Tuesday, August 22, 2006

migraine news roundup 12

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Scientists are looking for ways to capture the power of the placebo effect and teach people to use it to help themselves. Maybe there is something to that whole "mind over matter" thing.

Placebo's power goes beyond the mind
Scientists tap into fake pill's effects to help real pains
“An emerging idea right now is that belief in a placebo taps into processes in your brain that produce physical results that really shape how your body responds to things,” he says. “The brain has much more control over the body than we can voluntarily exert.”

As an example of this, Wager points to the body’s response to perceived threats.

“Say it’s late at night and everything is quiet and then suddenly you see someone outside, near a window,” he explains. “Your body starts to respond. Your pupils dilate. Your heart rate goes up. You start to sweat.”

The belief that something threatening is out there produces a host of physical responses that you have little control over. If you were told to calm down and turn off these sensations, you couldn’t, Wager says. “But if the belief changes — say, it turns out that it’s just your husband coming home — the physical response changes.”

The question, now, is how to tap into these powerful, unconscious responses, Wager says.
Be sure to check out the cool interactive map of the mind.

What is the relationship between migraine disease and stress? Advocate/writer Terri Robert explores the question:

Is stress a migraine trigger or not?

The controversial drug RU486 has been shown to aid in the treatment of depression:

Abortion drug could rapidly treat depression
The drug is already used for severe psychotic depression, and is licensed for use to treat several conditions, including Cushing's disease, and to induce abortion because it also acts on progesterone receptors. Pro-life activists have long campaigned for its withdrawal, and its use for routine depression treatment would undoubtedly be controversial.

Research shows 'cool' treatments hold promise for relieving chronic pain:

The Mystery of BenGay
A study reveals how age-old cooling remedies help to alleviate nerve-related pain.
A study published yesterday in the journal Current Biology reveals that activating a crucial protein in the skin may counteract the nerve signals associated with chronic pain brought on by nerve injury. One trigger for this protein receptor is menthol, an active ingredient in topical analgesics like BenGay. But an even more effective trigger is icilin -- a chemical originally designed for toothpaste and nasal sprays. The researchers found that when applied to the skin, icilin stimulates the body's natural cooling system, and helps block chronic, nerve-related pain.

"There's a crying need to find safe painkillers for chronic pain use," says Susan Fleetwood-Walker, a neuroscientist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and co-author of the study. "It's extremely difficult to treat -- and we never expected this cooling effect would have this huge effect that it does."

Are coupons and other special offers for prescription meds simply a benefit to patients or an inducement to try high-profile meds regardless of need?

Concern over pharmaceuticals' 'special offer' marketing

I think pharmaceutical marketing is out of control. I'd love to go back to a time when advertising was not allowed. Period. Of course, maybe the real problem is that pharmaceuticals exist to make a profit for their shareholders, not to look out for the best interests of their customers. And reinstating rules against advertising isn't going to change that.

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