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Ketamine for severe ethanol withdrawal shows promise

from Emergency Medicine News

Three studies—two new this year—have shown that ketamine with its NMDA antagonist properties may be an effective therapy for ethanol withdrawal and delirium tremens, providing a useful adjunct to GABA agents like benzodiazepines, phenobarbital, and propofol. Ethanol withdrawal is a complex disease. GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, and glutamate, an excitatory transmitter that can act on NMDA receptors, are two of the main players here. Simplistically, chronic ethanol use leads to a down-regulation of GABA receptors and an up-regulation of glutaminergic receptors, such as NMDA. more

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