Long-term pain can lay siege on the victim's disposition and way of life, a new study on rats has shown that sensations of coolness can act as an effective pain reliever. Scientists from the University of Edinburgh have figured out the chemicals that enable feelings of coolness, and bring immense relief to chronic pain.
This could pave the way for improved treatment measures for people suffering long-term pain, as compared to the present ones that demand long-term usage of painkillers, which are not without side effects.
Scientists probed into the pain killing traits of a chemical called icilin, which resembles menthol. Rats with pain in one of their feet were observed. The researchers observed that when the rats were administered with icilin, they were able to bear with any amount of pressure on the troubled paw. The scientists traced the pain relief to the activation of a protein called TRPM8, present in the skin, which effectively transmits the cooling sensation.
The scientists remarked: 'We have found that if you can selectively activate the TRPM8 receptor, then you have a chance of suppressing other sensory inputs coming into the nervous system that are carrying pain information. We found a very specific mechanism which means that this careful chemical-induced cooling can give pain relief to people with chronic pain - it does not affect normal pain. One of the exciting things about icilin is that it can be used in minute concentrations and it is sufficient to just paint it on the surface of the skin where the pain is to cause a painkilling effect that could last for hours afterwards.'