Science!: Please Feed the Bears!

Lauren Admire | 3 May 2010 21:00

Make Your Own Morphine

You don't need to be in horrific pain or make an appointment to get your wisdom teeth out to get a shot of morphine. Your body might just be able to make it itself.

There are two main reasons why scientists believe we could produce morphine: We have natural opiate receptors in our brains, and traces of the drug often show up in our urine. It's unclear exactly how traces end up in our urine, but some scientists believe that it's due to contamination from external sources, and not a result of natural creation.

This time, researchers injected mice with tetrahydropapaveroline (THP), a chemical found in brain cells. This chemical is also used to create morphine, and researchers were hoping for some sort of link between the two. They were onto something. The mice began to convert THP into salutaridine, the same chemical that poppy plants eventually convert into morphine. If mice can convert THP into salutaradine, it's possible that they continue the process and eventually convert salutaradine into morphine. , it's possible that they can continue with the conversions to eventually produce morphine.

If humans could produce their own morphine, it's possible we could control or alleviate our own pain. Can you imagine heading to the dentist for a filling, refusing the Novocain, stating "Nah, I'll just produce my own, give me a second?"

Source: Discover


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