What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a noncompetitive N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist. It has different binding sites such as opioid, monoaminergic, cholinergic, nicotinic and muscarinic receptors. Ketamine is eliminated through the kidneys and has an elimination half-life of 2-3 hours. Following elimination, ketamine continues to have a prolonged effect.

Over several decades, research has shown that ketamine has antidepressive properties. Ketamine has been incorporated into the treatment of psychiatric disorders, such as major depressive disorder (MDD), bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as post-operative and chronic pain management. Ketamine is associated with very few drug-drug interactions and no contraindications are currently known to exist when combined with antidepressants, benzodiazepines, or other psychotropic medications.

Ketamine infusions have been used as an adjunct to psychiatric treatment and can offer substantial short-term resolution of symptoms. Studies have shown that ketamine infusion reduces depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts within a 30-40 minute period in approximately 60-75 percent of patients.

Ketamine can effectively ameliorate symptoms of patients suffering from PTSD. A single dose of ketamine, compared with a psychoactive placebo control medication, was associated with a rapid reduction in core PTSD symptoms and the benefit was often maintained beyond 24 hours, with some patients continuing to see reduced symptoms at two weeks.

Ketamine may be used for chronic pain management for a range of disorders, including complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Ketamine has also been shown to treat depression and anxiety in the context of chronic pain and other chronic illnesses.