What Is Ketamine?
Is Ketamine Safe?
Ketamine, as a medication, is very safe. When administered at an appropriate dose by medical professionals like our staff here at KDI Health, it is effective with little to no side effects. Compared to SSRIs or other antidepressants, ketamine is also very effective at treating pain, depression, and other mood disorders. Studies indicate up to 75% of patients find relief with a series of ketamine infusions.
The History of Ketamine
American chemist Dr. Calvin L. Stevens first synthesized ketamine in 1962. A series of highly successful clinical trials ensued, and by 1970, the FDA had approved ketamine as an anesthetic. The drug found its first use sedating soldiers for battlefield surgery during the Vietnam War. Since then, ketamine has been used extensively for pediatric and adult treatment in surgery, emergency departments, ambulances, trauma medicine, and more. The World Health Organization lists ketamine as an essential medicine due to its therapeutic effects and wide margin of safety.
Over the last two decades, Yale University and the National Institutes of Health identified additional benefits of ketamine in treating mood disorders and chronic pain. It is currently thought that ketamine’s primary benefit stems from ketamine’s interaction with a neurotransmitter known as glutamate. Much of the scientific literature supports this idea, with findings indicating that antidepressants’ therapeutic effects work by a similar, although much less direct, mechanism.
Glutamate is an amino acid and neurotransmitter found throughout the central nervous system. It is highly active at the intersection of several metabolic systems. In short, glutamate is responsible for mediating processes in the brain and the speed with which neural events occur. This little molecule is strongly associated with learning, memory, and mood regulation and plays an enormous, though not entirely understood, role in the generation of new neural pathways.
A Picture of a Neuron
The neuron found in this image shows new dendritic formations, or new neural growth, within just 2 hours of receiving ketamine. Ketamine’s effect on the human brain – how it interacts with the medial prefrontal cortex and hippocampus regarding chronic pain, for instance – is open to debate. We know that ketamine has reduced some of the symptoms associated with mental disorders like anxiety and depression and has provided relief to those experiencing chronic pain, CRPS, and neuropathy.
A CT Scan of a Human Brain
After ketamine treatments, the depressed brain is almost identical to the non-depressed picture as new neural activity has replaced less active regions in the depressed example. The amygdala, the part of the brain that handles fear and emotion and is vital in addressing mood disorders, may undergo positive structural changes from ketamine infusion therapy.