Accident On The Trail? Science, Nature To The Rescue

On the trail, adventure travelers know the importance of basic first-aid skills when thousands of feet up on a climb, camped miles from nowhere or hiking off the beaten path where a call to 911 brings help. When an emergency happens, knowing what to do can mean the difference between life and death.

New research done at the University of Michigan, Harvard University and the City University of New York indicate that brain stimulation releases an opiate-like pain killer. Using electricity on certain regions in the brain of a patient with severe pain, scientists were able to release one of the body’s most powerful painkillers.

Hikers, campers, climbers and others commonly off the grid when traveling, might find this ability useful when an accident happens. Waiting for first-responders to arrive with help can be a very long time when in severe pain.

A natural substance produced by the brain that alters pain perception, called mu-opioid receptors (MOR’s), is the hero here.

“This is arguably the main resource in the brain to reduce pain,” said Alexandre DaSilva, assistant professor of biologic and materials sciences at the U-M School of Dentistry and director of the school’s Headache & Orofacial Pain Effort Lab in Laboratory Equipment.”We’re stimulating the release of our [body’s] own resources to provide analgesia,” adds DaSilva. “Instead of giving more pharmaceutical opiates, we are directly targeting and activating the same areas in the brain on which they work. [Therefore], we can increase the power of this pain-killing effect and even decrease the use of opiates in general, and consequently avoid their side effects, including addiction.”

Looking for other natural painkillers may not require waiting for science to arrive at our favorite gear store though. In this video, Kate Armstrong, The Urban Forager, shares how to find a natural pain killer from nature.

[Photo Credit- Flickr user iwona_kellie]