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D. The Wisdom Behind Folk Remedies

Narrator: This is Science Today. There's a saying in folk medicine about Alike curing like.@ That seems to be the case with capsaicin, a derivative of hot chili peppers which relieves burning nerve pain by activating the nerves with heat, then numbing them. Wendye Robbins, a professor of anesthesia at the University of California, San Francisco says there's lots of wisdom behind folk remedies.

Robbins: The key to it is trying to figure out how to make them better and how to make them usable or sort of tap into their resources that they offer.

Narrator: Capsaicin cream has been used for years to relieve chronic nerve pain associated with diabetes, stroke and more recently, AIDS. But Robbins used much higher doses, along with a regional anesthetic, to cut the pain in half for up to one month or more.

Robbins: The next phase has been to develop this into a protocol where we don't need to do regional anesthesia, but were able to apply another type of anesthetic and we're trying to develop this so that we can make it available to patients suffering with other types of nerve disorders, both deep in the body and peripherally.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.