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Nitrous Oxide or Laughing Gas

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as happy gas, laughing gas. At room temperature, it is a colourless non-flammable gas, with a pleasant, slightly sweet odour and taste. It is used in surgery and dentistry for its aesthetic and analgesic effects. It is known as "laughing gas" due to the euphoric effects of inhaling it, a property that has led to its recreational use as a dissociative drug.

Nitrous oxide has been used for anaesthesia in dentistry since the 1840s. Delivered through a demand valve, and frequently used to relieve pain associated with childbirth, trauma and heart attacks.

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a dissociative drug that can cause analgesia, depersonalization,  dizziness, euphoria, and some sound distortion.

Since the earliest uses of nitrous oxide for medical or dental purposes, it has also been used recreationally as an inhalant, because it causes euphoria and slight hallucinations.  Most recreational users obtain nitrous oxide from compressed gas containers which use nitrous oxide as a propellant for whipped cream.

Laughing Gas users typically inflate a balloon or a plastic bag with nitrous oxide from a tank or a one-use 'charger', and then inhale the gas for its effects. Highly compressed liquid expelled from a tank or canister is extremely cold, and should not be inhaled directly, thus for medical and recreational use it is decompressed into something else, such as a balloon, first.

Nitrous oxide can be habit-forming because of its short-lived effect (generally from 0.1 1 minutes in recreational doses).

Exposure to nitrous oxide causes short-term decreases in mental performance, audiovisual ability, and manual dexterity.

Nitrous oxide is entirely legal to possess and inhale in the United Kingdom, although supplying it to others to inhale, especially minors, is more likely to end up with a prosecution under the Medicines Act.

Laughing gas was first synthesized by English chemist and natural philosopher Joseph Priestley in 1775.  Priestley was delighted with his discovery: "I have now discovered an air five or six times as good as common air... nothing I ever did has surprised me more, or is more satisfactory."

Humphrey Davy in the 1790s tested the gas on himself and some of his friends, including the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. They realized that nitrous oxide considerably dulled the sensation of pain, even if the inhaler were still semi-conscious.


 
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