Helping others is a way of life; TRP channels

“Whenever we see something which could be done to bring benefit to others, no matter how small, then we should do it.” — Tai Situ Rinpoche

(SamyeLing.org)

Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.

Notes & links for TRP channel enthusiasts, on chronic pain, gender differences with migraine, IBS/colitis, and the role of magnesium and TRP channels in fetal development:

The condensed version – women are more prone to migraines then men possibly due to a protective effective of testosterone. Estrogen may increase or decrease risk of migraine depending on amounts/balance with progesterone. Either way, magnesium deficiency can increase chronic pain and other TRP channel problems because it is a mineral that helps keep them closed – they are like gates in the cell membrane.

Magnesium deficiency in very early stages of pregnancy or conception can have a negative impact on development of the embryo which can cause problems with physical and/or brain growth which can affect the infant throughout life. Pumpkin seeds has been the short answer I’ve given for years (post) – they are a good source of magnesium and many other nutrients, about one to two ounces, 2-4 tablespoons per day is a healthy serving. Like many things in life too much regularly may not be as healthy. Epsom salt baths are a topical source of magnesium and sulfate which would bypass any problems with digestion making it a good source for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome or colitis, both of which can be problems linked to overactive TRP channels. (More about magnesium sources.)

Stress can be a cause of overactive TRP channels in addition to the risk of changes occurring during early conception/embryological development.

Other triggers for TRP channels include hot pepper (capsaicin), vitamin D/ and curcumin (a vitamin D analog) a phytonutrient found in turmeric, the yellow spice used in curry powder, ginger, horseradish; volatile chemicals such as formaldehyde, gasoline fumes, cigarette smoke, ammonia; very cold temperatures or very hot temperatures; increased pressure such as might occur during carnival rides or from overeating a large meal or gassy meals with large servings of raw vegetables such as cabbage or broccoli. Cinnamon, mint, vanilla can also activate some types of TRP channels – there is a large variety of TRP channels and they don’t all react to the same triggers and not all types are found in the same organ systems within the body so migraines and bowel troubles may not share the same triggers, but having a place to start can be helpful instead of feeling that everything you eat or do might be a problem.

Interesting hot pepper trivia: “Although both sexes showed sensitivity to capsaicin, males required a four-fold higher dose of capsaicin than females for a similar response (Lu et al., 2009)” (ref 2)

Quotes from an excerpt of ref 1,
(https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Involvement-of-TRP-channels-in-stress-TRPV1-a-member-of-TRP-channel-is-present-in_fig2_234019431) )
Importance of TRP channels in pain:

  • Implications for stress, causal or strong correlation: “altered expression, function and/or regulation of TRPs are key changes which induce patho-physiological conditions like stress, neuropathic pain and cancer.”  
  • “TRPM2 and TRPV4 are involved in oxidative stress- induced cell death of hippocampal neurons (121).” – the hippocampus is an area involved in short term memory and is damaged early in Alzheimer’s disease.
  • “several TRPs can also be activated by estrogen, endrogen, testosterone, cortisol and many other steroids (Table 1)”– so stress could increase TRP channel activity due to inc levels of cortisol. /Speculation: Estrogen mimetics might also be over activating TRP channels./
  • Overactivating TRP channels can also cause IBS symptoms: “over-stimulation of TRPs leads to an influx of excess Ca 2+ which is generally associated with the cell death (126)”
  • “TRPV1 regulates food absorption, emesis, colitis and also regulates the gut – brain axis mainly by responding to endovanilloids and endocannabinoids (132-133).” – colitis is a more severe bowel condition than IBS, has similarities in symptoms though

Re reference 2:
Migraines are 3 times more likely to be a problem for women than men and it may be due to the sex hormone’s ability to activate TRPV1 channels https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6102492/ … this info may help with developing more targeted treatments.
“migraineur women exhibited a thicker posterior insula and precuneus cortices compared to male migraineurs & the healthy controls of both sexes (Maleki et al., 2012)”
Testosterone may help protect men from migraines or as severe a migraine if they do have one. It helps modulate activity of TRPM8 channels. Over expression of TRPM8 channels “by a testosterone-mediated mechanism” is seen in prostate cancer.

Re reference 3:
Genetic differences in gene for TRPM8 channels (transient receptor potential melastatin 8) have been identified that are more common in people w migraine sensitivity. They are activated by cold temperatures and/or menthol (mint).

Re reference 4:
TRPM6 & TRPM7 channels and magnesium are known to be critical in embryological development, inc pigmentation/melanin. Mg deficiency during pregnancy can cause significant problems.
TRPM7 & magnesium also critical for dopaminergic cells/Parkinson’s disease. other embryo dev differences w Mg deficiency were seen in the gut & spine (less straight). – a review: TRPM Channels and Magnesium in Early Embryonic Development (4)

TRP channels may become overly active from stress or during fetal development. The symptoms can be difficult to notice a pattern of triggers because the TRP channels have many different ways of being activated. See the G3 excerpt in this document for more details, Child Trauma, Possible Relationship or Chronic Physical Symptoms as an Adult – or for a more condensed version see the graphic below.


“If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” ~ Blaise Pascal

(QuoteInvestigator)
Things that may overstimulate TRP channels.

“Well begun is half done.” – Aristotle

Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. It is not intended to provide individual health care guidance. Please seek a health care professional for individualized health care guidance.

References:

  1. Kumar, Ashutosh & Goswami, Luna & Goswami, Chandan. (2013). Importance of TRP channels in pain: Implications for stress. Frontiers in bioscience (Scholar edition). S5. 19-38. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234019431_Importance_of_TRP_channels_in_pain_Implications_for_stress
  2. Artero-Morales M, González-Rodríguez S, Ferrer-Montiel A. TRP Channels as Potential Targets for Sex-Related Differences in Migraine Pain. Front Mol Biosci. 2018;5:73. Published 2018 Aug 14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6102492/doi:10.3389/fmolb.2018.00073 Interesting hot pepper trivia: “Although both sexes showed sensitivity to capsaicin, males required a four-fold higher dose of capsaicin than females for a similar response (Lu et al., 2009)
  3. Dussor G, Cao YQ. TRPM8 and Migraine. Headache. 2016;56(9):1406-1417. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5335856/
  4. Komiya Y, Runnels LW. TRPM channels and magnesium in early embryonic development. Int J Dev Biol. 2015;59(7-9):281-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4685952/

Migraines, TRP channels and cinnamon

Cinnamon, may help people with diabetes have better blood sugar control, (about 1/2 teaspoon per day which is quite a bit, try it stirred into hot breakfast cereal perhaps), however for people with a tendency to have migraines it may be a cause or become a cause if eaten regularly. Migraines can become more sensitized to things after long term use or certain chemicals can be triggers possibly due to overactivity of TRP ion channels. 

Cinnamon contains the phytonutrient cinnamaldehyde which can activate TRPA1 channels.  Environmental chemicals may also be irritants that can cause migraines due to activation of TRPA1 channels; including “environmental irritants and industry pollutants, such as acetaldehyde, formalin,(formaldehyde), hydrogen peroxide, hypochlorite, isocyanates, ozone, carbon dioxide, ultraviolet light, and acrolein (a highly reactive α,β-unsatured aldehyde present in tear gas, cigarette smoke, smoke from burning vegetation, and vehicle exhaust) [3745]” (1) Older computer monitors may emit ultraviolet light but not modern laptops or smartphones. They do emit bluelight which may inhibit sleep. (2)

In the last post I mentioned that wearing blue light blocking glasses in the evening for any screen time. It has been found helpful to prevent sleep difficulties to wear them during the three hours prior to trying to go to sleep. The blue light blocking glasses are not needed for use throughout the day however. Eyestrain from a long day working with a light screen may cause dry itchy eyes and eyedrops for moisture and taking occasional breaks may help prevent that problem. Read more: (4).

The tip about keeping gel packs in the freezer for use as a cold compress for the forehead that I mentioned for insomnia in the last post is something that I have found helpful in the past for migraines. I tried it recently for insomnia after learning in the course about sleep and neurobiology that a “biothermal device” had been found helpful in sleep lab studies for patients with insomnia. (Sleep, Neurobiology, Medicine and Societycoursera.org)

The drawing suggested they had an electric blanket type compress size cooling device that laid over the forehead and slightly over the ear area, so a little bigger than a gel pack designed for sprained ankles. However a gel pack for sprained ankles is already at stores and electric cooling biothermal devices are not yet available to my knowledge. The point – my trial use with a freezer gel pack for insomnia was very helpful at slowing my thoughts and helping my body reach a relaxed state fairly quickly. I didn’t immediately go to sleep but it did seem to help. I’ve tried it several times now and one night got another out of the freezer when I was awake but sleepy in the middle of the night. 

Throughout the history of science discoveries there have been many researchers who try things for themselves or discover things because of their own health issues or a patient with a unique problem. Migraines are very painful and medication can be expensive and may lead to rebound headaches when used too often – if migraines last three days and you have one twice a week than how helpful can four migraine pills a month be? Proper references for citing other’s work is important and the gel pack idea is one I tried based on the biothermal device idea. A different research team found a cooling plastic cap helpful for insomnia, which also sounds like it is based on some sort of cooling electric blanket effect. (gizmodo) Pain hurts and insomnia can increase risks for hypertension, diabetes, epileptic seizures, and also migraines.

Cinnamon, tasty, but not for me, it causes migraines for me. Read labels if you suspect it might be a migraine trigger, it may be added to herbal tea in addition to baked goods or breakfast cereals. Food triggers for migraines generally cause symptoms for me the next day or within 8-12 hours or so. Chemical irritants such as ozone, formaldehyde, or pollutants in cigarette smoke that are inhaled may cause migraines sooner, within a few hours or less sometimes for me. Additional information here: Tips for Avoiding Migraine Triggers, WebMD, getting adequate sleep is one of the tips.

Regarding TRPA1 channels and trigeminal pain sensing neurons – lots more to read later: trigeminal pain sensing neurons TRPA1 channels Substance P .

History note: Substance P was one of the first neuropeptides/ brain proteins discovered and it was initially purified in powder form and so was called Substance P for powder. (Neuropeptide Substance P and the Immune Response)

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

  1. Benemei S, De Cesaris F, Fusi C, Rossi E, Lupi C, Geppetti P. TRPA1 and other TRP channels in migraine. The Journal of Headache and Pain. 2013;14(1):71. doi:10.1186/1129-2377-14-71. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3844362/
  2. Dustin Eves, Do Computer Screens Emit UV Light? techwalla.com, https://www.techwalla.com/articles/do-computer-screens-emit-uv-light
  3. Do Blue Light Blocking Glasses Really Work? 2018, nymag.com,     http://nymag.com/strategist/article/blue-light-blocking-glasses-work.html
  4. Tips for Avoiding Migraine Triggers, WebMD,   https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/avoiding-migraine-triggers#1

Duty to Warn

Duty to warn is phrase used in medical care regarding an ethical duty to warn patients or research participants or anyone at risk of the potential harm. My own health and my experience helping others has made me appreciate wellness and sharing what has helped or what can be harmful are things I feel ethically it is my duty to warn or inform anyone who might be interested. We are one – your pain is my pain and the Earth needs more health. It is hurting too.

Empathy – feeling emotionally connected can also feel painful, a short article discusses the idea of the pain that may occur with feeling compassion for other’s suffering:

The Agony of Being Connected to Everything in the Universe, (andrewboyd.com)

The words sympathy, empathy and compassion are used somewhat interchangeably however they can refer to slightly different things. In medical settings the care of patients can be affected positively or negatively by how the caregiver provides help. Research with patients receiving cancer treatment found that patients felt that empathy and compassion were beneficial while sympathy was perceived more negatively. Compassion was felt to be most beneficial by the patients. What is the difference? Sympathy seems to be regarded as pity-based remarks or attitude about the chronic illness that was offered without having been asked, with less of a feeling of being understood. Empathy may be closer to feeling emotionally understood and compassion included feelings that the caregiver was acting with love and kindness out of a altruistic – giving mindset. (3) The risks of rudeness in a medical setting and possible value of kindness is discussed in a review of a research study on rudeness in a neonatal clinic setting: A Message to you Rudy, about Rudeness, SGEM#227.

Feeling like there is a physical problem and being told that it must be hypochondria or mental illness is not as helpful as being told that a reason for the symptoms are unknown at this time. Chronic itch, chronic pain and other vague symptoms of inflammation may be labeled as psychosomatic instead of unknown cause. Overactive TRP channels can be involved in chronic itch and chronic pain and the variety of possible substances and other reasons for a flair up in symptoms can make it very difficult to notice the pattern. I would rather be told we don’t know what is causing your symptoms than to be told to see a talk therapist or to be prescribed medications for mental illness that may cause additional symptoms due to side effects. The following chart is something I created after noticing a pattern, a very complex pattern, in my own symptoms and researching what the connection might be —- TRP channels. Not all substances or factors would cause symptoms for all of the conditions or for all people with a certain type of condition, however they may in larger amounts, or they may when the symptomatic condition is in a more severe state of inflammation. In reading about patients with some types of chronic itch symptoms I could feel their itchiness and mental hurt when treated as just difficult patients with anxiety problems – anxiety other extreme itchiness perhaps.

More about chronic itch and inflammatory stress conditions is available within a longer page/chapter I wrote about G3:Relaxation & StressG3.5: Negative stress chemicals may cause symptoms like itching, migraines, pain or IBS. (effectivecare.info) Preeclampsia is a prenatal condition that can become life threatening for the woman and expected infant and it affects a significant percentage of pregnancies – more information about TRP channels and a physical position that might help reduce internal pressure on the channels is available in the section on G5: Preeclampsia & TRP Channels. It is a yoga style position that was recommended to reduce risk of a breech birth during my own pregnancies and I found it relaxing. (effectivecare.info) I feel a duty to warn – a duty to inform other expectant mothers about a simple strategy that might protect their infant from a potentially life-threatening condition.

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

  1. Shah SK, Hull SC, Spinner MA, et al. What Does the Duty to Warn Require? The American journal of bioethics : AJOB. 2013;13(10):62-63. doi:10.1080/15265161.2013.828528. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4816221/
  2. Andrew Boyd, The Agony of Being Connected to Everything in the Universe, andrewboyd.com http://andrewboyd.com/the-agony-of-being-connected-to-everything-in-the-universe/
  3. Sinclair S, Beamer K, Hack TF, et al. Sympathy, empathy, and compassion: A grounded theory study of palliative care patients’ understandings, experiences, and preferences. Palliative Medicine. 2017;31(5):437-447. doi:10.1177/0269216316663499.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5405806/
  4. Dr. Simon McCormick, SGEM #227: A Message to you Rudy, About Rudeness, Aug. 22, 2018, A Skeptic’s Guide to Emergency Medicine, http://thesgem.com/2018/09/sgem227-a-message-to-you-rudy-about-rudeness/