Dealing with the debilitating pain of chronic diseases such as fibromyalgia and Lyme disease isn’t easy. But, thanks to Chicago’s new IV Solution Ketamine Treatment Center (712 N. Dearborn St., 844-948-6337), Chicagoans now have an alternative way of dealing with pain and making it a thing of the past. Here, IV Solution’s chief medical officer Dr. Bal Nandra M.D. explains how ketamine therapies work at rebooting your system and easing symptoms of chronic diseases.
How do ketamine treatments work to alleviate symptoms of chronic diseases like fibromyalgia and Lyme disease?
BAL NANDRA M.D.: Ketamine alleviates the pain of fibromyalgia by blocking the NMDA cellular receptor, which is a receptor that transmits pain signals. Amazingly, fibromyalgia patients have a massive overstimulation of this specific receptor, hence [why] ketamine is very effective in reducing or eliminating their pain. Ketamine also reduces tolerance to opioids, thereby making them more effective at lower doses. In essence, a large dose of ketamine may be “rebooting” the system of pain signals. Lyme disease also presents with a pain syndrome very similar to fibromyalgia or complex regional pain syndrome, so ketamine is thought to work via the same mechanisms to reduce pain and overactive nerve pathways in these patients.
How many visits are needed for treating chronic diseases?
BN: The number of treatments varies between patients. Most patients will have almost immediate relief of pain after the very first infusion. However, in fibromyalgia, this pain reduction will typically last 2-6 weeks after a single infusion. Therefore, protocols call for serial infusions over a few days first, which will provide a longer period of relief until a booster infusion is needed.
How soon before patients begin to experience symptom relief?
BN: Most patients will experience dramatic improvement of symptoms after their first infusion. Typically, patients will experience a 50% reduction in pain at this point.
What are the pros and cons of using ketamine treatments versus traditional treatments for chronic diseases?
BN: Ketamine is a drug that is designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an “essential” drug. It is a safe drug when administered in a monitored setting by a trained medical professional such as an anesthesiologist. Its side effects are largely limited to the duration of the infusion and perhaps a few hours beyond. Hence, patients do not have lingering or daily side effects that disrupt their daily lives. It is also not a physically addictive drug, unlike traditional opioid and sedative drugs. However, it must be administered very carefully in people with heart disease or high blood pressure and careful medical histories need to be taken from the patient to ensure that there are no other contraindications. Additionally, medications that a patient is on have to be reviewed carefully to avoid drug interactions.
Do ketamine treatments for chronic diseases always work?
BN: With any medication, it is very rare that 100% of patients will experience relief. Not only will some only get partial relief, but some will not respond at all. Ketamine has been shown to be particularly effective in many of the mental illnesses and chronic pain conditions that it has been studied with. For example, in treatment-resistant depression, ketamine can relieve symptoms in up to 75% of patients after just one or two 45-minute infusions, whereas conventional oral antidepressants are only about 40-50% effective and take 4-6 weeks to work. In fibromyalgia, ketamine will provide dramatic pain relief in over 50% of patients.