- A very weird cure for knee pain
- It’s been a while… venom news
- Is this the future of natural pain relief?
So I went to the doctor the other day.
I told him I had a sore knee.
He prodded and probed my aching joint, then said, “I have just a thing – it’s a rather new treatment, though.”
“Okay….” I said, “Whatever you think will work.”
He went to a cabinet, took out a key and opened the door. I could see that he had broken out in a sweat, which was less than reassuring.
The GP carefully reached into the cabinet, cooing nervously, his arms trembling.
Then he turned around…
“This”, he said, red-faced, “is cutting-edge pain relief.”
He was holding what I thought was a section of fire hose but was, in fact, a massive snake. He took it by its bright orange head and lowered it towards me, its mouth opening to show giant, dripping fangs.
“Hold out your leg,” he said, “This might sting a bit”.
“Aaaaaaaargh!” I screamed.
DISCLAIMER: Story not true.
Okay, I’ll admit…
This didn’t happen.
But the future of pain relief might well be snake-based.
Research in the journal Toxin has shown that a snake known as the “killer of killers” could be the next pain relief breakthrough.
The long-glanded blue coral snake likes to prey on other dangerous animals like king cobras.
Most snake venom takes a while to work, slowly sending the victim into a coma-like stupor. But the long-glanded coral snake one has uniquely powerful venom which acts immediately – this is so that its deadly dinner doesn’t retaliate.
Scientists believe that this same venom could be used to switch off pain receptors in the human body.
Obviously this would be in some kind of drug form rather than a LIVE snake.
Saying that, there are some people using actual snakes…
Last year I told you about a singer in the USA named Steve Ludwin who injects poisonous snake venom into his arm.
Extreme stuff, but he swears by it.
Can’t imagine it catching on, though, can you?
A venom drug race
While Mr Ludwin is busy injecting himself, serious scientists in laboratories are isolating black mamba venom proteins known as mambalgins and testing them as drugs.
These drugs have reduced hypersensitivity to pain after tissue inflammation.
The cobra is another snake with huge medicinal potential….
Its venom contains a protein known as ohanin. Like the long-glanded coral snake this venom works super-fast on its victims. The protein can be manipulated and adapted so that it safely switches off the connection between your pain and your brain.
At the National University of Singapore, Professor R. Manjunatha Kini has developed cobra-venom painkiller which is 20 times stronger than morphine but with no side effects.
Of course, these are all in the testing stage…
They may eventually become expensive prescription drugs that are difficult to access.
Not much use to you right now, though!
What’s bizarre is that, when it comes to snake venom Western science is only just catching up with far older traditions.
In ancient China, cobra venom was used to treat arthritis, liver cancer, lung cancer and leukemia.
And in the Unani system of medicine in India, cobra venom was used to heal and revive seriously ill patients.
In both countries you can get venom treatments in specialised clinics.
But unless you’re planning a holiday to either sometime soon, you can’t get to try this.
So I wanted to see if there was anything available which you could benefit from right now.
After some online digging I have found a product based on Cobra venom.
It’s a natural anti-inflammatory that’s non-toxic, non-narcotic, non-addictive and non-steroidal. It blocks a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, turning off inflammation.
Sounds great but…
This is currently only available in the USA.
What’s more, I never pass on recommendations until the People’s Doctor team have tested the product, vetted the supplier and made sure you get the opportunity to try it risk free.
However, the team is going to get in touch to see if they could potentially offer this to the UK.
So watch this space!
Can you trick your brain into blocking pain?
Last year scientists located the area of brain responsible for the ‘placebo effect’.
As you probably know, the placebo effect is a phenomenon where simply believing in a pill, treatment or therapy can help reduce pain.
A fake drug can sometimes work as well as the real thing, as long as the taker doesn’t know the truth.
Researchers at the Northwestern Medicine and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago believe they have found the sweet spot – the location of the brain activated by placebos, which can switch off your pain receptors naturally.
It means that we could see special pain-relief medication tailored to how your individual brain responds to placebo drugs.
Marwan Baliki from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine says:
“The new technology will allow physicians to see what part of the brain is activated during an individual’s pain and choose the specific drug to target this spot.”
So it turns out that the future of pain relief could be…
….Snakes and fake drugs!
Not the future of medicine that I was expecting.
I’ll be back with more next week.