Our Natural Production Of Pain Relievers.When pain occurs, the desire and need for pain relief becomes all important. We may not even realize that the body suffers many aches and pains each day in which we may experience as simple soreness, or have no pain experience at all. Our bodies, being the miracle machines they are, have a built-in mechanism to deal with pain. This capability is critical to our very survival. Without this ability, we would surely perish. While we do not currently understand and know of all the possible substances which make up this pain relief system, science has discovered a few substances within this group. These substances are called endorphins, enkephalins and substance P. The following is an explanation and description of these substances. Don't let the medical information in this portion stop you from reading through the material. It is background information, so work through it as best as possible.
These substances are termed neurotransmitters, and are found in specific areas of the brain and possibly in other areas of the body. A neurotransmitter (NT) is defined as a chemical that is selectively released from a nerve terminal by an action potential, then interacts with a specific receptor on an adjacent structure and produces a specific physiologic response. The endorphins have been found in abundance in the hypothalamus hypothalamus (hī'pəthăl`əməs), an important supervisory center in the brain, rich in ganglia, nerve fibers, and synaptic connections. It is composed of several sections called nuclei, each of which controls a specific function. and in the pituitary gland. The enkephalins are found mainly in those areas of the brain associated with pain control, including the periventricular area, the periaqueductal gray, the midline raphe nuclei, the substantia gelatinosa of the dorsal horns in the spinal cord, and the intralaminar nuclei of the thalamus thalamus (thăl`əməs), mass of nerve cells centrally located in the brain just below the cerebrum and resembling a large egg in size and shape. .
Endorphins are believed to bind to to contract; as, to bind one's self to a wife s>.
See also: Bind opiate receptors in various areas of the brain and thereby raise the pain threshold. Though several different types of endorphins have been isolated, the most potent and presumably pre·sum·a·ble
That can be presumed or taken for granted; reasonable as a supposition: presumable causes of the disaster. most important is B-endorphin.
Enkephalins are believed to have potent, opiate-like effects; thus leading to analgesia. Enkephalins have been defined into two naturally occurring types called methionine methionine (mĕthī`ənēn), organic compound, one of the 20 amino acids commonly found in animal proteins. Only the L-stereoisomer appears in mammalian protein. enkephalin enkephalin (ĕnkĕf`əlĭn), one of several naturally occurring morphinelike substances (endorphins) released from nerve endings of the central nervous system and the adrenal medulla. and leucine leucine (l`sēn), organic compund, one of the 20 amino acids commonly found in animal proteins. enkephalin. Substance P is a peptide and is the transmitter of many central neurons (e.g. dorsal root ganglia, basal ganglia, hypothalamus). Its synthesis and fate are similar to those of the endorphins and enkephalins. All of these substances have been found at different points in the analgesic system.
Perhaps the best way of understanding how this internal pain relief system works is to look at how our bodies respond after moderate muscular exercise. This can be from weight training, aerobic exercise or just plain old-fashioned labor, like digging. All of these exercises cause us to utilize our muscular system and activate a series of biochemical reactions. The usage of our muscles, especially with moderate or sustained activity, triggers the release of the natural, opiate-like chemicals within our bodies. Why is this important? Because without these substances, we would be in agony from the muscle usage!
It has been proposed that these substances may also reduce both anxiety and depression by their actions. They may do a great many things, but to date, only limited amounts of information have been gathered concerning these incredible chemicals. Watch for future information concerning these substances. As science continues to unravel their mysteries, we may find them playing an important role in future pain management.
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