Bad memories will be history thanks to nitrous oxide

Bad memories characteristic of post-traumatic stress disorder could be ended thanks to the use of nitrous oxide, according to a recent study in the journal Psychological Medicine.

To start off on the right foot, let's ask ourselves: What is post-traumatic stress disorder? In short, it is a psychological alteration produced in those individuals who suffer a catastrophic event, who later relive the event through intrusions of bad memories into their mind, either through nightmares or those known as flashbacks of the event in different circumstances.

Currently the disorder affects 5% of men and 10-12% of women worldwide at some point in their lives. Many Hollywood movies have been based precisely on this disorder, such as recent The Sniper or without going too far, The Hunger Games (especially in his last movie).

nitrous oxide, the new therapy against post-traumatic stress disorder

Now, thanks to research led by Dr. Ravi Das of the University College From London, we know that we can use something else in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Das and his colleagues wanted to check the possible benefits of nitrous oxide about healthy individuals.

In this case, 50 volunteers without any disease were invited, supervised by a psychologist and a psychiatrist. Participants saw two scenes from the film Irreversible, which has been described as so violent and cruel that most individuals cannot see it. These scenes had already been used in previous studies, creating a mild form of intrusive memories of PTSD.

After viewing these scenes, half of the participants received nitrous oxide mixed with oxygen for 30 minutes, and the other half medicinal air.

The benefits of nitrous oxide against bad memories

During the week following the viewing of the film, participants should keep a record of intrusions or bad memories related to the film.

As expected, Those individuals who inhaled nitrous oxide after watching the controversial film claimed that they had far fewer bad memories, and in a shorter period of time., than those who did not use it: After the first day of the experiment, bad memories were reduced by 50%, and intrusions were generally reduced exponentially all week.

Those who breathed medicinal air were intruded for up to four days after watching the film, at which point they gradually decreased.

Why does nitrous oxide have these effects?

According to Dr. Das, nitrous oxide would interrupt the process of formation of the call permanent memory, which is more easily formed when suffering an event with a strong emotional charge, such as the catastrophic events that characterize the origin of PTSD.

To produce this type of memory, our brain uses so-called NMDA (N-methyl D-aspartate) repeaters, which label the information that will be stored in the long term. And it is precisely this brain receptors that remain blocked by nitrous oxide, which could lead to a functional difficulty of the same, leaving the memories weaker than normal.

The common use of nitrous oxide is medicine is to reduce pain in emergencies, thanks to its analgesic and sedative properties.

Finally, the researchers point out the need to continue conducting studies in this regard, since in this case nitrous oxide was used continuously for 30 minutes, but in patients who actually suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, the amounts could be variable, and not yet. It is known how much of the drug might be tolerable, or the side effects created by the dose.

Source | Psychological Medicine.