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Influencing the Message of Substance P to the Brain

By HERWriter
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Wellness related image Photo: Getty Images

Peptides? Amino acids? And what in the world is substance P? Sounds like a name for a rapper.

Do you need to be able to understand these terms to overcome your pain? If you'll pardon the pun, it couldn't hurt.

A peptide is a small chain of amino acids. Okay, stumped already. What is an amino acid?

Amino acids come from protein in foods. During digestion, protein is broken down into short chains of amino acids and individual amino acids, which are absorbed into the bloodstream.

They are essential for human life, being used, for instance, in brain function and hair growth as well as the repair of muscle tissue.

A neuropeptide is a small chain of amino acids that affects the nervous system. Neuropeptides participate in our sensations and emotional responses.

Simplified, a neuropeptide is involved in our pain, pleasure, hunger and thirst.

Endorphins are feel-good compounds. Substance P, on the other hand, heralds pain. Endorphins and substance P are a couple of examples of neurotransmitters which allow nerve cells to communicate with each other.

Substance P originates in the brain and spinal cord. It binds to a molecule that passes on substance P's signal of pain from the joints, muscles or skin to the central nervous system. The ultimate destination is the brain where the message of pain is read.

Substance P also plays a role in transmitting messages of anxiety, nausea and stress. In fact the part of the brain stem governing vomiting has high levels of SP. And it is speculated that high levels of SP in the spinal cord may cause unusually intense awareness of pain in disorders like fibromyalgia.

A December 21, 2010 article published on physorg.com reported that research concerning capsaicin can have a significant modifying effect on substance P.

Capsaicin is what makes chillies so hot and spicy. Capsaicin has been used successfully in the treatment of chronic pain.

This research has led to new insights into the way that capsaicin influences substance P and its effects on the body.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.