Medicine: Venom for Pain

Medicine: Venom for Pain
His twisted features toneless as grey clay, a middle-aged Brooklyn man last
week doubled up with such pain in his abdomen that his tousled head banged his
knees. For a multitude of similar sufferers from cancer of abdominal organs the
only anodyne is morphine. The pain-contorted Brooklyn man was a patient of Anesthetist Marius
Bohdan Greene. Taking him into an aseptic operating room, he gently
rolled the patient on his side, rolled up the bed shirt, injected into the spine a
mixture of alcohol chloroform, acetone and cobra venom. The tortured man
unbent. Faint color flooded his face. He opened his eyes. And Dr. Greene hastened away to catch a train for Ottawa, where he was
scheduled to tell the American Association for the Advancement of Science
about his new pain interceptor. According to his theory, injury to any part of the body also injures
local nerves and sends messages of pain to the brain to protect the
injured part. The brain sends messages down the spinal cord to nerves
of the muscles at the site of injury. A hurt fist will clench, a face
twist, a foot limp. These messages may accumulate if the injury is very
great or persistent. This accumulation of nerve impulses may itself
irritate nerves, causing useless and damaging excess pain. The venom in combination with the other ingredients of his spinal
injection interrupts the nervous circulation of pain. This it does by
paralyzing efferent motor nerves
just where they branch from the spinal cord. For lack of orders from
the brain to do something, the injured part relaxes, does nothing. This
gives injured local nerves opportunity to heal and to help the injured
muscles which they serve, to heal also. Dr. Greene finds his anodyne an
aid in the treatment of back injuries, sciatica and shaking palsy. In
cases of inoperable cancer the patient has opportunity to die in peace.