One of the most powerful benefits of therapeutic ketamine treatments is the speed with which some patients receive relief.  Patients have reported that even after just a single treatment, their perspective shifts profoundly, including feeling more hopeful about life.  For those who have been working with the usual slower acting medications for depression (such as Zoloft, Prozac, Lexapro, to name a few) this is absolutely life-changing.

Neuroscientists have conducted many, many studies over the years, deepening our understanding of how ketamine works and why it works so rapidly.  Brain neurotransmitters and their receptors are at the heart of how ketamine works, and studies by a group of Harvard neuroscientists reveal a couple of fascinating details:

  1. Ketamine works by awakening neural connections in the brain.
  2. Ketamine’s efficacy in females varies with the menstrual cycle.

The firing of neurons in the cerebral cortex was found to be rapidly enhanced by ketamine.  The mechanism for this increased connectivity and activity is not direct. One specific group of neurons, called parvalbumin neurons, that control and synchronize the electrical activities of other brain cells, were quieted by ketamine.  By limiting the activity of these “inhibitory” neurons, ketamine may encourage the brain to be more sensitive and responsive to sensory input, lifting it out of its depressive funk.

The Harvard researchers also provided some insight into why it is that ketamine may not be as consistently effective in women as it is in men.  Looking at different stages of the estrous cycle in mice, they discovered that “… drug action was variable – sometimes ketamine would boost activity, sometimes not.”  They found that ketamine had little effect during the follicular phase (which in women starts on the first day of menstruation and ends with ovulation).

This gender difference underscores the importance of taking a holistic approach in patient care, and it’s one of the reasons that we do a thorough evaluation prior to ketamine treatment at Satori Integrative Medicine Clinic.  One of our underlying principles in patient care is that all factors that influence health, wellness, and disease are taken into consideration, including mind, spirit, and community, as well as the body.  As such, we ensure that ketamine is a good fit given all the many influences over our patients’ health, and for our female patients, that may include treatment schedule adjustments to maximize the benefits of treatment.

For those interested in more details about the Harvard study, click here.  And for those who really want some detailed science, you can find the original article here.

In Glenwood Springs, CO, our integrative medicine clinic and ketamine treatment center offers ketamine infusions, integrative medicine, and acupuncture.  Dr. Stoner believes there are many paths to health. Her approach to integrative medicine is to work with the patient to choose the science-based tools from a full range of medical traditions and alternative/complementary modalities that optimize their individual mental and physical health. She will work with you and your other health and wellness providers to truly integrate your care.

We specialize in treatment for those suffering from major depression, the depressed phase of bipolar disorder (bipolar depression), postpartum depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), and addiction.

We utilize conventional and alternative modalities to help our patients be the best they can be, given what they have and where they’re starting. If you or someone close to you would benefit from our services, please contact us today to schedule an appointment and/or learn how we can help you awaken to a new life.