In the last blog, I followed on the great work by my nerd in crime Dr. Nathan Harten. This time without using the Batman & Robin analogy; I am writing this blog solo!
Recapping from the previous blog:
Pain is such a complex phenomenon.
There needs to be more credible evidence for danger over safety for a pain experience.
Pain is not an accurate marker for tissue damage.
The brain will decide to make you hurt when scrutinising A LOT of information, ranging from the environment to past experiences. Remember those neurotags?
Moving along to the endogenous brain!
Now there are some wonderful drugs out there that have done wonders in the field of medicine (naloxone being one). But did you know that endogenously, us humans have the most powerful class of drugs; ready for your disposal, at any given minute, located in your central nervous system?
These classes of endogenous drugs are:
Endorphins (euphoria, opioid agonist)
Dynorphins (modulation of pain & homeostatic regulation)
Enkephalins (regulation of nociception)
Endocannabinoids (mood & euphoria)
So just give me my own prescription pad and away I go right?
Lets pause you there momentarily.
The central nervous system decides when to give you access to your own drugs. Doesn’t sound very fair. So let me explain two scenarios where you can get full access.
Disclaimer. I don’t endorse, nor recommend example 1!
- One is sure you have seen on the news , where there has been a shark attack. A limb has been lost; with reports the victim has only felt a slight bump or no pain at all! Is it advantageous to feel pain when a great white shark is trying to eat you? Absolutely not! It’s a 50% of sale, and you’re shopping trolley is full! All those drugs are swimming out of your central nervous system, exiting the blood brain barrier, trickling down the spinal cord and distributing into neighbouring peripheral tissues. Now is your chance to get the heck out of there! Your sympathetic nervous system has turned into a high functioning Formula one Ferrari. Amping your physiology to get you out and away from danger. When the threat of danger has passed. All the drugs will stop binding to there adjacent receptor(s), excitatory neuromodulators will kick in with DRS speed like danger messages to the central nervous system. And you know what will happen next…?
- Have you ever tried to flunk your morning run, and just couldn’t be bothered to do-so? So you pull out your favourite dance tunes to get you moving. Slowly but surely there is some swagger to your running stride. You push a little harder, and this run feels not-so hard after all. 30-45 minutes in and you’ve found another gear. You race around corner, knowing that the finish line (your house) is in sight. You finish buzzing (endorphins), legs don’t burn as much as they previously did (dynorphins, enkephalins), and you are more spaced out than Harold & Kumar (endocannabinoids) (movie reference😉). All of the aforementioned: starting from the music, to the increase in tempo and lastly seeing the finish line; all triggered those powerful endogenous drugs mentioned.
As you can see, we humans are pretty sophisticated indeed!