Saturday, January 22

How laughing gas went from being a fairground attraction to an indispensable element for the development of medicine

  • Francisco López-Muñoz
  • The Conversation*

Nitrogen oxides

Image source, Wikimedia Commons


British satirical cartoon about nitrogen oxide or ‘laughing gas’.

The search for palliative remedies against pain by doctors and healers has been a constant since the dawn of humanity: opium, cannabis, coca, nightshades, alcohol.

However, the birth of gaseous anesthesia, which was the great revolution in surgery, it did not take place until the middle of the 19th century.

The term “anesthesia” (from the Greek anaisqhsia) is attributed to Oliver W. Holmes (1846) and comes to mean “without sensitivity”.

During the 18th century the chemical disciplines flourished and the so-called “pneumatic medicine”, with the discovery of a large number of gases.

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