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Types of Ketamine for Therapeutic Use

The mental health landscape is continuously evolving, with novel treatment methods to help individuals deal with various conditions. 

One such breakthrough has been the utilization of ketamine – a substance used to treat mental health issues that are difficult to overcome with traditional methods.

How Ketamine Affects The Brain

Ketamine is known to have a profound impact on glutamate, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for synaptic plasticity and neural communication. This property allows for a rapid and profound alteration in mood, perception, and cognition. 

With a heightened awareness and the ability to connect seemingly disconnected parts of the brain, patients can arrive at profound insights that may take weeks or months with regular mood stabilizers or antidepressants.

What Can Ketamine Treat?

Clinical studies show that ketamine can treat a range of mental health conditions, even in patients who have shown resistance to conventional methods.

While research is relatively small, there’s enough evidence suggesting that ketamine has the potential to alter the therapeutic landscape and how we view certain illnesses.

Here are a few conditions that have been treated with ketamine along with links to clinical trials supporting these cases.

Types Of Ketamine Administration

Ketamine can be administered in four different ways. 

  • Intravenous: This is the most common method and involves the controlled infusion of ketamine through an intravenous tube and directly into the bloodstream. 
  • Sublingual: A ketamine-infused tablet or liquid is placed under the tongue, which dissolves and subsequently enters the bloodstream.
  • Nasal Esketamine: This method uses a nasal spray containing esketamine, a derivative of ketamine, sprayed into the nostrils and absorbed through the nasal mucosa.
  • Intramuscular Injection: Ketamine is directly injected into the thigh or buttocks and gradually absorbed into the bloodstream.

The speed of onset, duration, intensity of the experience, and potential side effects vary depending on the method.

The Rationale Behind Different Routes Of Ketamine Administration

While the same substance is administered in each situation, there are nuances that can alter the efficacy and results of the therapeutic process. 

Let’s look at the different methods of administration, their pros and cons, and studies that show how they are being used.

IV Ketamine

The intravenous method involves ketamine being administered via controlled infusion directly into the patient’s bloodstream through a vein. 

This method ensures that the substance bypasses the digestive system, leading to a quicker onset of effects compared to other methods. 


  • Rapid Onset: The key benefit of the IV method is the immediate onset, often noticeable minutes after the infusion begins. This swift response quickly alleviates depression and other severe symptoms.
  • Precise Dosage: The dosage can be regulated and tailored according to the patient’s needs and responses, which can optimize the therapeutic outcome.
  • Clinically Monitored: IV infusions involve a healthcare professional who monitors the patient’s vital signs and mental state closely and makes adjustments when needed.
  • Established Efficacy: There are plenty of clinical trials substantiating the efficacy of IV ketamine in treating severe conditions like treatment-resistant depression and PTSD.


  • Discomfort: The insertion process may be uncomfortable and even scary to patients with a fear of needles.
  • Intense Effects: The rapid onset through IV administration and the dissociative effects can be overwhelming for some people.
  • Medical Equipment: This method requires medical equipment for the infusion as well as monitoring the patient’s vital signs to make changes if needed. This can limit accessibility to regular sessions.

IV infusion continues to gain recognition as a viable form of treatment. And the rapid onset is a beacon of hope for those grappling with severe mental health conditions such as treatment-resistant depression.

Sublingual Ketamine 

Sublingual ketamine offers an alternative to the traditional intravenous approach, by combining convenience and rapidity of effects.

Here, patients place ketamine-infused tablets or liquids under their tongue and the medication is absorbed through the sublingual mucosa (mucous membrane) into the bloodstream.


  • Quick Onset: While it’s not immediate, this method exhibits a faster onset of effects than oral ingestion. Combined with the ease of administration, it’s ideal for patients seeking quick relief.
  • Reduced Discomfort: There are no needles or medical equipment involved, making this a more comfortable way to ingest ketamine.
  • Home Administration: Studies show that sublingual ketamine can be administered at home in safe doses for a significant reduction in depressive symptoms. It is generally recommended that the administration of sublingual ketamine be supervised by a trained professional.


  • Variability In Absorption: Factors like saliva production and mucosal health differ among individuals, which leads to varying levels of effectiveness among patients. 
  • Slower Onset: While it’s absorbed quickly, sublingual ketamine still takes longer to act than IV administration.
  • Dissociative Effects: Like IV, sublingual ketamine can cause dissociation.

Clinical studies show that sublingual ketamine has the potential to significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

While this treatment hasn’t been tested as extensively as IV, there is growing research to help us better understand how it works so we can discover its potential for therapy.

Nasal Esketamine

This approach utilizes a nasal spray to deliver esketamine such as Spravato, a derivative of ketamine. The difference isn’t just in the method of administration, but also in the substance being administered.

Esketamine is similar to ketamine, albeit with lesser dissociative effects. When the nasal spray is administered, esketamine is absorbed through the nasal mucosa and quickly enters the bloodstream.


  • Ease of Use: It is non-invasive, reducing the discomfort associated with this form of treatment. Patients may even self-administer under medical supervision.
  • Mitigated Dissociative Effects: Esketamine is formulated to reduce the intensity of dissociative experiences. This makes the effects more tolerable for patients. 


  • Frequency Of Treatment: The effects of nasal esketamine are short-lived and most patients require frequent sessions to maintain the therapeutic benefits.
  • Variability In Response: Like sublingual ketamine, nasal administration shows variability in response depending on the absorption rates of different individuals.
  • Requires Medical Supervision: Nasal esketamine is relatively newer than other forms of treatment. As such, it may still require the supervision of a medical professional.

While the efficacy of nasal esketamine in the long term requires further examination, studies show that it can alleviate symptoms of treatment-resistant depression. 

This study even labeled esketamine as a breakthrough treatment for depression and its associated symptoms.

Research continues to prove that esketamine is effective in treating mental health conditions, with great promise that this treatment will be integrated into the therapeutic landscape. 

Intramuscular Injection 

Intramuscular administration involves injecting ketamine solution into a muscle, usually the thigh or buttocks.

This method capitalizes on the gradual absorption of ketamine through the muscle tissue, leading to a sustained release into the bloodstream over an extended period.


  • Longer Duration: Unlike other forms, intramuscular injections have a longer-lasting effect and provide extended relief, reducing the number of treatments required.
  • Greater Stability: The gradual release leads to a more sustained level of medication in the bloodstream, minimizing abrupt mood fluctuations.
  • Reduced Dissociation: While dissociation occurs, it is often mild due to the gradual release of ketamine, making the experience more comfortable. 


  • Slower Onset: It takes longer to feel the effects of intramuscular ketamine as it must be absorbed from the muscle into the bloodstream.
  • Injection Required: While it’s not as invasive as an IV, there is still an injection involved, which may cause anxiety in some patients.
  • Professional Administration: Intramuscular injections are usually administered by healthcare professionals and require a clinical setting, or specialized training for outpatient administration.

While intramuscular injections take longer, the difference is only a few hours. 

This study found that intramuscular ketamine caused a significant reduction in depressive symptoms of two individuals diagnosed as highly depressed with suicidal ideation. 

The reduction in symptoms continued three days after the injection and dropped further when a second dose was administered.

Another study found that 0.25 mg/kg of intramuscular ketamine was as safe and effective as a higher dose of 0.5 mg/kg using the IV route. This proves that the IM method of administration is a powerful and promising method to reduce severe symptoms of depression without a full medical setup.

Comparison Of Different Ketamine Treatments

Here’s a table comparing the different ketamine administration routes depending on specific factors.

IV KetamineSublingual KetamineNasal EsketamineIntramuscular Ketamine
EffectivenessHigh efficacy in severe cases of depression and other disorders. Results may vary based on absorption by the patient’s body.A notable efficacy in treating disorders. Yet, not as effective as other forms.Extended duration of effects, showing potential for sustained relief.
Side Effects Dissociation, dizziness, and nausea which subside quickly.Potential for dissociative effects but more tolerable than IV.Reduced dissociation due to esketamine formulation.Least dissociative due to gradual release of medication.
Convenience Must be conducted in a medical facility. Can be self-administered.But the potential for variability can cause inconvenience.Can be self-administered. However, the patient may need frequent sessions.  Requires a professional. But the effects last longer, which means fewer sessions.
Patient Satisfaction High satisfaction due to rapid and profound results. There may be concerns about dissociation, but these are mitigated under a trained therapist.Mixed satisfaction due to variable absorption rates.Typically positive due to ease of administration and manageable side effects.High satisfaction due to sustained effects. However, not ideal for patients who need  immediate relief.
Overview of the different types of ketamine for therapeutic purposes

Factors Affecting The Choice Of Ketamine Administration

While the aim of ketamine therapy is to achieve a desired outcome, the choice of administration will influence the result.

Here are a few factors to consider.

  • Medical Condition: Depending on the nature and severity of the issue, the therapist may recommend a rapid relief measure (intravenous) or suggest the need for long-term stability (intramuscular).
  • Patient Preference: Some patients may be uncomfortable with needles and opt for sublingual or nasal administration. Others may not want to experience intense dissociation and avoid the IV method.
  • Frequency: For those looking to minimize clinical visits, the intramuscular method works best. However, some may require rapid relief and more frequent sessions, for which IV or nasal spray is a better option.
  • Accessibility: Consideration of available medical facilities, trained professionals, and the ability to self-administer will influence the chosen method.
  • Cost: The cost associated with each form of treatment and the medical facilities involved will affect the patient’s final decision.

Ultimately, the method of ketamine administration should be chosen through a discussion between the therapist and patient, after reviewing the patient’s medical history, preferences, and treatment goals.

This personalized approach is crucial to ensure that the chosen method aligns with the patient’s unique needs and maximizes the potential benefits of ketamine therapy.

Make An Informed Choice  

Each approach carries its own set of benefits and drawbacks, catering to different preferences and therapeutic needs.

  • Intravenous ketamine offers immediate relief in acute situations, leading to profound insights and high efficacy. But the possibility of an intense dissociative experience is higher.
  • Sublingual ketamine offers a balance of convenience and efficacy. However, the outcome will vary depending on how effectively the substance is absorbed.
  • Nasal esketamine is easy to use and the dissociative effects are minimized. But the lower intensity means that patients may require more sessions to achieve the desired outcome.
  • Intramuscular ketamine provides extended relief for those seeking sustained effects. However, it takes longer for effects to kick in once the ketamine has been administered.

A patient must understand the different methods, the benefits, and the drawbacks so they can make an informed decision aligned with their unique circumstances.

Ketamine-Assisted Therapy in Los Angeles

The evolution of ketamine therapy signals a shift in the approach toward mental health. 

The Psychedelic Collective aims to empower patients with the latest insights, equipping them to collaborate effectively in crafting personalized treatment plans.

Our evidence-based modalities focus on patient-centered care and prioritizing the physical, mental, and emotional safety of those who seek our help.

We urge you to explore the realm of ketamine-assisted therapy in Los Angeles as a potential avenue for relief. Call us today to learn more about your treatment options and craft a plan that suits you best.

With the help of ketamine, you can navigate your condition in a way that produces tangible results in a short time, helping you improve your overall quality of life.

Additional Reading

Who is a Good Candidate for Ketamine Assisted Therapy? Exploring the Potential of Ketamine Lozenges in Treating Mental Disorders

Over the past few decades, the demand for novel and more effective mental health treatments has been increasing as conventional treatments are no unable to offer relief to those suffering from treatment resistant disorders. 

One such promising treatment that is gaining significant traction in clinical settings is ketamine assisted psychotherapy. This therapy involves patients taking a dose of sublingual ketamine paired with psychotherapy sessions to facilitate healing and symptom relief. 

While effective, not everyone is a good candidate for this treatment, read on to find out who is a good candidate for ketamine assisted therapy.

Emergence of ketamine in mental health treatment

Research studies and clinical trials

The discovery of ke tamine’s antidepressant effects can be traced back to the 1990s when researchers started investigating its potential use in treating depression. Early studies demonstrated that low doses of ketamine could produce rapid and sustained antidepressant effects in patients with treatment-resistant depression (Berman et al., 2000; Zarate et al., 2006). 

Since then, numerous clinical trials have supported its efficacy in treating other mental health conditions, such as PTSD (Feder et al., 2014) and OCD (Rodriguez et al., 2013).

How ketamine assisted therapy works

Ketamine assisted therapy involves administering doses of ketamine, typically through an intravenous (IV) infusion, intranasal spray, or sublingually in the form of a lozenge in a controlled clinical setting under the supervision of a mental health professional. The ketamine administration is combined with psychotherapy to promote healing of synaptic connections and symptom relief. 

Ketamine is believed to work by blocking the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, which plays a crucial role in mood regulation and synaptic plasticity. This action leads to the release of growth factors that promote the formation of new synaptic connections, ultimately enhancing neural plasticity and improving mood (Duman et al., 2016).

The role of a mental health professional

A mental health professional’s (e.g. psychiatrist, therapist) involvement is vital during ketamine assisted therapy to ensure patient safety, monitor the patient’s response to the treatment, and provide therapeutic support throughout the process. The professional may also assist in integrating the patient’s experiences during the ketamine session into their ongoing therapy, helping them gain insights and develop new coping strategies.

The journey

Ketamine assisted therapy typically involves a series of treatment sessions, with the number and frequency of sessions determined by the patient’s needs and response to the therapy. A single session usually lasts for a few hours, including the time needed for ketamine administration, the patient’s experience under the influence of ketamine, and a debriefing period with the mental health professional.

Ketamine Lozenges: A Promising Alternative

What are ketamine lozenges?

Ketamine lozenges are an innovative formulation of ketamine, designed for oral administration. These lozenges contain a lower dose of ketamine compared to intravenous or intranasal administration methods and offer a more convenient and accessible option for patients seeking ketamine assisted therapy.

In a session, the patient places the lozenge under their tongue and let’s it dissolve over the course of 20 minutes to ingest the appropriate dose. As the effects set in, the therapist or guide will navigate the patient through the journey.

Advantages of ketamine lozenges compared to alternatives

At-home administration

One of the main benefits of ketamine lozenges is the potential for at-home administration under the guidance of a mental health professional. This allows patients to receive treatment in the comfort of their own homes, reducing the need for frequent clinic visits and potentially lowering the overall cost of treatment.

Lower doses and side effects

Ketamine lozenges contain a lower dose of ketamine compared to other administration methods, which may result in fewer side effects and a more tolerable experience for patients. 

Additionally, the oral administration allows for a slower absorption of the drug, providing a more gradual and controlled release of ketamine into the bloodstream.

Studies supporting the use of ketamine lozenges

Research on ketamine lozenges is still in its early stages, but preliminary studies have shown promising results. A pilot study by Lara et al. (2013) found that oral ketamine was effective in reducing depressive symptoms in patients with treatment-resistant depression. 

While more extensive research is needed to fully understand the potential of ketamine lozenges in treating mental health disorders, initial findings indicate that they may be a valuable alternative to traditional ketamine assisted therapy.

Identifying Good Candidates for Ketamine Assisted Therapy

Criteria for a good candidate

Treatment-resistant mental health disorders

Ketamine assisted therapy is primarily aimed at individuals suffering from mental health disorders that have not responded to conventional treatments, such as antidepressants or psychotherapy. These patients may have tried multiple treatment approaches without significant improvement in their symptoms, making them ideal candidates for ketamine assisted therapy.

Adequate physical health

Before considering ketamine assisted therapy, it is essential to ensure that a patient is in good physical health. Potential candidates should undergo a thorough medical evaluation, including a review of their medical history and any current medications, to identify any contraindications or potential complications.

Informed consent and realistic expectations

Good candidates for ketamine assisted therapy should be well-informed about the treatment process, its potential benefits and risks, and any possible side effects. They should also have realistic expectations regarding the outcomes of the therapy, understanding that it may not work for everyone and that additional treatment sessions may be required to achieve the desired results.

Mental health disorders that may benefit from ketamine assisted therapy

Major depressive disorder

Research has consistently shown that ketamine assisted therapy can be effective in treating major depressive disorder, particularly in patients who have not responded to traditional treatments.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Ketamine assisted therapy has also been shown to be effective in alleviating symptoms of PTSD, with some studies reporting rapid and sustained improvements in patients who had not responded to conventional treatments (Feder et al., 2014).

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Preliminary research suggests that ketamine assisted therapy may be beneficial for patients with OCD who have not responded to traditional therapies (Rodriguez et al., 2013).

Other conditions under investigation

Researchers are currently exploring the potential of ketamine assisted therapy in treating other mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and substance use disorders. While more research is needed, early findings suggest that ketamine assisted therapy may have broader applications in the field of mental health.

Factors that may exclude someone from ketamine assisted therapy

Certain medical conditions

Individuals with specific medical conditions, such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart disease, or a history of seizures, may not be suitable candidates for ketamine assisted therapy due to potential risks and complications.

Other contraindications

Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals and those with a history of severe allergic reactions to ketamine or related medications should avoid ketamine assisted therapy.

Our Ketamine Assisted Therapy Clinic in Los Angeles

Overview of our clinic

State-of-the-art facility

Our ketamine assisted therapy clinic in Los Angeles is a modern, state-of-the-art facility designed to provide the highest level of care to patients seeking relief from treatment-resistant mental health disorders. Our experienced team of mental health professionals and clinicians work closely with patients to develop personalized treatment plans that address their unique needs and circumstances.

Comprehensive care

We offer a comprehensive range of services, including initial consultations, medical evaluations, ketamine infusions, and ketamine lozenge therapy. Our clinic is dedicated to providing safe and effective treatment options for patients struggling with mental health disorders that have not responded to traditional therapies.

Experienced mental health providers

Our team consists of experienced mental health providers, including psychiatrists, and licensed therapists. These professionals have extensive experience and knowledge of ketamine assisted therapy and are dedicated to helping patients find relief from their symptoms.

What to expect during treatment

Thorough assessment

Prior to beginning ketamine assisted therapy, patients undergo a thorough consultation to determine their suitability for treatment. This assessment includes a review of medical history, current medications, and any contraindications to ketamine therapy.

Personalized treatment plans

Our team of professionals works closely with each patient to develop a personalized treatment plan that takes into account their specific needs and goals. Treatment plans may include a combination of ketamine infusions and/or ketamine lozenges, as well as ongoing monitoring and follow-up care.

Comfort and safety

Our clinic prioritizes patient comfort and safety throughout the entire treatment process. We provide a welcoming, supportive environment where patients can relax and focus on their healing journey.

Who is a Good Candidate for Ketamine Assisted Therapy in Los Angeles

Ketamine assisted therapy has emerged as a promising treatment option for individuals suffering from treatment-resistant mental health disorders, including major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. With its rapid onset of action and the potential for sustained symptom relief, ketamine assisted therapy offers new hope for those struggling with these debilitating conditions.

Our ketamine assisted therapy clinic in Los Angeles is dedicated to providing the highest level of care to patients seeking relief from treatment-resistant mental health disorders. Our state-of-the-art facility, experienced team of professionals, and personalized approach to treatment ensure that our patients receive the support and guidance they need to achieve the best possible outcomes.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a treatment-resistant mental health disorder, we invite you to explore the potential benefits of ketamine assisted therapy at Psychedelica Collective. Contact us today to learn more about our services and schedule a consultation with our team of mental health professionals.