Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that is used to induce loss of consciousness for medical procedures that don’t need muscle relaxation. Its effects include decreased sensation of pain and sedation. In addition to this, the drug possesses hallucinogenic properties that produce hallucinations similar to other drugs such as LSD.
Research has shown that the use of low doses of ketamine in treating treatment-resistant depression is effective, with ongoing trials finding that the drug could also be used to effectively treat other psychiatric conditions. Recent research by Cambridge University Press explores how ketamine works in treating mental health conditions.
For their study, the researchers used a technology that registers systematic reviews of animal and human studies known as PROSPERO, to collate and compare results of more than 80 published reports about ketamine treatment for suicidal ideation, bipolar disorder and depression.
They then used additional tools, including the Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews checklist and the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool, to account for any potential bias. The researchers also took into consideration the mode of administration, explaining that it was a central consideration in the use of the treatment.
The researchers also found that the most common method for administration was IV administration (intravenous) because of the ability to control the dosage administered, noting that other methods of administration, such as intranasal, sublingual, intramuscular and oral, also had practical advantages, including patient comfort.
They discovered that the administration of ketamine and the agreed-upon drug dosage varied from one study to another, with the recommended treatment falling between 0.4mg/kg to 0.5mg/kg. The treatments were administered over a 40- to 60-minute period, intravenously.
According to the FDA, the approved method of dosing for ketamine includes an introduction phase of dosing twice a week, followed by a maintenance phase of weekly then biweekly doses. The agency notes that no maximum period or dosing has been established.
The researchers note that more research is needed to understand the most effective mode of administering ketamine, depending on the drug’s need. In their conclusion, they explained that ketamine was an effective option for use as a suicidal ideation treatment as well as a treatment for treatment-resistant depression, with positive but short-lived effects.
They added that while ketamine wasn’t as effective in treating other mental health conditions, it did possess benefits that were worth pursuing. Furthermore, they noted that more research on optimal dosing for ketamine would be useful. And with companies such as Cybin Inc. (NYSE American: CYBN) (NEO: CYBN) focused on developing novel delivery methods for psychedelic medicines, the mental health field is set for some major strides forward with regard to patient care.
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