Ketamine is No Longer ‘Alternative’ Medicine

Medically reviewed by 
Chelsea Tersavich, PA-C
Published on 
October 10, 2022
Updated on 

They say it takes 10 years to become an overnight success. 

Ketamine therapy and psychedelic medicine are once again having their time in the spotlight, and not a minute too late: ketamine has been proving its efficacy as a mental health treatment for several decades.

With 50+ years of clinical and scientific research behind it, and decades being used as a mental health treatment for conditions like anxiety, depression, and beyond – ketamine is primed and poised to move beyond the designation of ‘alternative treatment’ and root down fully as an established and demonstrated mainstream mental health treatment


Ketamine was first approved for use as a surgical anesthetic in the 1964, and received FDA approval in 1970. It proved effective time and time again, eventually working its way onto the World Health Organization’s list of Essential Medicines

While it was used in surgical rooms, doctors and surgeons began to hear reports of mood improvements, and a host of secondary effects from the patients related to their mental health. 

Eventually, sub-anesthetic doses of ketamine began to be studied for their impact on a patient's mental health. 

Ketamine proved yet again to be strongly effective in this area, and ketamine was eventually accepted for off-label use by licensed clinicians in several countries around the world. 

Now with decades of research and patient reports across surgery rooms and clinical offices, ketamine has established itself as a viable, well-studied, safe, and effective treatment for a variety of mental health conditions, including interventions for previously treatment-resistant patients. 

Fast forward to today, where mainstream culture has been steadily opening up and increasing awareness of the benefits of psychotherapy, psychedelic therapy, and taking mental health seriously. 

Ketamine has been working in the background for decades, to finally step into the spotlight as a mainstream pathway to mental health and wellness. 


While there were many promising studies, labs, and individuals looking into ketamine, psychedelic therapy, and more during the 1950s and the 1960s, towards the turn of the 1970s a ban on all access and research was put into place on a majority of these substances.

The clinical and research environment went dark. It was extremely difficult for any individuals or scientists to receive funding for their research, and even more difficult to acquire the material needed to conduct these. 

Over time, however, some studies were granted, promising results were published, and renewed interest from clinicians and research scientists was found. Almost 4 decades after this research ban, we are once again experiencing a renewed interest from the public and the scientific communities in the power and potential of psychedelic therapy and novel healing modalities. 

While there are still several myths, misunderstandings, and hesitation around this work and this space, there is certainly a promising path ahead forming in front of us. 

With decades of clinical and scientific research, hundreds of thousands of successful treatments and medicine sessions, alongside widespread discussion and adoption of ketamine treatment by celebrities and the public alike – it is safe to say that ketamine therapy is no longer an alternative medicine. Supporting this, Spravato, an esketamine nasal spray, is an FDA-approved ketamine-based mental health treatment.

It has taken up its place as a viable, valid, and foundational mainstream mental health solution. What follows below are several direct benefits of this increased mainstream adoption and further normalization.


While the renewed attention and focus on normalizing mental health treatment and widespread acceptance, regulation, and legalization of powerful treatments are wonderful – it’s easy to lose sight of why these developments are important. 

There are real people, working with real challenges, that have the potential to find a great deal of healing, health, wholeness, and happiness from these treatments. 

To get more specific, let’s look at a few real benefits of normalizing psychedelic therapy and increasing access to treatment options like ketamine therapy.


Increased levels of awareness, acceptance, and accompanying legislation across the country help to increase the safety, access, and efficacy of mental health treatment options for eligible clients. 

With mental health becoming more and more important across the culture, increasing access to those who need it the most is a direct and immediate benefit of normalizing ketamine therapy and psychedelic treatment modalities.

Whether it is shifting regulations at the state or country level, or an increased acceptance within the heart of an individual, normalizing and welcoming valid healing paths dramatically increase access, a win for everyone involved. 


Ketamine and other psychedelic medicines are demonstrating remarkable efficacy in the treatment of clients deemed ‘treatment-resistant’.

This means that they have tried and not experienced lasting results from a variety of earlier interventions like psychotherapy, pharmacology, or combinations of the two.

While existing treatment options for this group of individuals is limited, ketamine treatment and psychedelic therapy present another option that is not only available to them but is demonstrating real results in helping these individuals heal and return to wholeness. 


Nearly by definition, normalizing and mainstreaming psychedelic medicines and ketamine therapy take these healing modalities out of the darkness, away from the edges, and into the light of practice and adoption.

This dramatically reduces the shame individuals face, the stigma associated with the practices, and the uncertainty that potential clients may feel when making the decision as to whether or not to embark on their own healing journey with psychedelic therapy programs.

It seems now you can’t go through a week or a month without hearing in the news cycle the story of a famous celebrity, prized athlete, or everyday householder as to how they found healing and wholeness through working intentionally with psychedelic medicines or ketamine treatment. It shows, time and time again, that these are valid, acceptable, open, and trusted methods of individual healing. 


Increased normalization creates increased attention. The attention drives accessibility, and this accessibility includes funding, material, and interest in the scientific and clinical communities. 

As ketamine therapy and psychedelic medicines are more mainstream, the wheel of science continues to turn with more specific studies, increased sample sizes, and a broader diversity of conditions and hypotheses studied.

This creates a virtuous cycle as new scientific research may open doors to additional treatment protocols, new conditions being treated, and more effective treatment is given to each client.

All of this is downstream from normalizing ketamine therapy and psychedelic medicines, and the rising tide of scientific research into these healing modalities lifts all future boats with better access, better treatment, and hopefully better outcomes for individuals as a result of this.


Ketamine has been studied and used in clinical and therapeutic settings for several decades. A long history of safety, efficacy, and accessibility stands behind it and supports further research and access.

The past several years have seen renewed adoption and interest from the public, more client stories and outcomes data being published, and further refinement of treatment protocols and administration methods.

This is no small feat. There are several major benefits to increased mainstream adoption and normalization of ketamine treatment and psychedelic therapy. These include increasing access to relevant populations, new opportunities for treatment-resistant clients, reducing shame and social stigma, and a strong foundation for further research, studies, and development in the space.

While it still feels like we are in the nascent stages of development, it’s safe to say that ketamine therapy is moving out of the edges and into the spotlight as a mainstream mental health solution for all.


This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. If you are in a life-threatening situation, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at +1 (800) 273-8255, call 911, or go to the nearest emergency room.

Important FDA Safety Information

Ketamine is not FDA-approved for the treatment of depression or anxiety. Learn more about off-label uses here.

Side effects of ketamine treatment may include: altered sense of time, anxiety, blurred vision, diminished ability to see/hear/feel, dry mouth, elevated blood pressure or heart rate, elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure, excitability, loss of appetite, mental confusion, nausea/vomiting, nystagmus (rapid eye movements), restlessness, slurred speech, synesthesia (a mingling of the senses).

Do not proceed with ketamine treatment if any of the following apply to you:

  • Allergic to ketamine
  • Symptoms of psychosis or mania
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • CHF or other serious heart problem
  • Severe breathing problem
  • History of elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure
  • History of hyperthyroidism
  • Other serious medical illness
  • Pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant

Ketamine has been reported to produce issues including, but not limited to, those listed below. However, lasting adverse side-effects are rare when medical protocols are carefully followed.

While ketamine has not been shown to be physically addictive, it has been shown to cause moderate psychological dependency in some recreational users.

  • In rare cases, frequent, heavy users have reported increased frequency of urination, urinary incontinence, pain urinating, passing blood in the urine, or reduced bladder size
  • Ketamine may worsen problems in people with schizophrenia, severe personality disorders, or other serious mental disorders.
  • Users with a personal or family history of psychosis should be cautious using any psychoactive substance, including ketamine, and discuss potential risks with your MindBloom® clinician before proceeding with treatment.
  • The dissociative effects of ketamine may increase patient vulnerability and the risk of accidents.

To promote positive outcomes and ensure safety, follow these ketamine treatment guidelines:

  • Do not operate a vehicle (e.g., car, motorcycle, bicycle) or heavy machinery following treatment until you’ve had a full night of sleep
  • Refrain from taking benzodiazepines or stimulants for 24 hours prior to treatment
  • Continue to take antihypertensive medication as prescribed
  • Avoid hangovers or alcohol intake
  • Refrain from consuming solid foods within 3 hours prior to treatment and liquids within 1 hour prior to treatment
  • Ketamine treatment should never be conducted without a monitor present to ensure your safety

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