Ketamine is an anesthetic medication used in surgery and emergency rooms the world over. The world health organization has placed Ketamine on its essential medication list. Ketamine has many healing effects at subanesthetic doses. It releases Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF); this heals the brain and improves Neuroplasticity. It is a rapid antidepressant, antianxiety treatment, and can improve suicidal thoughts. It is also among the best currently available treatments for Trauma.
Ketamine has multiple modes of action.
First it blocks a neurotransmitter called NMDA. NMDA receptor overactivation is implicated in overexcitability of the brain, NMDA receptor blockers have held much promise for the treatment of conditions that involve overexcitement of the brain, including drug withdrawal, traumatic brain injury, stroke, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS, ALS, and Huntington’s.
Next it seems to have some interaction with several other neurotransmitters including the receptors commonly targeted by antidepressant, antipsychotic and antianxiety medications.
This combination of brain targets for ketamine has made it useful in the treatment of a wide variety of ailments including:
- Acute Drug and Alcohol withdrawal
- Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
- Chronic Pain
- And releases BDNF
The third mode of action is less understood but may be the most powerful. This is called Pure Consciousness Events (PCE), more commonly called Psychedelic Events (PE). Psychedelic treatments offer benefits beyond their direct neurobiological effects.The psychedelic experience itself may allow providers an opportunity to work through therapeutical issues with patients. As Dr. Nutt, and associates state in their paper published in Cell, “psychedelic therapy harnesses a therapeutic window opened up by the brain via the effects of the drugs to facilitate insight and emotional release.”
This third mode of action has been shown to be the strongest predictor of long-term improvements. For many the “Ketamine experience” can remind one of “The Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. In this story, Ebenezer Scrooge is shown his life and what may come. This is a transformational event that changes his life. We often call someone who is selfish “Scrooge,” the reality is after his transformational experience Scrooge becomes a man of great generosity and love. These experiences are not unlike the life transforming “Near Death” experiences people have where they see themselves from above or experience “heaven”.
During your Ketamine experience, “leaning in” to the experience has been found to be the most effective. If you encounter a frightening scene, explore it, even ask what is the meaning of this? What am I to learn from this? Being engaged with the Pure Consciousness Event (PCE) and exploring its meaning during the Ketamine experience is the beginning of the process. After your experience, integration and further exploration of the meaning of the experience is critical. Our experienced staff “hold space” for your experience. We are there to reassure you that you are safe, and the experience is to teach you.
For many these experiences are beautiful and “heavenly,” for others disturbing. Both types of experiences can, and generally do, lead to life transforming experiences. These transformations lead to Radical Acceptance and Self-Love. These are keys to your transformational experience.
Set and Setting are two important factors during your Ketamine experiences. Set is your mindset and the environment setting. Your mindset of motivations, beliefs, physical, emotional, and cognitive state before the infusion are important to your experience. Being prepared to meet whatever comes during your session is important to foster a transformational experience. Setting is the clinical setting needed to feel safe, nurturing, and non-judgmental. We strive to achieve this, but everyone requires their own unique support. We engage with you before, during, and after to ensure we provide this.