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Effects Are Emphatically Not Instant
Nitrous Oxide
Citation:   Huxley3. "Effects Are Emphatically Not Instant: An Experience with Nitrous Oxide (exp113601)". Sep 26, 2019.

  inhaled Nitrous Oxide (gas)
    inhaled Oxygen (gas)
This is my modest contribution towards the literature of nitrous oxide analgesia.

Due to my certified cowardice and intense dislike of pain, I receive a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen (70 % NO / 30% O2) every three months when I have my teeth scraped and cleaned by my dentist. The procedure takes about thirty minutes and I breathe the mixture through a mask on continuous flow (10L per minute).

The consistent feature of my experience is that the analgesic and psychoactive effects of nitrous oxide are emphatically NOT instant. For the first few minutes, the analgesic effect is pretty feeble. I am still clear headed and the pain of having my teeth scraped remains pretty unpleasant.

What then happens however is that over time I feel an increasing tingling throughout my body. This is matched by a sensation of increasing detachment and floating. It is only at that point that the pain relief becomes truly effective. The sensation is very unusual and remarkably pleasant. But the important point is that it is NOT instantaneous.

Rather, it takes at least fifteen to twenty minutes and sometimes more. It is only really towards the end of the thirty minute sessions that I truly feel pain free and fully relaxed.
It is only really towards the end of the thirty minute sessions that I truly feel pain free and fully relaxed.
(Which, rather disappointingly, is when it all ends.) The last time this happened I asked him if he had turned up the flow rate later in the procedure, because the way it felt towards the end was so completely different to the way it felt during the early stages. He said No. Nothing had changed.

We then discussed my experience and he said it was actually usual for the effects to build up slowly over time.

This is not to say that nitrous has no instant effects. It clearly does. But certainly in my experience the instant effects are nothing like as powerful as the effects that build up over time with continuous inhalation.

Obviously this assumes that the gas is being administered with oxygen in a safe and supervised context - continuous inhalation of pure nitrous oxide will cause death by asphyxiation and is therefore definitely best avoided.

Exp Year: 2019ExpID: 113601
Gender: Male 
Age at time of experience: 50
Published: Sep 26, 2019Views: 1,372
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Nitrous Oxide (40) : Hospital (36), Medical Use (47), Combinations (3), General (1)

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