Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

Placebo Effect Caught In The Act In Spinal Nerves

Expand Messages
  • NHNE Wavemaker List
    NHNE Wavemaker News List Current Members: 500 Sunfellow & NHNE on Twitter: http://twitter.com/sunfellow Have You Checked Your Pulse Today?
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 5 2:17 PM
      NHNE Wavemaker News List
      Current Members: 500

      Sunfellow & NHNE on Twitter:
      http://twitter.com/sunfellow

      Have You Checked Your Pulse Today?
      http://nhne-pulse.org/

      Subscribe / unsubscribe / important links at the bottom of this message.

      ------------

      PLACEBO EFFECT CAUGHT IN THE ACT IN SPINAL NERVES
      By Ewen Callaway
      New Scientist
      October 16, 2009

      http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17993-placebo-effect-caught-in-the-act
      -in-spinal-nerves.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news

      The placebo effect is not only real; its ability to deaden pain has been
      pinpointed to cells in the spinal cord. That raises hopes for new ways of
      treating conditions such as chronic pain.

      The researchers who made the discovery scanned the spinal cords of
      volunteers while applying painful heat to one arm. Then they rubbed a cream
      onto the arm and told the volunteers that it contained a painkiller -- but
      in fact it had no active ingredient. Even so, the cream made spinal-cord
      neural activity linked to pain vanish.

      "This type of mechanism has been envisioned for over 40 years for placebo
      analgesia," says Donald Price, a neuroscientist at the University of Florida
      in Gainesville, who was not involved in the new study. "This study provides
      the most direct test of this mechanism to date."

      Indeed, the biggest obstacle to establishing the spinal cord's role in
      placebo pain relief was measuring its activity with fMRI scanning, says Falk
      Eippert, a neuroscientist at the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf
      in Germany, who led the study.

      Squeezing a scan

      FMRI scanning has long been used to image the brain, but the part of the
      spinal cord that Eippert's team was interested in -- the dorsal horn -- is
      minuscule in comparison, and so is harder to image. It also swims around in
      cerebrospinal fluid, further complicating real-time measurement.

      The team's first breakthrough was to squeeze an fMRI signal out of the
      spinal cord. Then they quickly adapted the technique to study placebo pain
      relief.

      This meant telling 13 volunteers a white lie. They were told that the
      researchers were testing how effective a painkilling cream was, with an
      inactive cream as a control on the trial.

      In fact, neither cream contained anaesthetic. However, when Eippert's team
      applied the alleged painkilling cream for the first time, they turned down
      the intensity of painful heat stimulation to 40 per cent of each volunteer's
      pain threshold -- 46 °C on average. When the team tested the alleged control
      cream, they kept the temperature set at 80 per cent of the pain threshold --
      an average of 47 °C.

      Because of this "fixing" of the temperatures, the volunteers would think,
      "'OK, this really seems to work, and it will work when I take it the next
      time,'" Eippert explains.

      Feeling the heat

      Later, with an fMRI scanner on, the researchers rubbed "control" and
      "painkiller" creams onto two different spots on each volunteer's left
      forearm and applied the same level of heat to each spot, 15 times.

      The fake "painkiller" cream worked: volunteers said they experienced 26 per
      cent less pain on the "painkiller"-treated patch of their arm, compared with
      the "control"-treated area.

      Meanwhile, the fMRI scanner witnessed the placebo effect. When skin treated
      with the "control" cream was heated, an area of the dorsal horn located on
      the left side of volunteers' lower necks lit up, suggesting increased neural
      activity there in response to pain. However, this signal disappeared in the
      "painkiller" trials.

      Eippert's team didn't discover what caused this shift. He speculates that
      higher brain areas involved in buying into the bogus treatment trigger the
      release of endogenous opioids -- chemicals our brain produces that work like
      opiates and may temper spinal cord activity.

      Now that researchers know the neural hallmark of placebo pain relief, they
      could use it to develop treatments, cognitive or chemical, that take better
      advantage of belief, Eippert says.

      ------------

      RELATED NHNE NEWS LIST ARTICLES:

      SCIENTISTS PRESENT FIRST GENETIC EVIDENCE FOR WHY PLACEBOS WORK (7/21/2009):
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nhnenews/message/15883

      THE PLACEBO EFFECT IS NOT ALL IN YOUR MIND (6/4/2009):
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nhnenews/message/15699

      PLACEBO'S POWER GOES BEYOND THE MIND (8/23/2006):
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nhnenews/message/11726

      THIS IS YOUR BRAIN UNDER HYPNOSIS (11/23/2005):
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nhnenews/message/10414

      PLACEBO SPARKS BRAIN PAINKILLERS (8/24/2005):
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nhnenews/message/9802

      ACUPUNCTURE, REAL OR FAKE, MAY HELP MIGRAINES (5/3/2005):
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nhnenews/message/9114

      FIRST GLIMPSE OF MECHANISTIC EXPLANATION FOR PLACEBO EFFECT (5/19/2004):
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nhnenews/message/7227

      COUGH MEDICINES 'NO MORE EFFECTIVE THAN PLACEBOS' (6/24/2002):
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nhnenews/message/3304

      PLACEBOS FIGHT DEPRESSION AS WELL AS DRUGS (5/8/2002):
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nhnenews/message/3126

      THE NOCEBO EFFECT: PLACEBO'S EVIL TWIN (5/2/2002):
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nhnenews/message/3100

      THE PLACEBO EFFECT: THE POWER OF NOTHING (5/26/2001):
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nhnenews/message/1513

      ------------

      NHNE Wavemaker News List:

      Send Some Green Love To NHNE:
      http://www.nhne.org/DONATE/tabid/398/Default.aspx

      To subscribe, send a message to:
      nhnenews-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

      To unsubscribe, send a message to:
      nhnenews-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

      To review current posts:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nhnenews/messages
      http://www.nhne.org/tabid/1044/Default.aspx

      NHNE's Mother Ship:
      http://www.nhne.org/

      NHNE Pulse:
      http://nhne-pulse.org/

      Sunfellow & NHNE on Twitter:
      http://twitter.com/sunfellow

      Integral NHNE:
      http://integralnhne.ning.com/

      Published by David Sunfellow
      NewHeavenNewEarth (NHNE)
      eMail: nhne@...
      Phone: (928) 257-3200
      Fax: (815) 642-0117

      P.O. Box 2242
      Sedona, AZ 86339
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.