Tens of millions of Americans suffer from clinical depression and other chronic pain-related mental and physical illnesses. Tragically, many are resistant to the common frontline treatment options, such as antidepressant drugs and conventional psychotherapy. However, a new dawn has broken in psychiatric research thanks to the advent of ketamine infusion therapy.
Ketamine is an anesthetic agent that has been researched for medicinal use in humans for over 50 years. However, its lack of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval has prevented this potentially lifesaving drug from being used in mainstream medical sciences. As a result, ketamine has been used mainly as a veterinary medicine since its discovery.
It wasn’t until the 21st-century that ketamine infusion therapy was first used to induce strong and rapid pain relief for those suffering from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and a host of other chronic diseases. Since then, ketamine infusion therapy has seen commercial success in private clinics across the United States.
The Ketamine Advocacy Network
To date, ketamine has received little attention from the medical community and the public at large. This is because other drug treatments with the backing of the FDA and large pharmaceutical corporations have little interest in supporting experimental medicines such as ketamine. However, the Ketamine Advocacy Network is reversing this trend.
Founded in 2012 by clinical trial volunteers from the National Institutes of Health, the Ketamine Advocacy Network seeks to spread awareness of ketamine therapy and to advocate for its use as an accessible medicine. The Network has the following primary aims:
According to their official website, the Ketamine Advocacy Network’s vision is to attain FDA approval for medical ketamine. Once this occurs, they predict, ketamine infusion will become more widely available as a mainstream, frontline treatment option. Also, insurance plans will cover ketamine infusion therapies so the treatment will be more affordable.
The Ketamine Advocacy Network claim that “many cases of depression/bipolar/PTSD are rooted not in emotional disturbances, but rather a physical injury to the brain.” By introducing ketamine as a treatment option, the Network believes that that physical foundations of depression and related illnesses will be brought to light.
Interestingly, the Network pledges to shut down if their vision is realized. Specifically, once ketamine therapy becomes a universally-accepted treatment for extreme cases of depression and chronic pain-related disorders.
On their website, the Ketamine Advocacy Network hosts a variety of ketamine-related resources and informational articles. If you are interested in learning more about this experimental treatment, its costs, or its availability in your area, check out their website today. There you will also find the most popular user-driven ketamine discussion forum.
The Ketamine Advocacy Network is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to mental health promotion and crisis intervention. Their corporate offices are currently located in Issaquah, Washington. More information about their corporate structure and office hours on their Charity Navigator profile page.
The Benefits of Ketamine Infusion Therapy
The Ketamine Advocacy Network would have no organizational purpose if it weren’t for the wealth of scientific literature being released demonstrating ketamine’s many medicinal benefits. For example, a 2014 research paper concluded that ketamine had “neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and antitumor” properties.
Indeed, there are several key medicinal benefits that make ketamine unique as a treatment for depression and chronic pain. Below, we will highlight the various benefits and advantages that ketamine has over other frontline treatment methods.
Ketamine for Chronic Pain Relief
There is a wide body of evidence that demonstrates ketamine’s use as a painkilling agent. This evidence has been a catalyst for ketamine’s adoption as a medicinal intervention.
A breakthrough 2012 study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that ketamine was effective as a strong analgesic. In patients suffering from neuropathic pain states, ketamine infusion resulted in “long-term” pain relief for up to three months following treatment. The study called for further research into the risks and benefits associated with ketamine use.
Ketamine for Depression Relief
Ketamine, aside from its veterinary use, has gained a reputation as an effective treatment for depression. According to a 2015 research paper published in World Psychiatry, ketamine was found to provide relief for major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar depression. Compared to a placebo, the treatment group experienced a “large to very large” antidepressant effect.
The treatment group in the 2015 paper was exposed to four rounds of ketamine infusion therapy. They found that administration of ketamine therapy was effective in sub-anesthetic doses by binding to the non-NMDA receptors in the brain. This mechanism of action is thought to be primarily responsible for its antidepressant effects.
Ketamine for Anti-Inflammation
A 2016 paper in the medical journal Acta PharmacologicaSinica found that ketamine had strong anti-hyperalgesia and anti-inflammatory properties. This is especially important in the field of medical research because inflammation, particularly inflammation of key internal organs, is known to cause several chronic illnesses and to co-occur with cancers.
Patients that receive ketamine infusion therapies not only benefit from its antidepressant and pain-killing effects, but they also enjoy reduced organ inflammation. In doing so, ketamine infusion recipients are less at-risk of chronic disease and other illnesses. By contrast, other frontline medications have the potential to increase or catalyze internal inflammation.
Ketamine Is Well Tolerated
One of ketamine’s key benefits demonstrated in the aforementioned studies is that it is well-tolerated in conjunction with other frontline pain and depression treatments. Although it is contraindicated for use with the benzodiazepine class of drugs, ketamine is compatible with SSRI, SNRI, and other non-narcotic anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs.
There are also relatively few long-term side effects of ketamine use. In high doses, there are reported short-term effects including psychedelic symptoms (including hallucinations and memory defects). However, unlike SSRI antidepressants, there are no long-term negative side effects like sexual dysfunction, lethargy, or anhedonia.