Josh Mur / (ANTIMEDIA) In the traditional setting, it is used as an anesthetic for burn victims and patients with an unknown medical record. In the recreational setting, it is used to induce hallucinations, euphoria, and an apparent tolerance for sub-par DJs. In the last decade, a new setting for the use of Ketamine ─ aka “Special K” ─ has developed, piquing the interest of experts in the fields of depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
Ketamine was first synthesized by Professor Calvin L. Stevens of Wayne State University in the early 1960’s. In 1964, human trials commenced at the Jackson Prison in Michigan. The first human being was given Ketamine on August 3rd of that year. They soon discovered that Professor Stevens had stumbled upon a new and quite effective anesthetic. Come the late 1960’s, Ketamine had fallen into the midst of the surge of hallucinogenic drug use.
Now, fifty-two years later, experts are reporting that “Special K” in small doses ─ about a tenth of a full anesthetic dose, six times over a two-week period ─ has extremely rapid and consistent effects on mood. According toanesthesiologist Enrique Abreu:
“It’s not subtle. It’s really obvious if it’s going to be effective. And the response rate is unbelievable. The drug is 75 percent effective which means that three-quarters of my patients do well. Nothing in medicine has those kinds of numbers.”
Medical centers across the U.S. have begun offering Ketamine treatment to severely depressed patients, including Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, Yale University, and Kaiser Permanente.
The implications of being able to halt anxiety and depression so effectively are astounding. With this in mind, researchers at Vanderbilt University have decided to pursue trial studies in order to discover whether or not Ketamine can be used to treat alcoholism. After successful trials in mice, and considering depression and anxiety are some of the main contributing factors to dealing with drug addiction and alcoholism, they may be onto something.
However, as always, there is a catch. Though the antidepressant effects are long-lasting, they still are only temporary and last about a week. Additionally, even in small doses, hallucinations and foreign sensations are not rare. Interestingly enough, some experts agree that the psychedelic-like experience which Ketamine induces may be a contributing factor to the restoration of mental stability.
The FDA has not approved Ketamine as a treatment for depression, anxiety, or PTSD. But at the same time, the FDA has also yet to approve cannabis extracts as a treatment for cancer, multiple sclerosis, etc. However, developers hope to be granted approval by 2019.
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