Ketamine is typically known to people as an anesthetic, a horse tranquilizer, or a club drug, but it is generating a lot of interest for treating migraines that don’t respond to other treatments. The drug is also being used to treat other types of chronic pain as well as PTSD.
Doctors have used ketamine to treat migraines in a few different ways. The drug can be administered intravenously for sudden severe pain or via nasal spray for pain that doesn’t require a trip to the hospital. It can also come in the form of creams, gels, liquids, and lozenges. Ketamine nasal spray has even been shown to help with treatment-resistant depression, which tends to go hand-in-hand with migraines for many people.
There is no doubt that ketamine is an exciting new treatment for migraines, but like most drugs, it’s not for everyone. This is the kind of treatment your doctor might want to try if you haven’t had results from more typical treatments.
It is useful to have a variety of treatment options, and some people may really benefit from short-term usage of this drug if their doctor recommends trying it.
But what is it like to use a “club drug” as a pain treatment?
This woman shares her experience using IV ketamine as part of her pain therapy in this article, and describes feeling foggy, weak and knocked-out by the medications.
Some report that the downtime, hallucinations, paranoia, emotional roller coasters, were worth it, but it’s certainly not an easy instant fix.
Yup that’s right, hallucinations.
All drugs have side effects, and the side effects of ketamine include:
- Vivid dreams or nightmares
- Anxiety/panic attacks
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Elevated liver enzymes/liver damage
- High blood pressure
- Swelling of the cornea of the eye
- Irregular heartbeat
- Slowed breathing
- Difficulty urinating
The long term effects of using it are not fully understood yet. It may decrease cognition, and can cause serious bladder issues and liver damage so it’s important that you take this drug under the care and direction of your doctor and don’t attempt to self-medicate.
Patients taking ketamine for prolonged periods are at high-risk for abuse although it is not as addictive as opioid, or narcotic, pain relievers. It is still early days when it comes to ketamine research, but it may have less risk and side effects than other heavy narcotics and opioid painkillers, which are still sometimes prescribed in severe cases.
It can seem impossible to implement diet or lifestyle changes when migraines are severe and frequent, and that’s when some of these medical options could potentially play a role.
Would people who have tried this treatment recommend it?
Sydney Major, a young woman from California, had this to say after documenting what it’s like to go through the process and have it work well for her:
“I would recommend this to anyone but only as a last resort. There are other alternatives that a migraineur can try first and they should. Everyone is different, though; my chemistry is not the same as yours.”
Ketamine is intended for acute situations, not chronic pain relief, so in the long term, rather than looking for miracle drugs or treatments, look for the root cause of your migraines. One of the properties attributed to ketamine’s success in treating acute pain is as an anti-inflammatory and there are many powerful natural anti-inflammatory options that I personally would try first.