Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely. Ketamine has been used immensely for over 60 years in the battlefield, emergency rooms, and operating rooms at much higher doses than infusion therapy, with a very high safety profile. The World Health Organization describes ketamine as among ” …the most efficacious, safe and cost–effective medicines for priority conditions” and recommends it be readily available in every medical system.
It is the most widely used anesthetic in veterinary medicine and is used for many surgical procedures in humans.
When properly administered by a trained medical professional, ketamine is a safe and valuable medication.
Ketamine has been used off label in sub-anesthetic doses for the past 20 years to treat chronic pain, depression, and a variety of other mental health issues.
Addiction has not been described when medically supervised, in a low dose infusion treatment schedule. Physical abuse and addiction have previously been documented with high dose, recreational use.
Many clients have their urges to use drugs and alcohol significantly reduced after just one treatment. However, it may take up to three infusions to experience results. Each clients’ experience will be different depending on a multitude of factors. Studies have shown that markedly diminished or abolished urges can last from weeks to months, and several clients experienced no relapse for over a year.
Mood disorder clients receive a series of six infusions over 2-3 weeks. Pain clients receive a series of five, 4 hour long infusions over 5 consecutive days. Thereafter, boosters may be provided on an “as need” basis for maintenance. A full series of six infusions can typically keep depression symptoms at bay for up to 3 months or longer. Many patients know whether the treatments are a good option for them after the first infusion. In some cases where a patient is unsure, we suggest proceeding through the 3rd infusion before a decision to continue or stop treatments, as it can be difficult to notice or acknowledge positive changes after years or decades of severe depression.
After the infusion, clients will feel tired or fatigued. In addition to dissociative (disconnected, floating) symptoms, reported symptoms may include nausea, headaches, dizziness, and sleepiness. Some clients may experience nausea during or after the infusion, we will either pre treat with anti-nausea medication or administer it during or after the infusion as needed.
For mood disorder clients, Ketamine is infused over 40 minutes and you will be awake the entire time. During the infusion, most clients have mild dissociation, with a possible change in vision, speech or thought process, or an altered perception of time. Most clients tolerate this well and find it pleasant or interesting. In the rare event these side effects feel unpleasant, we have rapid acting medications that can be administered to lessen or eliminate the discomfort. Once the infusion is complete, most symptoms wear off in 20-30 minutes.
For pain clients, infusions are higher dosage and administered over 4 hours, which can increase the side effects. We use a combination of medications prior to the start of the infusions to minimize the side effects associated with the infusion. Most symptoms wear off in 1-2 hours for the longer infusions.
We ask that you refrain from eating food 6 hours prior to your appointment, and liquids 2 hours prior to your scheduled appointment. This decreases the chance of nausea and other complications.
We require you to have someone take you home. We advise you to avoid driving, operating heavy and or dangerous machinery, or conducting any significant business for 24 hours after the infusion.
Some medications may interfere with the intended result of ketamine infusions. During your consultation, we will give you instructions on managing your medications prior to your infusion, do not self-taper prescribed medications without medical advice.
Some patients find that the positive effects of ketamine may wear off with time. There is research to suggest that in order for the effects of ketamine to be sustained, a maintenance regimen is advisable. The response of individual patients varies. There have been rare cases of remission after ketamine infusion therapy, but these should be considered the exception rather than the norm.
It is not for patients with schizophrenia, psychosis, or seizures (certain seizure disorders are permissible with Ketamine- please discuss this with the provider). Those taking aminophylline for asthma or COPD should avoid receiving ketamine. Patients who have serious medical problems such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, cardiac disease, or pulmonary problems need to have their conditions optimized and to obtain clearance from their primary care physicians before undergoing even low-risk medical or anesthetic procedures, including ketamine infusion. Patients with schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders should avoid ketamine.
Patients who are taking benzodiazepines (alprazolam, lorazepam, clonazepam, etc.) or lamotrigine (Lamictal) should work with their prescribers to try to lower their intake or wean off these medications prior to beginning ketamine therapy in order to maximize the treatment’s efficacy. If this is not possible, the dose prior to each infusion should be held. This can be further discussed with the practitioner and a plan will be made between you and him/her. Taking the above medications does not mean Ketamine will not work for you. Alcohol and illegal drug use will interfere with infusion and are prohibited at least 3 days prior to infusion.