Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh
Airs Weekdays 2:43 and 3:43 a.m.

Pain-killing Spit

USAID Africa Bureau

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Have you ever wondered if Mom’s kissing a boo boo actually makes it better?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying:

Score one for mom . . . yes! At least, that’s according to researchers at the Pasteur Institute in Paris.

It turns out, human saliva contains a pain killer more powerful than morphine. Called Opiorphin, it works in the nerve cells of the spine. It prevents the destruction of enkephalins, natural chemicals that regulate the body’s response to pain.

In one study, when given to lab rats with chemically induced chronic paw pain, Opiorphin reduced pain as effectively as three times the amount of morphine! And when rats were made to walk on a platform of pins—ouch!—Opiorphin was six times more effective at blocking pain.

Opiorphin could spawn a new generation of natural pain killers without traditional drugs’ addictive side effects. Opiorphin even has some anti-depressant qualities.

But no—I thought that’s what dog saliva is for. You know? When your dog licks your face and oh you feel better! I mean, theoretically. If my dog did that.