Occasionally clothed singer, provocateur, drug advocate, and Voice judge Miley Cyrus can add “half-decent doctor” to her list of qualifications, because she just dished out some fairly sound medical advice. Cyrus, taking over hosting duties for Ellen DeGeneres while she’s out sick, said of the talk show host: “I gave her a bunch of molly to make her feel better. It’s working.”
The notoriously free-spirited pop star has a long history of promoting casual recreational drug use — “We like to party/Dancing wth molly” is one of her most iconic lines — but while her previous flirtations at advocacy have mostly been hedonistic, her quip on the Ellen show hints at some medical truth. Molly, otherwise known as the psychoactive drug MDMA, is rumored within the drug user community to cure the flu. While that claim is certainly a stretch, it is true that MDMA has vasoconstrictive properties, just like the cold and flu medication Sudafed.
Vasoconstriction is doctor-speak for the process of tightening up of the blood vessels. It’s a useful way of preventing inflammation in the body: Because it’s harder for fluids to leave constricted blood vessels, less fluid leaks out into the surrounding tissue, which is what causes swelling. In the case of a cold or flu, inducing vasoconstriction in the nose, throat, and sinuses makes them less swollen and sore, and it also turns down the knobs on mucus production. In normal cold/flu meds, a healthy dose of pseudoephedrine usually does the trick — not coincidentally, it often creates false positive results in MDMA drug tests — but in what universe would Miley prescribe normal meds?
That said, MDMA’s vessel-constricting effects aren’t always beneficial. Too much MDMA-induced vasoconstriction increases blood pressure and body temperature, causing, as this NIDA study in the Journal of Neuroscience pointed out, sometimes-fatal overheating when users are in closed, hot environments like a warehouse party or rave. Also not good if you have a fever.
We don’t know what kind of illness Ellen has come down with, but we hope that, wherever she’s recuperating, it isn’t overwhelmingly hot. At the very least, her fans can take solace in the knowledge that, thanks to Dr. Cyrus, no matter where she is or what she’s suffering from, she’s having a great fucking time.