Saturday, May 5, 2012
Hot and Cold Don't Easily Penetrate the Skin
Athletic trainers commonly apply hot and cold packs to avoid swelling and inflammation from injuries, and they are always discussing the virtues of various hot/cold regimens. They ignore the extraordinary efficiency of the circulatory system in regulating tissue temperatures and avoiding temperature changes. They also ignore the fact that chemical "hot and cold" salves and ointments are effective without actually changing the temperature of the skin. The essential observation is that triggering hot and cold sensing nerves is more important than changing the temperature of the damaged tissues.
Common Food Molecules Activate Hot/Cold Nerve Receptors
Peppers are hot, because they contain capsaicin that binds to protein receptors on nerves in the skin, which results in the brain sensation of heat. Camphor and castor oil bind to the same receptors. Menthol binds to corresponding cold receptors. Vicks Vaporub has both menthol and camphor, and therefore stimulates both hot and cold sensors. Vicks is also an effective treatment for tissue inflammation.
Vicks and Castor Oil are Effective Treatments for Pain and Inflammation
A bee sting or a burn on a finger will produce reddening, swelling and pain, that can be quickly alleviated by applying Vicks to the wrist. The hot and cold sensors of the wrist would be stimulated and the returning nerve signals would be generally detected in the whole hand and produce endorphins that would calm the inflammation and sooth the injured finger. In a similar way, an inflamed joint can be treated by topical menthol and castor oil, and lower abdominal discomfort can be alleviated by castor oil applied to the belly.
Tendonitis can be Treated with Peppermint Soap
I have treated a persistent tendonitis in my shoulder by applying Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap liberally to my shoulder and waiting a few minutes before continuing my shower. This gentle, persistent treatment produced relief within a week. This was a cure for this persistent inflammation and pain. It also works on joints.
What Dr. Oz needs to communicate is that there are simple ways to stimulate hot/cold receptors that have nothing to do with changing the temperature of deeper tissues, but these treatments are very effective in stimulating general endorphin production that reduces troublesome inflammation and pain. As an addendum, vagal stimulation, i.e. through yoga postures such as shavasana or the Valsalva maneuver, can produce a reduction in general inflammation.