The Science Of Ketamine

A Transformative Treatment

Ketamine is a drug that has been used in anesthesia for over 50 years. It is used in very high doses in this realm and causes a dissociative effect that allows painful procedures without recall or pain while preserving respiratory drive. It supports the cardiovascular system and facilitates general anesthesia in patients who cannot mentally handle IV induction. Because at lower doses it acts as a NDMA receptor agonist, it is very important in the treatment of chronic pain by effectively closing the channel for ion transport, disallowing transmission of the pain signal. This process gives the neuron a chance to recover and enable more normal transmission. With a series of infusions, or even just one, ketamine can decrease pain dramatically, often times leading to an elimination of pain for a longer period of time.

The NDMA receptor is found in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord and is important in the transmission of pain signals from the periphery. These peripheral stimuli cause a release in glutamate that binds to the receptor. This binding results in opening of the NDMA receptor channel, allowing ions to flow in and stimulate events neurochemically that allows the brain to perceive pain. When this happens over and over, the brain becomes sensitized. Ketamine is then used to block the NDMA receptor, stopping the transmission of pain to the brain. When this blockage from ketamine occurs over a long period of time, the brain resets itself and stops interpreting the stimulus from the periphery as pain.