High Off Life: The many hidden properties of Saliva.

I have often wondered why animals lick their wounds. Saliva contains a myriad of chemicals that most of us aren’t even aware of.

Image result for bacterial cell diagram
Firstly there is an enzyme called Lysozyme. This is capable of destroying bacteria which enter our mouth, by breaking down the cell wall that surrounds the bacteria. These cell walls are made of a material called peptidoglycan, which is a polysaccharide (long sugar chains). This enzyme can cut the sugar chains, which weakens the wall, causing the bacteria to burst (‘lyse’) and die.

Another incredible chemical is opiorphin, which is six times more potent at blocking pain than morphine! Another reason why animals lick their wounds.

Fact: Human saliva contains a painkiller more powerful than heroin.

Turns out you don’t need a snake bite to get high: human saliva contains a compound – called opiorphin – which were found to be 6 times more potent at blocking pain than morphine.

This compound is not itself an opiod, but chemically inhibits a number of enzymes in the body which are responsible for the breakdown of enkephalins. Enkephalins are a range of compounds similar to morphine which are released as part of the body’s natural response to pain and block the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Thus, a build up these compounds, driven by the action of opiorphin, has a similar effect to that of morphine.

General consensus is that opiorphin is unlikely to be important in blocking pain in normal life, since pain is an essential danger signal for the body to direct responses, but that doesn’t stop us using it as a painkiller in therapy or as an excuse to pull five times in one night.

‘Another one of Mr Shaunak’s Little Bites of Science’
Image under Creative Commons license, taken from https://www.flickr.com/photos/andresrueda/1674592379

https://bitesofscienceblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/08/part-2-high-off-life/

Mr Shaunak's Little Bites of Science

Fact: Human saliva contains a painkiller more powerful than heroin.

Turns out you don’t need a snake bite to get high: human saliva contains a compound – called opiorphin – which were found to be 6 times more potent at blocking pain than morphine.

This compound is not itself an opiod, but chemically inhibits a number of enzymes in the body which are responsible for the breakdown of enkephalins. Enkephalins are a range of compounds similar to morphine which are released as part of the body’s natural response to pain and block the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Thus, a build up these compounds, driven by the action of opiorphin, has a similar effect to that of morphine.

General consensus is that opiorphin is unlikely to be important in blocking pain in normal life, since pain is an essential danger signal for the body to direct responses, but that doesn’t stop us…

View original post 34 more words

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s