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Ketamine - Enzyklopädie

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What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a dissociative psychedelic used medically as a veterinary and human anaesthetic. It is one of the few addictive psychedelics.


Ketamine was first synthesized in 1962 by Calvin Stevens at Parke Davis Labs while searching for PCP anaesthetic replacements. He named it "CI581". In 1965 Ketamine was discovered to be a useful anaesthetic and was first used recreationally by Edward Domino who coined the term "dissociative anaesthetic". Ketamine was used for anaesthesia because it suppresses breathing much less than most other available anaesthetics, but in the 1970's patients began to report unwanted visions while under its influence.
Ketamine's first psychedelic use was in 1965. The drug was used in psychiatric and other academic research through the 1970s, culminating in 1978 with the publishing of John Lilly's The Scientist, a book documenting the author's ketamine, LSD, and isolation tank experiments. The incidence of recreational ketamine use increased through the end of the century, especially in the context of raves and other parties. In 1998 and 1999, Ketamine was lumped by media and legislators with GHB as a 'date rape drug' and a 'club drug' and was emergency scheduled by the American DEA in 1999.


Chemical name: 2-(2-chlorophenyl)-2-(methylamino)-cyclohexanone

Positive effects

At lower doses, it has a mild, dreamy feeling similar to nitrous oxide. Users report feeling floaty and slightly outside their body. Numbness in the extremities is also common. Higher doses produce a hallucinogenic (trippy) effect and may cause the user to feel very far away from their body. This experience is often referred to as entering a "K-hole" and has been compared to a near death experience with sensations of rising above one's body. Many users find the experience spiritually significant, while others find it frightening. While in a K-hole it is very difficult to move. People usually remain seated or lying down during the experience.

Negative effects

Negative physical effects can include dry mouth, respiratory problems and nervousness/racing heart. Many people also experience nausea and/or vomiting on ketamine, which can obviously be a problem when taking an anaesthetics or sedatives. Supervision of higher dose ketamine experiences by a sober sitter can help ensure that an unconscious participant doesn't have problems with vomiting and/or breathing.

Two psychological difficulties which seem to come up for those who use ketamine regularly are paranoia and egocentrism. There are many reports of regular users starting to see patterns and coincidences (synchronicities) in the world around them which seem to indicate that they are somehow more important or integral to the world than others. This same sense of the world focusing on the user can also feed into a sense of paranoia.

Ketamine has the potential to be both physically and psychologically addicting. Individuals who use it regularly may find it difficult to stop.

Medical use

It was first used clinically in 1970, and because of these combined effects, it was thought that it might be the perfect anaesthetic agent. This is not quite the case, but its continued use in all parts of the world demonstrates that for certain situations when used appropriately, it is a very valuable drug. For example, physicians in Germany are inducing coma in patients with Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and giving high doses of ketamine. Researchers believe the ketamine blocks the pain pathways and allows normal nerve transmission to return. This induced coma procedure is reserved for patients with such severe symptoms they are unable to function. Read more.



Depending on the concentration, form, and method of administration, recreational doses of ketamine range from 30 - 300 mg. The dosage range for insufflated (snorted) ketamine varies widely from about 15-200 mg. With doses higher than about 50 mg it is advisable to be lying down

I.M. (intra-muscular injection) Ketamine generally takes 1-5 minutes to take effect. Snorted ketamine takes a little longer at 5-15 minutes. Depending on how much and how recently one has eaten, oral ketamine can take between 5 and 30 minutes to take effect.

The primary effects of ketamine last approximately a 30-45 minutes if injected, 45-60 minutes when snorted, and 1-2 hours if used orally.


Be aware that many people who use K see a new perspective on the world which seems to be quite ego-centric and conspiratorial. K can increase one's sense of connection between events, synchronicities, etc. This, when interpreted in certain common ways, can lead one to believe that events are working out in ways which focus on the self.


Interactively, Ketamine should not be used with respiratory depressants, primarily alcohol, barbiturates, or Valium. Ketamine has been used with no ill interactive effects with marijuana, LSD, nitrous oxide, dextromethorphan, and MDMA, although no combinations are recommended and are generally unnecessary given the totality of ketamine. It does not have a build-on effect with hallucinogens and will generally overpower other drugs.

Links / Further reading

Ketamine: Trick or treat?
MAPS Ketamine research
Metaprogramming From Within the Eye of the Storm by James Kent


This article is based on the following pages:

Erowids Ketamine Vault
Ketamine by A. Tomlinson
Dancesafe on ketamine
Wikipedia on ketamine

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