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Pain: Why do some people hurt more than others?

pain
© Mikhail_Kayl / Shutterstock.com
Some people feel more pain than others.
Anyone who came of age in the 1990s remembers the "Friends" episode where Phoebe and Rachel venture out to get tattoos. Spoiler alert: Rachel gets a tattoo and Phoebe ends up with a black ink dot because she couldn't take the pain. This sitcom storyline is funny, but it also simply illustrates the question that I and many others in the field of "pain genetics" are trying to answer. What is it about Rachel that makes her different from Phoebe? And, more importantly, can we harness this difference to help the "Phoebes" of the world suffer less by making them more like the "Rachels"?

Pain is the single most common symptom reported when seeking medical attention. Under normal circumstances, pain signals injury, and the natural response is to protect ourselves until we have recovered and the pain subsides. Unfortunately, people differ not only in their ability to detect, tolerate and respond to pain but also in how they report it and how they respond to various treatments. This makes it difficult to know how to effectively treat each patient. So, why isn't pain the same in everyone?

Take 2

BBC Documentary investigates 'The Placebo Effect'

The Placebo Experiment: Can My Brain Cure My Body? Dr. Michael Mosley
Could relief for chronic back pain be as easy as taking a sugar pill? In the BBC documentary,The Placebo Experiment: Can My Brain Cure My Body? Dr. Michael Mosley sets out to investigate the power of the placebo effect.

Several studies have demonstrated complaints of lower back pain have risen dramatically in recent decades. Ranking 12th as a cause of disability in 1990,1 it's now the leading cause of disability in nearly all high-income countries.2,3 As many as 8 in 10 adults will experience low back pain at some time in their life.4

Unfortunately, while the problem is fairly common worldwide, so is the mistreatment of the condition.5In the U.S., more than 60 percent of people who see their physician for lower back pain are prescribed an opioid painkiller. This despite guidelines from the American College of Physicians which state prescription drugs should be used as a last resort.6

Comment: Placebos, nocebos, and the symptoms of healing


Hearts

Ancient cures for modern times: Bridging the health care gap in Australia

healers
Aboriginal healers are bringing their 60,000-year-old tradition into medical clinics across Australia. Working alongside doctors and other health care providers, the traditional healers known as Ngangkaṟis are offering their ancient and powerful traditional healing methods in mainstream health settings.

Traditional healers have been working in their own communities for thousands of years with amazing results, and now they are sharing their wisdom and filling the gaps of Western medicine in South Australia's Royal Adelaide Hospital and many other rural clinics around the country. In South Australia, a policy of cultural respect in the public health system supports Indigenous patients to request a Traditional Aboriginal Healer and so today we can see Aboriginal traditional medicine and Western medicine working hand in hand.

Cupcake Pink

Dr. Davis: 10 reasons to never eat wheat again

cupcake
There are plenty of reasons to never allow a bagel, sandwich, or pretzels to cross your lips again. But here are the top 10 most powerful and compelling reasons to tell the USDA and other providers of dietary advice to bug off with their "healthy whole grains" nonsense.
  1. Gliadin-derived opioid peptides (from partial digestion to 4- and 5-amino acid long fragments) increase appetite substantially-as do related proteins from rye, barley, and corn. This is a big part of the reason why grains make you gain weight.
  2. Gliadin-derived opioid peptides are mind active drugs that trigger behavioral outbursts in kids with ADHD and autism, paranoia in schizophrenics, and 24-hour-a-day food obsessions in people prone to bulimia and binge eating disorder, as well as anger, anxiety, and mind "fog."
  3. Gliadin, when intact, initiates the processes of autoimmunity leading to rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and 200 other conditions.
  4. Amylopectin A raises blood sugar to high levels-higher, ounce for ounce, than table sugar.
  5. Wheat germ agglutinin is a potent bowel toxin. One milligram-a speck-of purified wheat germ agglutinin given to a lab rat destroys its intestinal tract.
  6. Wheat germ agglutinin blocks gallbladder and pancreatic function (via blocking the receptor for cholecystokinin). This leads to impaired digestion and changes in bowel flora.
  7. Grain phytates block absorption of all positively-charged minerals-such as iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium.
  8. Multiple allergens are present-such as trypsin inhibitors, thioreductases, alpha amylase inhibitors, and gamma gliadins, responsible for asthma, skin rashes, and gastrointestinal distress.
  9. Grains are potent endocrine disrupters explaining why women with polycystic ovary syndrome, PCOS, are much worse with grain consumption, why men's breasts enlarge, why male levels of testosterone drop and estrogen increases, why pituitary prolactin levels are higher, why cortisol action is blocked, and why thyroid health is disrupted by autoimmune inflammation.
  10. Big Food and agribusiness use wheat and grains to control human buying behavior, putting their addictive appetite-stimulating effects to use to increase food consumption and keep you coming back for more.

USA

America's Dark Vaccine History: The Pertussis Vaccine Blame Game

Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
© Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
It is a primitive bacterial vaccine licensed in 19141. It has not been given to babies in America for 20 years. It is the vaccine that had brain damaged so many children and caused so many vaccine injury lawsuits 2 that Big Pharma used it to blackmail Congress into giving vaccine manufacturers a partial product liability shield in 1986, which the U.S. Supreme Court made even bigger in 2011. 3

I'm talking about whole cell pertussis vaccine in DPT, a crude brew of whole B. pertussis bacteria heated and washed with formaldehyde 4 but still full of neurotoxic aluminum 5 and mercury 6 along with shock-inducing endotoxin, 7,8 as well as brain damaging bioactive pertussis toxin, 9,10,11 a toxin so lethal that researchers use it to deliberately induce acute experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in lab animals. 12,13,14 Whole cell pertussis vaccine: the most reactive vaccine still given to infants and children in developing countries because it costs drug companies just pennies to make a dose of it. 15 Whole cell pertussis vaccine, the one that put pressure on the B. pertussis bacterium to mutate into vaccine resistant strains beginning in the 1950s. 16,17

Brain

Researchers are uncovering a biochemical basis for the placebo effect opening a Pandora's box for mainstream medicine

placebo pills
The Chain of Office of the Dutch city of Leiden is a broad and colorful ceremonial necklace that, draped around the shoulders of Mayor Henri Lenferink, lends a magisterial air to official proceedings in this ancient university town. But whatever gravitas it provided Lenferink as he welcomed a group of researchers to his city, he was quick to undercut it. "I am just a humble historian," he told the 300 members of the Society for Interdisciplinary Placebo Studies who had gathered in Leiden's ornate municipal concert hall, "so I don't know anything about your topic." He was being a little disingenuous. He knew enough about the topic that these psychologists and neuroscientists and physicians and anthropologists and philosophers had come to his city to talk about - the placebo effect, the phenomenon whereby suffering people get better from treatments that have no discernible reason to work - to call it "fake medicine," and to add that it probably works because "people like to be cheated." He took a beat. "But in the end, I believe that honesty will prevail."

Lenferink might not have been so glib had he attended the previous day's meeting on the other side of town, at which two dozen of the leading lights of placebo science spent a preconference day agonizing over their reputation - as purveyors of sham medicine who prey on the desperate and, if they are lucky, fool people into feeling better - and strategizing about how to improve it. It's an urgent subject for them, and only in part because, like all apostate professionals, they crave mainstream acceptance. More important, they are motivated by a conviction that the placebo is a powerful medical treatment that is ignored by doctors only at their patients' expense.

And after a quarter-century of hard work, they have abundant evidence to prove it. Give people a sugar pill, they have shown, and those patients - especially if they have one of the chronic, stress-related conditions that register the strongest placebo effects and if the treatment is delivered by someone in whom they have confidence - will improve. Tell someone a normal milkshake is a diet beverage, and his gut will respond as if the drink were low fat. Take athletes to the top of the Alps, put them on exercise machines and hook them to an oxygen tank, and they will perform better than when they are breathing room air - even if room air is all that's in the tank. Wake a patient from surgery and tell him you've done an arthroscopic repair, and his knee gets better even if all you did was knock him out and put a couple of incisions in his skin. Give a drug a fancy name, and it works better than if you don't.

You don't even have to deceive the patients. You can hand a patient with irritable bowel syndrome a sugar pill, identify it as such and tell her that sugar pills are known to be effective when used as placebos, and she will get better, especially if you take the time to deliver that message with warmth and close attention. Depression, back pain, chemotherapy-related malaise, migraine, post-traumatic stress disorder: The list of conditions that respond to placebos - as well as they do to drugs, with some patients - is long and growing.

Comment: More on the placebo effect:


Info

Benefits of exercising in cold weather

Exercise in Cold Wx
© Unsplash/Isaac Wendland
The World Health Organization (WHO) keeps tabs on every country's HALE rating, which stands for "healthy life expectancy at birth." HALE is a measure of how long the average citizen will live before disease or disability sets in. Worldwide, that average is about 63 years. But according to the WHO's 2016 data, the residents of Japan know something the rest of us don't; the average Japanese citizen will live without disability until age 75 - nearly six years longer than the average American.

A mixture of diet, DNA, and lifestyle factors likely combine to explain this. But cold-weather exercise may also be part of the equation. "Growing up in Tokyo, it was thought that winter training keeps you away from the doctor, and the Japanese often exercise in winter," says Shingo Kajimura, an associate professor and lab director at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). "We can see now this makes a lot of sense."

Kajimura's lab at UCSF focuses on metabolism and energy balance, and specifically on the function of the body's fat cells. He says cold exposure during workouts may be beneficial for a number of reasons. For one thing, shivering burns a lot of calories. "Shivering is a very energy-demanding and tiring process," he says. If your goal when exercising is to lose weight, working out in the cold may help a bit.

SOTT Logo Radio

The Health & Wellness Show: Why is Glycine So...Enticing?

glycine
Glycine is a "conditionally essential" amino acid, one of the twenty amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins. Glycine is produced by the body and -- if you're healthy enough -- can be found abundantly in tendons, ligaments, connective tissues and skin, keeping them all firm and flexible. In the diet animals foods are the greatest source of this potent anti-inflammatory that has numerous benefits for human health including: the regulation of sleep and circadian rhythms, normalizing blood sugar, aiding in digestion, detoxification, wound healing and much, much more.

Join us for this episode of The Health and Wellness Show as we discuss this super amino acid, the best ways to obtain it and some strong precautions that need to be considered when sourcing it.

And stay tuned for Zoya's Pet Health Segment at the end of the show where the topic will be pet dogs in ancient Rome.

Running Time: 01:13:11

Download: OGG, MP3


Listen live, chat, and call in to future shows on the SOTT Radio Network!

Question

Is weighing yourself daily the key to weight loss?

bathroom scale
Yes and no. The answer may not be that simple. Daily weighing may help with weight loss goals as some people who don't weigh themselves have been found less likely to lose weight than those who weigh themselves often. However, this depends on a few variables according to research being presented in Chicago at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions.

Sure, you can notice if your belt is getting tighter, or looser, but chances are you don't have an accurate assessment of your weight. The body mass index (BMI) dates back to the 19th century and is still used by Physicians as a tool to assess health status. Yet it remains one of the most of the inaccurate tools to measure our health due to its reliance on population studies without assessing individual diagnosis.

Body mass index makes absolutely no distinction between body weight from muscle and body weight from fat which labels a broad segment of the athletic and healthy populations as overweight and obese. Consequently, as a measurement tool, weighing yourself on a scale to assess BMI is ineffective since it fails to take into account our body composition.

Health

Obesity: Hormonal imbalance, not caloric imbalance, and what to do about it

weight loss scale

In your body, nothing happens by accident. Every single physiologic process is a tight orchestration of hormonal signals. Whether our heart beats faster or slower is tightly controlled by hormones. Whether we urinate a lot or a little is tightly controlled by hormones. Whether the calories we eat are burned as energy or stored as body fat is also tightly controlled by hormones. So, the main problem of obesity is not the calories we eat, but how they are spent. And the main hormone we need to know about is insulin.

Insulin is a fat-storing hormone. There's nothing wrong with that - that is simply its job. When we eat, insulin goes up, signaling the body to store some food energy as body fat. When we don't eat, then insulin goes down, signaling the body to burn this stored energy (body fat). Higher than usual insulin levels tell our body to store more food energy as body fat.

Hormones are central to obesity as is everything about human metabolism, including body weight. A critical physiological variable such as body fatness is not left up to the vagaries of daily caloric intake and exercise. If early humans were too fat, they could not easily run and catch prey and would be more easily caught themselves. If they were too skinny, they would not be able to survive the lean times. Body fatness is a critical determinant of species survival.

Comment: Intermittent fasting is all the rage at the moment, and it seems like there is definitely something to it. While many promote it as an "eat anything you want and still lose weight" type of regimen, it is undoubtedly true that combining fasting with a proper diet will be more effective and healthier beyond simple weight loss.

See also: