Originally published October 2 2009
Devastating Neurological Problems are Result of Dental Anesthesia
by Kerri Knox, RN
(NaturalNews) If you think that getting minor medical procedures or dental work with 'light' anesthesia is safe- think again. Nitrous oxide is a gas that is frequently used in dental procedures and other seemingly 'minor' in-office procedures to relieve anxiety and pain. But vitamin B12 levels are diminished every time that nitrous oxide is administered, and the result can be devastating neurologic symptoms.
While neurologic damage from Nitrous Oxide, better knows as "Laughing Gas", is rare it occurs frequently enough to have been given several names by different researchers. The names Anesthesia paresthetica, Cobalamin Deficiency Syndrome and Postoperative dementia are variously given to this condition where symptoms can be anything from mild forgetfulness, muscle pain, numbness and tingling in the limbs, fatigue, degenerative lesions on the spine and even death. While symptoms CAN occur immediately after the procedure, many times symptoms occur gradually over a period of weeks to months. This time lag is problematic because the patient seldom connects the symptoms with the procedure and will often simply not think it important to mention any recent dental procedures to their medical doctor. Symptoms can be very problematic in the elderly who are not ONLY particularly susceptible, but for whom the mild forgetfulness or increased weakness after the procedure is attributed simply to 'old age'.
"Patients with vitamin B12 deficiency are exceedingly sensitive
to neurologic deterioration following nitrous oxide anesthesia.
If unrecognized, the neurologic deterioration becomes irreversible
and may result in death."
Neurologic degeneration associated with nitrous oxide
anesthesia in patients with vitamin B12 deficiency
While this condition only occurs in those who have Vitamin B12 deficiency, the vast majority of those affected had an unrecognized, subclinical Vitamin B12 deficiency that likely would not have been caught had nutritional testing even been done, which it almost never is in any case. And unrecognized Vitamin B12 deficiency is actually a much bigger problem than the medical world suspects. With one researcher, Dr. Ralph Carmel, estimating subclinical Vitamin B12 deficiency in nearly 800,000 elderly in the US, using minor anesthesia has the potential to affect a significant number of people who receive nitrous oxide anesthesia every year. There is also a condition called Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase Deficiency in which the administration of nitrous oxide can be lethal. And while severe cases are most often diagnosed in childhood, the spectrum of symptoms can include otherwise 'healthy' adults who are diagnosed by accident when routine heart health screening blood tests are done. The literature shows that there has been at least one death after nitrous oxide administration in a child with undiagnosed Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase Deficiency.
Several studies suggest a solution to this problem by either giving Vitamin B12 or another supplement called Methionine prior to the procedure; another study suggested testing for deficiency before procedures in those at high risk. But these researcher recommendations have largely fallen on the deaf ears of doctors and dentists who routinely use Nitrous Oxide in their offices without prior testing and without first giving this inexpensive nutrient. Even educating patients to be vigilant of, and to report any specific neurologic problems after a procedure should be routine, but in reality nitrous oxide is considered extremely safe and this education is almost never done.
"In patients with borderline Cbl [Cobalamin levels],
even short exposures to nitrous oxide may be sufficient
to precipitate a Cbl deficiency syndrome."
Nitrous Oxide Anesthesia Associated Myelopathy
The detrimental effects of nitrous oxide are not limited to those with vitamin B12 deficiency,however. Elevated plasma homocysteine levels are often used as a marker to determine risk of heart disease and stroke, and one study measured blood homocysteine levels before and after administration of nitrous oxide. The SURPRISING results showed that homocysteine levels were elevated for more than a week in EVERY patient that was studied! While no conclusions were made in this study, the potential for nitrous oxide exposure to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke by increasing plasma homocysteine levels seems a reasonable possibility.
With tens of thousands every year receiving nitrous oxide for medical procedures and the fact that borderline Vitamin B12 deficiency is widespread, it's likely that there are thousands of people who have been given diagnoses of dementia, mental illness or fibromyalgia who are actually suffering from undiagnosed effects of vitamin B12 deficiency after nitrous oxide administration. Since the research is clear that EVERY person who has exposure to nitrous oxide decreases the Vitamin B12 stores in their body, it would be sensible to avoid the use of nitrous oxide anesthesia whenever possible and to simply give a dose of the safe and non-toxic vitamin B12 before ANY procedure in which the use of nitrous oxide anesthesia cannot be avoided. At a cost of less than $100 per YEAR for enough Vitamin B12 to supply even the busiest of dental offices, this would be an affordable and rational way to prevent this serious medical problem nearly 100% of the time.
About the authorKerri Knox, RN is a Registered Nurse and Functional Medicine Practitioner.
With over 14 years of experience in health care, she has the unique perspective of being solidly grounded in Conventional Medicine and being well versed in Alternative Medicine.
She can help you to to find and repair the UNDERLYING CAUSES of illness using cutting edge in home lab testing that finds nutritional deficiencies, hidden infections and chemical and metal toxicities that contribute to ill health.
She can be reached through her websites at:
Easy Immune System Health.com
Side Effects Site
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