A team of Irish scientists have moved a step closer towards understanding how the body suppresses pain in times of great stress.

The team, from National University of Ireland in Galway, studied the bodies ability to suppress pain and fear during times of great stress, showing how the part of the brain known as the hippocampus plays a major role in suppressing pain during times of severe anxiety or fear. This is partly because of the release of 'marijuana-like substances' in the brain.


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The Irish scientists now believe a better understanding of this process may lead to the development of exciting new pain treatments.

'The body can suppress pain when under extreme stress, in part through the action of marijuana-like substances produced in the brain. What we have now identified for the first time, is that the brain's hippocampus is an important site of action of these endocannabinoids during the potent suppression of pain by fear,' Doctor David Finn, co-director of NUI Galway's Centre for Pain Research told Irish Health.

Finn added that the findings 'advance our fundamental understanding of the neurobiology of pain' and may lead to the identification of ‘new therapeutic targets for the treatment of pain and anxiety disorder.'

Details of these findings by the Irish research team are published in the journal Pain

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