The Microvasculature

So I’m still intrigued by the idea that the hand can be the key to pain relief for people with fibromyalgia. Avacen 100 is a device that claims to offer whole-body pain relief via muscular relaxation through the hands. While “claims” is the key word and I’m eternally skeptical about miracles, Albrecht et al (see library) has done research since about 2013 looking at arteriovenous shunts in the palm of the hand and noting extra “sensory fibers” in people with fibro. An article on HealthRising.com (see library) indicates that the AV shunts are not working properly in people with fibro. At the same time, I’ve seen announcements that the mystery of fibromyaglia has been solved, and it seems to point back to this same research.

In an effort to start to understand what the heck people are talking about with the hands, I looked at cutaneous blood vessels and a little bit about how they work. And I ran into some old friends: hypothalamus, baroreceptors, cortisol, cholinergic discharges, bradykinin, peptides, and ACE inhibitors, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Of course the body is all connected, so it shouldn’t be surprising, but I never connected the hypothalamus to the skin. So I looked a little further at Slomimski et al (see library) and found out that skin cells (epidermal and dermal cells) “produce and respond to classical stress neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, and hormones.” There are a lot of factors that affect how the skin functions, and in turn, how the skin functions affects how the body functions.

What’s remarkable is how many crossovers between the skin and fibromyalgia I’ve found with very little effort. I don’t understand how everything affects everything else, but looking at it like a puzzle, there are a lot of puzzle pieces in common. A lot:

cytokines neuropeptides hypothalamic hormones
N-acetyl-serotonin pituitary glucocorticoids
catecholamines ACTH steroids
histamine thyroid-stimulating hormone opioids
serotonin corticotropin-releasing factor endocannabinoids

In addition, the same “classical neuroendocrine axes” that drives the production of these molecules echo the same systems that are malfunctioning in people with fibromyalgia:

  • hypothalamic -pituitary-adrenal axis
  • hypothalamic-thyroid axis
  • serotoninergic system
  • melatoninergic system
  • catecholaminergic system
  • opioid and endocannabinoid system

As always, frustration sets in. The pieces are there, but I can’t see the big picture. I can see the patterns or that there are patterns like an elaborate code, but I can’t see how the pieces fit together. Is it ignorance? Brain fog? Fatigue? Am I just too old to figure this all out? Too tired? It’s like not being able to think of that perfect word to describe something, that word on the tip of your tongue teasing your brain.

 

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