Thursday, October 04, 2007

I thought chili peppers CAUSED pain...

Regarding the apparent scientific breakthrough below, being able to move through labor without pain would be a major improvement over the current epidural, which relegates women to bed. Still, I wonder what the side effects might be. There's always something.

That lively pepper may help dull the pain
Ingredient is central to new anesthetic
By Colin Nickerson, Globe Staff | October 4, 2007

The world's hottest work in anesthesiology is being done at Harvard, where researchers are deploying pepper against pain.

Scientists at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital yesterday described a new targeted approach to anesthesia that uses the active ingredient in chili peppers as part of an ingenious recipe for blocking sensation only from pain neurons. That's a significant departure from current anesthetics, which suppress signals from other types of nerve cells as well.

Most critically, the technique - as shown in experiments on rats - doesn't cause the numbness or partial paralysis that is the unwelcome side effect of local anesthesia, used for surgery performed on conscious patients.

If approved for use in humans, the method could dramatically ease the trial of giving birth by sparing women pain while allowing them to more fully participate in labor. It could also diminish the trauma of many kinds of surgery or the discomfort of dental work. Not only would there be no "ouch," there would be none of the sickening wooziness or loss of motor control that often comes from standard forms of local anesthesia.


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