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Minerva Medica 2000 October;91(10):239-46

Copyright © 2000 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: Italian

beta-endorphin and stress hormones in patients affected by osteoarthritis undergoing thermal mud therapy

Pizzoferrato A., Garzia I., Cenni E., Pratelli L., Tarabusi C


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Background. Thermal mud is a therapeutic agent widely used in the treatment of painful arthritic processes. The mechanism by which mud therapy works is still not well known. Its effect continues for months after completion of treatment. In order to verify whether thermal mud treatment brings about changes in the production of hormone peptides from proopiomelanocortin, the levels of plasma b-endorphin and some hormones of the pituitary-adrenal glands (ACTH and cortisol) were determined in patients affected by osteoarthritis undergoing thermal mud therapy.
Methods. The levels of plasma b-endorphin and some hormones of the pituitary-adrenal glands (ACTH and cortisol) were assessed by radiometric methods in seventeen males affected by osteoarthritis. The patients underwent a cycle of twelve sessions of thermal mud therapy. The tests were carried out immediately before thermal treatment, immediately after the first session, twelve days after the start of treatment, and again one month after completion of the treatment. Results. b-endorphin levels decreased significantly twelve days after the start of treatment. The level was still lower, although not significantly, even thirty days after completion of the treatment. Plasma ACTH also decreased during treatment. The decrease of this hormone was progressive and persisted after completion of treatment. Significant variations compared to baseline were found only thirty days after completion of treatment. Plasma cortisol decreased significantly after only one session of mud therapy. This hormone did not decrease any further during treatment, however, after twelve days it was still significantly lower than baseline. After completion of treatment, cortisol slightly increased, but thirty days later it was still lower, although not significantly, than baseline.
Conclusions. It may be suggested that thermal treatment, by reducing inflammation, reduced pain and therefore diminished the cause of stress.

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