The ketamine cure: is this unregulated drug safe to use at home?

The success of ketamine in early trials surprised and excited researchers studying mood disorders, an area where drugs like Prozac and Zoloft, combined with talk therapy, are the primary treatment options. for decades. But, as with Mr. Gathman, the interventions don’t work for up to 30 percent of people with major depression.

Additionally, it can take up to two months to determine if these interventions are having any effect – a dangerously long period for those with suicidal thoughts and other mood disorders, said Dr Joshua Berman, director. of Interventional Psychiatry at Columbia University. , which helps lead the development of the department’s ketamine program. The effects of ketamine, on the other hand, are often immediate.

Although relatively new to mental health, ketamine has been used in hospitals and on battlefields as an anesthetic since 1970. Although the drug’s clearance by the Food and Drug Administration does not yet extend most From ketamine treatments to mood disorders, any doctor can prescribe it is not on the label for patients they believe could benefit, thus allowing the ketamine business to flourish.

Chris Walden, co-founder of Ketamine Media, a public relations company that works with ketamine suppliers, said ketamine clinics have grown from a few dozen to “several hundred” in the United States, but haven’t could give exact figures.

Some of these providers are associated with academic institutions conducting clinical trials. Others operate in boutique-like private clinics such as Nushama, which was recently opened on Park Avenue in New York City by designer Jay Godfrey.

And some patients skip the clinic altogether. Mindbloom, launched at the end of 2018, is a telemedicine platform whose users have ketamine lozenges delivered to their homes. The company – among the fastest growing services among several services that allow home ketamine treatment, like My Ketamine Home and TrippSitter – partners its clients with certified psychiatric clinicians to prescribe medication, who determine whether the medication suits them. Then, other staff, called “psychedelic guides”, meet with patients virtually before and after sessions to process the experience. There are no formal requirements to become a psychedelic guide, but most have training in areas such as mental health, life coaching, or crisis management.

Dylan Beynon, CEO and founder of Mindbloom, said more than 80% of his clients with depression or anxiety experience significant improvement after four sessions – and only 5% of patients experience side effects, which were for the most part. most light.

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