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Laughing Gas is No Laughing Matter

Ain't nothing funny about nitrous oxide for a MTHFR. Did you know that laughing gas, formally known as nitrous oxide, is particularly dangerous for certain populations of people, including those with an MTHFR genetic variant? This is especially true for homozygous and pediatric cases. Let's break down why...

The nitty gritty of it is that nitrous oxide interferes with methylation by destroying stores of vitamin B12 in the body. If you're privy to the complications of having an MTHFR variant, you'll know that having this genetic variant means already having inefficient methylation. That is why the general population may not have a problem with nitrous oxide, while someone who already has taxed methylation pathways and a B12 deficiency can experience disastrous side-effects.

To make matters worse, an individual without an MTHFR variant is able to detox this substance from their system before severe damage is done. However, those with an MTHFR variant struggle to detox efficiently due to poor methylation. Because of this lingering effect in the body, along with already often being deficient in vitamin B12, the vitamin can be depleted to dangerously low levels and potentially cause life-threatening complications.

Nitrous oxide has been connected with causing increased homocysteine levels, stroke, irreversible neurological impairment, and even death in those with this genetic variant. Those who are homozygous are at increased risk due to experiencing a greater impairment of methylation. And of course, children who are in critical stages of neurological development suffer the most risk during such an event.

Below are some rules of thumb to follow when it comes to anesthesia:

  • Minimize - Avoid anesthesia as often as reasonably possible. It will always take a toll on the detoxification pathways. The less, the better. However, it's sometimes necessary.

  • Use Alternatives - If you must use anesthesia, bring it to your surgeon or dentist's attention that you have an MTHFR genetic variant and discuss alternatives to nitrous oxide. Safer options include propofol and sevoflurane.

  • Advocate - Be prepared to advocate for yourself and/or your children. There are many healthcare professionals who do not understand or respect the impact of an MTHFR variant. However, there are many, even in Western medicine, who do. If your healthcare professional won't work with you, consider finding one who will.

  • Detox - Detox prior to using anesthesia, therefore making the process of flushing the substance from your system easier and more efficient. The less burdened your detox pathways are prior to a procedure, the easier your recovery will be.

  • Have an Emergency Plan - If you or your child accidentally receives nitrous nitrous oxide and are experiencing adverse effects, it's vital to begin vitamin B12 supplementation right away. For severe cases, intravenous delivery may be necessary.


To take a deeper, guided dive into how to thrive with an MTHFR variant, check out Hey MTHFR Academy. This 16-week online course will give you the tools you need to harness the power of epigenetics and befriend your MTHFR gene.



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