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Electric stimulation of brain releases powerful, opiate-like painkiller
Date:1/2/2013

ower of this pain-killing effect and even decrease the use of opiates in general, and consequently avoid their side effects, including addiction."

Most pharmaceutical opiates, especially morphine, target the mu-opioid receptors in the brain, DaSilva says.

The dose of electricity is very small, he says. Consider that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which is used to treat depression and other psychiatric conditions, uses amperage in the brain ranging from 200 to 1600 milliamperes (mA). The tDCS protocol used in DaSilva's study delivered 2 mA, considerably lower than ECT.

Just one session immediately improved the patient's threshold for cold pain by 36 percent, but not the patient's clinical, TNP/facial pain. This suggests that repetitive electrical stimulation over several sessions are required to have a lasting effect on clinical pain as shown in their previous migraine study, DaSilva says.

The manuscript appears in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry. The group just completed another study with more subjects, and the initial results seem to confirm the findings above, but further analysis is necessary.

Next, researchers will investigate long-term effects of electric stimulation on the brain and find specific targets in the brain that may be more effective depending on the pain condition and patients' status. For example, the frontal areas may be more helpful for chronic pain patients with depression symptoms.


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Contact: Laura Bailey
baileylm@umich.edu
734-647-1848
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

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