Can Ketamine Be Taken Orally?

Can Ketamine Be Taken Orally?

There are different ways that you can take ketamine. The most common routes of administration are intranasal (snorting or through a nasal spray), intravenous (IV) injection, or intramuscular (IM) injection. For medical uses, you will receive the drug via a nasal spray, IV, or IM.

Many other drugs can also be taken orally. But does the same apply to ketamine? The short answer is yes. There are contexts in which people will take ketamine orally.

In this post, we’ll describe what makes oral ketamine unique and how one would take it orally. We’ll then delve a bit more into the circumstances in which you may use the compound in this way.

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Oral Ketamine Has A Different Dosage

As with other drugs, when you take a substance orally, you will need to take a different dosage to achieve the desired effects. Let’s compare the dosages of ketamine based on the various routes of administration.

  • Intravenous (IV) injection: 50 to 100 mg
  • Intramuscular (IM) injection: 75 to 125 mg
  • Intranasal spray: 10 to 100 mg
  • Snorting: 20 to 250 mg
  • Oral: 50 to 500 mg

As we can see, when taking ketamine orally, you need to take a higher dosage to achieve the same effects from other routes of administration. As with the other routes of administration, the dosage range for taking it orally begins with a light dose at the lower end and ends with a heavy dose that can result in a ‘k-hole’ at the higher end. A k-hole is when you lose awareness of the world around you and feel detached from your body. It might also involve having a mystical experience.

According to Erowid, oral ketamine dosages are as follows:

  • Light: 50 to 100 mg
  • Common: 75 to 300 mg
  • Strong: 200 to 450 mg
  • Heavy (likely to result in a k-hole): 500+ mg

Oral Ketamine Has A Different Onset

Each route of administration has a different onset, with some methods resulting in a faster onset than others. IV and IM, for example, have a rapid onset (within seconds for IV and within a minute for IM). Insufflation, on the other hand, leads to effects coming on slower.

Oral ketamine has the slowest onset out of all the methods of administration. If taking the psychedelic this way, you will feel the effects around 20 minutes to an hour after ingestion. This can have its benefits.

An advantage of the slower onset of oral ketamine is that this may prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. The effects of injected ketamine begin in less than a minute. If taking a high dose of the drug, this fast onset may feel quite intense.

Taking The Psychedelic Orally Differs In Its Duration

Whenever taking any drug orally, the effects typically last longer than taking the drug via injection or insufflation. With IV ketamine, the effects will last between 10 and 20 minutes. For IM ketamine, the effects will last between 15 and 30 minutes. If snorting the powder version of the drug, you may experience effects for up to an hour.

Oral ketamine has a much longer duration, with effects lasting 4-6 hours. This might be preferable for both therapeutic and recreational reasons. In a therapeutic context, the long-lasting effects of oral ketamine can help certain patients with pain or psychological distress. Recreational users, meanwhile, might prefer to have a psychedelic trip that lasts a few hours, rather than less than an hour.

The downside to a protracted experience is that it’s less convenient. This is especially true if you take a high dose, meaning that you will be unable to carry out normal activities when under the influence of the drug. With IV, IM, or insufflation, you can finish your session within an hour. In contrast, a high-dose oral ketamine session involves a much bigger time commitment.

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Taking The Psychedelic Orally Is Less Intense

When taking ketamine orally, you will have less intense subjective effects. This may be preferable if you want an extended, but mild experience, or if you want the therapeutic benefits but less chance of being overwhelmed. After all, intense psychedelic effects are not for everyone. Some patients may even use ketamine for pain relief without losing touch with the outside world.

How To Take Ketamine Orally

There are different ways to take ketamine orally. Some recreational users will take it as a white powder and wrap the dose in a cigarette paper (known as a “bomb”). This is to mask the taste of the powder. A person may also consume the psychedelic orally as both a liquid or in tablet form.

The Therapeutic Uses

There is some research focusing on the therapeutic benefits of oral ketamine. Let’s outline some of the key studies:

  • A systematic review published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry: Oral ketamine offers patients significant antidepressant effects with good overall tolerability. However, these antidepressant effects are not as rapid as those one would receive with an IV.
  • A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology: Oral ketamine is modestly effective at improving treatment-resistant depression, with only approximately 30 percent of participants reporting a benefit and around 70 percent reporting either no change or a worsening of mood.
  • From a study in Translational Psychiatry: Six weeks of low doses of oral ketamine led to significant reductions in suicidal ideation in patients with chronic suicidality.
  • A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry: Repeated oral ketamine produced rapid and long-lasting alleviation of depressive symptoms in outpatients with treatment-resistant depression.
  • From a study published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine: Patients with symptoms of depression and anxiety experienced strong antidepressant and anxiolytic effects from daily oral ketamine, with few adverse reactions. The response rates for depression was similar to that achieved with an IV, the difference between that it took longer for the antidepressant effects to manifest.

Much of the research on the therapeutic applications of ketamine focuses on injections of the drug. And this is the route of administration that clinics utilize for the treatment of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Ketamine nasal sprays are another option for those suffering from depression. Some clinics offer the drug in its oral form but not many do. Most offer IV ketamine infusions.

However, as we can see, there seem to be therapeutic benefits to using oral ketamine. As more rigorous studies are published, more clinics may begin offering this alternative route of administration. For some patients, taking the psychedelic orally may be preferable to IV, IM, or insufflation.

Sam Woolfe

Sam Woolfe

View all posts by Sam Woolfe

Sam Woolfe is a freelance writer based in London. His main areas of interest include mental health, mystical experiences, the history of psychedelics, and the philosophy of psychedelics. He first became fascinated by psychedelics after reading Aldous Huxley's description of the mescaline experience in The Doors of Perception. Since then, he has researched and written about psychedelics for various publications, covering the legality of psychedelics, drug policy reform, and psychedelic science.

Abid Nazeer

This post was medically approved by Abid Nazeer

Dr. Nazeer is the Founder and President of APS Ketamine/Advanced Psychiatric Solutions, which he established in 2016 as the first psychiatric outpatient ketamine clinic in Illinois. He is board certified in Psychiatry as well as Addiction Medicine. He completed his psychiatry residency at Louisiana State University Health Sciences in Shreveport where he held the role of Chief Resident. Dr. Nazeer is providing medical oversight to the growth plan of Wesana Clinics, with the model of comprehensive psychiatry clinics specialized ketamine and psychedelic therapies, integrated brain health and wellness centers, and technology utilization of Wesana Solutions remote patient monitoring product.

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Comments (1)

  • Zachary Tomlinson
    February 4, 2022 at 4:17 am Reply

    I find it fascinating that ketamine can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression by controlling your mood. I heard this term in a real-crime drama that I binged last night. I hope more people should consider this treatment if these conditions are taking control of their lives.

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