Printer Friendly

A peppery preventive for pain.

Capsaicin, the chemical that puts the zing in chili peppers, can block a person's ability to feel pain without producing numbness, according to a new study. The finding suggests that physicians may one day slather capsaicin-like compounds on the skin of burn patients or smear it into the incisions of individuals undergoing surgery.

Richard A. Meyer of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and his colleagues injected a capsaicin analog under the skin of one inner forearm of each of eight volunteers. The volunteers received a control injection of an inactive substance in the other inner forearm.

The volunteers reported reduced pain in the capsaicin-treated forearm immediately after receiving a burn on each arm equivalent to touching a hot stove. Moreover, on the day after the burns, the subjects said the treated arm was much less sensitive to touch and heat than the control arm.

Meyer says capsaicin works by killing small-diameter nerve fibers, the ones responsible for pain. However, it has no effect on large-diameter nerve fibers, he says, and so does not totally numb a treated area. Capsaicin has also proved beneficial in treating cluster headaches (SN: 7/13/91, p.20).

Meyer and his colleagues are working with Procter & Gamble scientists to develop drugs based on capsaicin analogs.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:capsaicin blocks pain without numbness
Author:Ezzell, Carol
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 14, 1992
Previous Article:For a good memory, dream on.
Next Article:Meteorites: coming and going.

Related Articles
When hot may be anticarcinogenic.
Hot prospects for quelling cluster headaches.
Hot stuff: a receptor for spicy foods.
Pain, Pain, Go Away.
Don't eat the pepper-flavored paint.
Feel the burn: alcohol sets pain-sensing nerves aflame. (This Week).
Making the heart burn.
Hot, hot, hot: peppers and spiders reach same pain receptor.
Hot pepper, hot spider.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters