Drugs are often expensive and usually come with a long package insert listing sometimes fear-inducting side effects. And some possible alternatives beyond the entreaties just to eat right and exercise are becoming available. Electrical stimulation of nerves with implantable devices is showing promise in achieving the same effects as a pharmaceutical for some conditions. Specifically, Kevin Tracey, head of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, has written in the April Scientific American about the prospects of using the nervous system to stimulate certain biochemical pathways to induce production of molecules that have the same anti-inflammatory effects as a highly targeted drug. Implantation of vagus nerve stimulators or other devices could potentially usher in an era of bioelectronic medicine, as Tracey calls it. Watch Tracey give an overview of his work in a talk from 2011:
This article was originally published with the title "Shock Medicine"