Human saliva is stronger than morphine

Researchers find an analgesic six times more powerful in saliva

By Author  |  Bhavya Burra  |  Published: 15th May 2018  7:19 pm

For over two centuries, human beings have found solace in morphine and other opioid derivatives to dull pain. Unable to find other suitable alternatives, humans chose to ignore the many side effects like addiction, hallucinations and seizures. But, now, things may change.

Researchers at Pasteur Institute in Paris in France found a peptide in human saliva, dubbed opiorphin, which is six times stronger than morphine.

When the body feels pain, there is a flood of natural painkillers produced in the body called enkephalins. Sadly, they soon break up, leading to resurfacing of pain. Opiorphin, similar to enkephalins in structure, prevent their breakdown, boosting the amount of natural painkillers in the body. This warrants a localised analgesic action as it can only supplement the painkillers already present. In theory, this would be perfect analgesic without any side effects.

However, the lead researcher Catherine Rougeot suggests to New Scientist that as it is not a pure painkiller, its side effects are still unknown. On the plus side, she says that it might also act as an anti-depressant. The researchers aim to synthesise the pain killer without needing to isolate it from saliva.