Sunday, June 22, 2008

Medicines and us.

Last year, i experienced the worst tooth-ache of my lifetime. I was at work and bearing it while working was an unforgettable ordeal . The pain was so much, that i was only semi-conscious. Generally, i do not go for a painkiller unless the situation goes too bad. That day, i finally took a Combiflam, and within a few minutes the pain subsided. This is magic!, i thought.

Then arose a curious question: How did the medicine know that i was having a tooth-ache ? What if i would have had a muscle pain ? Would it have worked ? Is the medicine 'intelligent' enough to go where it is needed, or is it our brain that redirects the medicinal chemicals to where they would be beneficial ?

Both of the options did not seem very feasible. It was something else, and in this case, it was not difficult to guess - the medicine probably goes everywhere. Although, i did not and do still not know much about medical science, this option seemed simple and logical. If this is the case, then a single painkiller should be able to reduce pain at different places in the body. This is a common experience. Many pain killers are documented to reduce 'body pain' in general, and are not targeted at pain in specific organs.

If we apply the same principle - the principle that, medicines spread all inside the body - to all kinds of medicines(not just pain killlers), then we come to a rather surprising and significant conclusion. If it works this way then, theoretically at least, there can be no drug in the world, without a side effect! Side effects as i understand are, nothing but effects produced by chemicals going where they are not supposed to go. But, if the medicine goes everywhere, side effects are inevitable. Then, how can any body promise 'side effects free' drugs ? May it be alopathy or ayurvedic or homoepathy(this might not have side effects at all, but does it have an effect in the first place? more on it sometime later...) , there ought to be some side effect.

Of course, all of the above applies to medicines administered interally i.e tabs, capsules, syrups etc. Locally administered drugs for eg. pain relief sprays, or balms or injections can have targeted effects, although i'm not 100% sure about their spread. The best way to avoid side effects would be to send nano-robots into our body and deliver medicines only where they are needed B-) Something of this sort was shown in a movie i'd seen a long time back. AFAIR, they do not have nano-things, but by using some technology they shrink humans down to a tiny size and send them into the blood stream in a (tiny)submarine or something :) It was a nice watch. Unfortunately, i do not remember the name of the movie right now.

Hopefully, we will have some technology developed in the coming future and we would have 'side effects free' drugs...

P.S: I'm not from the medical profession, all of the above is just a hypothesis of mine. Comments welcome. Corrections more than welcome!

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Unknown said...

Hey I have also been thinking about this. Here is an interesting link
which talks about this.

I get your point about side effects,
but I don't think I completely agree
with it :)


Pranav said...

That is a nice link. I totally forgot about drugs clinging to opioid and other receptors! They shouldn't create side effects like the way drugs altering PG concentration should, although they have their own problems like addiction and withdrawal syndromes..