Ketamine Prescribed Since 1994 – My Experience


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Ketamine offers an opportunity for normal life unmatched by any medication I know of when given off-label for chronic treatment of intractable pain, treatment resistant depression, bipolar depression, juvenile bipolar disorder. It is one of the safest medications I have prescribed in 41 years of medicine. I have never seen anything more effective – it is not a cure, but remission is highly possible. Please refer to peer reviewed references since 2009 on this website on ketamine and depression or pain. Read elsewhere about street drugs, junkies, addicts and media headlines.

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Never Ketamine Alone

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Ketamine is short acting no matter how it is given.

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I never prescribe ketamine by itself – a fools errand; the religion of ketamine is like the religion of opioids. Decades of intractable conditions and chronic neuroinflammation require more than one short acting drug and usually require a multi-disciplinary approach. I work with psychologists or psychiatrists and other specialists when indicated.

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Entourage effect 

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DRUGS ARE LIKE POLITICIANS. A FAMOUS POLITICIAN MAY WALK UNRECOGNIZED, BUT WHEN YOU SURROUND HIM OR HER
WITH MANY PEOPLE, EVEN OF LESSER STATUS, THE POLITICIAN HAS A FAR MORE POWERFUL EFFECT.

Mechoulam

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1994 – I first prescribed IV when teaching cancer pain at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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2001 – prescribed for outpatient care of chronic intractable pain

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2011 – prescribed for treatment resistant depression, bipolar depressed, juvenile bipolar/fear of harm phenotype often diagnosed as oppositional defiant disorder.

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2009 – writing about ketamine, neuro-inflammation and glial modulators on this site, with classic references to publications from the foremost peer reviewed journals, including low dose naltrexone, oxytocin.

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Dosing

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Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Juvenile Bipolar/FOH, treatment resistant – may need a dose only twice daily or every 3 days. The dose and frequency of use cannot be predicted – it is idiosyncratic – look up that word.

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Intractable pain – dosing and frequency of medications is very different than for depression.

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My work with these medications, these glial modulators, is too extensive to annotate on these pages. This website since April 2009 has references for context and guidance with active links to peer reviewed publications. Example:

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Clinical experience using intranasal ketamine in the treatment of pediatric bipolar disorder/fear of harm phenotype. D Papolos et al, J Affect Disord. 2013 May;147(1-3):431-6.

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RESULTS:

Ketamine administration was associated with a substantial reduction in measures of mania, fear of harm and aggression. Significant improvement was observed in mood, anxiety and behavioral symptoms, attention/executive functions, insomnia, parasomnias and sleep inertia. Treatment was generally well-tolerated.

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CONCLUSIONS:

Intranasal ketamine administration in treatment-resistant youth with BD-FOH produced marked improvement in all symptomatic dimensions. A rapid, substantial therapeutic response, with only minimal side effects was observed. Formal clinical trials to assess safety and efficacy are warranted.

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mTOR-Dependent Synapse Formation Underlies the Rapid Antidepressant Effects of NMDA Antagonists. R Duman et al, August 2010, Science, Science 2010 Aug: Vol. 329, Issue 5994, pp. 959- 964. [this article free with registration]
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ABSTRACT:

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We observed that ketamine rapidly activated the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, leading to increased synaptic signaling proteins and increased number and function of new spine synapses in the prefrontal cortex of rats. Moreover, blockade of mTOR signaling completely blocked ketamine induction of synaptogenesis and behavioral responses in models of depression. Our results demonstrate that these effects of ketamine are opposite to the synaptic deficits that result from exposure to stress and could contribute to the fast antidepressant actions of ketamine.

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“The resulting protein synthesis and neuronal alterations in the medial prefrontal cortex are the opposite of those produced by chronic stress….”

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Read elsewhere about street drugs, junkies, addicts and media headlines.

If that is you, see an addictionologist, not me.

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Some medications can be drugs of abuse but every patient and every medication that I dispense is followed meticulously. If any sign of misuse or abuse, that unfortunate person is immediately discharged and referred elsewhere.

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For my Home Page, click here: 

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Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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This site is not for email or medical advice.

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It is not legal for me to give medical advice

unless you are my patient which means I have done a medical history and examination.

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I generally accept only those who have failed most or all known treatments, and only those who I feel I can help.

 

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I interview each patient before accepting.

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Any advertising below is not recommended or condoned by me.

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Intranasal Ketamine in Major Depressive Disorder


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Physicians at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, studied intranasal ketamine in 18 patients with Major Depressive Disorder, published in 2014:

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A Randomized Controlled Trial of

Intranasal Ketamine in Major Depressive Disorder

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Conclusions

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“This study provides the first controlled evidence for the rapid antidepressant effects of intranasal ketamine. Treatment was associated with minimal adverse effects. If replicated, these findings may lead to novel approaches to the pharmacologic treatment of patients with major depression.”

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I have previously posted more detail on this study. They report a significant antidepressant effect occurred as early as 40 minutes in some. I have seen some respond in seconds. But the dose is unique and specific to each person and there is no response until that dose is reached.

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It is hoped that more studies will be funded, though that seems unlikely since congress slashed the NIH budget in 2010 by the unthinkable 30%, never done in history.

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Entire generations of scientists are now lost forever.

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Ketamine Safety

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Ketamine is one of the safest medications I have prescribed in 40 years of medicine. And I meticulously obtain laboratory studies at least twice a year to verify any potential harm as it has been reported in addicts that it may affect bladder, kidney, liver or biliary system. I first prescribed ketamine about 14 years ago for intractable pain rated 10 on a scale of 10 for 30 years; and prescribed ketamine since Spring 2012 for Major Depression. For years I searched to find a spray with a metered dosing system. Thus since late 2011, intranasal has been the delivery I find most useful. When given as nasal spray or under the tongue, not swallowed, it goes straight to the bloodstream, bypassing the liver, and works for depression because the liver does not convert it to a different metabolite.

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Nevertheless, it is important to stress that ketamine must be monitored for any possible adverse effects including toxicity and/or addiction. I require long distance patients to be followed by a psychiatrist or psychologist regularly while on ketamine. So far, my returning patients have been stable for years.

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Further, when given by the nasal or sublingual route, I do not see the side effects that my anesthesiology colleagues see after I.V. infusion. I’ve been in board meetings with some of the finest anesthsiology pain specialists in the country sharing and comparing experience. I don’t see those complications. But that is what is published and I.V. is how it is given in the few centers where ketamine is used for treatment of Major Depression or Bipolar Depression.

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Ketamine is a short acting medication whether it is given I.V. or nasally or under the tongue. But it is quite bitter and most prefer nasal delivery.  Review the case study of the professional who traveled out of state once or twice weekly for one year to receive I.V. ketamine. She had failed ECT 9 or 10 times – memory loss was so bad she got lost in her own neighborhood. She now does very well on a small dose every 48 hours given nasally. In the same post, I reported the patient with Juvenile Bipolar Disorder, Fear of Harm phenotype whose profound thermoregulatory abnormalities respond in seconds to ketamine, with a very small dose of 10 mg nasal spray every 3 days. That’s it! Temperature responds in seconds, and the depression responds in 10 minutes in her case.

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Unfortunately research protocols require the study of fixed dosages in order to be a cost effective study for one sample size at one dose to be even slightly meaningful, even then 18 patients studied at Mt. Sinai is a small study at the one dose they used.

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The principle that I have always used is “start low, go slow.” That allows for the discovery that some large men may require the tiniest dose and some tiny 90 pound seniors may require some of the largest doses I’ve seen. It cannot be predicted by body weight. Anesthesiologists generally think in terms of mg/kg body weight, for example the 0.5 mg/kg I.V. generally used for depression. But ketamine’s dosage variance is unrelated to weight. That likely explains why some develop frightening symptoms when given IV, and others do not respond. One size does not fit all. That method either under-doses or overdoses.

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There are case reports on this website giving examples of some individuals I have seen with Major Depressive Disorder. One man is unusual in needing a small dose only every 6 to 8 weeks, but most use the nasal spray daily or every second or third day. I suspect that after initially starting ketamine on a daily basis for one or two weeks, the frequency of dosing may be lowered to every two or three days. Less is more.

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Professor David Feifel at UCSD guesstimates that ketamine helps 70% of persons with Major Depression. I think that’s a fair statement given that we are unlikely even to see the unknown number who remain at home, forever feeling they are unable to leave their confinement. We know that effects of ketamine are blocked in mice that are deficient in BDNF. We may speculate that when ketamine fails in persons with Major Depression, that may be due to lack of BDNF. We know exercise helps Major Depression and exercise increases BDNF. Much more research is needed.

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The use of ketamine is essentially a first line drug for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). That may never be said in publications, but that has been the case for years in persons with CRPS who have failed all other medications. I specialize in CRPS, a form of neuropathic pain that leads to suicide more often than any other pain syndrome.

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For pain, intranasal ketamine is far shorter lasting, typically three hours, rarely six. And requires doses far higher than for Major Depression or Bipolar Depression. Even then, when used for pain six times daily in very high doses, it has proven to be profoundly safe with few if any side effects that last less than half an hour, if present at all.

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Inflammation

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The role of inflammation and glia in the pathogenesis of depression has been well established since 2000, and discussed here. The study of ketamine has taken on new life with the discovery that it profoundly lowers pro-inflammatory cytokines produced by microglia. Inflammatory cytokines have been shown to be elevated in chronic pain and in Major Depression. That is why I feel it is important to prescribe adjuncts that also lower inflammatory cytokines. And patients with Major Depression and Bipolar Depression have reported the adjuncts make ketamine stronger and last longer. Some don’t even need ketamine after awhile, but remain on the adjuncts.

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Ketamine is not a cure and I find it is best used with adjunct medication. In my experience, ketamine and adjunct medications are likely to help as long as prior to treatment, patients are still able to function, to work at least somewhat. I do have 4 patients in the last four years who have not left their home or their bed for many years, and they failed to respond. Sadly, one older woman had to be institutionalized for life, her melancholic depression was so deep. When ketamine is even partially effective, I have patients who had been too fatigued to work before treatment, yet who are able to return to graduate school for a PhD and do well for years on a stable dose. It is immensely rewarding to be a part of this unique therapy, to see them regain life and function after years of misery and disability.

 

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Studies

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S-Ketamine

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It is my hope to be able to compare S-ketamine, that is not yet FDA approved, with the racemic* ketamine that we now have, that was FDA approved in 1970 in high dose as an anesthetic. Obviously we do not use high anesthetic doses for control of pain or Major Depression. I understand unfortunately that when clinical studies are completed, S-ketamine will be available only in emergency departments.

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*Racemic means the molecule has equal amounts of left and right-handed enantiomers (mirror images) of a chiral molecule (meaning, you cannot superimpose the left hand with the right hand. They mirror but do not superimpose). Thus both left and right racemic ketamine mixture has been FDA approved, but the S-ketamine, the left sided molecule is considered a different drug, and must be FDA approved.

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Without FDA approval, ketamine can be studied with FDA permission that provides an Investigational New Drug (IND) application.

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Given the lack of funding for almost any research in this country, I would consider doing a patient-funded study if patients showed interest. It would be modeled on the intranasal study published in the Mt. Sinai study, above, i.e. short term, randomized, double blind, placebo controlled.

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It is reported that S-ketamine may be more effective with fewer side effects. This must be proven and cannot be taken at face value without several studies. Shockingly, some publications in recent years have been fabricated and woven into mythology.

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Finally, ketamine is off-label for pain and for major depression.

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Papolos et al have published Clinical experience using intranasal ketamine in the treatment of pediatric bipolar disorder/fear of harm phenotype

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“Ketamine administration was associated with a substantial reduction in measures of mania, fear of harm and aggression. Significant improvement was observed in mood, anxiety and behavioral symptoms, attention/executive functions, insomnia, parasomnias and sleep inertia. Treatment was generally well-tolerated.”

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PUBLIC WARNING

reprinted with permission of Demitri Papolos, MD
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Ketamine is a controlled substance.
Administered improperly, or without the guidance of a qualified doctor,
Ketamine may cause injury or death.
No attempt should be made to use Ketamine
in the absence of counsel from a qualified doctor.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.
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It is not legal for me to provide medical advice without an examination.

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It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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This site is not for email and not for appointments.

If you wish an appointment, please telephone the office to schedule.

 

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please ignore the ads below. They are not from me.

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Do You Have Depression? Are you the one who runs into snow wearing shorts?


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Since you were a baby, thermoregulation may be the source of the problem

that triggers your depression or the depression of someone you know.

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You may be a candidate for a research study if you have other key characteristics.

Treatment may help.

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Contact the Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation.

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OR

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Demitri Papolos, MD, is the psychiatrist who, in collaboration with many others, has discovered that body temperature appears to be at the origin of this condition:

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Juvenile Bipolar Disorder, Fear of Harm phenotype.

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Dr. Papolos has written many publications and has published a book, with Janice Papolos, describing this serious disorder. “The Papoloses were the first to sound a national alarm about the dangers of using antidepressant and stimulant drugs with this population of children.”

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Either the link to Dr. Papolos or the Research Foundation, above, can give you further information on treatment.

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Papolos et al have published Clinical experience using intranasal ketamine in the treatment of pediatric bipolar disorder/fear of harm phenotype

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Ketamine administration was associated with a substantial reduction in measures of mania, fear of harm and aggression. Significant improvement was observed in mood, anxiety and behavioral symptoms, attention/executive functions, insomnia, parasomnias and sleep inertia. Treatment was generally well-tolerated.

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Dr. Papolos’ video on treatment points out ketamine nasal spray is off-label

for Bipolar Disorder and he posts this

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PUBLIC WARNING

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Public Warning: Ketamine is a controlled substance.

Administered improperly, or without the guidance of a qualified doctor,

Ketamine may cause injury or death.

No attempt should be made to use Ketamine

in the absence of counsel from a qualified doctor.

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“Off label” means it is FDA approved for another purpose, but he prescribes it for Juvenile Bipolar Disorder. I would add that in qualified hands, ketamine is one of the safest medications we have in our formulary.

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I am not affiliated with Dr. Papolos, but wish to call attention to the dedicated academic work they have been doing for this devastating mood disorder. .

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Of interest, thermoregulation appears to be modulated by low dose naltrexone (LDN).

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It has been anecdotally reported to relieve heat intolerance in persons with Multiple Sclerosis.

I have seen a response with Juvenile Bipolar Disorder/Fear of Harm, and

severe postmenopausal hot flashes were completely reversed by LDN.

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Naltrexone blocks the TLR4 receptor. There is a strong literature on TLR4 and temperature regulation. This raises the interesting question whether anyone has done objective studies to show that low dose naltrexone may be modulating temperature in patients. If you have experience with this, please add your comments below.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

It is not a substitute for medical advice,

diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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Please understand that it is not legal for me

to give medical advice without a consultation.

If you wish an appointment, please telephone my office.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

 

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Ketamine Inhaler – Bipolar Child NPR – Review of Ketamine for Depression


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NPR reported yesterday on the beneficial effects of ketamine for depression, this time reporting on a ketamine inhaler prescribed by Demitri Papolos, MD.

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Dr. Papolos is Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Director of Research of the Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation.

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He “is one of a handful of psychiatrists in the world who began to see and to speak out about the possible deleterious effects of antidepressants and stimulants in the population of children within the bipolar spectrum.”

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This NPR report described a syndrome Dr. Papolos has identified of Bipolar children & adolescents consumed by fear. They described a boy who had extreme attacks of rage for decades, and horrific violent nightmares.

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The boy had attempted suicide at age 5. He was hospitalized in a psychiatric unit at age 12 and strapped down in a padded room, terrified. He failed many medications for years, some made him worse, and he was literally never able to complete a meal at table with the family without flying off in a rage or someone leaving.

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in 2010, the boy tried Dr. “Papolos’ ketamine treatment. He says he’ll remember the day for the rest of his life. ‘I think we did two puffs, and I remember I sat up and I just started laughing,’ he says. Then his mother picks up the story: ‘You said you had an internal feeling of calm that you had never had before in your life. And when we came home that night, that was the first night that we ever all had dinner at the table without somebody leaving.'”

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This boy, George McCann, now at age 22 is finally able to begin a more normal life. He needs the medication only every third day. “Papolos has treated about 60 young people with ketamine so far and says all but two have had dramatic responses.”

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“The number of patients treated so far is small, and the approach is so new it hasn’t been tested by other researchers yet. Papolos says he’s hoping a study he published late last year will help persuade other researchers to try the drug on other children.”

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“In the meantime, George McCann continues to inhale a prescribed dose of ketamine every third day. The fear and anger that once dominated his life are gone, he says, adding that his mind is free now to work….”

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The relief with ketamine from the prison of mood disorders is deeply important. Severe mood disorders such as Major Depression and Bipolar Disorder can destroy the lives of patients and their loved ones. At worst, they can be lethal.

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A review of published cases of intravenous ketamine for depression asks : “Ketamine for depression: where do we go from here?

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I think the answer is we need to simplify the method of treatment using inhaled ketamine and begin to give their lives back to the patients we see. It is one of the safest medications I have ever prescribed. It does not cause weight gain or loss. It does not cause sexual dysfunction. And although it may increase sedation when used in combination with other sedating medications, at the low doses needed to treat mood disorders, I do not see ketamine interfere with other medication.

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Ketamine can relieve depression from one second to the next. And this young man needs the medication every third day. Is that too much to ask to gain a life?

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for

medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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Please understand that it is not legal for me to give medical advice without a consultation.

If you wish an appointment, please telephone my office or contact your local psychiatrist.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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