St. Louis: A study in the United States has found that nitrous oxide, a “laughing gas,” can be used to treat patients with severe depression who are not benefiting from other antidepressants.
In the second phase of these medical trials (Phase 2 clinical trials), 24 patients with severe depression were recruited who were not recovering well from any antidepressant medication.
The patients were divided into three groups, two of which were given 50% and 25% nitrous oxide air, respectively, for one hour. The third group was given another harmless gas called nitrous oxide for an hour.
This procedure was performed only once, with an interval of 30 days and repeated for three months.
These clinical trials showed that volunteers who sniffed air containing 50 to 25 percent nitrous oxide had almost the same benefit, and most patients in both groups had significantly lower levels of depression.
Not only that, but the beneficial effects of nitrous gas lasted for several weeks.
Similar important experiments were performed in 2015, when 50% concentrated “laughing gas” benefited patients with depression immediately and greatly. However, some patients also complained of nausea and dizziness.
Recent experiments have used the same experiments to see if the 25% concentration of nitrous oxide gas affects patients.
Although these trials are limited in scale, their results are exceptional, showing that nitrous oxide at 25% concentration also benefited depressed patients in the same way as patients receiving nitrous oxide at 50% concentration.
However, in the case of low concentrations of nitrous oxide, the side effects of this treatment were also significantly less.
The study, published in the latest issue of the online research journal Science Translational Medicine, warns that although the results are unusual and promising, “laughing gas” is a regular treatment for depression. Extensive medical trials, ie Phase III clinical trials, are required before declaring.