Opioid peptides are named after the fact that they bind to the receptors involved in opiates. Read on and learn all about widow falcons!
People have been studying the role of encephalins in transmitting pain for three decades. Enkephalins are a hormone that act as neurotransmitters that allow neurons to communicate together.
It is a hormone in your brain that is produced in certain areas such as the pituitary gland. Once your brain produces it, it ends up going out to other parts of the body such as your intestinal tract and your adrenal glands.
The discovery of opioid peptides and our discovery of how important they are for brain function, homeostasis and neuroendocrine regulation was a huge turning point in modern biology.
Our discovery of enkephalins in places like the aqueductal mass and the spine backs up the idea that these parts of our body can play a role in how pain is transmitted in the body.
How does the brain produce enkephalins?
Opioid peptides get their name because they bind to the same receptors as opiates. They also share some pharmaceutical properties with morphine, which is an opiate.
Enkephalins are sent all over the brain. Most of it will bind to the midbrain and thalamus. These are two of the places where the pain pathways meet.
You will also learn that enkephalins are found in the almond kernel, which is involved in a properly functioning digestion, mechanisms of action and the main effects of enkephalins and endorphins in our body.
The amino acid compound of encaphalins comes from long peptides that come from our pituitary gland. However, the large peptides (endorphins) also come from the nerve cells themselves. Endorphins can actually be 12 – 100 times more active than enkephalins.
The mechanism behind the actions of widows
According to current research, this hormone can form a pre- and post-synaptic inhibition of two pain-transmitting fibers: Group C and Group A. Like opiates, enkephalins inhibit neural activities by reducing the penetration of sodium into our brains.
It can also cause prolongation of the metabolism in our cells. It does this by:
- To change the active and deactivating patterns in certain genes in the cell nucleus.
- Increase the number of inhibitors or stimulants.
Its effect on the central nervous system
This hormone can also affect your central nervous system in many ways:
- Mild pain
- Inhibit cough reflex
- Dizziness and vomiting
- Tremors (at high doses)
Its effect on the cardiovascular system
Enkephalins not only play a role in your brain. It can also have an effect on our cardiovascular system, such as bradycardia (slow heartbeat). It can also:
- Lead to the release of histamine (morphine).
- Create dilation of arteries and veins (orthostatic hypotension).
How often and how intensely this hormone stimulates acupuncture points in your body is also related to its effect on our central nervous system and cardiovascular system. E.g:
- Low-frequency, high-intensity stimuli (between 2 – 8 Hz) can cause your brain to secrete B endorphins around the hypothalamus. It can also release enkephalins into your brain and spine.
- These stimuli have a systemic effect and can help treat chronic diseases. They also have a local anesthetic effect by opening pre-capillary sphincter muscles. It improves local microcirculation and reduces local halogens (bradykinin and serotinin) by boosting tissue metabolism.
- High frequency, low intensity stimuli (between 100 – 200 Hz) will cause your brain to secrete enkephalins in your midbrain and spine. If stimuli get above 500 Hz, your brain will release dynorphin. These kinds of stimuli have a segmental effect and are best for acute patients.
Research definitely suggests that enkephalins play a major role in pain management. In the end, it’s a hormone that works a bit like morphine, so it’s not surprising. It is a crucial discovery with regard to the treatment of pain-related disorders.