The birthing experience is a state of altered consciousness, as is being under anesthesia for surgery. During extraordinary moments of consciousness, such as giving birth, shock, meditative states, out-of-body experiences, or under the influence of medications or drugs, our senses of time and self are altered.
In 2023, Dr. Luikenaar obtained a “Psychedelic Medicine Certification” from Naropa University, as well as completed MAPS MDMA Psychotherapy training (twice, in 2021 and 2022), attended 4 modules with Polaris Insight Center in Portland, and participated in IV Ketamine training with The Ketamine Institute in Sarasota. Since 1995, Dr. Luikenaar has managed well over 2000 births (and experienced births themselves twice) and performed thousands of surgeries. They are comfortable offering, attending, and administering ketamine treatments (and in the future hope to offer MDMA and Psilocybin treatments when FDA approved) to her patients.
Neuropsychologist Marc Wittmann explains that the relationship between consciousness of time and self is close, and they can intensify and weaken together, as in dreams and extreme situations. Loss of time and self can occur in depression, schizophrenia, and epilepsy. New studies of psychedelic medications show how the brain builds consciousness of self and time and can be used to treat severe depression, anxiety, and addiction.
Ketamine has been used as an anesthetic since the 1970s. For many years, a low dose of Ketamine has been used to improve mental wellbeing and increase neuroplasticity (the brain’s capacity to continue growing and evolving in response to life experiences).
Ketamine therapy is an alternative therapeutic treatment for mental disorders resistant to traditional therapy and medication. Ketamine has demonstrated effective, promising results when treating depression, anxiety, PTSD, drug and alcohol addiction, and chronic pain. Ketamine targets the cause of mental illness, instead of just altering the symptoms.
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a medication, first approved by the FDA in 1970 as a sedative. It is a popular anesthetic as it does not depress the respiratory system and is often given to children in the Emergency Room as well as to delicate animals such as horses (horse tranquillizer). Ketamine can be abused (Special K) and was a popular drug during the rave scene in the 1990s, as well as MDMA (Ecstasy).
Research has shown that ketamine, at low doses, provides a significant improvement in a variety of mental illnesses. In the early 1990s, Yale researchers noticed that chronically depressed patients experienced almost immediate relief from symptoms after taking the anesthetic ketamine. They found out that ketamine works on an entirely different neurotransmitter system, glutamate. (https://medicine.yale.edu/psychiatry/depression/)
Ketamine received clearance by the FDA in 2019 for the treatment of depression (Spravato nasal esketamine) and is hailed as the “most significant breakthrough for treating depression in half a century” (quoted by former National Institute of Health director, Thomas Insel) for several reasons: it reduces depression within 6 hours, with effects that are similar to or greater than six weeks of treatment with standard antidepressant medications (Ketamine for depression: where do we go from here? Biol. Psychiatry. 2012 Oct 1;72(7)), the medication may produce a significant reduction in suicidal thoughts, and studies also indicate the medication may be effective in people with treatment-resistant depression. (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/directors/thomas-insel/blog/2014/ketamine.shtml)
How does ketamine help?
Ketamine is unlike traditional anti-depressants (SSRIs or SNRIs) that regulate brain chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Rather than dulling chemical signals from malfunctioning neurons, Ketamine repairs damaged neural pathways. Glutamate controls large regions of the nervous system and is the most important neurotransmitter in the brain. When glutamate receptors are over-activated, as in cases of major depressive disorder (MDD), a person may experience anxiety and depression. Ketamine works by blocking glutamine receptors in the brain. Some studies also suggest that depression may stem from an absence of synaptic connectivity. Ketamine therapy works by enhancing synaptic connectivity in brain circuitry, which may provide relief from depression symptoms. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6457782/)
In addition to rewiring the brain, ketamine may also reduce signals responsible for inflammation, often the main culprit in chronic pain conditions. Inflammation could contribute to depressive symptoms.
What conditions can be treated with ketamine?
- Postpartum depression
- Depression and anxiety from Menopausal Syndrome
- Grief after loss of a baby or pregnancy
- Depression due to infertility
- Addiction or substance abuse, eating disorders
- Suicidal ideation
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Chronic pain
- Bipolar disorder
- Other indications
Does ketamine replace my current mental health treatments?
Ketamine treatment is meant to be an adjunct to your current mental health treatments; we are happy to collaborate with your psychiatrist and/or therapist. We believe ketamine works better in combination with ketamine assisted psychotherapy (KAP). Ask your therapist if they are comfortable with this or if they received training to be a psychedelic assisted psychotherapist.
What is the recommended course of treatment?
The effect from a single treatment usually lasts around two weeks. After a series of six treatments, some people can remain symptom free for several months. You can receive a booster treatment monthly or a few times per year after your initial treatment(s). We also recommend you work together with your therapist and with us to determine what treatment plan is best indicated for you.
What are the common side effects of ketamine?
The most common side effects are nausea, dizziness, blurry vision and transient elevated blood pressure during treatments. We can give you an antinausea medication before our treatment. Chronic use can lead to cystitis (bladder inflammation). Ketamine does not have the side effects associated with antidepressants.
Is ketamine for everyone?
A consultation with Dr. Luikenaar prior to starting ketamine treatment is required to make sure you are a good candidate for ketamine therapy. There are a few contraindications as well as medications that can interact with ketamine. We do a drug screen before you are receiving ketamine.
Keep in mind ketamine is a treatment, not a cure, it doesn’t work for everyone. Studies are typically done on ideal candidates; in real life there are comorbidities and other factors that caninterfere with successful treatment. We try to take all of this in consideration when we consideryou for ketamine therapy. The real-life success rate is around 50%. You may in the future qualify for other psychedelic treatment modalities, or a combination of treatments as for example MDMA and Psilocybin when FDA approved.
What to expect during a ketamine treatment?
During your treatment, we administer ketamine via injection of an infusion over about 45 minutes. We will closely monitor your progression. The medication works quickly, and you may experience an altered or dissociative, psychedelic state. Ketamine affects your senses and affects each person differently. Some people experience more audible effects, or visual, or tactile. The ketamine will let you know what you need. Dissociation can manifest as an “out of body” experience but this is not always the case. Most patients find the experience pleasant.
We will supervise you during the entire treatment and can guide you to the bathroom if necessary. You can bring a friend, partner, loved one, or your therapist (for KAP); we can discuss during your consultation what you prefer.
We offer a space that is safe, comfortable, and inviting. Bring a positive mindset (trust, let go, and “be open”) and think of your intention for the session. You can discuss this with us during your consultation also or before the treatment session, as well as with your therapist. An intention can be an outcome you would like to see, an experience in the session you would like to have, asking for insights or healing in certain areas of your life, hoping to see or develop characteristics in yourself. Intentions help you show up, be present, and helps assist you with what is most important to focus on right now.
Intentions help ground you if at any point during your session you feel challenged, unsure, or resistant to the content or nature of your experience. Experiences and insights you have during a session can connect directly to your original intention or help you further explore and understand the nature of your experience. Intention setting is within your control and helps you guide your psychedelic experience in the direction you would like to go.
Every experience is different, you will not have the same experience twice. If you have had a bad experience, make sure you discuss this with us before the treatment or during the consultation. If you are starting to feel upset or scared during the treatment, first remember your happy mantra, or skip to another song on your playlist, or reach out to the person sitting with you or envision someone you love. You can ask for something for anxiety or slow down the infusion rate if you are receiving IV ketamine.
Discuss the experience with us when we check in on you during the next day or two, or discuss with your therapist. Many feel immediate relief from depressive symptoms, for about one to two weeks. For sustained improvement, you can consider a 6-treatment protocol with one or two treatments per week. Recommended treatment protocols and dosing depend on the indication and are tailored depending on your response to the treatments and several other factors.
How to prepare for a ketamine treatment?
You can bring a pillow, a blanket, an eye mask, headphones with a music playlist that you preferably haven’t heard many times before (so you are not too emotionally influenced), music without words, that is uplifting and personally makes you happy. You can download a playlist (KAP list) from Spotify from, for example, “Polaris Insight Center,” “Prati,” or Steven Halpern (deep alpha brainwave music).
If someone is staying in the room with you, ask them to not talk on the phone and not talk to you unless you ask for some reassurance. You should not drive for at least 12 hours after your session; you’ll need a ride to take you home as you can experience some dizziness and nausea post-treatment. A protein shake after the treatment and hydration with water are important. Ginger or a prescription for ondansetron (Zofran) can help with nausea after your treatments. MiraLAX and Senna Plus can help with constipation, as well as hydration.
Schedule your next session with your therapist preferably for the next day closely after your ketamine treatment for optimal benefit (and take advantage of the neuroplasticity from the treatment).
To schedule a ketamine treatment consultation or session, or for general questions please call Rebirth Health Center at (801) 272-3909 or email us at email@example.com. If you are a current patient, you can also reach out to us via the Athena portal.
Music and Ketamine Therapy
Music has been used as a therapeutic instrument for centuries, across cultures and plays an important part in the psychedelic experience, it is part of the “set” and “setting”.
Guidelines for Building a Good Ketamine Music Playlist
There is not one music playlist that works for everyone. However, over the years, we have found some types of music for ketamine psychedelic therapy that work for many. The best playlist for ketamine therapy is calming and relaxing. Music should have a slower tempo and not have spoken words or lyrics, as this can be distracting.
As ketamine can impact bladder sensitivity for some, we recommend choosing music that doesn’t include water sounds.
Classical music in your playlist works for some. Experimenting with what works best for your ketamine therapy sessions can be part of your healing process as you are already working on your treatment.
Healing Frequencies to Include in Your Ketamine Music Playlist
Music has been shown to have a powerful effect on the brain and has been used in various forms of therapy for centuries. There are several key elements of music that some researchers theorize help to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms, including the Schumann Resonance, Solfeggio frequencies, and Binaural Beats.
The Schumann Resonance
The Schumann Resonance refers to the natural electromagnetic frequency that surrounds the Earth. This frequency has been shown to have a calming effect on the brain and can help to reduce anxiety and stress. Listening to music that is in tune with the Schumann Resonance can help to align the brain and body, creating a sense of calm and relaxation.
Solfeggio frequencies are a set of musical frequencies that are believed to have healing properties. These frequencies have been used in various forms of therapy for centuries and have been shown to have a positive effect on the brain and body. Listening to music with Solfeggio frequencies can help reduce stress and anxiety and promote healing and well-being. Here’s an example of a playlist on Spotify:
Binaural beats, on the other hand, are sounds that are designed to create a specific brainwave pattern. This can be achieved by playing two different frequencies in each ear, creating a rhythmic pattern that has been shown to have a calming effect on the brain. Binaural beats have been used in therapy for anxiety and depression and have been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms.
Listen for example to Steven Halpern.
Potential Ketamine Music Triggers
As therapeutic as music can be, some music can be triggering, which is why you should avoid modern music choices as well as familiar songs from the past. The best playlist for ketamine is ultimately the one that resonates with you during your ketamine therapy sessions. Listening to the same music that you used during a treatment after a session can help you integrate the insights and experiences you gained during the treatment. It can give you a sense of grounding and connection.
Scientific Studies Supporting Music Therapy
Although research on ketamine music is still ongoing, there are several scientific studies that have shown the benefits of music in reducing depression and anxiety symptoms. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that listening to music for just 15 minutes per day can lead to a significant reduction in symptoms of depression. Another study published in the Journal of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology found that music therapy was effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression in patients with chronic illnesses. The Effect of Music on the Human Stress Response is another study that showed that participants who listened to music recovered quicker following a stressor. According to a report from the Global Council on Brain Health music improves emotional well-being and reduces stress.