Is Ketamine a drug? There is so much discussion about Ketamine and its uses as a treatment for different mood disorders and chronic pain conditions. Many only know Ketamine as a street drug that is taken in large doses and can have a negative impact on the person taking this dosage. So we thought we would deliver a few facts on Ketamine to help folks understand that it is in fact, first and foremost, a tool of the medical community.

  • Ketamine is an essential medicine used for anaesthesia and analgesia (pain relief) in adults and children, having been listed on the WHO Essential Medicines List since 1985.
  • Ketamine is safer to administer than other types of anaesthetic agents and pain relief as it does not depress breathing or lower blood pressure and does not require expensive patient-monitoring equipment.
  • Its high level of safety makes it indispensable for surgery in low- and middle-income countries, disaster situations and conflict zones – where anaesthesiologists are scarce, and where running water, electricity and oxygen are unreliable.
  • Ketamine is the anaesthetic of choice in veterinary surgery.
  • There has been significant research into ketamine’s use in treating depression and other mental illnesses in the last decade.
  • The illicit use of ketamine has been reported on a relatively small global scale for several decades. Ketamine dependence or overdose is rare, however chronic abuse can cause side effects including urinary tract problems.
  • The WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence has recommended that ketamine should not be controlled under the international drug control conventions due to its essential role in surgery in low-resource countries and in emergencies.


By the way, these facts are provided by the W.H.O. and you can get a bit more by following this link

So what does this mean and why are we sharing it?

First, we want you to understand that Ketamine has been a tool for anesthesia for a long time. It's use as a street drug is such a small percentage of use, but for some reason it is all people think about when they hear the word Ketamine. We even see challenges with our marketing and communications efforts through digital channels like Facebook, because they even seem to think that the only use for Ketamine is one that is, shall we say, less than above board. 

The fact is, there has been quite a bit of research done on using Ketamine as a treatment for depression, bipolar disorder, chronic pain, PTSD, and so many others. It seems the more research that is done, the more we find out what Ketamine can be used for. 

According to this article:

"After more than half a century since its discovery, ketamine has emerged as a promising drug for pain management, anti-depression and anti-inflammation."

Let's look at this again. Ketamine has emerged as a promising drug for:

  • Pain Management
  • Anti-Depression
  • Anti-Inflammation

This deserves some serious consideration. 

Let's look at the conclusions of the article linked to above:

"Ketamine is a special example of how an old drug can be readapted for new applications. The mechanisms of ketamine's effects are mainly related to its inhibition of the NMDA receptor and its pathway. It has the potential to become a first-line anti-depressive medication, especially for refractory major depression, as well as suicidal ideation in unipolar and bipolar disorders. Moreover, it is also an effective adjuvant that prolongs the duration of a single-medication for pain management in the ED and is a safe choice for children to alleviate surgery-related pain. While the current literature provides evidence for acute relief of chronic neuropathic pain, evidence supporting the efficacy and tolerability of ketamine for the long-term treatment of chronic pain is still limited. Finally, ketamine also appears to have local and general anti-inflammatory effects, the benefit of which remains to be elucidated."

So back to the original questions, is Ketamine a drug? Yes it is, a seemingly very useful drug that should be given it's due. 

If you are interested in learning more about how we are using Ketamine with our clients please give us a call, we are happy to talk with you about it whether or not it can be an effective treatment for you.