Propranolol - the memory pill

  1. WrtngCocaineTutorial
    Heart of America Radio reports on how scientists are developing a pill to reduce the terror of a traumatic event.

    Imagine a world where victims of violence or trauma pop a pill to ease their feelings of terror and dim the memory of a car accident, rape, or other assault. That's the hope of scientists at Harvard University who are developing a pill they say will prevent post-traumatic stress disorder in such victims. They are hoping to alter the brain's reaction to traumatic events, lessening the strength of memories and softening the emotions they evoke.

    Pitman has been conducting research on PTSD for the past 20 years, and says that scientists have a pretty good idea of how it works. When a person experiences a traumatic event, he says, the body releases adrenaline, a stress hormone that prepares the body to run from or attack an aggressor. When adrenaline and its cousin noradrenaline enter the brain, he says, they act on the amygdala region, which is involved in fear and memory. Basically, Pitman says, "The same adrenaline that's making you run fast has the ability to strengthen your memory."

    This system was useful back in prehistoric times, Pitman says, when someone who was chased by a crocodile, for example, would need to remember where that predator lived. But in modern times, Pittman says, "This mechanism goes too far. People who have PTSD, the memories are so strong, they can have trouble living in the present." For example, people involved in car accidents "get to the point where they're having nightmares and can't drive any longer," Pittman says. "If someone is raped in an elevator, they don�t want to ride elevators again."

    To counter the harmful effects of stress hormones like adrenaline on memory, Pitman has been experimenting with propranolol, a drug commonly used to treat hypertension. Since propranolol blocks the action of adrenaline and noradrenaline, Pitman thought it might prevent memories from being burned too deeply in the amygdala of the brain. "We figured we could give people this propranolol to affect the memory before it gets laid down," he explains. Pitman is quick to point out that the drug doesn�t cause people to remember things differently, just less strongly. "We would say it would more approximate a normal memory," he says.

    Sounds like a win/win situation, but not everyone is convinced that propranolol is such a great idea. Gina Scaramella, executive director of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, sees about 400 rape cases a year and says she and her colleagues have concerns about the use of the pill. Scaramella says it's important for women to feel in control when they are recovering from a sexual assault, and taking propranolol means giving up control over their memories. Secondly, she says, "anyone who took that medicine could be in trouble in a legal case," since defense lawyers may say that the victim was so unstable that she needed drugs to cope, or that the propranolol may have altered her memory about the assault. Other ethicists say the pill may erase the rage that victims will need to go on and prosecute their attackers.

    From acf new source

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  1. wellhelm
    How would it be adminsitered? When the event insighting PTSD happens the adrenaline is immediately released. So they have X amount of time to get to the hospital and take the pill to prevent the memory from developing in to PTSD? Or is it taken when ever one feels the need? Or daily like an ssri,which does not sound like a good idea,because how does this drug pick and choose memories?
  2. Nagognog2
    I watched this on 60 Minutes the other night. I don't think the doctor proved his results at all. His experiments with a mouse MIGHT show propanolol works for reducing memory imprinting. Or it could also show that his mice were dazed and confused from the drop in blood-pressure.

    I'm also wondering if this research isn't being done to keep MDMA off the radar for treating PTSD.

    Bongo has taken propanolol for an ulcer. He has reported no loss of memory/emotional response.
  3. Nicaine
    SWIM was on propranolol for quite a long time, and ISHO does think it reduces memory imprinting... but probably not enough to end up being used for purposes like this. Subjectively he thinks 'unimportant' memories are affected by propranolol, but meaningful or traumatic crap rolls right over whatever effect it produces.

    Is this guy assuming that just because certain imprinting is reduced, ALL imprinting is reduced?
    Yeah, blocks it mostly physiologically (slower heartbeats, less tendency to tremble, etc), i.e. beta-adrenergic receptors. What about alpha-adrenergic effects?
  4. Micklemouse
    Another thing the 'researcher' is forgetting is that PTSD is not an inevitable after effect of trauma. Not only that but it can take weeks if not months to manifest. Is Dr Pitman wanting to treat with beta-blockers on the off-chance that PTSD might develop? Might it not be better to just stay at home & watch t.v., thereby reducing the risk of directly experiencing a traumatic event?

    My thoughts exactly.

    None that I can find. Propranolol is a beta blocker, working only on the beta-adrenaline.

    Anyhoo, a more detailed story from the University of California website...

  5. Alfa
    Low doses of propranolol are also used against anxiety or stress during driving exams, court cases, speeches, interrogations or other situations SWIY may need to get trough without blinking an eye.
  6. darawk

    These clips from the 60 minutes yahoo site were pretty convincing to me. When talking about using it for treating ulcers or other purposes there have to be a few things taken into account. First, dosage. The doses required for treating an ulcer may be totally different than those required for treating PTSD. Second, it doesn't seem to produce actual memory loss in the human subjects interviewed on 60 minutes, but rather dissolves emotional triggers associated with them.
  7. ~lostgurl~
    Hmmm, so a rape victim is walking home late at night and thinks 'well it wasn't THAT bad' and decides to take the shortcut down the ally way where she was raped only months before......... ok maybe that is a bit over the top but really if it works and works that well it could in reality cause more damage than the event that they are trying to forget. There is something to be said for learning from ones experiences, how else can risk be associated personally with any situation?
  8. Nagognog2
    That was a point I raised in another thread, lostgurl, regarding the use of MDMA used for combat troops suffering from PTSD: If a drug works so well to treat people for psychological distress from murdering and torturing people, what would prevent the military use of it to it's full advantage?

    "Everybody knows you can trust a CIA man."
  9. Bajeda

    Thats what I was thinking.

    Why would you want a drug like this that doesn't even seem to be able to achieve its desired effects and whose effects (which we aren't sure you can actually get) aren't anywhere near as helpful for treating PTSD as MDMA has shown to be?

    Doesn't make much sense...
  10. WrtngCocaineTutorial
    hmmm. this memory thing with adrenaline, which makes you remember. Even if it's excrated after a event.

    maybe it even works to do coke the day following studying.
    although best to combine them.
  11. Nagognog2
    Cocaine and propanolol are contra-indicated. Seems this combination can be dangerous.
  12. WrtngCocaineTutorial
    didn't think about combining the drugs. thought about combining coke+study.

    it's said to be the best. although it might actually have some effect to do the coke/adrenaline rush after the reading
  13. Nagognog2
    Major problem with using things like coke/amphetamines etc. is that after the drug wears off - all that brilliant insight and understanding one had...POOF!

    Even more fun if one writes a paper in that state and submits it! It comes back with a note from the professor to see him later. You re-read it and realize it's psychotic gibberish! LOL!! Now to draft your excuse...
  14. ~lostgurl~
    Maybe you should add here that this is your opinion Nag? Many people find stimulants beneficial for study.
  15. Nagognog2
    If it works for SWIM, have fun. But I've seen this happen with people who fiend-out on the stuff - and these were the results. And many folks find it too easy to become fiends with coke and/or amphetamines. On the plus-side, they quickly learned to avoid doing that again!
  16. ~lostgurl~
    There is a difference between being tweaked out and potentially psychotic, and using more moderate doses to aid study. As with most drugs, stimulants need to be respected for their benefits as well as their consequences.
  17. Kristy
    LOL, did that actually happen to SWIY?

    SWIM gets propranolol on repeat prescription :crazy
  18. Nagognog2
    My monkey ducked that bullet. But I saw other monkeys end up like that. Worst case was one that washed out of law school and went on to a glorious career as a male meter-maid in Boston, Massachusetts.

    He spent his entire tuition on coke. His parents were so proud of him! LOL! He could have used the propanolol after that stunt.
  19. ~lostgurl~
    Really? How do you find it? Tell us about it, I'm interested in reading a personal experience on this!
  20. Nagognog2
    Propanolol (Inderal) has been on the market for decades. It is a common beta-blocker used for such diverse conditions as hypertension, migraines, depression, and ulcers. It is not a controlled substance as it has no recreational value. A google-search will find one a warehouse full of info.
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