“ Into the bowl in which their wine was mixed, she slipped a drug that had the power of robbing grief and anger of their sting and banishing all painful memories”
-Homer, the Odyssey
Morphine and other opiates have been used by humans since the earliest times. The poppy has been a powerful cultural symbol for hundreds or, even, thousands of years. When a chemical agent has ‘traveled’ with humans for such a long span of time it usually means it has strong evolutionary value. A fascinating study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests morphine has the power to blunt the emotional aftereffects of trauma in people who’ve been severely injured. …
It’s nearly school vacation time—and you’re probably making plans (or will, once your shopping is finished) for things that will keep the kids busy during their time off. Museums, concerts, playdates—whatever fills the days in a useful, educational way. Because you can’t leave the days blank, right?
Actually, you can. And sometimes leaving them blank is exactly what children (and families) need. …
Here’s a quick look at what Thrive was up to last week.
A son tells his story of how he got to know his father because of advances in epilepsy medication. More and more teens are infected with STDs. Uninsured trauma victims are more likely to die of their injuries. Is there a rise of violence in girls’ sports? Massachusetts takes action on school bullying. The HealthMap team gives its weekly H1N1 update. Children’s Claire McCarthy, MD, talks about how childhood stress can lead to adult depression. Our Mediatrician puts Michael Jackson’s dance moves in perspective and we get a firsthand account of how Thrive editor Matt Cyr and his family survived the swine flu.
Childhood should be a happy time, not a stressful time—that’s something everyone can agree on. But for many children, childhood is very stressful. Family tragedy, natural disasters, poverty, abuse or exposure to violence (in the home, in the community, or when the country is at war) are just a few examples of what can turn childhood from a dream into a nightmare.
This is terrible for children. It’s not just a matter of robbing them of happiness; more and more research is showing that stress early in life can actually change the way a child’s brain works—for life.
A study in the journal Nature Neuroscience this month helps us understand why. Researchers stressed baby mice (by separating them from their mothers daily for the first 10 days of life). The mice that had this early life stress behaved quite differently from mice that didn’t. They showed signs of anxiety and had trouble learning—even a year later. The researchers tied this to a change in a gene that caused increased production of a certain brain chemical (arginine vasopressin). This in turn led to increased production of corticosteroids, a stress hormone, and to disruption in the parts of the brain that control mood and learning. …