It’s no secret that wellness is very much in right now—and with good reason. There are so many people struggling with things like anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and diseases who are ditching traditional treatments for alternative medicine that is safe and will make them feel better. Chicago’s new IV Solution Ketamine Center (712 N. Dearborn St., 844-948-6337) is one place where locals can get their dose of alternative treatments. Here, we talk with chief medical officer Dr. Bal Nandra M.D. about all the pros and cons involved with opting for alternative treatments such as ketamine therapies and his advice for those who are still on the fence.
What are the pros of going the alternative medicine route with ketamine treatments? BAL NANDRA M.D.: Ketamine is effective in treating conditions that traditionally have had no “silver bullet.” For example, treatment-resistant or refractory depression can be very challenging to treat and many of these patients have not only failed multiple medication regimens and psychotherapy, but they may have even failed electroconvulsive shock therapy (ECT). But now, ketamine can be a shining light for these patients and give them a chance at a better life with a safe and very fast-acting medication. Ketamine may not be for everyone, but patients who are not finding the relief they desire should speak with their doctor about this treatment because it could be their “silver bullet.”
Are there any cons? BN: Like with any innovative treatment that is off-label, most insurance companies will not cover the treatments so patients have to pay out of pocket. Although currently some organizations are pushing for approval, these things take time. Additionally, with any new therapy, more clinical studies always need to be done. However, some of the studies behind ketamine and depression came out of the NIH.
Will ketamine treatments decrease or eliminate the need for medications or other treatments? If so, how long after? BN: Patients will vary in their need for their regular medications after ketamine. Many patients are able to get completely off their drugs; others can only reduce their doses. We always recommend that patients only discontinue or adjust their medications with the guidance of their treating physician.
Do you find that ketamine treatments work better at relieving some ailments more than others? BN: The studies done have largely focused on major depressive disorder where ketamine has been shown to be around 75% effective and this has been duplicated by multiple studies. There are very few medications available that are this effective in treating any illness of any kind. So ketamine has been a real game changer in depression and has been called by experts as “the greatest advancement in mental health in over 50 years.”
What’s your advice to someone who’s still a little skeptical about trying ketamine treatments? BN: If you are skeptical about trying ketamine, you should first discuss this option with your treating physician. After that, we are available to do a free consultation to discuss the treatment in more depth and what you can expect. We always take a health screening before we see you so that our conversation can be focused on you specifically and how we can customize the protocol to best fit your needs. We can often also put you in touch with one of our former patients as a resource.