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Ketamine FAQs

Most Frequently Asked Questions

Ketamine acts differently from other mood improvement and pain medications, SSRIs, tricyclics, MAOI inhibitors, benzodiazepines, and other antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications. It also works by a completely different mechanism than opioids and Gabapentin / Lyrica medication. Ketamine infusion results in the re-wiring of neural pathways. Studies suggest that pain and depression are significantly decreased once these pathways have been reset to healthier formats.

The 1-hour MOOD protocol is for mood struggles (depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, Bipolar depression, and post-partum depression) that do not have additional complicating factors.  Clients with the following, will have wonderful results from the 1-hour protocol:

o   New onset (<7 to 8-year history of mood struggles)

o   <5-6 years of mental health medication history

o   NO – substance or alcohol abuse in the past 7-8 years

o   folks that find it easier to be able to “let go” during a new experience

  The 2-hour MOOD protocol is for mood struggles that do have certain additional, complicating factors, such as those mentioned below:

o   Longer duration of mood disorder (Greater than 7-8 year history of similar struggles)

o   greater than 5-6 years of medication history

o   YES – substance or alcohol abuse in the past 7-8 years

o   and folks that take a bit longer to feel comfortable in “letting go” in new situations

  2-hour PAIN protocol (moderate pain) or Substance abuse recovery protocol:

o   Pain scores <7

o   where the pain is a major factor in their normal experience, but does NOT create disability in performing functional tasks of daily life

o   and/or: Substance/alcohol abuse is a pattern they would like to be able to move beyond, but they are NOT expecting to be experiencing withdrawals

  4-hour PAIN protocol (severe pain) or Substance abuse recovery protocol:

o   Pain scores 7 or greater

o   Where the pain is THE major factor in their normal experience, and DOES create significant disability in performing functional tasks of daily life

o   The client IS actively experiencing withdrawal symptoms, or is expecting to experience them soon, when decreasing substance/alcohol use

Ketamine acts differently from other mood improvement and pain medications, SSRIs, tricyclics, MAOI inhibitors, benzodiazepines, and other antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications. It also works by a completely different mechanism than opioids and Gabapentin / Lyrica medication. Ketamine infusion results in the re-wiring of neural pathways. Ketamine acts on several different receptors, and it increases our nervous system’s natural production of Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).  Studies demonstrate that negative pain, mood disorder, and substance abuse patterns are significantly decreased once these neural pathways have been reset to healthier formats.

One of the brain’s key neurotransmitters is glutamate, an amino acid found in 80% of neurons. Glutamate influences the formation and number of brain synapses – the vital connections between neurons. Glutamate acts with another important neurotransmitter, GABA, to maintain a healthy, well-functioning nervous system. An imbalance between GABA and glutamate can cause problems, including anxiety, difficulties with sleep, overstimulation, and issues with focus. Imbalance in the glutamatergic system is also associated with major depressive disorder (MDD). Utilizing its affinity for a separate receptor called NMDA, growing evidence suggests that ketamine helps rebalance the glutamate system by acting as a receptor “antagonist”. 

Ketamine also works by blocking the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptor, one of three major glutamate receptors. This receptor is involved in synaptic plasticity, pain sensitizations, and memory, among other functions. A ketamine-induced blockade of the NMDA receptor results in an increase in glutamate. This initiates a cascade of neurobiological events that researchers believe is a key reason behind ketamine’s rapid antidepressant and pain relief effects.

During the treatment, clients may experience something called a dissociative effect. Patients describe the experience with words like “calm”, “relaxing,” “floating,” and “pleasant.”  The initial dose is based on multiple factors and may be adjusted in later infusions to maximize individual results.  Each client’s experience is different because we are each unique.  Clients feel a sense of vast connection, and a significant relief from emotional conflicts.  Our clients do not report having “bad trips.”  Ketamine instead assists in feeling relieved from our psyches’ previously existing defense mechanisms. Additional medication for optimization of relaxation and relief can be provided in a tailored and appropriate manner.

With chronic pain, a phenomenon known as “central sensitization” is believed to intensify pain by increasing the number of NMDA receptors – this ends up amplifying the pain signal. Ketamine’s interference with the NMDA receptor helps block and “reset” pain signaling, providing relief where other treatments have failed. By blocking the NMDA receptors of peripheral nerves, peripheral nerve pain transmission is intercepted before reaching the spinal cord and brain. This allows for “rebooting” of central pain centers and desensitization to peripheral pain signals.

Yes. Ketamine will not put you to sleep. If you are already sleepy and are feeling very calm and relaxed during the treatment, you might drift off for a short nap. People are able to move freely during the treatment.

Ketamine Infusion can be tremendously beneficial for many people with serious illness, but just as with any other medical therapy or procedure, there are some individuals with specific medical conditions who would not be appropriate candidates for this type of therapy.  These conditions would be:

  • Uncontrolled blood pressure, unstable heart disease, untreated thyroid disease, active intoxication with abusive substances, current manic phase of bipolar disorder, or active psychotic (hallucinations or delusions) symptoms
  • A recent heart attack – less than 6 months ago
  • A recent stroke – less than 1 year ago
  • Uncontrolled seizures, hyperthyroidism, glaucoma, severe liver or kidney disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Active manic or psychotic symptoms
  • Hypersensitivity (allergy) to ketamine
  • No support person to take you home from the clinic or care for you at home

Patients with such serious medical conditions would be evaluated by our questionnaire and either disqualified or asked to obtain consultations before treatment.

Mostly No. Ketamine has shown to increase the effectiveness of other medications, and there are very few negative interactions. For treatment planning purposes, please contact us with any questions regarding interactions between your current medications and ketamine.

We recommend that clients temporarily reduce dosage of certain medications during therapy such as, benzodiazepines, in order to achieve maximized results. We will work with each client to optimize their treatment plan. This DOES NOT mean you shouldn’t receive ketamine treatment while taking benzodiazepines. It is perfectly safe; we just want to guarantee the best results for each patient.

No. Patients have not reported any symptoms of addiction when ketamine is delivered, via infusion, in the clinical setting. There is no physiologic dependency. In fact, we use ketamine to treat addiction, as it has been found to be remarkably effective in preventing withdrawal symptoms and drug, alcohol, or medication cravings.

No. Patients have not reported any symptoms of addiction. In fact, we use ketamine to treat addiction, as it has been found to be remarkably effective in preventing withdrawal symptoms and drug, alcohol, or medication cravings.

You MUST bring a Government-Issued photo ID with you for each appointment.

  • You will be required to have a trusted friend or family member drive you home after your infusion.
  • You cannot drive or operate heavy machinery for 24 hours post treatment.
  • Please wear comfortable loose clothing, so we are able to easily place the cardiac monitor leads under your shirt.
  • You may bring headphones and listen to music of your choosing, preferably something soothing to you.  Otherwise, noise cancelling, wireless, bluetooth headphones will be provided.
  • Infusion times vary depending on the disease we are treating.
  • You are encouraged to sit back and relax and pay attention to what you are feeling.

YES. Ketamine infusion treatments are 100% legal, safe, and bound to strict clinical protocols and oversight. Ketamine infusions are a fairly recent therapy so we get that there are many existing preconceptions about Ketamine as a treatment option for treating conditions such as depression and chronic pain. Fortunately, the research and success stories speak for themselves.

While ketamine can be administered orally, intranasally, intramuscularly, and by other routes, they are not as effective as the intravenous route. When administered by other methods, much of the drug is destroyed by the liver before reaching the brain. Intravenous administration has been scientifically studied much more thoroughly than any other route of administration for treatment of depression and mental health conditions and treatment protocols have been developed through years of meticulous research and thousands of patient experiences. IV ketamine is by far the preferred method of administration to achieve maximum benefit from treatment.

Ketamine, administered by skilled hands, is an extremely safe medication. Short term side effects can typically be resolved during the treatment session with treatment by medications and include small increases in blood pressure, nausea, and dizziness. These effects resolve rapidly since ketamine only has a half-life of 45 mins. Research over a span of 20 years has not shown any significant long term adverse effects from repeated ketamine infusions. Even at higher doses used in Complex Regional Pain Syndromes (CRPS), long term side effects have not been found.

Mental illnesses include a wide range of conditions that can have many interweaving causes– affecting mood, thinking, and behavior. When medications targeted at specific neurotransmitters proved to have positive effects, they became widely used as a form of treatment. However, the benefits from these forms of treatment, in many cases, have proven short-lived. Many patients reported short-term relief, followed by a return of symptoms and limited long-term improvement.

Ketamine works in an entirely different way, revolutionizing mental treatment from a whole new perspective. Rather than targeting neurotransmitters in the brain, ketamine focuses on altering neural passageways to build and strengthen healthy neurons. In doing so, ketamine treatment has proven to be far more effective for patients. Ketamine infusion therapy can also change the way that the brain responds to medications, so it can be useful in conjunction with already prescribed drugs. Ketamine works not only as an effective form of treatment on its own but can enhance the benefits of any prescription one is already taking.

This is determined on a case-by-case scenario; however, we typically do not perform infusions on children younger than 12 years old. There is no maximum age to receive ketamine therapy. Our physician will work with every individual to customize a treatment protocol that is both safe and effective.
11) How quickly will I feel relief from my symptoms?
Patients typically feel an immediate relief in just a few hours or a few days. Often, patients struggling with self-harm or suicidal thoughts notice these feelings go away first. Over the course of treatment, people report feeling a gradual and consistent improvement from their disorder.

While ketamine was originally made for anesthetic purposes, it has been used for decades by mental health professionals and psychiatrists for depression and other disorders. In recent years, ketamine’s rapid antidepressant effects have been studied and documented in many case reports, prospective open-label studies, and double-blind, randomized, controlled trials. Given the epidemic of mental illness, chronic pain, and substance abuse struggles, there is an effort from multidisciplinary healthcare providers to address and bring forth evidence-based and efficacious treatment modalities, such as ketamine infusion therapy.

Some patients achieve long-term relief after a single series of infusions. Some find that these infusions augment and enhance their existing oral medications and therapies. For resistant symptoms, for which ketamine infusions are the only effective treatment, many patients choose to begin a maintenance program, returning for single “booster” infusions intermittently. The interval between maintenance infusions varies from patient to patient. Our goal is to help each client to become increasingly comfortable relying on their newly evolved coping skills, in the long-term.

We accept all major credit cards and cash/check. We also offer 15-month, interest free credit card payments to assist our patients with financing.

You MUST bring a Government-Issued photo ID with you for each appointment.

  •   You can take ride-share (Uber/Lyft), a medical transportation service (Butterfli/Access, etc.), or be home driven by a friend or family member.  Only with the 4-hour protocol will a client be required to have a trusted friend or family member drive you home after your infusion, due to increased recovery time.
  •   You should not drive or operate heavy machinery for the remainder of the treatment day.
  •   Please wear comfortable loose clothing, so we are able to easily place the cardiac monitor leads under your shirt.
  •   You may bring headphones and listen to the music of your choosing, preferably something soothing to you.  Otherwise, noise-canceling, wireless, Bluetooth headphones will be provided, with Reiki healing music, chosen as a soothing backdrop to your experience.
  •   If you have a blanket or pillow that you are fond of, please feel free to bring these items with you.  Otherwise, our sterilized blanket and pillow service will be given to each client.
  •   Infusion times vary depending on the condition we are treating.
  •   You are encouraged to sit back and relax and pay attention to what you are feeling.

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