Ketamine is an anesthetic found to have strong cognitive and psychedelic effects. While frequently tested on animals since the 1960s, it has also been historically used with human patients suffering from respiratory and circulatory issues. In recent years, it has also shown potential as a therapy treatment for depression and anxiety.
Table of Contents
Ketamine is the single substance that has changed the scientific view on how depression works forever. Its depression relieving effects caused us to question one of the most popular theories in the history of science. While frequently tested on animals since the 1960’s, it has also been historically used with human patients suffering from respiratory and circulatory issues.
Ketamine is also becoming popular for recreational use. It’s often associated with the ‘K-hole’ effect, which encompasses the dissociative effects commonly associated with the drug.
What is Ketamine
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, thus its grouping into the same class of psychoactive substances as PCP (also known as angel dust). It comes in crystalline powder form, as an injectable fluid, or as a prescription medication nasal spray.
Alternatives names commonly associated with Ketamine:
- Special K
- Vitamin K
- Lady K
- Cristal Mesc
- Mean Green
(±)-2-(2-CHLOROPHENYL)-2-(METHYLAMINO)CYCLOHEXANONE is a NMDA antagonist and quite possibly has other mechanisms of action. It’s main “attacking points” are on the glutamate receptors in brains.Other Types of Ketamine
Besides ketamine itself, there are other different analogues important to mention as well, such as S and R versions of ketamine, which are isomers.
By isolating these versions, two different types can result, with two types of uses: the commercially available ketamine nasal spray such as Spravato, which contains esketamine (S+). And second, the type of ketamine mostly found on street, which may contain both esketamine and arketamine (R-).
Studies suggest that esketamine may be better at relieving the symptoms of depression.
Besides those isomers, Methoxetamine (MXT), an analogue of ketamine, also possesses properties similar. However, analogues do not make for substitutes. Substitutions should not be used due to having different safety profiles.
Ketamine is also not a simple drug; when present in the liver and other parts of the body it metabolises into other drugs such as norketamine.
Ketamine was first discovered in 1962 by Calvin Stevens who was an adviser for the Parke-Davis company. After a legal dispute, Parke-Davis eventually gained full ownership over the Ketamine compound and its production.
Important Events, Findings, Studies
During the later part of the 1960s, medics in the Vietnam War used the drug as an anesthetic. Handling patients while they were under the effects of ketamine was much easier. Additionally avoiding the negative effects typically common with the opiates used prior. During the 1970s, the U.S. approved Ketamine for anesthetic use for the general population.
John C. Lilly, an American psychologist, suffered from debilitating headaches throughout his whole life. Dr. Craig Enright administered Dr. Lilly “special K” when his headache began. After few sequential doses, anecdotal reports state curing his headaches for good. Lilly continued taking ketamine for the rest of his life.
In the late 1970s and early 80s, ketamine began to appear on the illegal drug market, mainly due to rouge chemists.
The U.S. formally classified K as a Schedule III in 1999, after evidence presented indicating its growing presence in the drug scene as a cheaper alternative to MDMA.
Laws and Legal Status
Ketamine is currently illegal to possess, distribute, and manufacture in most countries.
In the United States, it has been illegal to possess K without a prescription since 1999, since classification tp a Schedule III controlled substance.
Ketamine is a Schedule I substance, placing it in the same class as heroin, and carries a maximum sentence of 7 years in Canada.
In the UK, Ketamine is a Schedule B substance, meaning that only medical use is allowed.
Ketamine is an NMDA antagonist, of which glutamate receptors are the most important. The brain contains these receptors. The antagonist effects, when applied in small quantities, increase the movement of information in the brain through the affected neural networks. Increasing the dose can produce anesthetic effects because of the receptors full blockage. This recreational dosage is referred to as the “K-Hole”.
Before we can discuss whether or not ketamine is toxic, we first need to define what makes a substance toxic. Toxicity is defined based on the levels of exposure required for a substance to cause harm to a human or animal. The level of toxicity is measured based on the dose required to cause harm to a human. Even water can be toxic in too high of a dose and lethal snake venom can be non-toxic in a small enough dose. LD50 is a common measurement of toxicity, which measures the lethal dose for half of the tested organisms.
A chemical is considered toxic when it damages cells and tissues. One of the biggest concerns with psychedelics is they may be neurotoxic. When a substance is neurotoxic, it specifically damages neurons, which are the cells that make up our central and peripheral nervous systems.
Studies have shown that repeated high doses of ketamine can be toxic in several ways, with pronounced toxicity to brain cells noted during prolonged exposure exceeding 24 hours. Issues can also happen within the urinary tract, such as white cysts, blood, and loss of bladder control. These cases are increasing each year, especially due to the drug’s rise popularity coinciding with a lack of knowledge regarding the substance. This phenomena is beginning to attract the attention of several large media outlets.
Mixing alcohol with Ketamine can be especially dangerous. The same is true with stimulants like cocaine. Also, avoid Opioids when using ketamine.
Many other substances can enhance the effects of Ketamine, thus increasing the chance of feeling overwhelmed, or experiencing a K-Hole.
When consumed in small quantities, ketamine produces euphoric effects. Higher doses create hallucinogenic effects. As the dose increases, its dissociative effects become more apparent, eventually reaching the K-Hole. Normal ketamine after effects can last up to 8 hours, with antidepressant effects lasting up to a week.
Dosage amounts are highly dependent upon the body weight of the individual who is consuming it.
Ketamine has a long tradition of use within the party scene, in addition to home usage. Praised for its euphoric and entheogenic effects, it is especially popular in the UK and Asian drug scene.
Consumption of Ketamine comes in many different ways. Intranasal remains the most popular in the party scene. However, it is discouraged to take any substance intranasally due to the many adverse effects it can cause due to impurities, such as physical damage of the nasal cavities and respiratory problems.
Although taking K in a controlled medical setting has an extremely low potential for addiction. Many addiction clinics claim to be treating a large amount of patients with ketamine dependence. We still don’t have a conclusive study on how ketamine addiction works, but we do have some idea on the mechanisms standing behind it.
When used for medicinal purposes, ketamine is mostly administered for depression, and for its anesthetic properties. This purpose for consumption differs greatly from ketamine use in the party scene, as summarized by this quote taken from a clinical site:
When we give ketamine intravenously, we know exactly where your entire dose is going: straight to your brain. The same cannot be said for other forms of ketamine. Intranasal ketamine has to bypass several layers of tissue before it can reach your brain, and too many things can happen that could cause you to lose some or most of your dose: sneezing, dripping, running down the back of your throat, etc. The same can be said for an oral pill and an intramuscular injection; these routes are just too unpredictable, and when it comes to treating your depression, we don’t want the results to be unpredictable.”(Estelle Autissier, RN – Principium Psychiatry)
Clinics that specialize in using Ketamine for treating depression prefer to have more control of the environment, so they use an intravenous method for administering the drug. However, avoid this unless with a specialized supervision since extreme danger comes with injecting substances
Does Ketamine Go Bad?
Yes, Ketamine can degrade in presence of light and heat.
What Does K Taste Like?
Ketamine has a taste similar to most any other alkaloid — bitter and typically unpleasant.
Can I Get a Prescription for Ketamine?
Depending where you live, you can obtain a prescription for ketamine from your doctor.
This Ketamine guide is for educational purposes only. While it is our belief that choosing to consume psychedelics is an inalienable human right, many psychedelic substances are currently illegal in the United States.
Our substance guides provide the public with the most accurate and reliable information about psychedelic substances that currently exist. We have compiled research, scientific studies as well as experiences and thoughts from the psychedelic community. We do not include all the scientific research and studies. Rather, we curate each our guides to reflect the most relevant insight backed by the most credible evidence. That being said, we are just at the beginning of studying these substances.Everyday we are learning something new. Knowledge is power! Have a bite. If you have relevant information or updates concerning the research and studies of psychedelic substances, please reach out to [email protected]. We appreciate your contribution. –RS