Mixing CBD With Ketamine Might Be Great For Depression


For people of a certain age, ketamine—a powerful anesthetic first approved for human use by the federal Food and Drug Administration in 1970 and used to treat grievously wounded U.S. troops in the final stages of the Vietnam War before it became popular on the club circuit for its dissociative effects—will always be known as “horse tranquilizer.” (Veterinarians do use ketamine on large mammals since it’s so strong, but anti-drug marketing is also strong, and so here we are.)

More recently, ketamine has become prized for its value in treating treatment-resistant depression—an important finding stumbled upon mostly by accident, after doctors found that agitated people given ketamine after a suicide attempt reported a sharp decrease in suicidal ideations.

The FDA recently added treatment-resistant depression as a diagnosis where ketamine can be prescribed, and celebrities including former NBA star and Kardashian family member Lamar Odom endorse ketamine, and clinics offering ketamine treatments have popped up all over the U.S.

But like psilocybin mushrooms, ketamine has some very powerful side effects that not every therapeutic user wants. These include psychotic symptoms as well as “hyperlocomotion,” which is exactly what it sounds like: moving around too much.

In other words, when you’re on ketamine, you can’t really do much else. You probably need to be in a clinic or under observation when you’re on it, which means that its practical benefits are limited.

So what if you could limit the negative side effects while still preserving the therapeutic potential? According to recently published research, by mixing ketamine with cannabidiol, or CBD, the less-psychoactive cannabinoid associated with anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory benefits, it may be possible to do just that.

Noting that CBD and ketamine seemed to activate the same receptor in the brain, a team of researchers at the University of São Paulo in Brazil administered doses of ketamine and CBD to mice, ranging from 2.5 to 30 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. Some mice received both drugs, some just received one or the other.

And the male mice who received both ketamine and CBD performed well enough on movement tests to suggest that the CBD acted as a modulator that blocked certain “psycholocomotor changes” while still granting the anti-depressant benefits.

“Our results show for the first time that the antidepressant-like effect of CBD, similar to ketamine, depends on the activation of AMPA receptors,” the authors wrote in their findings, published in the journal Neuropharmacology in December..

That’s an interesting breakthrough for neuroscience. For the rest of us, these results mean that mixing CBD with ketamine “could be an attractive therapeutic strategy in treating depression, by promoting antidepressant effect while preventing” ketamine’s negative side effects, they added.

The study has some limitations. At least one very obvious one is that it’s a study on lab mice and not people. But the implications are excited.

Though “it remains to be investigated if CBD could attenuate the psychotomimetic effects associated with S-ketamine administration in depressed individuals,” as the authors wrote, “by preventing the hyperlocomotion without interfering with the antidepressant effects of ketamine, CBD could be explored as a possible new add-on therapeutic option for depression.”

And since the World Health Organization believes that by 2030, depression will be the leading cause of disability worldwide, new and effective clinical treatments are vital. For a country like the United States slowly but surely accepting the potential of both cannabis and ketamine to treat profound ailments like depression—while also on the hunt for effective treatments with little-to-no side effects—a viable CBD-ketamine cocktail is an exciting proposition.



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