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Your Brain on FoodHow Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings$
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Gary Wenk

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195388541

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195388541.001.0001

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Remnants of an Ancient Past

Remnants of an Ancient Past

(p.131) chapter 8 Remnants of an Ancient Past
Your Brain on Food

Gary L. Wenk

Oxford University Press

A neuropeptide is similar to a string of beads with each bead being an amino acid. Your brain uses many neuropeptides for quite different purposes. One of the best studied groups of these controls the experience of pain and pleasure; these are called endogenous opiates because they act like opium and morphine in the brain. Similar pain-relieving neuropeptides are also found in common foods, including milk, eggs, grains such as rice and wheat, mushrooms, pumpkin, herring, and salmon. Pain relief can also be achieved by a completely different method, the inhibition of the production of a group of neurotransmitters called prostaglandins. Aspirin and ibuprofen relieve your pain and reduce your fever by blocking the synthesis of prostaglandins; they effectively reduce the transmission of pain signals. Frankincense can also reduce inflammation with an action similar to aspirin while myrrh may act more similar to morphine in the brain to reduce post-partum pain.

Keywords:   hydra, neuropeptide, morphine, opium, heroin, poppy plants, Wizard of Oz, beta-caseomorphine, pain, prostaglandins

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