Researchers like Prof. Zieglgänsberger are investigating whether pain memory can be erased. The body should learn to forget. The body's own systems are a key to this, such as the "endocannabinoids", which are marijuana-like substances that produces the brain. Research is focused on how to promote these processes. Even abroad, researchers are working on new methods of pain therapy.
Painkiller in saliva?
Perhaps it will soon be possible to isolate an endogenous analgesic and use it without side effects. Because scientists have now found out that the human being produces in his saliva an endogenous analgesic. It is even said to be more effective than morphine.
Responsible for this is a small protein called Opiorphin, which very effectively nourishes pain, as the scientists in the magazine "Proceedings" of the US Academy of Sciences reported that the opiorphin had effectively reduced the pain of inflammation in experiments in rats and the treated rodents could last longer About steel nails run as untreated conspecifics.
Opiorphin is a morphine-like substance - it plays a key role in pain perception, but it also regulates emotional responses. Opiorphin and related substances activate an analgesic mechanism in the body, the scientists report.
Probably the substances inhibited the degradation of the body's own endorphins - these are hormones that reduce the sensation of pain and cause happiness. Therefore, in the long term, an application Opiorphin in pain therapy and mood swings conceivable
In a next step, the researchers want to find out what conditions in the body cause the natural production of opiorphin.
The effects of the placebo - dummy drugs - is also being researched better and better. The Turin scientist Fabrizio Benedetti, for example, discovered how important it is that patients do not know about the placebos and expect an improvement in their state of pain - in theory, every human being is susceptible to placebo. Dr. Karin Meissner from the Institute of Medical Psychology at the University of Munich has shown that targeted placebo effects are possible even on organs.
In one experiment, 18 healthy individuals were divided into three groups, for example, on different days, one tablet each without any active substance. All participants were educated that the drugs increase, decrease or not affect gastric activity. The researchers measured gastric activity half an hour before and after placebo administration.
At the same time they recorded the heart rate, the breathing and the electrical skin resistance of the examined persons.
The result: the subjects reacted with significantly altered stomach movements - the other organs showed no change. Karin Meissner is conducting further studies to reduce blood pressure with placebo drugs. Similarly, the placebo researcher Benedetti was able to show successful in patients who applied a drug-free cream for pain on the hand and feet.