Laughing Gas (Nitrous Oxide)

Laughing gas or nitrous oxide is an odorless and colorless compound which is commonly used as a local sedative in dental and surgical procedures. It is reported as a safe anesthetic which has relaxing and euphoric effects. It is also included in the World Health Organization’s “List of Essential Medicines”. When inhaled inappropriately, the following side effects may be experienced: headache, nausea, shivering, sweating, and fatigue. Repeated use may lead to vitamin B12 deficiency and misuse may cause asphyxiation. Its ability to induce euphoric states paved way for its recreational use. Nitrous oxide was discovered by Joseph Priestley, an English natural philosopher and chemist, in 1772. “Laughing Gas” was coined by Sir Humphry Davy, a Cornish chemist and inventor. Davy frequently used the compound due to the pleasurable sensations. As a matter of fact, in the 19th century upperclass British families used to host parties that featured laughing gas use, much like the way that parties in recent decades might include cocaine use.

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