fbpx

Old Drugs Get New Uses In Fighting Critical-Incident Trauma, Researchers Say

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

In recent years, much of the focus for treating post-traumatic stress disorder has centered on traditional “talk therapy” and newer abatement techniques like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Now the latest research seems to be expanding an emerging frontier that involves unexpected mind-impacting drugs.

Several physicians who specialize in pain management, for example, are reporting success in treating PTSD with injections of a local anesthetic called bupivacaine, more commonly used as an epidural anesthetic during childbirth.

This treatment, called a “stellate ganglion block” (SGB), has traditionally been used for decades to relieve arm and facial pain. Injections are made next to a collection of nerves in the neck during a procedure that usually takes about 10 minutes.

According to functional MRI readings, the drug, in addition to relieving physical pain, also affects the part of the brain that is active during fear and other traumatic emotions, causing changes that quickly and significantly relieve anxiety, according to Dr. Eugene Lipov, a Chicago-area anesthesiologist and researcher who has pioneered this treatment for PTSD.

“We can see and measure the physiologic changes that occur,” Lipov explains. “These MRIs are telling us that the cause of PTSD is physical in nature, and not simply a psychological condition.”

He believes that trauma “leads to an increase in nerve growth”—a “sprouting of sympathetic nerves”—that in turn causes increased production of adrenaline, resulting in increased anxiety. “A block placed next to the stellate ganglion leads to a decrease in nerve growth factor and a reversal of PTSD symptoms,” he says.

Among patients he has treated successfully, he reports, is a young woman who was accosted outside a movie theater by 2 would-be robbers who tried to force her and a companion into a car at gunpoint. A passing squad car scared them off and the woman was not physically harmed. She was, however, left with persistent “extreme anxiety,” panic attacks, and irrational, “paralyzing” fear. Diagnosed with PTSD, she gained 60 pounds, at times became “house-trapped,” and eventually flunked out of college.

Injections from Lipov, she says, relieved her PTSD symptoms and restored her sense of control over her life. She is now confidently enrolled in nursing school for the fall.

Dr. Paul Lynch, co-founder of Arizona Pain Specialists in the Phoenix area, says his use of the SGB procedure on PTSD sufferers has “an effect similar to antidepressants.

It’s like rebooting the brain.” And Dr. Sean Mulvaney of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland reports that “unlike conventional treatments for PTSD, SGB appears to provide results almost immediately.”

He cites 2 patients: one a 36-year-old male on active duty in Iraq whose symptoms began after the battle of Fallujah, the other, a 46-year-old military retiree, whose emotional troubles dated back nearly 2 decades to the first Gulf War. Both had reacted negatively to psychiatric medications but “experienced immediate, significant, and durable relief” from the SGB procedure.

Federal funding is now being sought for further investigation. Meanwhile, Dr. Lipov is seeking Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are suffering from PTSD to participate in a study he is getting underway. Interested parties can call 847-608-6620.

Elsewhere, Dr. Alain Brunet, associate professor of psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal, who has been involved in PTSD research for more than 15 years, is concentrating now on the effects of an old hypertension medication, propranolol, on trauma disorder.

With Dr. Roger Pitman of Harvard Medical School, Brunet treated a man who developed PTSD symptoms after being smashed on the head with a gun butt during a life-threatening bank robbery. As his symptoms worsened, this victim abandoned hobbies, broke up with a romantic partner, and “felt unsafe whenever he went outside” his house.

The man was told to write a detailed account of the incident. Then during a treatment session, he would re-read the narrative after being given propranolol, which can reduce common symptoms of fear, including a speeded-up heart rate and profuse sweating.

By the fifth treatment, Brunet says, the subject reported feeling “remote” when reading the script rather than highly anxious, emotional, and fearful. Now, 2 years later, he says he remembers the robbery experience but the symptoms of fear and trauma associated with it have not returned.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal by science writer Shirley Wang, the propranolol therapy is tied to the way current researchers think memories are stored in the brain. Many scientists believe that “memories are stored like individual files on a shelf,” Wang writes. “[E]ach time they are brought down for viewing, they can be altered before being put back into storage. Altering a memory during the time it is off the shelf can create an updated memory that can be saved in place of the old one.”

Propranolol treatment “involves thinking about one’s trauma under the influence of the drug,” explains a report from McGill University. “Propranolol works by partly blocking the emotional component of the trauma memory from being saved again into long-term memory storage while leaving other components of the memory intact.”

Brunet, too, has additional research in progress.

Leave a Reply

GDPR

  • Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy

Effective date: January 06, 2019

Force Science Institute, Ltd. (“us”, “we”, or “our”) operates the https://www.forcescience.org/ website (hereinafter referred to as the “Service”).

This page informs you of our policies regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of personal data when you use our Service and the choices you have associated with that data. Our Privacy Policy for Force Science Institute, Ltd. is based on the Privacy Policy Template from Privacy Policies.

We use your data to provide and improve the Service. By using the Service, you agree to the collection and use of information in accordance with this policy. Unless otherwise defined in this Privacy Policy, the terms used in this Privacy Policy have the same meanings as in our Terms and Conditions, accessible from https://www.forcescience.org/

Information Collection And Use

We collect several different types of information for various purposes to provide and improve our Service to you.

Types of Data Collected

Personal Data

While using our Service, we may ask you to provide us with certain personally identifiable information that can be used to contact or identify you (“Personal Data”). Personally identifiable information may include, but is not limited to:

  • Email address
  • First name and last name
  • Phone number
  • Address, State, Province, ZIP/Postal code, City
  • Cookies and Usage Data

Usage Data

We may also collect information on how the Service is accessed and used (“Usage Data”). This Usage Data may include information such as your computer’s Internet Protocol address (e.g. IP address), browser type, browser version, the pages of our Service that you visit, the time and date of your visit, the time spent on those pages, unique device identifiers and other diagnostic data.

Tracking & Cookies Data

We use cookies and similar tracking technologies to track the activity on our Service and hold certain information.

Cookies are files with small amount of data which may include an anonymous unique identifier. Cookies are sent to your browser from a website and stored on your device. Tracking technologies also used are beacons, tags, and scripts to collect and track information and to improve and analyze our Service.

You can instruct your browser to refuse all cookies or to indicate when a cookie is being sent. However, if you do not accept cookies, you may not be able to use some portions of our Service. You can learn more how to manage cookies in the Browser Cookies Guide.

Examples of Cookies we use:

  • Session Cookies. We use Session Cookies to operate our Service.
  • Preference Cookies. We use Preference Cookies to remember your preferences and various settings.
  • Security Cookies. We use Security Cookies for security purposes.

Use of Data

Force Science Institute, Ltd. uses the collected data for various purposes:

  • To provide and maintain the Service
  • To notify you about changes to our Service
  • To allow you to participate in interactive features of our Service when you choose to do so
  • To provide customer care and support
  • To provide analysis or valuable information so that we can improve the Service
  • To monitor the usage of the Service
  • To detect, prevent and address technical issues

Transfer Of Data

Your information, including Personal Data, may be transferred to — and maintained on — computers located outside of your state, province, country or other governmental jurisdiction where the data protection laws may differ than those from your jurisdiction.

If you are located outside United States and choose to provide information to us, please note that we transfer the data, including Personal Data, to United States and process it there.

Your consent to this Privacy Policy followed by your submission of such information represents your agreement to that transfer.

Force Science Institute, Ltd. will take all steps reasonably necessary to ensure that your data is treated securely and in accordance with this Privacy Policy and no transfer of your Personal Data will take place to an organization or a country unless there are adequate controls in place including the security of your data and other personal information.

Disclosure Of Data

Legal Requirements

Force Science Institute, Ltd. may disclose your Personal Data in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to:

  • To comply with a legal obligation
  • To protect and defend the rights or property of Force Science Institute, Ltd.
  • To prevent or investigate possible wrongdoing in connection with the Service
  • To protect the personal safety of users of the Service or the public
  • To protect against legal liability

Security Of Data

The security of your data is important to us, but remember that no method of transmission over the Internet, or method of electronic storage is 100% secure. While we strive to use commercially acceptable means to protect your Personal Data, we cannot guarantee its absolute security.

Service Providers

We may employ third party companies and individuals to facilitate our Service (“Service Providers”), to provide the Service on our behalf, to perform Service-related services or to assist us in analyzing how our Service is used.

These third parties have access to your Personal Data only to perform these tasks on our behalf and are obligated not to disclose or use it for any other purpose.

Analytics

We may use third-party Service Providers to monitor and analyze the use of our Service.

  • Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Google uses the data collected to track and monitor the use of our Service. This data is shared with other Google services. Google may use the collected data to contextualize and personalize the ads of its own advertising network.You can opt-out of having made your activity on the Service available to Google Analytics by installing the Google Analytics opt-out browser add-on. The add-on prevents the Google Analytics JavaScript (ga.js, analytics.js, and dc.js) from sharing information with Google Analytics about visits activity.For more information on the privacy practices of Google, please visit the Google Privacy & Terms web page: https://policies.google.com/privacy?hl=en

Links To Other Sites

Our Service may contain links to other sites that are not operated by us. If you click on a third party link, you will be directed to that third party’s site. We strongly advise you to review the Privacy Policy of every site you visit.

We have no control over and assume no responsibility for the content, privacy policies or practices of any third party sites or services.

Children’s Privacy

Our Service does not address anyone under the age of 18 (“Children”).

We do not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from anyone under the age of 18. If you are a parent or guardian and you are aware that your Children has provided us with Personal Data, please contact us. If we become aware that we have collected Personal Data from children without verification of parental consent, we take steps to remove that information from our servers.

Changes To This Privacy Policy

We may update our Privacy Policy from time to time. We will notify you of any changes by posting the new Privacy Policy on this page.

We will let you know via email and/or a prominent notice on our Service, prior to the change becoming effective and update the “effective date” at the top of this Privacy Policy.

You are advised to review this Privacy Policy periodically for any changes. Changes to this Privacy Policy are effective when they are posted on this page.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, please contact us:

  • By email: support@forcescience.org
  • By visiting this page on our website: https://www.forcescience.org/contact
  • By phone number: 866-683-1944
  • By mail: Force Science Institute, Ltd.