In the video, ElderHealth’s nurse practitioner Melissa Koon describes the benefits and uses of Ketamine in treating older adults with Parkinson’s Dyskinesia and/or depression. Learn about the origins and history. Ketamine was most known as the “buddy drug” used as a pain reliever and anesthetic in the Vietnam war. Safe enough for soldiers to administer to each other on the battlefield. Other early uses were for children to help them sleep.
Melissa’s previous experience at Casa de la Luz, one of her hospice patients was crying often, isolated by intense pain and limited movement. A pharmacist recommended Ketamine as a possible treatment. After one administration of Ketamine, the next day the patient’s husband called and said she’s wasn’t crying anymore. Her daughter said it was a miracle. Melissa proposed that it’s likely to help other hospice patients. Thereafter, Melissa began a new study on Ketamine treatment trials for more patients. The results of the Casa de la Luz Hospice study found that Ketamine alleviated depression symptoms and improved pain management. In 2018, Melissa presented the study’s findings at the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Care.
Later Melissa teamed up with Laura Aylmer, LSW and began practicing Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy for patients on a regular basis. The results they had were life-changing for most patients. Consider that anti-depressants are slow acting and can take up to a year to make an impact on the patient. With Ketamine, depression symptoms improved within 3-6 sessions. Each session lasts for only 30 minutes to an hour. Ketamine was fast, effective, and safe to use on most people, patients of any age, especially older adults with pain and depression.
Ketamine as a treatment for depression
At ElderHealth, we provide a safe, monitored environment for Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy. A licensed social worker administers the drug and guides the patient through a therapy session. We recommend Ketamine treatments in this way for the safety of our patients. It’s difficult to know how exactly each patient will react, because it affects every individual differently. A benefit of Ketamine is that it works very fast and targets many different areas of the brain’s neural network. Since depression may impact different areas of a person’s neurology, it may be why Ketamine is so effective in treating depression and pain.
Ketamine, is it safe?
Ketamine is generally safe to use and can be effective within a single dose for improvement of depressive symptoms. It’s not over the counter or available at common drug stores and pharmacies. Ketamine can only be prescribed by a doctor and prescription filled at a compounding pharmacy. It’s easy to administer and doesn’t need constant monitoring. You will need to have a prescription with dosage instructions from your doctor based on your specific needs. Ketamine can be administered orally, in a nasal spray, intravenously, or via intramuscular injection.
Cautions and Adverse Effects of Ketamine Use
Currently, Ketamine is only FDA approved as an anesthetic and a nasal spray. There is a potential for abuse as it intensifies and potentiates opioids. Ketamine is not recommended for those who use benzodiazepines or have Tachycardia (irregular heart rate) and take Clonidine. Also, it’s important to be aware that most providers are hesitant to use Ketamine due to lack of knowledge and information.
How Ketamine can help Parkinson’s disease patients with dyskinesia
Parkinson’s effects the brain first. And depression is commonly the first sign of Parkinson’s, which is something that many people don’t know. Parkinson’s depression can be a catalyst of progressive symptoms, starting with cognitive decline slowly progressing to physical symptoms that show up years later.
- Resting tremor
- Postural instability
- Slow gait
- Muscle stiffness
Recently, Dr. Sherman at The University of Arizona started using Ketamine infusions and found that it can successfully reverse the effect of Parkinson’s dyskinesia. Approximately 50% of patients with Parkinson’s disease receiving levodopa will develop dyskinesia within 4-5 years, and 80% in 10-12 years. Low dose infusions of Ketamine reduced involuntary movement in patients. A new FDA approved drug trial has begun phase 2 and attributed to Dr. Sherman’s research.
Depression in Parkinson’s, three contributing factors:
- a chemical imbalance in the brain (dopamine and serotonin)
- decreased immunity, immunological
- digestive health / gut microbiome
The importance of treating depression for people who have Parkinson’s disease
Untreated depression leads to motor function decline and treatment failure. This can make a big impact on a patient’s outcome, which is why early detection is so important. Depressive symptoms start 4-6 years before the onset of decreased motor control. Depression is the first sign of cognitive decline and can cause a quicker progression of the disease.
Ketamine is effective in various stages of decline. Kickstart your treatment at the first signs of Parkinson’s depression, or at the onset of dyskinesia. Even in the late stages, Ketamine can improve a patient’s quality of life.
Doctor-Approved Books About Ketamine and Alternative Drug Therapies
“For when embedded in a psychotherapeutic approach, Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP) has great potential for emotional healing and the amelioration of human suffering and confusion.”– Phil Wolfson, MD and Glenn Hartelius, Ph.D., The Ketamine Papers: Science, Therapy, and Transformation (book)
“Habits are undeniably useful tools, relieving us of the need to run complex mental operations every time we’re confronted with a new task or situation. Yet they also relieve us of the need to stay away to the world: to attend, to feel, think, and then act in a deliberate manner.”– Micheal Pollan, How to Change Your Mind (book)
Ketamine Assisted Therapy is available to patients in Tucson, Arizona
The administration of Ketamine in oral and/or injectable form is provided in conjunction within an hour therapy session with Laura Aylmer, ElderHealth’s licensed social worker in the comfort of your own home. Contact us today to request an initial telemedicine consultation, covered by insurance.
If you have any questions about Ketamine Assisted Therapy, please contact us directly or make a comment below.
Wow, I’m very relieved to learn that ketamine is typically safe to take and that it can help with depressive symptoms with only one dose. After years of going through it in solitude, a friend of mine received a medical diagnosis of depression a year ago. Of course, we’ve all been watching out for her and supporting her in ways we can. Ketamine therapy seems really promising, so she will undoubtedly hear about it from me. I am confident she will want to try it in combination with her therapy sessions.