Chemotherapy likely to get less painful

Chemotherapy likely to get less painful

Saint Louis University professor of pharmacological and physiological sciences Daniela Salvemini found a molecular pathway by which a painful chemotherapy side effect happens and a drug that may be able to stop it.

“The chemotherapy drug paclitaxel is widely used to treat many forms of cancer, including breast, ovarian and lung cancers,” said Salvemini.

“Though it is highly effective, the medication, like many other chemotherapy drugs, is frequently accompanied by a debilitating side effect called chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy, or CIPN,” she added.

In addition to causing suffering to patients, CIPN is often a limiting factor when it comes to treatment. Salvemini and her colleagues studied paclitaxel, which is also known as Taxol, and discovered that the pain pathway is dependent on activation of S1PR1 in the central nervous system.

This engages a series of damaging neuro-inflammatory processes leading to pain. By inhibiting this molecule, they found that they could block and reverse paclitaxel-induced neuropathic pain without interfering with the drug’s anti-cancer effects. The study appeared in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Source: post

Super-hot curries could help you live longer


A new study suggests that super-hot curries could help you live longer.

The hot tip comes after scientists in the US ran tests on mice.

They found stopping pain signals reaching the brain increased the chance of them living longer, the Daily Star reported.

University of California’s Andrew Dillon said that blocking the pain pathway could be very useful, not only for improving lifespan but for treating diabetes and obesity .

Boffins also believed that it could halt the ageing process.

Source: Zee news

Blame your genes for low tolerance of pain


Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others. Study author Tobore Onojjighofia and colleagues evaluated 2,721 people diagnosed with chronic pain for certain genes. Participants were taking prescription opioid pain medications.

The genes involved were COMT, DRD2, DRD1 and OPRK1. The participants also rated their perception of pain on a scale from zero to 10. People who rated their pain as zero were not included in the study. Low pain perception was defined as a score of one, two or three; moderate pain perception was a score of four, five or six; and high pain perception was a score of seven, eight, nine or 10.

Nine per cent of the participants had low pain perception, 46 per cent had moderate pain perception and 45 per cent had high pain perception.

The researchers found that the DRD1 gene variant was 33 per cent more prevalent in the low pain group than in the high pain group. Among people with a moderate pain perception, the COMT and OPRK variants were 25 per cent and 19 per cent more often found than in those with a high pain perception.

The DRD2 variant was 25 per cent more common among those with a high pain perception compared to people with moderate pain.

Source: Pune Mirror

How to Never Have Another Headache Ever Again

Painkillers will do the trick for the occasional headache, but if you’re slammed with them on a weekly or even daily basis — as 45 million Americans are — you need a better solution. Here, proven strategies that can ease, and even eliminate, chronic headache pain

Rack open a window
When a home is well-sealed, indoor levels of mold, perfumes, smoke and other irritants can skyrocket, worsening headaches for one in four sufferers, according to research at Johns Hopkins University. An easy Rx: Open a few windows to air out those pollutants. Keep them open long enough for a refreshing breeze to sweep out stale smells. Repeat as necessary to circulate some fresh air throughout your home, study authors say.

Sneak in some ginger
Add 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ginger to your daily diet, and you could tamp down even chronic headaches within one week, say researchers at Connecticut’s Manchester Memorial Hospital. Credit ginger’s active ingredient, gingerol. Danish studies suggest this powerful anti-inflammatory that is chemically similar to aspirin blocks the formation of pain-triggering compounds called leukotrienes in the brain.

Tip: Use ginger to add a zesty dash of flavor to stir fries, rice dishes, soups, casseroles and dipping sauces, grate it over ice cream, or steep it to make a tea.

Sport sunglasses
One in three headaches are triggered — or made worse — by blasts of sunlight, say UCLA researchers. The reason? When bright light hits the delicate retinas in your eyes, it activates your brain’s pain nerves. To stay ache-free, slip on shades before you head outdoors on bright days, even if you don’t think you need them.

Sniff tangerine essential oil
Spend one minute three times daily relaxing and inhaling the tangy, sweet smell of tangerine essential oil, and you could reduce your risk of tension headaches in as little as one week, say Stanford University researchers. Tangerine’s aromatic compounds soothe the central nervous system, relax tight neck and scalp muscles, plus boost your brain’s production of a pain-soothing compound called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), says Hyla Cass, M.D., author of Eight Weeks To Vibrant Health. Look for it in health and whole foods stores.

Avoid herbal slip-ups
If you use prescription pain medication to tame your worst headaches, check with your doctor or pharmacist before trying any herbal remedies. Surprising University of Utah research suggests that some of today’s most popular herbs — including ginkgo, ginseng, St. John’s wort and valerian — can counteract prescription pain meds, leading to nasty headache flare-ups.

Warm up before working out
According to Columbia University researchers, up to one in four headache-prone women are hit with brain pain within five hours of exercising if they jump into vigorous workouts without warming up. The culprit? Rapid changes in blood flow can trigger painful swelling of brain blood vessels. To prevent the problem, do your first 10 minutes of exercise at a leisurely pace, then gradually pick up the speed, Columbia researchers suggest.

Eat more vegetarian meals
When women pile their plates with fruits, vegetables, legumes and 100-percent whole grains, their headache frequency is reduced by 70 percent, and their attacks are 66 percent shorter and less painful, say doctors at California’s Loma Linda University. “These healthy carbs contain hundreds of natural anti-inflammatories that quickly lower the amount of headache-triggering inflammation your body produces,” says Neal Barnard, M.D., president of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C.

Sip mullein leaf tea
Drink 16 ounces of this herbal brew daily and you’ll tamp down blood vessel and scalp muscle inflammation, reducing your risk of headache flare-ups in as little as 10 days, say Stanford University researchers. Credit mullein’s rich supply of natural anti-inflammatories. Look for mullein leaf tea in whole-food stores and well-stocked department stores like Walgreens. It can taste a bit bitter, so sweeten to taste with sugar or honey.

Level out your estrogen
Almost 60 percent of women struggle with their worst headaches right before their periods hit. Called menstrual migraines, these headaches are set off by sudden estrogen dips. A quick fix: If you take birth control pills, Yale University researchers suggest asking your doctor about skipping the placebos so your estrogen levels can stay steady all month long. Not on the pill? Consider using an estrogen patch during your premenstrual week, so those pain-triggering hormone plunges don’t occur.

Get up with your alarm
Get your sleep, but don’t linger in bed. According to University of Texas researchers, 79 percent of headache sufferers are prone to pain if they lounge in bed too long — even if they’re getting roughly the same amount of sleep each night. “Changing your wake-up time has a huge impact on brain function, lowering your pain threshold and making your brain blood vessels a lot more likely to spasm,” explains Michael Smolensky, Ph.D., author of The Body Clock Guide to Better Health.

Tip: Set your alarm so you get up at roughly the time every day, even on weekends.

Treat your snoring
Almost 30 million Americans struggle with sleep apnea — short breathing pauses during sleep – which triggers loud snoring, daytime fatigue, and nasty morning headaches. Those lapses in breathing allow carbon dioxide to build up in the bloodstream, which is a powerful headache trigger, explain researchers at Columbia-Presbyterian Eastside. If you’ve been told you snore loudly or stop breathing during sleep, report it to your doctor. Columbia studies show treating sleep apnea can make morning headaches vanish in as little as two days.

Take melatonin
Even if you don’t have sleep apnea, it may be wise to take a natural sleep aid . In a surprising Brazilian study, when migraine-prone patients took 3 milligrams of melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime, their headache frequency (and the level of pain) was cut in half. For one in four subjects, this simple treatment erased their migraines within three months! Turns out this sleep-inducing hormone helps prevent one of the most common migraine triggers — the amount or quality of sleep people get each night.

Soothe stress with a little “me” time
Carve out 30 minutes each day to relax and unwind, and your headache attacks could be cut in half within two weeks, say researchers at Utah State University. “Making time to nurture yourself drastically cuts your production of pain-triggering stress hormones,” explains Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., author of Real Cause, Real Cure. Try leisurely baths, deep breathing, yoga, napping or any other calming activity that fits easily into your schedule.

Tame rebound pain
If you’re getting at least three headaches every week, chances are good you’re struggling with rebound headaches (pain that flares every time painkillers wear off). To fix the problem fast, try switching to plain aspirin or acetaminophen. “Although most over-the-counter painkillers cause rebound headaches, those two are completely innocent,” says David Buchholz, M.D., author of Heal Your Headache. Make the switch, and your headache flare-ups could be cut in half within one week, he says.

When it’s time to see a doctor
If none of these solutions work, you probably have migraines and should see a doctor to get them under control.

According to Cleveland Clinic researchers, women with migraines often need preventive meds to really get their pain under control. Yet fewer than half of all migraine sufferers have been accurately diagnosed. If you have even one of these migraine symptoms, and at-home remedies haven’t made a dent in your misery, talk to your doctor about it:

Your headaches last 4 to 72 hours
You’d describe the pain as throbbing
Your headaches worsen if you make abrupt movements (like bending down to pick something off the floor)

You’re sensitive to light or sound, or feel nauseous, during headache attacks

Source: stumble upon

Pain ‘dimmer switch’ discovered by UK scientists

Pain sensitivity is controlled by a genetic “dimmer switch”, which can be re-set, UK scientists have discovered.

Twins sharing 100% of genes have different pain thresholds, which can potentially be altered by lifestyle or medication, say researchers at King’s College, London.

The study could lead to new painkillers or lifestyle interventions, they report in Nature Communications.

One in five of the population suffers from acute or chronic pain.

Lead researcher Dr Jordana Bell said the potential to regulate genes involved in pain sensitivity “is very exciting and could lead to a more effective pain relief treatment for patients suffering with chronic pain”.

Sensitivity to pain is complex, with wide individual variation. Previous studies have suggested about half of the influence is explained by genes.

To identify levels of sensitivity to pain, scientists tested 25 pairs of identical twins using a heat probe placed on the arm.

Identical twins share 100% of their genes; therefore any difference between identical twins must be due to their environment or changes affecting the function of their genes.

Study participants were asked to press a button when the heat became painful for them, which allowed the researchers to determine their pain thresholds.

Using DNA sequencing, the researchers examined the whole genetic codes (genomes) of the twins and compared them with 50 unrelated individuals.

The research team found chemical changes within nine genes involved in pain sensitivity that were different in one twin but not in her identical sister.

These were most significant within a known pain sensitivity gene, which is already a target for the development of new painkillers.

Research into the switching on and off of genes, a process known as epigenetic regulation, is a big growth area for the development of new medicines.

‘Landmark’ study
Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said epigenetic switching is “like a dimmer switch for gene expression”.

“This landmark study shows how identical twins, when combined with the latest technology to look at millions of epigenetic signals, can be used to find the small chemical switches in our genes that make us all unique – and in this case respond to pain differently.”

The chemical changes act like a “thermostat” or “dimmer switch” to set an individual’s pain sensitivity, Prof Spector added.

“Using drugs or changes in lifestyle, we might be able to reset that thermostat, allowing that person in the future to feel less pain,” he told BBC News.

“The epigenetic changes are potentially reversible.”

Source: BBC news

Scratching Away at the Mystery of Itch

The sensation of feeling itchy is pretty universal, and yet scientists still don’t completely understand the complex processes that give us the urge to scratch.

Itching can be annoying, but like pain, a little bit can be a good thing. Itching can help people learn to avoid dangers such as mosquitoes carrying malaria, or poison ivy. But many people suffer from chronic itch, which has no direct cause and can be a debilitating condition with few options for relief.

“When people hear about itch, they think about a mosquito bite or chicken pox, which is irritating but very temporary,” said Diana Bautista, a cell and developmental biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who wrote an article summarizing our current understanding of itch

Bautista said people often laugh when she tells them she studies itch. But “from a clinical perspective, chronic itch is a really widespread problem, and incredibly difficult to treat,” she told LiveScience.
Itch, or ouch?

Like the feelings of touch, temperature and pain, itching involves a complex system of molecules, cells and circuits reaching from the skin into the brain. Most over-the-counter treatments for itching target histamine, a compound involved in inflammation. But many kinds of itch can’t be treated with antihistamines or other available treatments.

Skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, systemic conditions including multiple sclerosis, and even some cancers, can all lead to chronic itch, which affects about 10 percent of the world’s population at some point during their lives, Bautista said.

Recent research on itch is revealing its mysterious relationship with pain, according to the paper. For example, scientists have found that the reason scratching an itch offers relief is because scratching causes pain, which suppresses the itch, at least temporarily. They’ve also found that the cells and circuits that transmit pain and itch overlap somewhat.

But although pain can block out itch, some painkillers – such as morphine – can cause itchiness. And some things that cause itch also cause pain, such as capsaicin, the ingredient that makes chili peppers hot.

Scientists now have several theories about this odd connection between pain and itch. One theory suggests the same set of neurons produce an itch when activated slightly, but result in pain when activated fully. Alternatively, different cells might trigger pain and itch signals, but the signals might interact in the spinal cord. There is some evidence for both ideas, Bautista said.

Itching to understand

But itch and pain don’t always go together.

For example, the antimalarial drug chloroquine is known to have a side effect of severe itch. In one recent study, scientists bred mice to have nerves that lacked a receptor that responds to chloroquine. These mice didn’t show signs of itching, but they did have normal responses to pain. The findings suggest these nerve cells are required for itch, but not necessarily for pain, the researchers said.

Many itch receptors found in mice are also found in humans. Often, researchers take molecules known to play a role in chronic itch in humans, and study the effects in mice that lack these molecules.

From this research, scientists have identified some of neurons and signals involved in chronic itch, but the search for treatments continues.

“It’s an exciting time, because there have been a lot of basic discoveries in the last five years,” Bautista said.

Some promising treatment approaches involve targeting receptors on immune cells, which may be somewhat effective against forms of itch that can’t be treated with anti-histamines.

“As we learn more about the system, and which cell types we should target,” Bautista said, “I think we’re going to be able to treat chronic itch more effectively.”

Source: huffington post

Paracetamol can slow brain development in kids

A new study has found that paracetamol can interfere with the brain development of children, and can even be dangerous for unborn kids.

Researchers at Uppsala University examined paracetamol, one of the most commonly used drugs for pain and fever in children, by giving small doses of it to ten-day-old mice. They later carried out tests on the behavioural habits of the mice in adulthood.

They found that the mice could be hyperactive in adulthood, could display behavioural disturbances, and could have lower memory capability compared to the mice that weren’t given the dose.

Researchers said that the exposure to and presence of paracetamol during a critical period of brain development can induce long-lasting effects on cognitive function and alter the adult response to paracetamol in mice.

They added that parents should be careful in administering the drug.

Researcher Henrik Viberg told the Upsala Nya Tidning newspaper that this shows that there are reasons to restrict the use of paracetamol at the end of pregnancy and to hold back from giving the medicine to infants.

The study was published in the online Toxicological Sciences journal.

Source: Zee news

Kidney stones: this pain is ‘Worse than childbirth’

One of the most common presentations is the flank pain on one side. It sometimes radiates down into the stomach, and it can actually radiate down into the genital area. That type of pain is pretty commonly seen in stone patients.

Sometimes there’s nausea and vomiting. Those type of symptoms are something that gives us a clue that this may be a stone.

The CAT scan is the gold standard for imaging for kidney stones. That’s usually the way to diagnose it. You can’t do it from a blood test or anything else.

Why do people say that they are so painful?
It blocks the flow of urine in the kidney, and it causes backup. And it’s an excruciating pain. A lot of people do describe it as worse than childbirth.

When the system is trying to push urine out, what happens is: your kidney and your ureter — they have this muscle propagation that goes down the kidney into the ureter — when it’s trying to push and the stone is blocking it, you get these intense pains. That’s why we call it colicky, it comes and goes and it’s extremely painful and the main reason for the pain is the backup of urine.

What’s happening exactly?
Usually, if they have two kidneys, they urinate fine, because you’re getting urine on the other side. The problem is, that kidney is producing urine but it can’t get pushed down.

If you take a pipe and you clog it off and somehow you’re still getting fluid into the other end … if it’s a pipe that can expand, it starts expanding.

The backup is like that. It causes a great deal of pain because you’re expanding your system. You don’t have any pop-off valve. Once it starts expanding, it’s expanding unnaturally.

It’s called hydronephrosis, and it’s basically backup of urine into the kidney.
What to do for kidney stones

Are there particular risk factors?
There are certain diseases associated with kidney stones, things like hypoparathyroidism, or some bowel diseases where your absorption isn’t normal.

Things like obesity and diabetes are associated with kidney stones. The main dietary factors are low water intake and high salt intake and animal protein — anything you killed to eat. If you have high amounts of those intakes, it causes your urine to acidify and then it becomes more prone to having stones.

It just depends on the person. If you have a family history, you’re more apt to get a stone.

What is the treatment?
If the stones are small enough, they usually pass on their own. Sometimes it can be an uneventful passage, or sometimes it’s just an excruciating passage, but we can help them out with pain medicine and some other medicines.
We say greater than 5 mm we start watching them closely. They have a higher chance of requiring surgery to pass the stone.
So it’s possible that with pain medicine, it could go away on its own?

Yep, they can pass it. As long as it’s small enough, and there’s nothing abnormal in their system that prevents it from moving through, if it’s small enough people can pass the stones by themselves.

How long does that take?
It can take a few days. Depending on where the stone is and how small it is. Sometimes we monitor up to six weeks, but if the stone isn’t progressing, we’ll go ahead and take care of it.

If the pain is so much that they can’t endure it, then we will go ahead and treat. If their pain is coming and going, and well-controlled with things like ibuprofen or other pain medicine, sometimes we just wait and let them try and pass it.

Source: CNN

Meditation’s Effects Similar to Pills for Anxiety, Depression, and Pain

In a review of randomized clinical trials, Johns Hopkins researchers find that meditation is effective for combatting common mental health woes.

Meditation has been used for centuries, but its benefits have been primarily anecdotal, whether it’s a Tibetan monk blocking out pain to walk across hot coals or a college student meditating to cope with the loss of a loved one.

Now, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have applied scientific analysis to the practice and found that mindfulness meditation programs, which promote heightened awareness, can help with common mental health problems.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, found measurable evidence of improvement in anxiety, depression, pain, and stress after eight weeks of treatment.

“For example, the effect size for the effect on depression was 0.3, which is what would be expected with the use of an anti-depressant,” the researchers said.

To come to these conclusions, researchers evaluated existing studies on meditation and rated them based on scientific standards of bias risk, precision, directness, and consistency. In the end, they analyzed 47 randomized clinical trials with a total of 3,515 participants.

Dr. Kevin Barrows, director of mindfulness programs at the University of California, San Francisco’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, said the study’s findings were “not surprising, but affirming.” He said that meditation often receives unfair criticism because studies on its effectiveness do not always meet the rigorous scientific standard of research.

“This a refutation of that,” Barrows, who was not involved in the JAMA study, told Healthline. “This is a scientifically rigorous study. It does corroborate the efficacy of mindfulness.”

What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness meditation, or vipassana, involves periods of time spent becoming more aware of one’s body and surroundings. It can be as simple as counting your breaths with your eyes closed, but to get the full benefits, it takes practice.

The goal of this kind of meditation is to simply be aware of the full circumstances of being alive.

In the book Mindfulness in Plain English, the Ven. Henepola Gunaratana, a Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka, writes that the goal of meditation is not to change the world around us, but to control our reaction to it.

“Vipassana is a form of mental training that will teach you to experience the world in an entirely new way. You will learn for the first time what is truly happening to you, around you, and within you,” Gunaratana wrote. “It is a process of self-discovery, a participatory investigation in which you observe your own experiences while participating in them, and as they occur.”

Mindfulness meditation has been used as a complimentary therapy for mental problems for generations, but the new empirical evidence may help the practice become more widely accepted in the mainstream health field.

Source: cbs news