Have you ever wondered how aspirin knows to go to your head when you have a headache and to your elbow when you have “Tennis Elbow”? On the other hand, how one or two small aspirins containing only 325-650 mg of active drug can relieve a headache or ease the inflammation of a strained muscle or tendon in a 195 lb. athlete?
The answer to the first question is that drugs are distributed throughout the body by the blood and other fluids of distribution. When arriving at the intended destination where action is needed they act in binding to receptors? Receptors are found on the cells outer membranes and other times inside enzymes in a cell.
A receptor works like a light switch that you turn on and off when it gets drug stimulation. For example, narcotic pain relievers like morphine bind to receptors in the brain that sense pain and decrease the intensity of that perception. Non-narcotic pain relievers like aspirin, Motrin or Tylenol bind to enzymes, which are located in cells outside of the brain close to where the pain is localized and decrease the formation of biologically-active substances known as prostaglandins, which cause pain and inflammation.
These analgesics are often found to decrease the sensitivity of the local pain nerves that cause fewer pain impulses to be sensed and transmitted to the brain for recognition. Another example of drugs, which bind to a receptor that is not part of your body, is antibiotics. Antibiotics bind to portions of a bacterium that is living in your body and making you sick. Most antibiotics inhibit an enzyme inside the bacteria, which causes the bacteria either to stop reproducing or to die from inhibition of a vital biochemical process.

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