Great journeys in biology
One of biology’s great journeys is the flow of axoplasm – the “nerve juice” inside an axon. This nerve juice is quite thick – at least five time thicker than water, and it has to flow both ways within the longest cells in our bodies – it’s a big trip from the back to the foot along an axon
This nerve juice also has some very interesting properties; it’s thixotropic, which means that it is thicker when it doesn’t move, but when shaken and stirred it will flow more easily. The nerve juice is also thicker in a diabetic’s nerve. Much of this research was carried out 30 years ago and is summarised in The Sensitive Nervous System.
Other thixotropic substance include tomato sauce (ketchup) , yogurt, honey, synovial fluid, semen and, apparently, the blood of St Janarius who was beheaded in 313AD. His blood seems to liquify at important church events including the recent visit of the pope!
The neuroscience nugget is quite simple – stay still too long and your nerve juice can get thick and sluggish, but, keep moving and your nerve juice will stay loose and flowing. There are so many ways you could drop this little nugget into a therapeutic encounter – why don’t you give it a go and share your stories in the comments below?
Neuroscience nuggets are information nuggets – short pieces of biological information based on statement or metaphor that can be used as educational analgesia, explicit education or part of overall story telling. We have collected over 100 of these as part of a pain story telling taxonomy. We will release the taxonomy in “Explain Pain Supercharged” by Moseley and Butler in 2016.