What is Ketamine? 

Ketamine, discovered in 1962, is one of the most used anesthetics for many surgical procedures. It is even used in children due to its safety profile. A few people know ketamine to be “special K”, a recreational street drug or used in veterinary medicine as a tranquilizer.  Even though Ketamine is used in all these situations, its primary purpose is anesthetic for humans.

Ketamine has been included on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, highlighting its significance as a treatment option for a variety of medical conditions.

What is Ketamine Infusion Therapy? 

Over the past two decades, researchers have found that ketamine, when given at a low dose intravenously, has a significant anxiety-reducing effect. This led to the development of Ketamine Infusion Therapy as an option for the treatment of treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, PTSD, chronic pain syndromes and suicidality.

During your ketamine treatment at Alternativ Total Wellness, low-dose ketamine will be administered over an hour. The number of sessions will be tailored to the condition that is being treated. Most patients receiving ketamine for mental health disorders will receive a series of six sessions over the course of 2-3 weeks. Many individuals will feel relief within hours to 1-2 days. Each progressive session builds on the progress made in the prior session.

How does Ketamine work? 

Ketamine is a medication that works on the NMDA receptor in the brain, which plays a key role in the perception of pain and regulation of mood. Through blocking the NMDA receptor, Ketamine can relieve chronic pain and improve symptoms of mental health disorders. Furthermore, ketamine increases the levels of glutamate, a neurotransmitter in the brain, which can repair damaged neural connections and promote the growth of new ones, ultimately reducing symptoms of depression and other mental health disorders. With effects lasting for weeks or even months after treatment.

Apart from the neurological processes, the infusion experience also involves crucial mental experiences. Ketamine's dissociative effects often result in significant positive shifts in patients' psyche and consciousness. The infusion experience is unique to each individual and is instrumental in their healing, with many patients reporting a sense of connection to something greater, closure towards past traumas, and self-compassion.  Many patients experience this after their first session.

We believe this experiential component or “journey” holds great therapeutic value in conjunction with the medication's neurological effects. Several factors, such as the patient's mindset, treatment environment, administration route, infusion rate and total dose, contribute to the infusion experience's variability.

Is Ketamine safe? 

Low dose IV ketamine is very safe when administered under medical supervision. The risk of adverse effects is low, and any side effects that do occur are usually mild and short-lived. At Alternativ Total Wellness, we take extra precautions to ensure your safety by monitoring you on hospital-grade continuous monitors checking your vital signs (Heart rate, blood pressure, and pulse oximetry) throughout your entire session. We have in place rigorous standards in safety protocols and are equipped with emergency medical supplies and equipment.

What are the Benefits of Ketamine Infusion Therapy?

Ketamine infusion therapy is highly effective in reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health conditions. It often results in a rapid and significant improvement, particularly for those who have not responded well to other forms of treatment. Additionally, ketamine infusion therapy may be a viable option for those who are unable to take traditional antidepressants due to side effects or other contraindications, as it has none of the short-term side effects commonly associated with other medications.

Unlike conventional treatments, Ketamine is reported to improve the quality of relief by increasing empathy and restoring the ability to experience pleasure, thus making it an appealing alternative for individuals who prefer a more natural treatment approach or do not want to take medication daily.

Can Ketamine therapy help if I am already in therapy and or taking medication?

Yes - Ketamine treatment is often complementary to other mental health therapies and can produce superior outcomes when used in conjunction with mental health counseling and other treatments. Ketamine is usually stronger, more effective, and acts quicker in relieving conditions like depression and anxiety. It can also be used in conjunction with your current pain medication regimen to help alleviate your pain and potentially reduce the current dosage of medications you are taking.

Is there anyone who should not receive Ketamine infusions? 

While ketamine infusion therapy is generally safe and well-tolerated, there are certain groups of patients who may not be suitable candidates for this treatment. These may include:

  • Individuals with uncontrolled hypertension or heart disease.
  • Patients with a history of drug abuse or addiction.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women.
  • Patients with a history of severe liver or kidney disease.
  • Individuals with a history of psychotic disorders or bipolar disorder.
What is a Ketamine treatment like? 

Ketamine Infusion Therapy has been reported to induce a unique inward journey for many people, characterized by a sense of detachment from their surroundings and a heightened awareness of their inner selves. Some individuals describe the experience as a form of introspection, where they are able to explore their thoughts, emotions, and past experiences in a deeper and more profound way. Others have reported a sense of spiritual or mystical connection, with some even describing feelings of unity with the universe or a higher power. However, it is important to note that the nature and intensity of the inward journey can vary widely between individuals, and not everyone may experience these effects.

What are the side effects of Ketamine treatment? 

Ketamine therapy is safe when administered by a trained medical professional and is generally well tolerated by patients. As with all medications, some patients do have side effects from ketamine therapy which only lasts for only about 15 minutes after cessation of infusion. These might include increased blood pressure and heart rate, nausea and vomiting, feeling “light” or “floating sensation”, feeling the sensation of being “out of body”, and blurry or double vision. Serious side effects include allergic reactions, pain at the infusion site, and breathing problems.

Will I require ketamine treatment for the rest of my life?

No. Some patients will have long-lasting relief from one series of infusions. Others will find that ketamine either provides them with the initial relief from which can be then maintained by their current medication regimen along with other therapies and lifestyle choices or enhances the effect of their current medications.

After the initial series, some patients will follow up for a booster infusion on a as needed basis for maintenance.

What should I do on the day of treatment?
  • You must bring in government issued ID for each appointment.
  • You will be required to have a family member or trusted friend drive you to and from your treatment.
  • Please do not drive or operate heavy machinery for 24 hours post treatment.
  • You can bring headphones to listen to music. Music should be something calm and soothing to listen to. We can also recommend certain playlists.
  • Please wear comfortable and loose clothing which will enable us to take your blood pressure and attach cardiac monitor leads under your shirt during the session
  • Come with an open mind. Relax and pay attention to your thoughts and feelings.
Do I have to stop any of my medications?

All specifics regarding your medications will be discussed with you extensively prior to your treatment. You may contact us with questions regarding interactions with your current medications and Ketamine.

Certain medications may interfere with obtaining the best result possible from ketamine. These include but not limited to:

Very large doses of Benzodiazepines. Common medications include Xanax (alprazolam), Ativan (lorazepam), Valium (diazepam), and klonipin (clonazepam). These medications might need to be held the morning of your ketamine sessions and resumed immediately after.

  • Risperidone (Risperdal)
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • Lamictal

These are all relative contraindications and might only need to only need to be held or reduced prior to your session. We can also work closely with your prescribing physician prior to the session before making any adjustments.

Does health insurance cover the cost of Ketamine Treatment? 

The FDA has approved Ketamine for use as an anesthetic but using it to treat conditions such as depression and PTSD is not considered an authorized use, and as such, insurance companies typically do not cover such treatments.

Alternativ Total Wellness offers customized therapies at competitive prices. We accept all major credit cards and cash. We can also provide you with a superbill which you can present to your insurance company for potential reimbursement of treatment.

Do I need to bring someone with me to my appointment? 

It is strongly recommended that patients arrange for a ride home after their ketamine treatment, as the medication may cause drowsiness and impair their ability to drive safely. Additionally, we encourage patients to bring a loved one along to provide emotional support during Ketamine Infusion Therapy, as this can help them feel more comfortable and relaxed during the treatment process.