What Is Ketamine?
Ketamine in an anesthetic developed in the early 1960’s. It is one of the most widely used drugs in modern medicine, and is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. It has a variety of medical uses and is FDA-approved as an anesthetic.
Ketamine has a remarkably safe track record in surgical settings and is frequently used in pediatric surgery. It is also commonly used to treat the extreme physical pain of a condition called CRPS/RSD. The US military has used ketamine as a battlefield anesthetic since the Vietnam War. Ketamine is also used in veterinary medicine.
Ketamine has been found to be effective in treating many conditions as a surgical anesthetic, and has only been approved by the FDA to be marketed as such. Ketamine’s use outside of that as an anesthetic is considered “off label.” It is estimated that almost 1/4 of all prescription medications sold in the United States are prescribed off label. In the US, ketamine is listed as a DEA Schedule III drug.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ketamine has been shown to stimulate neuron growth in the brain in as quickly as one hour. Many scientists studying Ketamine are focusing on the neurotransmitter glutamate, which plays an important role in neural activation.
It’s real. Ketamine treatment is an intravenous infusion procedure performed in a specially-equipped medical office by a member of our team.
It’s not hype. The National Institutes of Health has been studying ketamine’s effect on depression for more than ten years. There is serious scholarly research behind this treatment, which means controlled, double-blind, peer-reviewed studies at major institutions.
Researchers at Yale pioneered this research nearly 20 years ago and published the first major study in 2000. Since then, dozens more ketamine studies have been conducted at Yale and other major institutions including NIH, The VA, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Mt. Sinai Medical School, Oxford University, and many more around the world.
About 70% of patients with treatment-resistant depression (including bipolar patients) experience rapid relief after a low-dose ketamine infusion. Similar success rates have been seen in returning combat veterans suffering from PTSD. These patients’ cases are the worst of the worst, lasting years or even decades, which have not responded to any other treatments. Many have hovered on the verge of suicide for years, many have actually attempted suicide, and all have endured a very poor quality of life.
Before ketamine therapy, there was virtually no way to substantially improve the condition of patients like these. The fact that ketamine works rapidly on 70% of them is astonishing, and its discovery has profoundly changed depression research, and our understanding of the very nature of depression.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that the degree of relief can vary among patients. Some sufferers get only partial relief, some do not get relief until a second or third infusion, and some do not respond to ketamine at all. Some patients have additional medical conditions in addition to depression that can reduce its effectiveness.
The most commonly reported side effects include mild nausea, drowsiness, and a temporary increase in blood pressure. Our staff will closely monitor your blood pressure and heart rate throughout the course of the infusion. During the treatment you may experience something called a dissociative effect. Most patients describe the experience with words like relaxing, floating, and pleasant. This “dream-like” state or euphoria feeling quickly subsides after the therapy is over, allowing you to leave with your driver after treatment is complete. Less common side effects include vivid dreams, mood swings, or agitation. If these types of side effects do occur, they are controlled by adjusting the dosage of ketamine.