Latest study from the National Institute of Mental Health
By Mark Murphy, MD
As a board-certified anesthesiologist for 25 years, I have had extensive experience with Ketamine in the operative setting. Not only is it incredibly safe, it also has unique characteristics not found in other anesthetics. In more recent years I have seen this drug evolve into an amazing therapeutic option for treating chronic depression. However, one may always question whether anecdotal experience trumps the gold standard of the scientific method.
Therefore, as medical director here at Ketamine Wellness Centers, I think it’s important that patients and family members be updated with ongoing research regarding this drug and it’s assimilation into mainstream therapy, whether involving the treatment of depression or chronic pain. Recently, the National Institute of Mental Health released a study identifying the metabolic component of Ketamine that acts at a specific receptor site in the central nervous system responsible for alleviating symptoms of depression.
Ketamine was always thought to work by blocking NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) glutamate receptors in the CNS. But now it appears the ketamine metabolite hydroxynorketamine actually activates a different receptor, alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole proprionic acid or AMPA. In addition, as isolated, the metabolite does not cause dissociative effects associated with ketamine in it’s usual form. Keep in mind that these are animal studies and much research remains to be done on the complicated mechanism of action and it’s refinement for use in humans.
Nonetheless what I feel is most important about this study is the further legitimization of Ketamine as a significant medication in the treatment of patients with refractory depression. And how knowing more about the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of Ketamine, the research community can further explore potential development of a new line of medications then hopefully work expeditiously and with a minimum of side effects.