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How it works

Discover more about Ketamine

Ketamine binds to, and thereby inhibits, a receptor in our brain cells called the NMDA receptor, which controls synaptic plasticity and memory function. Inhibition of the NMDA receptor causes anesthetic and antidepressant effects, which was observed when scientists used other compounds to block NMDA receptors as well. However, when researchers used ketamine, they saw that the other NMDA blocking compounds turned off the production of some proteins, but ketamine actually caused the neurons (brain cells) to increase the production of a protein called BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor). Also, another difference between ketamine and other NMDA inhibitors is that ketamine only blocks NMDA receptors that are not being used to send a specific signal. Many of these receptors are firing in the background of the brain, and scientists have found a link between mood disorders and this “background noise” that ketamine apparently “resets”.

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