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An inflammatory interview

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

I spent an hour talking to Todd Hargrove of for his new podcast, mostly about my strange career, the complexity of pain, as exemplified by the role of neuroinflammation (and medically unexplained symptoms more generally).

It was a fun challenge to try to explain neuroinflammation with my voice after trying to do it with my keyboard off and on for the last year. I didn’t exactly nail it, actually (said the perfectionist). In particular, I regret that I didn’t bring up something that seems screamingly obvious now: COVID is an excellent example of immune-mediated illness. Almost everything that’s serious about COVID is caused by the immune system spinning out of control, rather than the direct effects of the virus itself. But the vaccination side effects are even more instructive: they perfectly demonstrate that you can feel truly nasty just because your immune system is kicking up a fuss — no actual infection at all, and yet several of its worst symptoms.

Really smacking my forehead that I didn’t bring that up. Missed opportunity!

Delayed stage fright

I enjoy doing podcasts, and I am a fearless public speaker — I never get the jitters before talking to an audience. But sometimes I do get “delayed stage fright”: I neurotically second guess myself so hard that I get nervous after an interview instead of before! I did of lot of that this time. Todd and I share a lot of the same audience, and many people I admire and respect tuned in to this interview. I also talked about myself quite a lot (my admittedly strange career), probably too much. So apparently I had more cause to be self-conscious than usual, and boy was I. In the future I will try to keep myself off the agenda — I’d rather just talk about the dorky science stuff.

Despite my annoying self-doubts, we’ve gotten a lot of nice feedback about this discussion, so I’ll try to believe that. 😜

P.S. Check out Todd's interview with Stephan Guyenet for an excellent expert chat about “the diets of hunter-gatherers, the true cause of the obesity epidemic (no, it’s not sugar), how to get your kids to eat broccoli, my severe addiction to dark chocolate, and the role of the brain in weight regulation.”