What is Ketamine?

05 April, 2019
Ketamine is a relaxing substance used primarily as a sedative or anesthetic for animals. It can also cause hallucinogenic effects.

Ketamine is a drug with anesthetic and hallucinogenic properties. Its use in medicine is very limited, and it’s mainly used as a fast-acting anesthetic.

It is also widely used in veterinary medicine to sedate large animals, especially horses. It was originally synthesized and put into use at the end of the 20th century for this specific purpose.

Due to misuse, Ketamine has gained a reputation for being a powerful hallucinogenic drug and for being commonly used in rape because of its sedation properties.

How Does it Work?


Ketamine is a derivative of phencyclidine. Both are part of the family of NMDA receptor antagonists. NMDA is an abbreviation for N-Methyl-D-Aspartate, which is a glutamate agonist. When a substance is an agonist, it means that is strengthens the effect of another substance. On the contrary, when a substance is an antagonist, it means that it blocks the action of another substance.

Ketamine is an anesthetic because it blocks the activity of the NMDA, which is responsible for increasing the activity of glutamate. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that accounts for most of the synapse connections in various regions of the nervous system and the brain. For example, the cerebral cortex has many glutamate receptors since it is the area where learning and memory are located.

Since Ketamine blocks glutamate, the synapses do not transmit the excitatory information, and the nervous system enters a state of relaxation. Depending on the dose, the drug acts more like a sedative or a tranquilizer.

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What is the Purpose of Ketamine?

As mentioned above, Ketamine is mainly used as a sedative and anesthetic in veterinary medicine. However, doctors rarely use Ketamine because of its numerous and dangerous side effects.

In addition, they also avoid it in the medical field because it is a psychotropic substance. This means that it’s a substance that can alter a person’s mental state. However, in less-developed countries, they may use Ketamine as an anesthetic because it’s cheaper than many alternatives.

Why is Ketamine a Psychotropic Substance?

Ketamine is a powerful hallucinogenic that has a dissociative nature. That means that it alters the patient’s sense of their body in space. Commonly, people describe feeling sensations of lightness, floating, leaving their body, etc.

When they first used it in low doses on children and the elderly, many patients commented on what they felt under the influence of Ketamine. Since there were so many odd cases, doctors conducted numerous studies until they eventually found that even at very low doses, Ketamine has powerful hallucinogenic properties.

It is precisely this property that makes the drug so dangerous.

Furthermore, it’s difficult to measure the correct dosage, since the side effects are immediate. For instance, at minimal doses, it produces a relaxation effect. However, even a slight increase in the dosage can result in near death-like experiences.

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What Are Other Side Effects of Ketamine?

Other side effects of ketamine

Aside from hallucinations, Ketamine can alter a person’s memory and cause difficulty concentrating.

At higher doses, a person may suffer from arrhythmias, or a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. Other cardiovascular complications include hypertension, bradycardia, cardiovascular failure, and increased pressure inside the skull.

There is also a risk of death in children because the drug may cause spasms of the larynx that block the airway. In addition, children can also suffer from seizures or dystonia. Dystonia is the medical term that refers to involuntary contractions of the muscles. If Ketamine causes them, they are usually very painful and are a reflection of the improper functioning of the nervous system.

For all of the above reasons, doctors hardly ever use Ketamine. Since the complications are so numerous, frequent and dangerous, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Moreover, if mixed with other substances, like alcohol, Ketamine becomes even more dangerous.

If you think someone has taken Ketamine, you should call emergency services immediately. Then, put the person in a quiet room. Dim the lights and make the room as silent as possible to reduce all stimulants.