Phase 2 clinical trials show that low-dose nitrous oxide can significantly improve major depression for a long time
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During this phase 2 clinical trial, researchers found that 60 minutes of N2O treatment can quickly And significantly improve the refractory major depressive symptoms. Follow-up observations show that this effect can be maintained for at least 2 weeks.
In the past few years, another ancient anesthetic agent ketamine (ketamine) has also been found to have rapid antidepressant properties, and researchers believe that this is a kind of brain called N-methyl-D -Aspartic acid (NMDA) protein receptors are blocked.
In 2014, a research team also wanted to know whether N2O has the same antidepressant effect. The early proof-of-concept tests that followed did give convincing clues that this gas can indeed quickly alleviate the symptoms of depression. Subsequent preliminary research found that laughing gas can treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcoholism. However, the main purpose of this new study is to find out whether lower doses of nitrous oxide are effective in the treatment of depression and whether the effect of a single treatment can last for several weeks.
For this, they recruited 24 subjects and let each of them receive 3 courses of treatment. Each treatment course only takes 1 hour, and the interval is one month. In addition to the placebo control group with inhaled oxygen, the other subjects also received 25% / 50% nitrous oxide concentration tests.
The results showed that after a single nitrous oxide treatment, 85% of the subjects’ depression status was significantly improved. More importantly, the low dose has almost the same effect as the high dose, but the side effects are greatly reduced.
A small number of patients experience side effects, and the related symptoms are mainly nausea. But in the new study, only those subjects who took 50% of the dose felt nauseous. As for those who received the 25% dose, they were completely asymptomatic. What’s even better is that in the relief of depression symptoms, the high and low dose groups are almost identical.
Senior experimental researcher Peter Nagale added that the duration of the effect is also very exciting.
In previous studies, only subjects were tracked for up to 24 hours. In this study, it has been confirmed that the antidepressant effect of nitrous oxide can last for 2 to 4 weeks. The reduction of side effects is another unexpected place, and the performance is quite significant. Even if only a single course of treatment is received, the effect can be maintained for a full two weeks. This is a great discovery that has never been shown before.
Finally, compared with ketamine, another potential advantage of nitrous oxide is that its effect as a volatile gas and anesthesia will quickly fade.
This is similar to the fact that you can drive home immediately after going to the dental clinic for a surgical operation such as a tooth extraction, with almost no side effects. In contrast, patients receiving ketamine treatment must receive at least 2 hours of observation after the end of treatment and need someone to help drive home.