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Chili-Based Anaesthetic Kills Pain, But Not Your Other Senses

October 25, 2007 | 52,056 views

Conventional local anesthetics affect all nerve cells, causing numbness or temporary paralysis, but a chemical from chili peppers may be your key to killing pain without affecting touch or movement. 

The Harvard research team found a way to use an outdated variation (QX-314) of a standard anesthesia in combination with capsaicin, the chili pepper chemical that gives the pepper its distinctive “hotness,” to completely shut down pain, with no apparent numbness or paralysis in experiments on rats. 

QX-314 is a lidocaine derivative invented in the 1940’s that failed because it couldn’t penetrate cell membranes to block pain. Capsaicin, on the other hand, does just that – it penetrates the cell wall of pain receptor neurons only, leaving all other nerve cells unaffected.  

It has not yet been tested on humans, however scientists are excited about its potentially endless uses, from childbirth epidurals, to dental work, to surgery, and chronic pain management. 

Pain management, however, involves more than just suppression of physical agony. Said Dr. Doria Cope, director of pain medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, “Pain management isn’t only about neurons. Emotions, stress, and psychology are all part of an enormous, highly complex jigsaw puzzle of addressing pain.” 

Nature October 4, 2007; 449(7162):607-10

The Boston Globe October 4, 2007

BBC News October 3, 2007


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

No one likes pain, especially me, so if this works it may be a welcome addition in some cases, such as undergoing surgery without being completely unconscious, or offer pain relief without losing mobility during childbirth, for example.

But pain typically serves a very useful purpose, reminding us that something is not right -- prompting us to seek expert attention to resolve the problem at its root level. Unfortunately, most are brainwashed and resort to a drug model to cover the problem up. So I take the position of embracing and loving pain for the important warning signal it can provide. Once you understand what is causing your pain you can start using natural therapies to address the underlying cause.

Pain itself may actually cause your adrenals to worsen, so putting a lid on your pain can be very important. However, any drug therapy is fraught with potential complications, and some may actually kill you, so be careful. (Just remember, over 60,000 people died from taking Vioxx.)

Safer Pain Management Options

One option is to consider selecting one or more natural anti-inflammatory supplements as a safer alternative to painkillers, such as:

  • Ginger
  • Boswellia
  • Fish oils
  • Bromelain
  • Evening primrose, black currant, or borage oils

While there are scenarios where this is absolutely appropriate it should not be the reflex first choice, because even if you use natural ways to relieve the pain, unless you are addressing the underlying cause, you could be causing even more damage by covering up this useful signal.

Even though natural treatments, and even drugs, can be effective in managing your pain while you heal, in my opinion, pain management treatment protocols are incomplete if they do not address your emotional well-being. As Dr. Cope stated, therapies addressing psychological issues in a case of chronic pain may be vital in providing relief.

A classic example of the power of emotions in pain is the work of Dr. John Sarno, a physician who focuses on treating patients with severe recalcitrant low back pain. Their pains were so severe they went for surgery. But the patients he saw not only had had surgery, their surgeries didn’t remove their pain. So his entire population was the worst of the worst low back pain patients. 

And, in this very difficult group, he got over 80 percent improvements, simply by addressing the emotional element of the pain only. 

The tool that works best in my experience is energy psychology, which is quite simply the most amazing tool I have ever seen to improve -- if not eliminate -- many types of pain.  This tool has produced more miracles that I have witnessed than any other approach, and many of them have occurred after very brief interventions. 

There are many types of energy psychology techniques but the one used the most is The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which is currently being used by more than 15,000 psychologists. 

It borrows from the principles of acupuncture in that it helps you balance your subtle energy system, and it helps resolve underlying, often subconscious, negative emotions that may be exacerbating your physical pain.

By stimulating (tapping) well-established acupuncture points with your fingertips, you re-balance your energy system, which tends to dissipate pain. EFT can therefore be a vital, drug-free component of your pain management program.

However, if your pain is truly severe you may want to seek a highly trained EFT expert, rather than trying to treat yourself. Gary Craig has published a list of EFT therapists throughout the United States and the world.

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