Peppers pacify pain, doctor says

Friday, February 8th 2008, 9:17 pm
By: News 9

By Matthew Wells, NEWS 9

As Baby Boomers age, their aches and pains are getting worse, some say.

That's why researchers and scientists are focusing more and more of their time on effective pain management. Doctors may be on the cusp of revolutionizing the way we live with everyday pain, by using peppers.

Dr. Clifford Woolf is a researcher at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

For the past several years he and his team have been dissecting peppers and studying Capsaicin's effect on our nervous system.

Woolf said Capsaicin is the pungent ingredient in chili peppers. It's the chemical that makes chili's actually burn when you eat them or have contact with them.

He has discovered Capsaicin activates only the pain fibers of our nerves. When it's combined with another drug, it creates a natural absence of pain and doesn't have any of the lasting side effects that today's anesthetics do.

"When you go to the dentist and get a shot of Xylocaine or Novocain, your mouth is totally numb and you begin to drool and your muscles are paralyzed again," Woolf said. "Our treatment would block the pain and avoid the numbness or the muscle paralysis."

Woolf says this makes the possibilities endless for treating pain. It could lead to quicker recoveries from surgeries, treating migraines and even allowing women to walk after childbirth.

Dr. Woolf said Capsaicin could be available as a cream soon. Also, he hopes to see Capsaicin manufactured in pill form within the next decade.