The psychedelic industry is seeing a boom in the creation and expansion of ketamine clinics. The growth is in this industry has come about as the acceptance of the medical marijuana industry spread across North America. A group of medical professionals believes that this stigmatized substance may offer effective treatment for those suffering from mental health crises.
Known colloquially as special K, super acid, and cat valium, ketamine was added to the U.S. schedule of controlled substances in 1999. A “dissociative anesthetic,” ketamine has a street reputation for its dream-like high.
The illegal use of ketamine for recreation shrouds this medication in the familiar stigma that befell medical marijuana.
As the world changes and cases of mental health disorders rise, however, progressive medical researchers like Dr. Robert McIntyre of the Canadian Rapid Treatment Centre of Excellence (CRTCE) sees potential in ketamine for people who haven’t found relief with SSRIs, benzodiazepines or other prescription antidepressants and antianxiety medications.
What does the research say?
Dr. McIntyre recently released two new research studies in which patients suffering from suicidality, major depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and bipolar disorder (BD) were introduced to a new treatment: IV ketamine.
According to the researchers, these community trials were performed on patients who have previously tried prescription antidepressants in the past with little to no effect.
In February 2020, Dr. McIntyre and his team performed a review of the current data surrounding ketamine. The sheer number of trials the researchers analyzed, totalling 119 relevant and completed random clinical trials, suggests that Dr. McIntyre isn’t alone in recognizing the potential for IV ketamine.
Furthermore, these trials showed that IV ketamine given in a single dose of 0.5mg/kg over the course of 40 minutes had positive results lasting for a week. A few studies delivered 2 doses per week over the course of two weeks with positive results.
In his team’s study, published in May 2020, Dr. McIntyre and his team tested a single dose of IV ketamine on patients with treatment-resistant mood disorders. Specifically, this study measured the effects of IV ketamine on people with anxiety, irritability and agitation (AIA) and treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD).
While the research is preliminary, with most studies, like this one, in phase II, the results are promising. Dr. McIntyre told us that these studies suggest “IV ketamine is effective in rapidly treating AIA and suicidal ideation in adults with treatment-resistant mood disorders.”
Why IV ketamine?
Yes, there are other ways for patients to get treatment with ketamine. Contacting your local dealer is not one of them.
Ketamine can be made into powders and pills, but these methods of administration are simply not as effective as taking ketamine intravenously and under the care of a medical professional. Dr. McIntyre explained that oral routes of administration are only about 10-20% bioavailable.
In March 2019, the FDA approved an intranasal form of ketamine called esketamine. This method is 50-60% absorbed by your body.
IV ketamine can be administered in under an hour and is 100% bioavailable. This means patients can get in and out and feeling better much more quickly and efficiently.
How soon will IV ketamine disrupt the pharmaceutical market?
Unfortunately, that’s a tough call to make. However, Dr. McIntyre points out that in the past decade, phase I, II and III trials have greatly increased. Phase III trials can make or break a product.
Still, Dr. McIntyre’s review of existing analyses shows what kinks still need to be resolved. For example, we have yet to control for size, weight and gender. Additionally, long term studies need to be conducted to determine the efficacy of repeated doses and how well ketamine is tolerated over time.
Our advice? Keep an eye on this market. The potential for a better way to treat complex mood disorders via IV ketamine seems apparent—an implication too important to ignore.