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Mental Health and Ketamine as Treatment

Mental Health and Ketamine as Treatment

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Ketamine is a compound that comes from Pochonia Chlamydosporia, a fungus that grows on the roots of various plants. Ketamine is described as a dissociative anesthetic, a class of psychedelic drugs characterized by distorting sensory perceptions and feelings of disconnection or detachment from the environment.

Currently, doctors administer Ketamine as an anesthetic for medical procedures that do not require muscle relaxation. Ketamine is said to be administered in hospital emergency department visits for reasons/injuries like:

  • Fractures
  • Joint dislocations
  • Wound repair
  • Pain in the back, arms, and/or legs


The History of Ketamine and Mental Health

In 1985, Ketamine was added to the World Health Organization’s “essential medicine” list. Ketamine was extremely beneficial during the Vietnam War. In the 2000s, ketamine started being explored for treatment in mental health conditions, such as depression.

Ketamine became even more popular and when that happened the “street” versions came along, creating a level of prohibition. Some of these versions are known as Special K, Kit Kat, Super Acid, and Jet, to name a few.


Yale began their study of Ketamine for mental health; researcher Dr. Gerard Sanacara said:

“It wasn’t just, ‘let’s try this drug and see what happens.’ There was increasing evidence suggesting that there was some abnormality within the glutamatergic system in the brains of people suffering from depression, and this prompted the idea of using a drug that targets this system.”

What the Research Says About Ketamine and Various Mental Health Conditions

2017 research studies on ketamine and depression indicate ketamine can quickly relieve depression in people who do not respond well to other treatments.

In 2019, the U.S National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health published the results of a ketamine and depression study and found: “Ketamine has a robust and rapid effect on depression, which was seen immediately after the administration of ketamine and sustained at the end of 1 month.”

Ketamine has been studied as a treatment for social anxiety. In a 2017 clinical trial of ketamine for social anxiety, results suggest that ketamine helps treat those with social anxiety.

Ketamine has been studied in its use for treatment for bipolar disorder, and findings show that in one study: “52% responded favorably to a single ketamine infusion.”

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Ketamine was also the first Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved psychedelic treatment for a psychiatric disorder. In March 2019, esketamine nasal spray Spravato® (by Janssen) was approved by the FDA for the treatment of treatment-resistant depression. In August 2020, the FDA extended the approval for esketamine to adults with major depressive disorder or acute suicidal ideation.

In Closing

As plant medicines continue to prove their healing powers, we continue to see and learn that the power behind their healing is, in fact, their ability to take us away and into the realm of beautiful possibilities.

There are a lot of ketamine treatment success stories for various mental health conditions. Have you experienced ketamine treatment for mental health? If so, we would love to hear from you.

This piece was originally written and published in (it has been repurposed for Skunk Magazine), a great place to learn more about psychedelics.

Feature Image Credit: Scientific American

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