What is Ketamine Therapy?

When patients first reach out to MindPeace Clinics, located in Arlington, Richmond and Norfolk, Virginia, one of their first questions is “What is Ketamine?” Many patients have little to no experience with this medication in a medical setting, and want to learn more before moving forward with this potentially life changing treatment.

Ketamine balances brain chemicals and interacts with pain pathways, giving patients rapid relief from their symptoms – often their first substantial pain relief in years. Ketamine therapy is one of the best treatment options for underlying conditions that don’t respond to conventional medications such as treatment-resistant depression

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that was first approved by the FDA in 1970. Discovered in the early 1960s, ketamine underwent rigorous testing to ensure its safety and efficacy as a general anesthetic. One of Ketamine’s first practical applications was to help injured soldiers during Vietnam.

Over the past 20 years, physicians worldwide have been studying the application of ketamine to treat mood disorders and chronic pain syndromes using sub-anesthetic doses. Ketamine can be administered via many different routes, including nasal spray and intravenous infusions, with results of more than 70% of patients experiencing more than 50% reduction of their symptoms. 

How is Ketamine Administered?

Ketamine may be administered in the form of a pill, nasal spray, intramuscular injection, or intravenous infusion. When used in the hospital for anesthetic or pain control purposes, ketamine is usually administered intravenously. Ketamine infusions and nasal sprays are also used to treat other conditions in an outpatient setting, often as an off-label (Non FDA Sanctioned) use.

During ketamine infusion therapy, patients receive a moderate dose of ketamine infused over the course of one to 4 hours.

How does Ketamine Work?

Ketamine works on blocking the NMDA receptors and then activating another receptor, AMPA, which begins the process of having the cells produce Growth (G) Proteins that instruct the nerves to produce dendritic spines, which are branches of the nerve and how the cells communicate with one another. This has the effect of increasing Glutamate, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter, and decreasing GABA, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter.

Glutamate is the main neurotransmitter that encourages synapse growth in the brain. Accordingly, glutamate helps strengthen critical neural connections in areas of the brain that are most impacted by depression. The new connections bring about beneficial changes in brain circuit function.

Benefits of Ketamine Therapy

In sub-anesthetic doses, ketamine can successfully treat mood disorders, including depression, PTSD and OCD, as well as anxiety and chronic pain syndromes including central sensitization syndrome, fibromyalgia, and reflex simplex dystrophy. Some studies have also shown that ketamine therapy can relieve migraine headaches.

Drawbacks of Ketamine Therapy

Occasionally, some patients experience mild side effects. The most common side effects are nausea and rarely vomiting. Other patients experience altered perceptions of their senses, but they do not hallucinate. Other possible side effects include blood pressure changes and an increased heart rate.  

At MindPeace Clinics, all treatments are monitored by an attending physician and registered nurse to ensure we provide the highest quality and standard of care during each treatment.

Who Is Eligible for Ketamine Therapy?

Ketamine is FDA Approved to be used as an anesthetic; its use to treat mood disorders is considered an off-label use. 

Recently, Johnson and Johnson did a series of trials and the FDA approved esketamine (Spravato) Nasal Spray for the use with Major Depression. Esketamine is an enantiomer of ketamine, meaning it is effectively the same molecule. The approval from the FDA for esketamine to treat suicidal ideation and major depression has been an essential development in the treatment of patients, enabling a treatment that is covered by most insurance companies.

Find a Ketamine Therapy Clinic

Since MindPeace Clinic was first established in 2017, we have ensured that we educate our patients while providing them with the highest standard of care. Please let us know if you have any questions about ketamine or how it works. 

You can fill out a form here and we will contact you, or you can send us an email at admin@mindpeaceclinic.com. We look forward to answering your questions and providing any support we can.