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Why The Next New Miracle Drug Still Won't Work

chronic pain medications

Possibly the worst part of living with any chronic condition is the optimism that the next new drug or injection will be the one that finally works. That finally gets you out of pain and gives you your life back. While optimism may be the only thing that's keeping you going it can be a losing game with conventional medicine. Hold on to your optimism, keep looking for new solutions because one is out there. Just know it won't be the next new miracle drug, and here is why.

The goal of pain relievers

The goal of pain relievers is to block the pain signal from reaching your brain. No matter how much pain something should cause, if the signal can't reach your brain you won't experience the sensation. Pain relievers are not designed to stop the source of your pain, to fix the actual problem. They are only capable of diminishing the pain signal. Not a great start.

What are pain receptors

There is a mechanism that you should be familiar with called the receptor-ligand mechanism. It is akin to a lock and key mechanism. A key by itself is useless. It is only of importance when it can open a lock. When the lock turns you can open the door.

The same principle is found all throughout your body. Ligands are all the molecules floating around your body: vitamins, minerals, hormones, toxins, etc. They don't do much floating around your body. They only do something when they bind to a receptor on one of your cells. All the cells in your body are covered in different receptors. Shaped in a way that they will only allow certain molecules to bind to them. Just like a lock should only allow one key to turn it.

Once a molecule binds to a receptor, then the magic happens. The receptor is the control tower that tells the cell what to do. Without it nothing would happen.

So pain receptors are locks on the surface of your cells. Waiting for a molecule to come along and bind to it so that it can send a pain signal to your brain.

How pain relievers work

Pharmaceutical drugs are designed to block pain receptors. They are like a key that slides into a lock but does not turn. As long as that key is in the lock, another key cannot be inserted to open the lock. So if the pain reliever is blocking a pain causing molecule from binding to the receptor, no pain signal is sent to the brain. A seemingly genius idea.

Why this is a losing battle.

There are an insane amount of pain receptors in your body. In order to block pain signals from reaching your brain you have to block every single one of those receptors. Otherwise you will feel pain. This requires taking higher doses of your medications in order to achieve this. The higher the dose, the higher the chance of side effects. Not great. Not to mention the fact that your body can create more pain receptors! The more pain receptors you try to block the more your body will make. This is a reason why people require increasing doses of their medications.

Remember that pain is not the problem, pain is just a symptom. Symptoms are your body's way of telling you that something is wrong. Believe it or not, your body is trying to help you by creating pain. It wants you to fix the actual problem and will keep alerting you until you do. With increased pain and changing symptoms. It does so by creating new pain receptors so that you continue to feel pain no matter how much medication you take.

There are also different kinds of pain receptors. They are not all the same. Your body has dozens, if not hundreds, of different receptors than can elicit a pain signal. Which means that in order to fully get out of pain with pharmaceuticals, you would have to block each different kind of receptor. A losing battle because pain medications are designed to only block one type of pain receptor. You essentially would need to take a different medication for each one of the dozens to hundreds of different pain receptors. Not ideal or possible since there are not drugs available for each individual pain receptor.


This is why the next new "miracle" drug won't be any different than what you've already tried. It is just more of the same. it may target a different pain receptor and give you some temporary relief, but at the end of the day, your body will just make more pain receptors and use different ones. Your body is trying to help you. It will keep creating different ways to keep you in pain until you fix the problem.

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