History of Ketamine

Abstract graphic of a tree which branches look like a brainKetamine, a powerful anesthetic and dissociative drug, has a rich and multifaceted history dating back to its discovery in the early 1960s by Dr. Calvin Stevens. Initially known as CI-581, it was developed as an alternative to the commonly used anesthetics of the time. Its unique properties, including its ability to induce anesthesia without suppressing vital functions like breathing and blood pressure, made it a revolutionary breakthrough in the field of anesthesia.

Ketamine gained widespread acceptance as an anesthetic during the Vietnam War, earning the nickname "buddy drug" for its remarkable safety profile and versatility. However, its journey extended beyond the operating room, as it became a popular recreational drug in the 1970s and '80s. Today, Ketamine is experiencing a renaissance, recognized for its potential in treating depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health conditions, showcasing the ongoing evolution of its role in medicine and beyond. Ketamine-assisted Psychotherapy is a field in which we, at Windows Health Clinic - Be The Change, have particular expertise.


For humans, Ketamine induces anesthesia during, before, and after surgery. It is one of the safest anesthetics, since it does not reduce heart rate, breathing rate, or blood pressure as many other anesthetics do. It is also commonly used as an analgesic to relieve pain.

In the US, ketamine is a Schedule III drug under the US Controlled Substances Act. It is available in oral, sublingual, intranasal, intravenous, and intramuscular formulations.

Ketamine for treatment-resistant depression has been the most well researched, however ketamine has also been observed in our clinic to possibly help with anxiety and PTSD. Ketamine's antidepressant qualities have stood out from traditional antidepressants, due to its reliability in producing dramatic changes within hours, rather than weeks or months. The studies surrounding certain types of pain are ongoing.


FDA approved the S(+) enantiomer of ketamine (esketamine) nasal spray version (Spravato®) for treatment-resistant depression that is only available at a certified doctor's office or clinic.

Recent research by Harvard 2019 into Ketamine and Depression and John Hopkins University in 2019 have uncovered its ability to treat a variety of mental health conditions.


Ketamine, including its salts, isomers and salts of isomers, became a Schedule III non-narcotic substance under the Controlled Substances Act.


In the 1970s, the Food and Drug Administration approved Ketamine's use as a field anesthetic for soldiers during the Vietnam war.


Following the development of PCP, Ketamine, a close structural analog, was first synthesized in 1962.



Ketamine-assisted Psychotherapy and adolescents

From "The American Journal of Psychiatry" In this month's issue, Dwyer et al. (1) report the results of a randomized crossover trial of single-dose ketamine compared with midazolam for the treatment of refractory depression in adolescents. This controlled trial follows reports of adult studies and of open trials or case series in adolescents suggesting ketamine's value as a treatment for depression (2, 3). The target of ketamine treatment has varied in these studies, ranging from refractory depression to severe depression symptoms with and without suicidal ideation.

In addition to offering some hope to individuals whose illness is refractory to initial treatment, the rapidity of ketamine's antidepressant effect addresses the protracted course for determining whether response and remission will occur. Clinicians, patients, and families struggle with how long it takes for antidepressants to work and, importantly, how long to wait for symptoms to improve before calling a treatment inadequate or ineffective (4).

This is a particular challenge for those with mood disorders with imminent suicidal risk, where the slow onset of antidepressant response creates a window of suicide risk for which we have limited treatment options. This study, by providing an initial signal of benefit, has the potential to change how we treat adolescents with depression.

Source: Article "IV Ketamine for Teens? Ya gotta be kidding me, right?"

76% of this adolescent study group had relief within 3 days of the ketamine infusion.



Ketamine Therapy

Ketamine Therapy, a treatment for mental wellness, is emerging as an exceptionally effective option and is garnering attention. This cutting-edge method has rapidly gained popularity and recognition for its impressive capacity to assist individuals in attaining superior mental health. With increasing awareness, more individuals are exploring Ketamine Therapy, attracted by its swift and powerful impact in addressing various mental health conditions and aiding in achieving peak mental wellbeing. Its distinctive mode of action provides relief in cases where conventional treatments might be inadequate, marking a transformative moment in mental health care approaches. This growing popularity highlights a significant shift in the mental health field, placing Ketamine Therapy as a leading, contemporary treatment modality.