, that number increased to 68 percent, according to the MAPS press release.

PTSD only needs a small trigger like a sound, smell, or an object to bring a traumatic memory rushing back. Nearly 8 million adults experience PTSD per year, and children can suffer from it as well.

Should MDMA prove to be an effective and safe treatment, it could help millions of people live normal, healthy lives without fear of the next debilitating PTSD episode.

This article was originally published by Futurism

How to Know If You Burned Your Eyes During the Eclipse

Amid all the uncertainty about what chaos the total solar eclipse may bring, we can be sure of one thing: Someone’s going to burn their eyeballs looking at the damn thing. No matter how many science-approved viewing glasses, safe pinhole camera designs, or smartphone camera hacks the internet has presented to the public, inevitably, some human will be compelled to witness the eclipse in its naked glory and injure themselves in the process.

That person could even be you, though you might not know it until a few days from Monday.

The extreme effect of the solar eclipse eye “sunburn” is a condition called solar retinopathy, which is sun blindness caused by overstimulation of the retina — the thin, light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eyeball. When too much light floods the retina, it can become severely damaged, leading to an inability to detect light — thus rendering people sun-blind.

The scary part is that people don’t immediately know that they’re injured: The retina has no pain receptors, so people who burn their retinas won’t feel it. Since the damage takes a few days to develop, they probably won’t realize they’re injured until their vision becomes defective several days later.

The other, much more painful effect of staring at the solar eclipse without protection is damaging the cornea, the clear tissue covering the front of the eyeball. When the cornea gets burned by the sun’s UV rays, it gets inflamed, causing blurry vision and sore eyes. This condition, known as photokeratitis, is fortunately not permanent like solar retinopathy, but it must be treated by a physician as soon as possible because complications — like painful growths of excess tissue — may develop quickly. Treatment for photokeratitis often involves using pain-relieving eye drops, rest, and wearing very dark glasses.

If your eyes are sore and bloodshot and you suddenly can’t see clearly in the hours after viewing the solar eclipse, it probably means you experienced it wrong and need to get yourself to a doctor ASAP. On your way there, WebMD’s advice for corneal flash burns suggests you take your contacts out (if you wear them), put on dark glasses, and try using artificial tears to lubricate the eye.

PSA: A Partial Eclipse Can Fry Your Naked Eyes

The day of the long-awaited coast-to-coast solar eclipse has arrived — and if history is any guide, it’s likely that somebody’s eyes are going to get hurt.

“The ones we’re really concerned about are the people who have never seen an eclipse before — or just decided that, you know, ‘Today is a nice day to go take a look at a solar eclipse’ — and, ‘Oh, I probably don’t need to do very much to get ready to do that.’ Then I get worried,” says Ralph Chou, an optometrist and vision scientist at the University of Waterloo in Canada. He has seen 18 total solar eclipses.

You really can get blurred vision or blind spots after watching partial eclipses without protection, says Chou, even if there is just a tiny little crescent of sun left in the sky.

“I’ve seen a couple of patients over the years where, you know, you’ve got very distinct crescent-shaped scars from looking at a solar eclipse,” says Chou.

It is never safe to look directly at a partial eclipse without special eclipse glasses or filters — and most of the country will see only a partial eclipse.

The risk of injury to the retina is even greater if you look at a partial eclipse without protection through a telescope or binoculars, Chou warns.

“The damage,” he says, “can happen extremely quickly.”

Binoculars and telescopes need special filters — it is not safe to look through them while just wearing regular old eclipse glasses. It is safe, however, to put eclipse glasses over your everyday prescription eyewear.

And if you never got around to buying the right sort of protective eclipse glasses, you can still safely “watch” the event projected on a wall or the ground, NASA reminds us, with the help of an index card, a bit of aluminum foil and some tape.

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Because of the way the light exposure damages cells of the retina, says Chou, a person who has suffered eye damage typically does not realize that there is any problem until hours after the eclipse.

Experience from past eclipses suggests that it has been younger people who are more likely to ignore safety warnings, says Chou.

“It does tend to be young males,” he says. “Teens to early 20s — the ones who don’t think about any protection for a number of different circumstances.”

But don’t be so stressed out about eye safety that you miss the dramatic event known as totality. If you’re lucky enough to be in the thin stretch of land across the country that is going to see a total solar eclipse, it’s absolutely OK to look up with your naked eyes during the couple of minutes or so when the moon is completely covering the sun. In fact, it’s more than OK.

“It is spectacularly beautiful, and there’s nothing else like it,” says Rick Fienberg, press officer for the American Astronomical Society, who has seen a dozen total solar eclipses. “It’s kind of like falling in love. You can’t describe what that is unless you’ve experienced it.”

When the sun completely blinks out, the safety glasses can come off so that you can enjoy the view of the sun’s otherworldly corona and the eerie daytime darkness. But the instant a sliver of sun starts to re-emerge, he says, those glasses need to go back on if you want to keep watching.

“Going through life without seeing a total eclipse of the sun would be like going through life without ever falling in love,” says Fienberg. “It would be a terrible shame not to have that fundamental, wonderful experience.”

You Can Help NASA With Your Eclipse Observations

NASA is celebrating the first American total solar eclipse of the smartphone era with a citizen science project that will let eclipse viewers provide data to help scientists understand how much energy from the sun reaches Earth’s surface.

To take part, you’ll need to download the program’s free app, called GLOBE Observer. Once you’ve installed it, set up an account with a valid email address (the application will automatically assign your password and email it to you).

You can download the app any time between now and Aug. 21, but the data portal for eclipse observations won’t launch until Aug. 18. They need data from both on and off the path of totality, so you can take part wherever in the United States you’ll be on the big day.

The program is asking for data before and after the climax of the eclipse, so signing up won’t affect your ability to enjoy the spectacle.

Armed with just your phone, you can contribute by watching cloud cover for the two hours before and after the moon crosses the sun. The GLOBE program is asking contributors to aim for a photograph every 15 to 30 minutes within that window. If a photo doesn’t do justice to everything you’re seeing, you can also type in a note.

If you’ve got a thermometer on hand, you can also measure how much the temperature changes as the eclipse happens. For these observations, GLOBE is hoping for a measurement every 10 minutes for two hours on each side of the eclipse, preferably speeding up to every five minutes for the hour immediately surrounding the eclipse. You can take those measurements wherever you are, as long as you hold the thermometer in the shade (that can be your own shadow). If you’re intrigued but want to focus on the eclipse experience, you can also take these measurements on Aug. 20 to give the team something to compare to.

GLOBE is also looking for some more complicated data if you have snazzier equipment like an infrared thermometer or an anemometer for wind speeds. To submit these observations, however, you’ll need to study up on some training materials and pass quizzes to show you know what you’re doing.

The app will walk you through collecting your data and can send you reminders if you’re worried about losing track of time, as long as you allow notifications.

All of the information people submit will be banked together for scientists and students to analyze. Like NASA’s own on-the-ground measurements and contributions from instruments in space, the data will help scientists understand how much energy Earth gets from the sun.

If you don’t want to wait until Aug. 20 to get started, the GLOBE Observer app already has two projects in the works, one on cloud observations and one tracking mosquito habitat and larvae. Happy science-ing!

Solar Eclipse Could Cost US Nearly $700 Million in Lost Productivity

The total solar eclipse of 2017 could cost U.S. companies nearly $700 million in lost productivity on Monday (Aug. 21) when workers pause to watch the moon block the sun.

Based an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the worker outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. estimates that employers could lose as much as $694 million because of the solar eclipse, which occurs during a workday, company representatives said in a statement.

Challenger arrived at its cost estimate by using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2016 American Time Use Survey. The company used survey data for the country’s average hourly wage data and number of full-time employed workers age 16 and higher to calculate what the lost productivity on solar eclipse day would cost if workers took 20 minutes out of their day to observe the total solar eclipse.

Andrew Challenger, vice president of the Chicago-based company, told NBC News that he estimates 87 million workers across the country will take a break to see the solar eclipse. But in the grand scheme, that potential $694 million in lost productivity isn’t a major hit.

According to NBC News, worker distractions from March Madness can reach up to $615 million per hour as employees take time out to track college basketball games, set up brackets or catch up on game highlights. And there is a benefit to companies that celebrate the eclipse together, Challenger said.

“Since this is happening over the lunch hours, the financial impact is minimal. It offers a great opportunity to boost morale. Employers could offer lunch to their staff, give instructions on how to make viewing devices, and watch together as a team,” Challenger said in his company’s statement.

In fact,’s parent company Purch is one of the many businesses doing just that.

The roof of our New York City office — the home of — will be open for employees of our sister sites (and the entire nine-floor building) to observe a partial solar eclipse. At Purch’s headquarters in Ogden, Utah, employees will head outside to experience their own partial eclipse.

“Building in time around lunch to mark the special occasion will encourage employees to interact and have something to be excited about,” Challenger said in the statement.

Visit to see the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, with a live webcast from NASA beginning at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT).

Travel: Solar Eclipse Stay

As you might have heard, August 21 will mark the first total solar eclipse seen across the US in almost 100 years. This Solar Eclipse Stay is the ideal way to experience it. You’ll start by spending the night of the 20th in a geodesic dome in rural Oregon, joined by an astrophysicist and a professional night sky photographer. The next day, as the Moon prepares to pass between the Earth and the Sun, you’ll take to the skies in a private jet for a truly unique view of this rare celestial event. Not available for purchase, one lucky winner will get to enjoy the experience courtesy of Airbnb.

Here’s A Giant List Of Solar Eclipse Promotions

On Monday, Aug. 21, people from Oregon to South Carolina will get to experience a rare total solar eclipse, with folks outside this path still experiencing a partial eclipse. And because every notable event must be accompanied by a marketing bonanza, there is no shortage of companies offering everything from eclipse-themed appliance sales to one-day-only donuts.

We’ve rounded up some promotions and freebies that you might find interesting. If you know of other promotions that we missed, please let us know so we can update this post before the event!

Home Appliances

Frigidaire: A “blackout sale” on matte black stainless steel appliances will run from Aug. 17 to Aug. 23. The collection will be at least 30% off at participating retailers, including online.


Krispy Kreme: The hot doughnut chain is celebrating the eclipse by putting a chocolate glaze on its original glazed doughnuts for the first time.

“The Chocolate Glazed Doughnut is a delicious way to experience the solar eclipse — no matter where you are — and we can’t wait for fans to try it,” the company’s chief marketing officer said in a statement, leaving people who live in places with neither Krispy Kreme shops nor a full view of the eclipse bereft.

Pilot/Flying J Travel Centers: Get a free Milky Way candy bar or pack of Eclipse gum (of course!) with any beverage purchase. (You may have to download the chain’s rewards app to get this deal; we’re waiting for clarification.)

Pizza Hut: They don’t have an eclipse special, but did make an instructional video showing how to make a pinhole eclipse viewer out of a pizza box.

Dairy Queen: From Aug. 21 to Sept. 3, you’ll be able to buy one Blizzard and get one for $0.99, which somehow involves the eclipse.


Warby Parker: While most places are out of the special viewing glasses you’ll need to protect your eyes during the eclipse, Warby Parker is giving them away for free at its physical stores. Or, follow these instructions to make your own pinhole projector.


U.S. Postal Service: The USPS is selling super cool eclipse stamps. They’re the first postage stamp in this country that uses thermocromatic ink that changes the image when you touch the stamp. The moon covering the sun disappears.


José Cuervo Tequila: The brand sent along some eclipse-themed cocktail recipes, including the “Total Especial Eclipse.” Here’s how you make it, and you now have two days to locate charcoal lemonade:

2 oz Jose Cuervo Especial
2 oz orange juice
1 tsp grenadine
1/2 oz. charcoal lemonade

Shake tequila and orange juice and pour into a rocks glass over ice. Mix charcoal lemonade and grenadine and slowly pour into the cocktail.

Regional events & parties

The eclipse cuts a swath across the country from the Pacific Northwest to the coastal Southeast, so there’s no way we can include every big eclipse viewing event or post-eclipse party. But there are some handy lists out there.

• Travel Oregon has put together this roundup things to do and see in the state on Monday.

• Here’s a massive map of the 100+ events going on in and around St. Louis on the day of the eclipse.

• This page at the Charleston Post & Courier site gathers together some of the best places to celebrate after the eclipse for people visiting the last city in the path of totality.

• And USA Today has its guide to events both in and outside the path of the total eclipse.

Watch in person

By air: Private plane operators and small airlines like Million Air have packages that will take you to a remote airport to view the eclipse for $10,000, according to Bloomberg News. Even private jet companies and commercial carriers like Southwest are giving away viewing glasses to passengers on flights that might get to see the eclipse from their windows.

On the ground: The American Astronomical Society has a handy tool for looking up local events taking place along the path of the eclipse, from astronomy club meetings to community festivals and live streams.

Watch from afar

NASA: If you don’t live somewhere where the moon will completely cover the sun and/or will be stuck at your desk, NASA has you covered: It will be streaming the eclipse from a weather-proof vantage point above the clouds. The space agency expects up to a billion people to watch.

The Weather Channel: Another option for watching the eclipse will be on The Weather Channel, which will be broadcasting live from seven locations across the country.

SolarEdge: If you’re wondering who is seeing the eclispe right now, solar energy systems company SolarEdge is also offering a stream that will show you the path of the eclipse and how it’s affecting solar energy systems.

Everything You Need to Know to Be Ready For Monday’s Great American Eclipse

You know the drill. On Monday 21 August the contiguous United States will experience a total solar eclipse – the first time the path of the Moon’s shadow will travel across the entire country since 1918.

There will be hype, there will be science, and there will be what we estimate to be about a gazillion photos and videos of the event. Whether you’re going to see it live or not, here’s everything you need to know to be ready.

Here’s where it will strike

If you’re planning to be physically present on the path of totality, we’re sure your travel plans have already been laid out well in advance.

But just in case, here’s where you can find out where it’s going to hit and what times to look out for, depending on your location.

Here’s what you need to bring

Everyone’s been talking about eclipse glasses, and they are indeed the single most important piece of equipment you’re going to need to experience the sight in full glory, especially before and after totality hits.

But there’s other stuff you may forget to chuck in the car in all that excitement – like binoculars, picnic gear, or even sunscreen. So we’ve prepared a handy list of the most important things, with some solid guidance from experienced eclipse viewer and astronomer Amanda Bauer.

If you’re planning to take photos or videos of the eclipse, make sure you bring the right filters and choose the right settings to avoid frying your expensive camera.

Here’s what to watch out for during totality

Everyone knows it gets weirdly dark when the Moon completely blots out the Sun in our sky.

But you can also expect the weather to go weird. The ‘eclipse wind’ phenomenon puzzled meteorologists for some 300 years, until they finally came up with the most plausible explanation yet a couple years ago. Spoiler: it’s to do with variation in our planet’s boundary layer.

Another fascinating aspect of the strange totality darkness is its effect on animals. This has not been studied much, because it’s tricky to gather enough data on potentially weird animal behaviors triggered by the eclipse. Researchers are hoping that this time citizen scientists will help out with some observations.

Here’s what scientists will be learning from this eclipse

This Monday is not just going to be a fun day for the whole family and a baffling experience for folk who refuse to accept Earth is not flat.

Eclipses are also great for studying the celestial bodies involved, and this time NASA will be using converted bomber planes to get a chance at mapping the Sun’s corona, making new observations of Mercury and near-Sun asteroids dubbed Vulcanoids.

A team of NASA scientists also recently participated in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session, and we must say some of the questions people asked them were a bit on the wacky side.

Oh, and here’s what’s not going to happen

Some headlines would have you believe that the Great American Eclipse is the precursor to a Nibiru apocalypse. Rest assured, that’s not going to happen.

Here’s what to do if you can’t see it in person

The vast majority of the world’s population does not reside in the US and will not be there to see this eclipse live. But fear not, you can still fully expect to have your social media flooded with footage.

And luckily, if you do want to witness it live from the comforts of your own home – possibly even on the other side of the globe – there will be a livestream. And not just any livestream! This one will be captured at an altitude of 30 kilometers (100,000 feet) above Earth’s surface.

Curiously, here’s what it’s like to see it from a plane

In 2016, a video of what an eclipse looks like from a plane window did the rounds, with people excitedly losing their shit in the audio accompanying the view.

We get it, though – people go to great lengths and pay great money to chase the totality in a plane, especially because by using this trick it’s possible to extend the viewing time of the event by several minutes.

And finally, here’s some info in case you miss this one

Despite the extreme excitement, we understand not everyone will get a chance to catch the Great American Eclipse. But don’t worry, the next total one will touch the US in 2024, although unfortunately it won’t cross the entire country again.

And for longer-term planning, NASA actually has calculations on the next 1,000 years of eclipses, so you can just peruse the list and find the most suitable one depending on your location in the world.

Your Cell Service Might Cut Out During The Eclipse

So you’re staking out a spot somewhere along the Aug. 21 solar eclipse’s belt of totality, where the moon will block the sun to create a two-minute-long night in the middle of the day. But what if you need to meet someone in the crowd or keep friends updated?

The eclipse itself won’t interfere with communications here on Earth, but the huge crowds of people and devices gathering within the path of totality could overload networks. Cell service providers are hoping that between their existing networks and portable equipment being sent to the eclipse path, they’ll be able to handle the huge spike in bandwidth needs.

AT&T started planning a year and a half ago, according to Paula Doublin, an executive within the company’s construction and engineering department. Currently, she and her team are targeting nine locations near the path of totality to receive mobile support, although they’ll be watching crowds to see if they should adjust their plans. They also moved up network improvements that had been slated for later in the year.

To decide where to send mobile units, they studied their current infrastructure, then calculated how many people they expected to arrive for the eclipse and its festivities. That means NASA viewing sites, like Carbondale, Illinois, and Madras, Oregon, are getting an extra boost.

Other networks have made similar plans, according to emails from their representatives. Verizon is fairly confident its network will hold up, but will send out a few mobile bandwidth support units, just in case. Sprint is following a similar strategy and hopes users will turn off their updates and plan to text rather than make phone calls in particularly crowded areas. T-Mobile, too, is augmenting its existing network in a few locations.

“Both personally and professionally, I am really excited about this eclipse,” Doublin said. This will be her second solar eclipse, after she watched one pass over Africa. But for AT&T, it will be a serious test of the network. “It’s like having a major sport week, with a major championship on the line, going on for essentially five or six days,” but spread across 3,000 miles instead of clustered in one city, she said.

If all goes well, you shouldn’t notice anything unusual during the eclipse — so charge up those batteries and be ready to go.

CNN Will Livestream the Solar Eclipse in 360-Degree 4K

We’re just one week away from the United States’ much-hyped solar eclipse occurrence, and the frenzy surrounding the rare event continues. Joining a long list of companies and media outlets, CNN has revealed plans to livestream the solar eclipse in 360-degree 4K. Using multiple cameras, CNN will allow viewers to visually track the eclipse’s course as it unfolds along an Oregon to South Carolina path. The livestream event will be the central focus of the cable news company’s one-off program CNN’s Eclipse of the Century, which will begin to air at 1 p.m. EST next Monday, August 21.

Along with CNN’s 360-degree, 4K livestream, NatGeo and Airbnb have teamed up to send one lucky winner to view the solar eclipse from a special private jet. Even food companies have capitalized on the event; Krispy Kreme is celebrating the celestial happening with a new donut.

For the astronomy enthusiasts out there without access to cable television, tune into or CNN’s mobile apps and social media networks next Monday to view Eclipse of the Century from your smartphone or computer.