6.20.2016

How laughing gas works. How does nitrous oxide work? Why does it make you buzzed?

As a professional chemist I am researching nitrous oxide (N2O) to use in my fuel cell.  Trying to get a hold of some inevitably I heard a lot about people that like to breathe it to get high, to feel good, and to numb pain.  So how does it work?  No one seems to know.  A perfect job for the NatureHacker....

So I don't think the mechanism is all too difficult.  First of all as a chemist I know that nitrous is quite dangerous.  The reason for this is it is a strong oxidizer, right on par with hydrogen peroxide.  So certainly you don't want to be oxidizing your body by taking this stuff internally, medically or not.  This oxidizing effect has to have something to do with its effect.  What about runners high?  We know runners high is from endorphins.  Well guess what running does?  Increases oxidation in the body.  So endorphins are released from oxidative stress...  So nitrous oxide is absorbed in the lungs and then goes straight to the brain via pulmonary circulation.  Instantly the oxidative stress triggers a release of endorphins and you feel good.  Now the nitrous reacts with oxygen in your blood and in comes the second effect; unconsciousness.  When the nitrous reacts with oxygen it creates Nitrogen monoxide, (Nitric oxide) NO.  NO is a vasodilator and vasodilators can make you faint.  

So this is how I believe nitrous oxide works when inhaling it.

Nitric Oxide syncope
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/8902320/

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