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The wired human body
Imagine if you could take two zaps of electricity a day and be pain free. You could forget your pills and side effects. Farfetched? Maybe not. Dr. Kevin Tracey, a neurosurgeon, discovered that a chemical delivered to a patient’s brain for the purpose of reducing inflammation resulted in a reduction of inflammation in other parts of the body. Investigation led to the conclusion that the vagus nerve not only delivers messages to the brain when an inflammation or infection occurs but also sends electrical signals in the other direction. These signals dampen the production of inflammatory molecules. The process is called the inflammatory reflex.
In diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease the inflammatory reflex is dysfunctional, and expensive drugs are prescribed. Some patients have seriouse side effects. Tracey and colleagues found that implanting tiny electronic devices, which could deliver electric shocks to the…
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