The pun of how laughing gas is no laughing matter is pretty worn out; however, it gets the point across quickly.
Nitrous oxide is becoming even more pervasive despite research finding it to be quite harmful to certain populations.
Let’s discuss a few things about nitrous oxide before I begin to bash it.
What is Nitrous Oxide?
A gas that is inhaled through a mask. Let’s keep it simple.
What is the Main Purpose of Nitrous Oxide?
Its main purpose is to reduce anxiety in patients.
Now you can look at this in a couple ways:
If the purpose is to reduce anxiety, is it more for the patient – or the doctor?
Imagine you as a patient needing to undergo a procedure in the next hour.
Of course you’re anxious.
You arrive to the doctor’s office stressed out a bit and anxiety sets in.
You find yourself fidgeting and unable to sit still.
Nurse calls you in and requests you to ‘Sit comfortably in the chair.’
You do. Not quite comfortably, however.
You immediately notice drills and brutally cold, metallic instrumentation to your left, an ominous brilliant light just above your head and a wall which limits your escape route to your right.
Anxiety really starts kicking in.
The nurse asks, “Would you like some laughing gas?”
That was the perspective of the patient.
Let’s look at it from the doctor’s point of view.
“Sheesh – that patient is looking pretty freaked out. That is going to complicate things and make the procedure go quite a bit longer. How am I going to remain on schedule today? I’m booked solid every 30 minutes.”
The doc remembers that s/he has nitrous oxide in the treatment room and immediately smiles and breathes a sigh of relief.
S/he hears the nurse ask the patient if they want laughing gas.
Then the audible ‘HECK YEAH!’ flies though the air and into the doc’s ear.
Let’s get to work!
Why is Nitrous Oxide Used so Much?
- Easy to dispense
- Readily available
- Easy to regulate
Why is Nitrous Oxide so Bad?
Let me clarify something.
I am not a fan of most medications unless absolutely medically necessary.
Yes, there are life-saving and absolute requirements for countless medications. I appreciate that and very thankful for it.
However, we as physicians – and patients – are always seemingly looking for the quick fix.
Because we want to move on with our life – move from one thing to the next – especially if that one thing causes pain and anxiety.
I get that.
What I don’t get is that there are underlying causes of increased anxiety and stress which can be relieved by:
This is what I teach in all my online courses, webinars, podcasts, radio shows, interviews, articles and in conversations.
My goal is to teach you, physicians and the public – and mainstream media – that there are SAFE EFFECTIVE PROVEN alternatives to things like nitrous oxide.
Given that – why use nitrous oxide? Especially since it is known to be very harmful to certain individuals.
Let’s discuss this now.
What Nitrous Oxide Does to Your Biochemistry
It messes up your methylation.
Look at the research – here is a snapshot of the some of the research I’ve read about nitrous oxide:
You’re familiar with vitamin B12.
You know how important this vitamin is.
Now imagine if something came into your body and destroyed it – flat out.
Welcome, nitrous oxide.
Nitrous oxide is a known oxidizer of cobalamin which effectively destroys it unless there are adequate nutrients available to restore the cobalamin back to its active and effective state.
What does this mean?
It means that nitrous oxide takes your vitamin B12 in your body and ruins it. It ruins it so much that it cannot do its job.
Vitamin B12’s job, as methylcobalamin, is VERY important. It sets the stage for methylation to occur – in tandem with methylfolate.
Methylfolate? What’s that.
Methylfolate is what your MTHFR enzyme makes – and if you have the MTHFR polymorphism – and don’t eat much in the way of uncooked leafy greens, then you are LOW in methylfolate as well.
Let’s simplify it.
You need vitamin B12 as ready-to-go methylcobalamin.
You need your MTHFR enzyme working so your body can make methylfolate.
You need both methylcobalamin and methylfolate to support your methylation.
If you are lacking just one of them, your methylation cycle does not work.
Yes – there is a backup route – but the main methylation cycle shuts down significantly.
Breathing in nitrous oxide ruins your methylation.
Who is at Risk by Using Nitrous Oxide?
- Dentists. They get first to second-hand gas all day long.
- Surgeons, nurses, office staff. They get first to second-hand gas all day long.
- MTHFR folks. If you have one or more of the C667T variant or a combination of the C677T + A1298C (like me). Single A1298C does not predispose much risk; however, two A1298C variants do.
- Vitamin B12 deficient. Wow there are a lot of people in this category.
- Methylfolate deficient. MTHFR or not – you may be deficient in methylfolate for various reasons.
- Glutathione deficient. When B12 gets damaged, who do you think comes and helps it out? Right. Glutathione.
- Pretty much any chronic condition/disease. Lyme, autism, down syndrome, autoimmunity, diabetes, acid reflux, inflammatory bowel disorders, pregnancy, breast feeding mothers and so on.
Why do I Feel More Pain But I’m Relaxed?
This is an odd one but one that can be explained easily if looking at what is happening.
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter which contributes to pain – one of them – not the only one.
The high the dopamine, the more intolerant to pain one will be.
If one’s methylation is messed up by something – say, I don’t know – nitrous oxide, then their dopamine levels could increase.
Now if one’s dopamine levels were already low, they may find themselves more attentive, alert and feel great during and afterwards.
However, if one’s dopamine levels were normal to high, they will find themselves experiencing more pain, irritability and insomnia.
If a person has a MTHFR and COMT Met/Met variant, then you are really talking about increased pain from nitrous oxide.
Once again, it depends on the person.
When do I know if Nitrous Oxide was Bad for Me?
If you have had nitrous oxide in the past and you were:
- sloooow the rest of the day, it was bad.
- your mood sucked for quite some time afterwards
- you began experiencing numbness and tingling in your extremities – on both sides
- your memory began to suck or you flat out lost it (dementia set in)
- some new conditions and symptoms started popping up: fatty liver, insomnia, irritability, sadness
Now know that these signs and symptoms can be experienced immediately – or delayed by a day or two.
This is what makes nitrous oxide so dangerous.
The side effects can be s.u.b.t.l.e. and many times they are.
What to Use Instead of Nitrous Oxide?
- NuCalm: I learned about NuCalm from Carol. She left a comment below. She said it REALLY helped her calm down. I reviewed it and it looks very interesting. Talk to your dentist about it – or find one that uses it.
- Distraction. Have someone sit by you, read a book, watch TV, put on headphones and listen to music, wiggle your toes, look out the window.
- Meditation. Put yourself in that state. A thought comes into your head, let it come in but then let it out. Don’t give it the time of day. Meditation doesn’t work if you force ‘nothingness’ in your head. You have to create it. That nothingness is created by not focusing on anything coming through. Just imagine your thoughts like clouds blowing through your head. There is no focus on the thoughts. None. They come. They go. In time, they will stop coming. Powerful stuff this is.
- Sleep. Get a great night sleep prior to the procedure – or two or three. Proper sleep allows your MAO enzyme to work properly. If your MAO enzyme is not supported by restful sleep, then your serotonin levels can increase – along with histamine. If these increase, so does your anxiety. Sleep prior – well.
- Adaptogens. If you are easily stressed out, then you are maladapted. I scared the heck out of a few docs in my last conference. I do that to prove the importance of adapting one’s self to stressful situations. I won’t divulge what I do because I will continue making my point in future conferences ;).
- Caffeine Elimination. Caffeine increases anxiety partially because it slows your COMT enzyme. If COMT enzyme is slowed, then your dopamine levels increase. If your dopamine increases too much, then you become anxious and stressed out. Cut the caffeine on procedure days. You can do it.
- Diet. If you eat just carbs and sugar, your blood sugar gets unbalanced. Unbalanced blood sugar spikes cortisol which in turns launches a flood of epinephrine and norepinephrine. These are the ‘stress’ neurotransmittors. If you eat balanced meals with protein, healthy fat and some complex carbs, your cortisol will NOT spike and you will not increase your norepi and epi causing anxiety. BTW – this flood also slows your COMT and MAO enzymes – and uses up vast amounts of nutrients. Eat well. Period.
I NEED Nitrous Oxide. I NEED My Laughing Gas.
Ok. I got it.
You’ve tried all the basic recommendations above (honestly and thoroughly – because they do WORK for most people), and you still freak out.
I can hear you now: “I need that laughing gas but I am scared to use it now. Thanks, Dr Lynch, because now I need the nitrous oxide and you added on top of that how bad it is for me.”
I’ve got your back.
Here’s what you do.
- You retry all the recommendations above again. With assistance. Seriously. You may be blocking yourself. Open that mind.
Lame answer right?
Riding a bike isn’t learned the first time. Neither is the piano. Man do I know about that.
I have one more HUGE recommendation.
I tried it once for an issue I had. Gone. Immediately.
Nick Ortner himself walked me through my issue. Once. Done.
Ever read the Tapping Solution? It can be a real life-savior.
Note: The above book recommendation is an affiliate link which credits me a dollar or so if you purchase it. I do thank you for your support. Do know that I recommend only because I believe in it, have used it successfully personally or – both.
Here is what I recommend for those breathing in nitrous oxide (including the health professionals prescribing it):
- Active B12 with L-5-MTHF: This provides both methylcobalamin and methylfolate in an easy-to-dissolve lozenge. Simply place in your mouth or your patient’s mouth prior to using nitrous oxide. This will replenish the B12 levels during the procedure. Use one afterwards as well. Note these recommendations prior to using – read this article.
- Optimal Liposomal Glutathione: This protects your vitamin B12 – along with many other things. Did you know that if you are low in glutathione, your ability to deliver vitamin B12 to your cell is limited?! Just because your blood levels of B12 may ‘look’ fine – they actually may be elevated – but what counts is how much B12 is INSIDE your cell. Outside doesn’t mean that much – unless it is low. Consider 1/4 teaspoon once a day away from food one week prior to the procedure, then 1 tsp the day of the procedure and continue with 1 tsp a day after that for a month. Then reduce and use as needed. This is one my most recommended supplements – and for very good reasons. I use it a couple/three times a week – and I take a tablespoon at a time. I certainly couldn’t take that much when I started – I worked up.
Those are it. Just two for the general population.
Of course, you do need to read the article I cited above – to reduce the risk of side effects from methylfolate.
Now, if you are stressed or anxious, then you may need additional support.
A few common and highly effective ones:
- Lithium: When it comes to anxiety relief, I’ve not seen much beat the effectiveness of Lithium. This is different than the prescription drug, Lithium carbonate is typically what prescription lithium is and it uses a much higher amount. This lithium supplement uses a different form called lithium orotate and uses a safe over-the-counter amount.
- Optimal Adrenal: As discussed earlier, adaptogens are key for reducing anxiety. Optimal Adrenal provides a few different key adaptogenic herbs and select nutrients for the adrenals. I use this when I am stressed out or anxious – which thankfully now – is very rare. I used to be insanely anxious. You should have seen my first conference presentation. I was shaking….
- Optimal Liposomal Glutathione: Yes. This is key for reducing anxiety as well. It’s an odd one but if you understand the science and hear/read patient testimonials, you’d get it.
Another key book you should read: Could It Be B12? An Epidemic of Misdiagnosis
This book is well-written, easy-to-read and very clinically relevant – for both docs and laypersons. I’ve read it – twice.
Nitrous Oxide for Labor and in the Delivery Rooms
Are you kidding me?
Give the kid a chance.
If you damage the mother’s vitamin B12 during delivery, guess what you are doing to the baby’s vitamin B12?
Baby’s are undergoing MASSIVE amounts of methylation reactions – because they are still developing – quickly.
You have a pregnant mother breathing in nitrous oxide, then you are ruining the baby’s methylation status.
Now – stress in the labor room is not recommended either as that restricts blood flow to baby which is obviously not good.
Reduce labor stress by doing the above recommendations as I have clearly outlined. Scroll up.
There are ways to go about it.
I attended three deliveries next to my wife.
Our first delivery was very scary as the delivery was not smooth at all.
My wife needed an epidural and that nearly failed. She was extremely stressed out.
I was only a first year, first quarter med student so I had no clue what to do. It worked out and Tasman is alive and well today. Thank goodness.
Our other two sons were delivered by our midwife in a beautiful home-like setting.
I really think the home-like setting vs the cold, harsh hospital setting makes a HUGE difference.
It did for us.
Summary about Nitrous Oxide
It’s widely used.
It’s generally ok for people but I do NOT recommend it still because many are B12 deficient, are genetically susceptible to issues from it or are just plain already experiencing methylation dysfunction to some degree.
Why use something like nitrous oxide when there are so many amazing natural alternatives available?
Nitrous Oxide: Let’s Look at the Evidence
Long Term Solution for your Anxiety, MTHFR and Methylation Issues
Now that you realize that nitrous oxide may be actually causing you side effects, I’d really like to see you get on a full program vs just thinking it’s just nitrous oxide that is messing you up.
Reading my book, Dirty Genes, will help you immensely.
You’ll learn about anxiety, methylation, MTHFR and about other key genes like MAOA and COMT.
Empower yourself and take action the right way.
Dirty Genes is the guide you’ve been looking for.
It continues to be a bestseller month after month for good reason.
You’ll see why once you pick it up and start reading 😉
Don’t like reading books? Want to get more in depth and see how it all ties together?
Get access to the Dirty Genes Course where I discuss how food, lifestyle, environment, mindset and genetics are influencing how you’re feeling – and how to deal with it all.
The Dirty Genes Course is where I bring in a lot of published research, translate it and make it actionable for you. It’s an extension of the book, Dirty Genes. There is a lot of science, biochemistry and actual examples of how to use this stuff in your daily life.
Is it going to be over your head in terms of difficulty?
You’ll learn a ton and you’ll be amazed how easy it is to implement what you learn.
Your thoughts and experiences with nitrous oxide?
Love to hear them.
As a medical researcher and worldwide conference speaker, your comments teach me a lot – which allows me to be a more effective teacher.