Health and Wellness

Laughing Gas: A Permanent Harm for Instant Euphoria

Dentists commonly use nitrous oxide to relieve pain and sedation. As recreational marijuana use grows in popularity, so does the number of people suffering from severe adverse effects.1 It can also be used in the production of whipped cream, and to improve engine performance in automobiles.

The sensation of inhaling Nitrous Oxide is described by users as a feeling that they feel floating or euphoric. It dissipates in one to two minutes. Nitrous oxide is often called hippie crack, balloons, nos, noz and chargers as well as laughing gas, buzz bombs, nangs, whippets and laughing gas.2,3

It is very effective. It can cause severe headaches and dizziness. People describe intense and short-lasting paranoia. These feelings can be accompanied with auditory distortion and hallucination.

Joseph Priestley first discovered nitrous oxide on 1772. The chemist Humphry Davy popularized nitrous dioxide as an intoxicant and an anesthetic. Although nitrous dioxide is often used recreationally, some people believe it to be relatively harmless.4 Some people have suffered severe nerve damage due to inactivation Vitamin B12 in their bodies.5

A Growing Problem: Nitrous Oxide Abuse

According to Europe, Australia and the U.S., nitrous oxide is gaining popularity as a recreational drug.6 The gas is available in lipstick-sized capsules containing 0.02 ounces. They are used to fill a balloon and inhale it. These are called “little crackers” and can have a bad taste. Also, you can buy large cylinders that contain nitrous oxide. This gas is tasteless and has stronger effects.

The Guardian7 characterizes the gas used as “widespread … with relative safety,” Dr. David Nicholl from Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust told Sky News:8

“Maybe once in five or six years, we’ll see someone who has had a stroke due to taking cocaine. This is something I see every week in my ward. This is a much bigger problem from my perspective.

There is a surge in nitrous oxide gas use in the United Kingdom, prompting talks about tighter regulations regarding its sale and use. Sky News9 The story of a 20-year old man who suffered life-altering consequences due to a nitrous Oxide habit that saw him consume large canisters almost daily. MRI scans may reveal spinal cord abnormalities which could prove irreversible.

Sky News sent an undercover reporter and discovered that they could buy canisters in shops where children were seen inhaling the gas. The undercover investigator was given a packet with party balloons (used for inhaling the gas) along with each purchase.

Nicholl says there has been an increase in outpatient visits since large canisters started flooding the market. London saw a triple increase in emergency calls for incidents involving nitrous oxide between 2021 and 2022. Sky News spoke with Harry Sumnall of Liverpool John Moores University’s department of substance abuse.10 There were more than 600,000. Nitrous oxide users in the U.K.

Nitrous Oxide Laughing Gas Linked To Nerve Damage

Yahoo! News11 Vito Oliveri, who tried nitrous dioxide in his twenties, was featured. It was used at parties for approximately a year before he stopped, and he eventually moved to Portland in 2020. Supersize cylinders, which contain 20 pounds of Nitrous Oxide, were available to him. That’s approximately 1,600 canisters.

Oliveri ate 500 canisters of 0.2-ounces per day for almost a year. Oliveri noticed that his legs were becoming stiff and he was struggling to stand still. He needed an electric wheelchair to move around a month later. Oliveri was unable to walk by June and had to be admitted and treated. He and his fiancé have tried multiple times to quit.

Alastair Nyce, a neurologist at London Hospital, said that he has treated patients who have been disabled by high levels of nitric oxygen. This includes incontinence and needing to use an electric wheelchair. Noyce says that severity of symptoms is dependent on the extent of nerve damage. This is due to nitrous oxide inactivating vitaminB12.

Noyce has seen patients with nerve damage who have only had one use of the drug. It is not common for people who use it infrequently to sustain nerve damage. According to Noyce, there is no consensus on the definition of “heavy use” but using roughly 10 to 15 canisters more than once a week likely qualifies.

Vitamin B injections are necessary for those suffering from neurological symptoms. Although it is the only treatment for nitrous oxide nerve injury, it is not always effective. Noyce says that although some may try to prevent the damage, vitamin B12 tablets don’t seem to help.12

Vitamin B12 is inactivated by nitrous oxide. This B vitamin is vital to the maintenance of myelin sheath.13 This is the protective layer that surrounds nerve cells and influences how fast signals can travel through them. Multiple sclerosis, a well-known condition that damages or destroys myelin, is also well-known.

Increased Substance Abuse Preventable by Lockdowns

The COVID-19 pandemic was not far away when researchers identified a problem related to nitrous dioxide abuse.14 It can be difficult to identify toxicity caused by nitrous oxide abuse, as the symptoms may appear in combination with other conditions.

Doctors are advised to be suspicious of patients who present with subacute neurodegeneration.15

A 2019 paper16 The presentation included nine patients with symptoms of myeloneuropathy, low vitamin B12 and other related conditions. After receiving vitamin B12 treatment, all nine patients were able to regain their muscle strength in two months. Five of them had persistent sensory deficits.

Global news reports acknowledged that the COVID epidemic had led to a dramatic rise in drug use.17,18,19 Nitrous oxide was one of the most popular drugs during COVID lockdowns. One study showed that nitrous oxide is the most popular drug.20 The Journal of Neurology published that spinal cord damage was found in four of five patients, but no patient had low vitamin B12 levels.

The five individuals had elevated blood levels homocysteine or methylmalonic acids, which indicates a functional deficiency of vitamin B12. The scientists wrote: “We report an elevated incidence of neurological complications of nitrous oxide abuse occurring during the recent COVID-19 lockdown.”

Vitamin B12 is essential for neurological and heart health

Vitamin B12 is important for your brain health and cardiovascular health. 2021 Study21 The effect of vitamins B6 and B9 on homocysteine levels was also evaluated. This is because it is related to stroke, cardiovascular diseases and vascular deaths.

The intervention resulted in a 11% reduction in stroke risk among stroke patients. This includes a 13% reduction in stroke and 17% for vascular deaths. Vitamins B6 & B12 also have properties that protect against peripheral nerve damage. A 2021 study22 We wanted to see if B6 or B12 could be used to prevent vincristine-induced neuropathy, which is a common side effect of chemotherapy. It occurs in between 40% and 45% of patients who receive this drug.

Out of the 102 patients who were enrolled, 81 completed their study. The researchers discovered a significant difference between the intervention and placebo in peripheral neuropathy incidence. Data revealed an absolute reduction in risk of 30% and a relative reduction of 54% for the intervention group.

A 2021 paper23 BioMed Research International reported that Vitamins B1, B6 (and B12) are crucial for protecting the brain against environmental influences. They suggested that these vitamins might aid in nerve regeneration through supporting the growth of cell structures.

Vitamin B12 Helps Combat Mental Illness

Vitamin B12 protects the nervous system and could therefore have an impact on mental health. Depression affects around 264 million people in the world.24 In 2017, 17.3 million Americans experienced at least one major depression episode.

A 2021 study25 Data from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging showed that people with a vitamin B12 deficit were at greater risk for depression. Results showed that vitamin B12 deficiencies were associated with depression, but not folate deficiency. Even after controlling for factors like cardiovascular disease, chronic disease, antidepressant usage, physical activity, and vitamin D status the results remained significant.26

Vitamin B12 is a common vitamin deficiency among the elderly.27 Because of malabsorption’s high prevalence. It is easy to overlook the signs and symptoms of malabsorption, which can often go untreated. The consequences of not treating the problem can be severe. A high rate of depression is also common among the elderly. One meta-analysis 202128 42 studies were relevant and showed that the global average prevalence was 31.74%. However, there was a higher prevalence in countries with poorer infrastructure.

B12 has been shown to reduce brain shrinkage. Study from 2013.29 B vitamins are known to slow brain shrinkage. This is especially true in the areas most affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The shrinkage in these areas can decrease by up to seven times.

Vitamin B12 Deficit Signs

Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms often develop slowly over time and get worse. They can cause a wide range of mental and physical symptoms, such as:

Numbness, pins and needles sensations in your hands, legs, feet or arms could be a sign of nerve damage.

Red, swelling, and “beefy,” tongue. There are fewer taste buds papillae “bumps”.

Mouth sores/ulcers

Optic nerve damage due to a B12 deficit can lead to blurred or double vision and shadows in the field of vision.

Jaundice is yellow skin. It’s a sign your red blood cell levels are declining. The yellow pigment releases in this process.

Low B12 may cause dizziness, instability, and wobbly feelings.

If there is no other cause, memory loss could be a sign of trouble


Fatigue or weakness

It can take up to six years for adults to develop a B12 deficit. That is how long it takes normal B12 levels to run out.30 It is important to monitor your B12 intake and to catch any deficiencies early. If the damage has already been done, it can be difficult to reverse.

Although the recommended daily allowance (RDA), for vitamin B12 in adults is 2.4 micrograms per day, there are some questions about whether this amount is sufficient, particularly for the elderly.31 B12 is water-soluble and your body will flush any excess out.

B12-rich foods can be helpful if you suffer from a mild deficiency. Vitamin B12 can be found almost exclusively in animal tissues. This includes foods such as beef, beef liver, lamb and snapper, as well as eggs, dairy products, and shrimp.32

B12 is high in nutritional yeast, which is why it is highly recommended by vegetarians and vegans. One-fourth of a cup contains between 8.3 mcg and 24 mcg vitamin B12 depending on the brand.33

If you have a more severe vitamin B12 deficiency, you might need to receive weekly vitamin B12 shots or daily high-dose B12 supplementation. Methylcobalamin is the best type of B12 supplement. It is the naturally occurring B12 form that can be found in foods. It is more absorbable and retains it better than cyanocobalamin which is the most commonly found form of vitamin B12.34

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