Gareth Parry: ‘Adventures in self-experimentation with Ongaonga’

When: May 11th, 7.00 – 8.30 pm
Where: NMIT A211. Enter via the back door of A Block, just off the carpark.
Gold coin donation

The NZ native stinging nettle (ongaonga) contains a yet to be identified neurotoxin, located in the spines (trichomes) of the leaves and stems of the plant, that causes loss of cutaneous sensation that lasts 3-5 days, persisting far beyond the duration of the stinging sensation.  An accidental self-administration of the contents of a single trichome (~5 microlitres) provided an opportunity to study the effects of the toxin in a human subject in vivo.  A crude extract of the plant has also been studied in vitro where it caused apoptosis of cerebral neurons and, at lower doses, inhibit neurite outgrowth.  This long-lasting local anaesthetic effect has potential therapeutic benefit. To read more go to ‘Feeling the pain for the greater good‘ and Ongaonga could offer pain relief for Guillain-Barre’.

Gareth Parry, ONZM, MB, ChB, FRACP

Dr. Parry is a graduate of the Otago University Medical School and spent the majority of his professional career in the US.  He is currently emeritus professor of neurology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Research Professor at NMIT, honorary visiting professor at St John’s Medical College, Bengaluru, India, and a consultant neurologist at the Wellington Hospital.  His research in NZ includes lead poisoning in hunters, investigating the potential of the ongaonga toxin as a treatment for pain and the potential medical benefits of cannabinoids.  In 2009, he received the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to neurology.