An Animated Explanation of What Happens When a Person Goes Under the Effects of Anesthesia

In honor of the upcoming World Anesthesia Day on October 16th, the American Chemical Society video series Reactions talks about the history of anesthesia, its efficacy, components and what scientists believe in regard to how anesthesia works within the human body.

October 16 is World Anesthesia Day, celebrating the 170th anniversary of the first successful demonstration of surgical anesthesia. Prior to then, surgery was really unpleasant, to put it mildly — surgeons turned to alcohol, narcotics and even smacking their patients on the head to induce unconsciousness. Fortunately, anesthesia now allows tens of thousands patients every day to avoid the pain and memories of their procedures. But how does anesthesia work? This week, Reactions looks at scientists’ current understanding of what happens when you go under.