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What Is Ketamine And How Does It Work?

Myth

Ketamine is a veterinarian-prescribed anesthetic that was originally designed for use on animals. It was given the green light by the FDA in 1970 as a human anesthetic. Ketamine is unique among anesthetics because it doesn’t have any of the usual side effects, such as slowed breathing or heart rate. It also means that the treatment does not have to be administered via a ventilator.

Firefighters, police officers, and paramedics may administer ketamine to a patient who has attempted suicide. They discovered that ketamine has strong antidepressant and suicidal thought-reducing abilities.

Some specialists have begun using ketamine to treat chronic pain as well. While researchers continue to investigate how ketamine works and its potential applications for other mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), they are studying it.

Ketamine has become a popular recreational drug, which has led to concerns about its use and the emergence of ketamine addiction. For this reason, ketamine is considered a controlled substance in some countries, such as Australia and Canada.

Researchers are still exploring how ketamine works, as well as its potential benefits for other mental health conditions. It may be available in an outpatient setting or during hospitalization.

 

Chemical Composition of Ketamine

The chemical composition of ketamine is an off-white powder that dissolves in water. It’s undetectable, which makes it ideal for use as a recreational drug. Because it has no scent or flavor, it may be tough to detect when employed as a party drug. Ketamine is classified as a schedule III controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Ketamine also appears under the names of Ketaject, Ketaset, and Vetalar among others. The chemical properties of ketamine are C16H22ClNO. It has a molecular weight of 277.8 and a melting point of 33 degrees Celsius. Ketamine hydrochloride is the most common form that is used in medical settings.

 

Ketamine as a Recreational Drug

Ketamine is widely popular as a club drug often abused at all-night dance parties known as raves. The drug is currently used to treat severe pain in cancer patients and those undergoing surgery, and it has been used as an anesthetic.

Ketamine has been shown to target specific receptors in the brain that control how we perceive pain and respond to stress, according to researchers.

Recreational doses for ketamine are usually sold in liquid form or wrapped in paper or aluminum foil to maintain its powdery texture. The powder may then be snorted or added to beverages before consumption. You can also find more info about how you can use it here.

 

Effects of Ketamine on the Body

When taken by mouth, ketamine typically causes an all-of-body experience within minutes. Other common effects include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Drowsiness and sedation, which can be prolonged for up to two hours after taking the drug
  • Impaired motor function

Recreational users may also experience dry mouth, nausea, blurred vision, loss of balance, and urinary retention. People who take ketamine in high doses or mix it with other substances risk potentially life-threatening side effects, such as slow and shallow breathing and irregular heart rhythms.

Some people report feeling detached from their bodies —a dissociative effect that’s sometimes called a “K-hole”—while others say they feel like they’re floating above the ground. Researchers believe these experiences may be similar to early memories, but they also may be related to ketamine’s ability to act on the same brain chemicals that are impacted by schizophrenia.

Studies have shown therapeutic effects for depression when taking small doses under a doctor’s supervision. As interest increases in using psychedelics for mental health, many researchers see promise in drugs like LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) because their effects are more predictable and controllable than those of ketamine.

Ketamine has also been shown to induce a series of chemical modifications in the brain that appear to alleviate depression rapidly—within hours or days—and, perhaps, manage suicidal ideas.

Certain patients with depression that can’t be cured by other treatments may be given ketamine off-label by their doctors. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is currently conducting clinical trials to see whether Ketamine can be used safely to treat clinically depressed people on whom other therapies are ineffective.

“It’s very exciting,” says Alan Schatzberg, MD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine who has administered ketamine to research subjects as part of the NIH trials.

“We are seeing tremendous results so far in terms of efficacy and safety. There do appear to be incredible effects for some patients after just one or two doses.”

The drug typically triggers reversible physical changes that mirror symptoms associated with depression—lower energy levels, feelings of hopelessness, and anhedonia, which means the inability to experience a pleasure.

Studies show that ketamine works by blocking certain nerve cell receptors in the brain, which are involved in controlling how we learn and process information from the surrounding environment.

Scientists believe that problems with these receptors may play a role in some psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and chronic depression—and not just at the level of single cells but also when they work together within larger neural networks.

Ketamine appears to restore normal function to key neurons in depressed brains, thereby alleviating symptoms so people can benefit from psychotherapy or other treatments. “We think this is going to change how we treat mood and anxiety disorders,” says Cristina Cusin, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard University.

How does Ketamine work?

Ketamine’s mechanism of action is not fully understood, but it is known to work differently than other anesthetics. It is thought to inhibit certain nerve receptors, which may be why it has anti-depressant effects.

It also has effects on opioid receptors and serotonin receptors. Researchers are still exploring these effects and how they might be beneficial for treating mental health conditions.

The mechanism of ketamine’s antidepressant effects has been widely studied. In the brain, glutamate is primarily released as a neurotransmitter from neuronal projections in cortical pyramidal neurons and subsequently binds to alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole receptors on nearby cells, with consequences that depend on cell type, receptor density, postsynaptic receptor Voltage Sensitive Dopamine (VSDA) channels expression, etc.

Ketamine is thought to act primarily by blocking specific receptors, which produces rapid antidepressant actions without affecting certain nerve receptors implicated in the antiemetic (vomiting), analgesic (pain relief), or sedative effect of ketamine.

Ketamine Infusion Therapy on Mood Disorders

Patients with mood disorders, such as depression, have received ketamine infusion treatment. Ketamine has the potential to be an effective therapy if other treatments are ineffective or cause harmful side effects.

It is thought to work by restoring normal function to key neurons in depressed brains—thereby alleviating symptoms so people can benefit from psychotherapy or other treatments.

More research is needed to better understand how ketamine works, but it appears that the drug inhibits nerve receptors and has effects on opioid receptors and serotonin receptors. These effects may be beneficial for treating mental health conditions.

Nerve receptors cause the stimulation of certain neural factors. They promote the rise of brain-derived neurotrophic factors. They trigger the growth of new receptors and synapses via their actions on neuropeptides.

According to studies, a deficit in these connections is linked to severe depression and other mood problems, as well as sleep difficulties and attention.

The most effective and efficient treatment presently accessible for severe depression is ketamine infusion therapy.

This may include serious depressive disorders that are immune to any kind of treatment options and it may even instill the idea of committing suicide. Although ketamine has recently been FDA approved as an injectable medication for such a condition, IV infusion offers advantages over oral dosing including more rapid onset of therapeutic benefits, reduction of the total number of treatments needed, and far greater bioavailability.

Ketamine Infusion Therapy on Pain Relief

Pain relief is another potential benefit of ketamine infusion therapy. It is a well-known analgesic, or pain reliever, and has been used in hospitals for years as a general anesthetic. Researchers are also studying the use of ketamine as a pain medication for individuals who have become immune to other treatments.

It is being used increasingly as a long-term treatment for chronic pain conditions such as complex regional pain syndrome and post-trauma or post surgery neuropathic pain.

Although the advantages of ketamine infusion therapy have yet to be determined, preliminary research suggests that it may have several benefits for treating neuropathic disorders and pain. Ketamine infusion therapy involves nerve receptors that cause the increase in certain factors derived from the cerebrum.

Ketamine infusion therapy offers an alternative to opioids, which are highly addictive and cause thousands of deaths every year due to overdoses. Many experts believe ketamine has the potential to significantly reduce deaths associated with opioid abuse.

It may also be effective in reducing severe pain stemming from other conditions including cancer, traumatic injuries, or diseases like sickle cell disease that can cause episodes of intense pain that cannot be managed by other medications.

If you are suffering from a mood disorder or chronic pain and have not found relief with other treatments, ketamine infusion therapy may be the answer for you. Talk to your doctor to see if this treatment is suitable for you.

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