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What Is Ketamine?

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine, a medication initially developed as an anesthetic, has gained significant attention in recent years for its potential therapeutic applications. Let us discuss the history of ketamine, its uses, and its effects on the human body.

History Of Ketamine

Ketamine was first synthesized in 1962 by Calvin L. Stevens, a chemist working for the pharmaceutical company Parke-Davis. It was initially developed as an alternative to phencyclidine (PCP), a powerful dissociative anesthetic that had significant side effects. Ketamine was approved for use as an anesthetic in the United States in 1970 by the FDA, and it quickly gained popularity for its safety profile and effectiveness.

Medical Uses Of Ketamine


Since its FDA approval in the early 70s, ketamine has been widely used as an anesthetic, including by pediatricians, thanks to its safety profile. It induces a trance-like state, providing pain relief and sedation without the respiratory or cardiovascular depressions which is common in most other anesthetic medications.

Pain Management

In addition to inducing and/or maintaining anesthesia during invasive procedures, ketamine has also been used to manage acute, particularly in cases where opioid painkillers are contraindicated or ineffective. However, recent evidence now shows ketamine infusions can provide sustained relief from various forms of chronic pain.

Treatment-Resistant Depression

In recent years, ketamine has gained attention for its potential use in treating treatment-resistant depression. Studies have shown that low-dose, intravenous ketamine infusions can potentially provide rapid and significant relief for individuals who have not responded to traditional antidepressants.

Other Psychiatric Conditions

Research is ongoing to explore the potential benefits of ketamine in treating other psychiatric conditions, such as anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), substance use disorders, and bipolar disorder.

How Do Ketamine Infusions Work?

Ketamine’s exact mechanism of action is not entirely understood, but it is believed to work primarily by blocking N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the brain. These receptors are involved in various processes, including memory formation, learning, pain processing, and mood and emotional regulation.

By modulating the NMDA receptors, ketamine is thought to trigger a cascade of neurochemical events that ultimately lead to its antidepressant, anxiolytic, and analgesic effects.

Side Effects & Risks Of Ketamine Infusion Therapy

When used under the supervision of a qualified medical professional, ketamine infusion there[y is considered safe and highly tolerable. It is worth noting that ketamine infusion therapy utilizes sub-anesthetic doses of ketamine, significantly minimizing the risk of side effects.

But like any other medication, this revolutionary treatment is not without a few potential side effects. Some of the most common side effects associated with ketamine therapy include:

  • Dissociative effects: Ketamine can cause dissociative effects, such as feelings of detachment from one’s body or surroundings, distorted perception of time and space, and hallucinations.
  • Elevated blood pressure: Ketamine can cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which may be problematic for individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions.
  • Cognitive effects: Short-term cognitive effects of ketamine can include confusion and temporary memory impairment. Long-term, heavy use of ketamine can potentially lead to more severe cognitive impairments.
  • Other side effects: Other potential side effects of ketamine can include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and impaired coordination. However, these symptoms are short-lived and wear off within a day or two.

The Bottom Line

Neuropsychiatry TX understands ketamine is a versatile medication with a range of potential therapeutic applications, including ketamine infusion therapy. Although it was initially developed as an anesthetic, its potential to provide substantial relief from symptoms of chronic pain, treatment-resistant depression, and other psychiatric conditions has turned it into a go-to treatment for those who have not responded well to traditional treatments.

If you are interested in learning more about ketamine treatment in Eugene, OR, contact NTX and request your consultation today.

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