The term “psychedelic” originates from the Greek word for mind or soul-manifesting. Historically, the term has been associated with natural plant-derived medicines used in spiritual ceremonies by many ancient cultures. Today, when administered under controlled conditions, these “classical psychedelics,” as they are known, can have a dramatic healing effect for those suffering mood disorders and various other mental health conditions.
The broader historical classification of ketamine as a psychedelic medicine has long been at the center of an ongoing debate. But aside from this argument, the real issue lies in recognizing whether or not ketamine has indeed become a new medicine for psychedelics as it pertains to mental health treatment
What Defines a Psychedelic Experience?
When it comes to definition psychedelics, two perspectives exist; one being the “classical” definition, where plant-derived psychedelics act on the serotonin system, the other being the “experiential” definition which focuses on the psychedelic experience.
When considering Ketamine’s classification as a psychedelic, it is important to understand the value of the psychedelic experience — known also as “mystical journeys” or “journeys.” This “experiential” definition comes from our understanding of the felt experience and therapeutic results that can be achieved when someone undergoes a psychedelic experience.
The Significance of Ketamine’s Classification as a Psychedelic Medicine
Recognizing ketamine as a psychedelic medicine will mean enhanced access to the medication for all patients struggling with mental health conditions. Given the growing mental health crisis, it is more important than ever to consider all treatment options available. Ketamine therapy has proven to be highly effective in treating a variety of mental health conditions. From a classification perspective, positive therapeutic outcomes following ketamine therapy are consistent with the therapeutic results observed in classical psychedelics.
“We all dream of a way that we could use psychedelic medicine in the here and now to treat people with depression, PTSD, alcoholism, and anxiety, and there wasn’t a legal path outside of ketamine. We researched ketamine to a great degree and recognized that it was a wonderful tool that could invoke ego-dissolving experiences, much like psilocybin, LSD, or MDMA.“
– Jay Godfrey, Co-Founder Nushama Wellness
New York, NY
Exploring the Hallmarks of a Psychedelic Experience
One alternate perspective on the term “psychedelic” involves the psychological definition of a molecule that is mind or soul-manifesting. This approach emphasizes the nature of the direct embodied experience of a psychedelic experience rather than the underlying chemistry.
What do Ketamine Psychedelic Effects feel like?
In the field of psychedelic medicine, distinct hallmarks characterize the psychedelic experience. While every patient’s experience is unique, studying these common effects of ketamine against classical psychedelics provides a powerful lens for assessing its psychedelic classification.
1. New Experiences/Insights: Both ketamine and classical psychedelics induce new experiences, emotions, insights, and connections.
2. Inexpressible: The psychedelic experience is challenging to articulate. Capturing its transcendent reality is simply beyond the capability of human language.
3. Ego Dissolution: Ketamine, like classical psychedelics, facilitates the dissolution of the sense of self. This leads to a profound shift in perspective, allowing us to find new ways to see our life experiences and to have the ability to choose how we want to respond.
4. Timeless: The psychedelic experience transcends the concept of time.
5. 3rd Person Perspective: Both ketamine and classical psychedelics provide a detached perspective, offering individuals new insights into themselves.
Psychedelic Medicine at Nushama, NY
Nushama ketamine-assisted therapeutic journeys utilize sub-anesthetic doses to induce an ego-dissolving exploration. Unlike most medications that induce a masking response, ketamine serves as a doorway into the consciousness. This allows individuals to explore the root cause of ailments, reframe their narratives, and work toward therapeutic breakthroughs.
These psychedelic experiences are typically relaxing and calming, providing a comfortable environment. Visuals or fractal patterns may accompany the journey while listening to a doctor-approved playlist and resting under a blanket with an eye mask. Medical supervision is provided, and a call button is available.
Ketamine vs. Classical Psychedelic Therapy Options
In addition to the psychedelic experience, ketamine treatment shares significant similarities with classical psychedelics in terms of therapeutic breakthroughs. Research shows ketamine induces a neurobiological response similar to classical psychedelics. Following a ketamine session, researchers have found increased neuroplasticity, enhanced brain communication, and reduced Default Mode Network (DMN), just as with classical psychedelics. These shared similarities and outcomes further support classifying ketamine as a psychedelic medicine.
Ketamine: A Psychedelic Medicine
Based on the hallmarks of the psychedelic experience discussed above, along with neurobiological evidence and common themes in therapeutic breakthroughs, it is fair to classify ketamine as a “psychedelic“ medicine. Those who disagree argue ketamine is not a psychedelic due to its action on the brain’s glutamate system, and NMDA receptors rather than the serotonergic 5-HTA2 receptors targeted by classical psychedelics like psilocybin and LSD.
RELATED: The Neuroscience of Ketamine
It is vital to consider ketamine a psychedelic medicine, particularly amidst the growing mental health crisis. It is estimated by the National Mental Health Institution that in 2022, over 51.5 million adults aged eighteen or older living in the United States were reported to have experienced some form of mental illness within the past year. By classifying ketamine as a psychedelic, we can expand access to this medicine, improving mental health outcomes for millions.
Ketamine Therapy in Response to the Mental Health Crisis
The need for recognition of ketamine as a psychedelic medicine cannot be understated. It has the potential to increase access to psychedelic therapy and significantly improve mental health outcomes. With the mental health crisis being a significant public health concern, by acknowledging ketamine as a psychedelic medicine, we open doors to new and effective treatments, responding directly to the ongoing mental health crisis.