Medical experts at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland are worried that people around the world are getting the wrong impression about ketamine. According to them, ketamine is not an opioid, but rather, an NMDA-receptor antagonist that can “interact” with opioid receptors. To them, the truth lies in ketamine’s unique effects on memory—being able to make neural pathways malleable again, thereby affecting memory and behavior. This critical function, unrelated to pain reduction, is the most important benefit that ketamine offers to those suffering from mental health disorders.

With the opioid crisis looming in everyone’s mind, some patients are opting to avoid traditional opioid painkillers. For them, dealing with any pain is better than risking the chance of developing a dependence. With such dramatic refusals being common, providers are worried that those who need treatment for their otherwise treatment-resistant conditions may resolve to suffering unnecessarily. Researchers at Johns Hopkins hope that, by making facts about ketamine available, those who may benefit from ketamine treatments will be receptive rather than resistant to the idea when their time comes.

According to Adam Kaplin, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, it is actually very understandable that some type of “interference” between NMDA and opioid receptors, thanks to their close proximity in the brain. Kaplin explains that this interference is much like interference picked up on a phone call, or on the radio. To him, this interference does not mean that ketamine is an opioid. He fears that wrongly labeling it as such will eventually keep patients from exploring this essential antidepressant medication.

Ketamine is administered to patients—either intravenously or intranasally—in a medical clinic, and many have found IV ketamine to be incredibly effective at relieving their depressive symptoms. In fact, nearly 70% of patients report relief from their depressive symptoms. Hopefully, with the recent FDA approval of the ketamine-based nasal spray Spravato, awareness of the efficacy of these treatments will rise. With such an effective new drug available, it would be a shame if those who need it end up refusing it out of unfounded fear.

Medical research regarding depression treatment has remained stagnant for decades. It is because of this stagnation that ketamine has been so well received. While the treatment is new, the science is not. Regulating mood and emotions is tricky, but the key indicators are there. The evidence is clear: ketamine is fantastic news for the giant population of people word-wide who are suffering in silence from treatment-resistant depression and other psychiatric disorders.

Elev8 MD Wellness Center is one of Charlotte’s leading wellness centers. We offer a full menu of health and wellness services, designed to promote physical, emotional and spiritual wellness. Schedule a free consultation with us today to see if you are a candidate for ketamine infusions, IV hydration therapy, acupuncture, talk therapy, or amy of our other wellness services.