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Ketamine Nasal Spray May Help Migraines

by Will Long

June 12, 2023
woman spraying ketamine up her nose

A groundbreaking study from Thomas Jefferson University has found a new potential use for an old drug, intranasal ketamine, which could provide much-needed relief for individuals with refractory chronic migraines. Intranasal ketamine, traditionally known as an illegal recreational drug, may offer an important treatment alternative for patients whose headaches don’t respond to traditional treatment methods.

What Are Migraines?

Migraines are severe, debilitating headaches often accompanied by:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme sensitivity to light and sound

Chronic Migraines: A Persistent Challenge

Many people can still find relief with existing treatments. However, those suffering from refractory chronic migraines struggle with headaches that resist common therapeutic methods.

A research team led by Michael Marmura at Thomas Jefferson University conducted this study to explore the potential of intranasal ketamine as a treatment for these challenging migraines. According to a report from Drug Topics, the team evaluated the drug’s clinical effectiveness and tolerability in treating refractory chronic migraines.

The Study and Its Findings

The researchers examined data from patients who had received intranasal ketamine between January 2019 and February 2020. Their study, published in Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, included 242 individuals, mostly women, who had tried four different preventive medications without success. Patients were instructed to use a specially formulated ketamine nasal spray. The spray contained approximately 10 mg of ketamine per 0.1 mL spray. 

The treatment protocol involved using one to two sprays in each nostril every 15 minutes as needed. There is a daily limit of 20 sprays and a weekly maximum of 40 sprays.

Could Ketamine Be a New Frontier in Migraine Treatment?

The research yielded hopeful results:

  • 50% of the patients found the ketamine nasal spray highly effective
  • Nearly 40% deemed it somewhat effective
  • Over 30% of patients reported a significant improvement in their quality of life. 

However, it is essential to mention that a large proportion, 74%, reported experiencing at least one side effect, most commonly fatigue and visual disturbances. Despite potential side effects, the researchers believe that intranasal ketamine could signify a new frontier in the treatment of refractory chronic migraines. This is especially true for patients unresponsive to other treatment options.

Ensuring Safe Treatment Pathways

While the widespread acceptance and use of intranasal ketamine for migraine treatment may be on the horizon, the clinical use of ketamine is currently tightly regulated due to its status as an illicit substance outside of medical applications. It is crucial for patients to consult healthcare professionals for the most effective and safe treatment routes. 

For those dealing with substance abuse issues, organizations such as Landmark Recovery provide vital support and assistance. Call us at 888-448-0302 today if you need to speak with an admissions counselor.

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About the Author

Will Long

Will Long

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Long has been a writer for Landmark Recovery since 2021. He specializes in research and writing about substance abuse from a scientific and social perspective. Unearthing information from underexplored, far-flung corners of the Internet, Long’s passion is finding emerging trends in substance use and treatment that the public should know about.