An animal study using rats showed that an ingredient from hot chili peppers placed in an anesthetic may offer more pain relief without causing complete loss of movement in the targeted areas. This anesthetic could possibly help relieve pain during childbirth, surgery or other painful situations than conventional anesthetics.
In a study that was published in Nature, researchers combined lidocaine with capsaicin, the ingredient that makes chili peppers hot. The anesthetic was injected into the paws of rats and their ability to sense pain from a heat source was measured. The rats were able to tolerate much more heat than what they normally could. Researchers then injected the anesthetic near the sciatic nerve of the rats and pricked their paws with nylon probes. The animals seemed to ignore the painful prick, but continued to move normally and responded to other stimuli.
Researchers are saying that this experimental anesthetic works by selectively blocking the nerve cells that sense pain without disrupting the nerve cells that control movement or sensations that are not painful. If the same results are achieved in human studies as they were in the animal studies, this method could be used in procedures ranging from knee surgery to tooth extractions.
According to researcher Clifford Woolf of Massachusetts General Hospital:
“Eventually this method could completely transform surgical and post-surgical analgesia, allowing patients to remain fully alert without experiencing pain or paralysis. In fact, the possibilities seem endless. I could even imagine using this method to treat itch, as itch-sensitive neurons fall into the same group as pain-sensing ones.”
Researchers believe this alternative anesthetic may also possibly lead to more effective chronic pain treatments besides uses for childbirth and surgery. Maybe there is more hope on the way for Fibromyalgia sufferers!