full transcript
"From the Ted Talk by George Zaidan: How do pain relievers work?"

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Say you're at the bceah, and you get sand in your eyes. How do you know the sand is there? You obviously can't see it, but if you are a normal, healthy hamun, you can feel it, that sensation of extreme discomfort, also known as pain. Now, pain makes you do something, in this case, rinse your eyes until the sand is gone. And how do you know the sand is gone? Exactly. Because there's no more pain. There are people who don't feel pain. Now, that might sonud cool, but it's not. If you can't feel pain, you could get hurt, or even hurt yourself and never know it. Pain is your body's early warning system. It protects you from the world around you, and from yourself. As we grow, we install pain detectors in most areas of our body. These detectors are specialized nrvee cells called nociceptors that stretch from your spinal cord to your skin, your muscles, your jontis, your teeth and some of your internal organs. Just like all nerve cells, they conduct electrical signals, sending information from wherever they're located back to your brian. But, unlike other nerve cells, nociceptors only fire if something happens that could cause or is causing damgae. So, gently tuoch the tip of a needle. You'll feel the metal, and those are your rglauer nerve clels. But you won't feel any pain. Now, the harder you push against the nledee, the closer you get to the nociceptor threshold. Push hard enough, and you'll cross that thsrlohed and the nociceptors fire, tlnileg your body to stop doing whatever you're doing. But the pain threshold isn't set in stone. Certain chemicals can tune nociceptors, lowering their threshold for pain. When cells are degmaad, they and other nearby cells start producing these tuning chemicals like crazy, lowering the nociceptors' threshold to the point where just touch can cause pain. And this is where over-the-counter pelalnirkis come in. Aspirin and ibuprofen block production of one class of these tnniug ciehmclas, called prostaglandins. Let's take a look at how they do that. When cells are damaged, they release a chemical cealld arachidonic acid. And two enzymes called COX-1 and COX-2 convert this arachidonic acid into prostaglandin H2, which is then ceetronvd into a bunch of other chemicals that do a bunch of things, including raise your body temrepature, cause inflammation and lower the pain threshold. Now, all enzymes have an active site. That's the plcae in the enzyme where the riceoatn happens. The active sites of COX-1 and COX-2 fit arachidonic acid very cozily. As you can see, there is no room to sapre. Now, it's in this active site that aspirin and ibuprofen do their work. So, they work differently. apriisn acts like a spine from a porcupine. It enters the active site and then bekras off, lvaeing half of itself in there, totally blocking that channel and making it impossible for the arachidonic acid to fit. This permanently deactivates COX-1 and COX-2. Ibuprofen, on the other hand, erents the active site, but doesn't braek apart or change the enzyme. COX-1 and COX-2 are free to spit it out again, but for the time that that ibuprofen is in there, the enzyme can't bind arciidnahoc acid, and can't do its nroaml chemistry. But how do aspirin and ibuprofen know where the pain is? Well, they don't. Once the dugrs are in your bloodstream, they are crreaid throughout your body, and they go to puaifnl areas just the same as normal ones. So that's how aspirin and ibuprofen work. But there are other dimensions to pain. Neuropathic pain, for example, is pain caused by damage to our nervous system itself; there doesn't need to be any sort of outside suimtuls. And scientists are discovering that the brain controls how we ronpsed to pain signals. For example, how much pain you feel can denepd on whether you're piyang attention to the pain, or even your mood. Pain is an area of active research. If we can understand it better, maybe we can help people manage it better.

Open Cloze

Say you're at the _____, and you get sand in your eyes. How do you know the sand is there? You obviously can't see it, but if you are a normal, healthy _____, you can feel it, that sensation of extreme discomfort, also known as pain. Now, pain makes you do something, in this case, rinse your eyes until the sand is gone. And how do you know the sand is gone? Exactly. Because there's no more pain. There are people who don't feel pain. Now, that might _____ cool, but it's not. If you can't feel pain, you could get hurt, or even hurt yourself and never know it. Pain is your body's early warning system. It protects you from the world around you, and from yourself. As we grow, we install pain detectors in most areas of our body. These detectors are specialized _____ cells called nociceptors that stretch from your spinal cord to your skin, your muscles, your ______, your teeth and some of your internal organs. Just like all nerve cells, they conduct electrical signals, sending information from wherever they're located back to your _____. But, unlike other nerve cells, nociceptors only fire if something happens that could cause or is causing ______. So, gently _____ the tip of a needle. You'll feel the metal, and those are your _______ nerve _____. But you won't feel any pain. Now, the harder you push against the ______, the closer you get to the nociceptor threshold. Push hard enough, and you'll cross that _________ and the nociceptors fire, _______ your body to stop doing whatever you're doing. But the pain threshold isn't set in stone. Certain chemicals can tune nociceptors, lowering their threshold for pain. When cells are _______, they and other nearby cells start producing these tuning chemicals like crazy, lowering the nociceptors' threshold to the point where just touch can cause pain. And this is where over-the-counter ___________ come in. Aspirin and ibuprofen block production of one class of these ______ _________, called prostaglandins. Let's take a look at how they do that. When cells are damaged, they release a chemical ______ arachidonic acid. And two enzymes called COX-1 and COX-2 convert this arachidonic acid into prostaglandin H2, which is then _________ into a bunch of other chemicals that do a bunch of things, including raise your body ___________, cause inflammation and lower the pain threshold. Now, all enzymes have an active site. That's the _____ in the enzyme where the ________ happens. The active sites of COX-1 and COX-2 fit arachidonic acid very cozily. As you can see, there is no room to _____. Now, it's in this active site that aspirin and ibuprofen do their work. So, they work differently. _______ acts like a spine from a porcupine. It enters the active site and then ______ off, _______ half of itself in there, totally blocking that channel and making it impossible for the arachidonic acid to fit. This permanently deactivates COX-1 and COX-2. Ibuprofen, on the other hand, ______ the active site, but doesn't _____ apart or change the enzyme. COX-1 and COX-2 are free to spit it out again, but for the time that that ibuprofen is in there, the enzyme can't bind ___________ acid, and can't do its ______ chemistry. But how do aspirin and ibuprofen know where the pain is? Well, they don't. Once the _____ are in your bloodstream, they are _______ throughout your body, and they go to _______ areas just the same as normal ones. So that's how aspirin and ibuprofen work. But there are other dimensions to pain. Neuropathic pain, for example, is pain caused by damage to our nervous system itself; there doesn't need to be any sort of outside ________. And scientists are discovering that the brain controls how we _______ to pain signals. For example, how much pain you feel can ______ on whether you're ______ attention to the pain, or even your mood. Pain is an area of active research. If we can understand it better, maybe we can help people manage it better.

Solution

  1. reaction
  2. respond
  3. human
  4. carried
  5. break
  6. called
  7. brain
  8. chemicals
  9. damaged
  10. tuning
  11. nerve
  12. joints
  13. painkillers
  14. damage
  15. sound
  16. beach
  17. paying
  18. normal
  19. aspirin
  20. regular
  21. breaks
  22. needle
  23. cells
  24. enters
  25. telling
  26. depend
  27. threshold
  28. painful
  29. temperature
  30. place
  31. converted
  32. touch
  33. stimulus
  34. spare
  35. leaving
  36. drugs
  37. arachidonic

Original Text

Say you're at the beach, and you get sand in your eyes. How do you know the sand is there? You obviously can't see it, but if you are a normal, healthy human, you can feel it, that sensation of extreme discomfort, also known as pain. Now, pain makes you do something, in this case, rinse your eyes until the sand is gone. And how do you know the sand is gone? Exactly. Because there's no more pain. There are people who don't feel pain. Now, that might sound cool, but it's not. If you can't feel pain, you could get hurt, or even hurt yourself and never know it. Pain is your body's early warning system. It protects you from the world around you, and from yourself. As we grow, we install pain detectors in most areas of our body. These detectors are specialized nerve cells called nociceptors that stretch from your spinal cord to your skin, your muscles, your joints, your teeth and some of your internal organs. Just like all nerve cells, they conduct electrical signals, sending information from wherever they're located back to your brain. But, unlike other nerve cells, nociceptors only fire if something happens that could cause or is causing damage. So, gently touch the tip of a needle. You'll feel the metal, and those are your regular nerve cells. But you won't feel any pain. Now, the harder you push against the needle, the closer you get to the nociceptor threshold. Push hard enough, and you'll cross that threshold and the nociceptors fire, telling your body to stop doing whatever you're doing. But the pain threshold isn't set in stone. Certain chemicals can tune nociceptors, lowering their threshold for pain. When cells are damaged, they and other nearby cells start producing these tuning chemicals like crazy, lowering the nociceptors' threshold to the point where just touch can cause pain. And this is where over-the-counter painkillers come in. Aspirin and ibuprofen block production of one class of these tuning chemicals, called prostaglandins. Let's take a look at how they do that. When cells are damaged, they release a chemical called arachidonic acid. And two enzymes called COX-1 and COX-2 convert this arachidonic acid into prostaglandin H2, which is then converted into a bunch of other chemicals that do a bunch of things, including raise your body temperature, cause inflammation and lower the pain threshold. Now, all enzymes have an active site. That's the place in the enzyme where the reaction happens. The active sites of COX-1 and COX-2 fit arachidonic acid very cozily. As you can see, there is no room to spare. Now, it's in this active site that aspirin and ibuprofen do their work. So, they work differently. Aspirin acts like a spine from a porcupine. It enters the active site and then breaks off, leaving half of itself in there, totally blocking that channel and making it impossible for the arachidonic acid to fit. This permanently deactivates COX-1 and COX-2. Ibuprofen, on the other hand, enters the active site, but doesn't break apart or change the enzyme. COX-1 and COX-2 are free to spit it out again, but for the time that that ibuprofen is in there, the enzyme can't bind arachidonic acid, and can't do its normal chemistry. But how do aspirin and ibuprofen know where the pain is? Well, they don't. Once the drugs are in your bloodstream, they are carried throughout your body, and they go to painful areas just the same as normal ones. So that's how aspirin and ibuprofen work. But there are other dimensions to pain. Neuropathic pain, for example, is pain caused by damage to our nervous system itself; there doesn't need to be any sort of outside stimulus. And scientists are discovering that the brain controls how we respond to pain signals. For example, how much pain you feel can depend on whether you're paying attention to the pain, or even your mood. Pain is an area of active research. If we can understand it better, maybe we can help people manage it better.

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
arachidonic acid 5
active site 4
nerve cells 4

Important Words

  1. acid
  2. active
  3. acts
  4. arachidonic
  5. area
  6. areas
  7. aspirin
  8. attention
  9. beach
  10. bind
  11. block
  12. blocking
  13. bloodstream
  14. body
  15. brain
  16. break
  17. breaks
  18. bunch
  19. called
  20. carried
  21. case
  22. caused
  23. causing
  24. cells
  25. change
  26. channel
  27. chemical
  28. chemicals
  29. chemistry
  30. class
  31. closer
  32. conduct
  33. controls
  34. convert
  35. converted
  36. cool
  37. cord
  38. cozily
  39. crazy
  40. cross
  41. damage
  42. damaged
  43. deactivates
  44. depend
  45. detectors
  46. differently
  47. dimensions
  48. discomfort
  49. discovering
  50. drugs
  51. early
  52. electrical
  53. enters
  54. enzyme
  55. enzymes
  56. extreme
  57. eyes
  58. feel
  59. fire
  60. fit
  61. free
  62. gently
  63. grow
  64. hand
  65. hard
  66. harder
  67. healthy
  68. human
  69. hurt
  70. ibuprofen
  71. impossible
  72. including
  73. inflammation
  74. information
  75. install
  76. internal
  77. joints
  78. leaving
  79. located
  80. lowering
  81. making
  82. manage
  83. metal
  84. mood
  85. muscles
  86. nearby
  87. needle
  88. nerve
  89. nervous
  90. neuropathic
  91. nociceptor
  92. nociceptors
  93. normal
  94. organs
  95. pain
  96. painful
  97. painkillers
  98. paying
  99. people
  100. permanently
  101. place
  102. point
  103. porcupine
  104. producing
  105. production
  106. prostaglandin
  107. prostaglandins
  108. protects
  109. push
  110. raise
  111. reaction
  112. regular
  113. release
  114. research
  115. respond
  116. rinse
  117. room
  118. sand
  119. scientists
  120. sending
  121. sensation
  122. set
  123. signals
  124. site
  125. sites
  126. skin
  127. sort
  128. sound
  129. spare
  130. specialized
  131. spinal
  132. spine
  133. spit
  134. start
  135. stimulus
  136. stone
  137. stop
  138. stretch
  139. system
  140. teeth
  141. telling
  142. temperature
  143. threshold
  144. time
  145. tip
  146. totally
  147. touch
  148. tune
  149. tuning
  150. understand
  151. warning
  152. work
  153. world