Dr. Leisa Deutsch Explains Ketamine Therapy

October 18, 2021

Hi! I am Dr. Leisa Deutsch, an emergency, undersea and lifestyle medicine physician currently practicing at NASA’s Johnson SpaceCenter in Houston, TX.  I’m also a partner physician at Elysian Wellness, and mother to an energetic 5-year-old boy. I served more than six years in the US Navy before transitioning to my current position as the Deputy Medical Director of the NASA site where our astronauts train for their extravehicular activities, more commonly known as spacewalks. As a founding physician of Elysian Wellness, my goal is to provide exemplary care to those seeking relief from certain chronic medical conditions through ketamine therapy and IV wellness treatments in the Hampton Roads area.

Improving individual health and wellness is my passion after years of watching friends, family and patients struggle to relieve their chronic physical and mental health conditions. I aim to empower people to regain control of their health and learn to thrive rather than simply survive the day, which can feel impossible at times. At Elysian Wellness, we offer an evidence-based adjunct to traditional medical therapies, allowing us to give our patients hope.

So how does Ketamine work and what is it?  

You may have heard of it as a street drug – “special k”, “super k”,” kit kat” and more – but it is actually one of the most widely used anesthetic agents in the world. Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic medication first synthesized in 1962 and has been included on the World Health Organization’s essential medicines list for both children and adults since 1985. A “dissociative anesthetic” means that it puts patients in a dream-like state during which they experience both pain relief and amnesia to the events during treatment. It is an extremely safe medication, with dependence and overdose being rare, especially when compared to narcotics.

In the emergency department, we use ketamine frequently for procedural sedation as it allows patients to maintain their breathing and blood pressure while providing both pain control and amnesia. It is now being widely studied for other uses after anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness for major depression accumulated. Over the past 1-2 decades, evidence has emerged for ketamine as a way to treat major depressive disorder, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain syndromes such as migraines, complex regional pain syndrome and fibromyalgia.

This old drug has new tricks!

Ketamine therapy is used differently than how we use ketamine in the Emergency Department. Ketamine therapy is administered under physician supervision with close monitoring over several weeks. There are multiple routes of administration including intravenous (IV), intramuscular(IM), sublingual (SL), and intranasal (IN), with IV being most effective due to bioavailability (your body’s ability to use the medication before it is metabolized).

Chronic stress, depression and trauma affect the ways our brain functions leading to symptoms over time. This can manifest as anxiety, irritability, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, feelings of sadness or hopelessness, difficulty sleeping, cyclic reliving of past traumas and more. Ketamine acts on multiple neurotransmitter systems with the downstream effect of healing, initiating novel, or re-routing neural pathways thus breaking the cycle of depression, PTSD, and obsessive thoughts. The most critical of these seems to be ketamine’s action on glutamate, our brain’s main excitatory neurotransmitter, that also plays a key role in memory and learning.Ketamine is unique, faster acting, and leads to longer lasting effects than most available treatment modalities in addition to having fewer side effects and is giving people the ability to reclaim control over their lives. We can’t wait to learn more about you and discuss whether ketamine therapy is right for you in conjunction with your current physician/treatment regimen. For more information about ketamine therapy and if you are a candidate for treatment, please contact us at the email below.






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