5/14/2008

Curious Josh: Painkillers...

This is the second post in the series. For the first, go here...

Have you ever wondered how painkillers work? I mean, how do they know where the pain is? And how do they go to the right place? And how do they stop it? Oh... You haven't. Well, I have. And I found a sweet article that, much like Clarissa, explains it all. Click here for the article. Here's a short clip...

First, we need to make a distinction between the two main classes of painkillers, which are used for different situations and function via different mechanisms.

The first class is the narcotic opioid drugs. These are the heavy-duty drugs, like morphine and codeine, used to treat severe pain. They relieve pain in two ways: first by interfering with and blocking the transmission of pain signals to the brain, and then by working in the brain to alter the sensation of pain. These drugs neither find nor kill pain, but reduce and alter the user’s perception of the pain. They’re kind of like having an optimistic friend that says, “Hey man, everything will be cool. Nothing’s wrong. Here, look at this shiny, distracting thing!”

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