Health Matters: Is Profanity a Painkiller?

By: Triston Sanders-Medical Anchor Email
By: Triston Sanders-Medical Anchor Email

May 5, 2011
Feeling pain with no aspirin around?
Try swearing.
British researchers say using a few choice words fly could be a powerful painkiller.
Researchers studied student volunteers who were asked about their swearing frequency.
The subjects then put their hands in ice water while swearing repeatedly.
Then the exercise was repeated, however the second time around subjects were told to repeat a harmless phrase.
They found those who repeatedly swore were able to keep their hands submerged in the frigid water for a longer period of time.
This effect was four times more likely in the volunteers who do not normally swear.
The team believes the "pain-lessening effect" occurs because swearing triggers the "fight or flight" response in your brain.
Findings are scheduled to be presented at the British Psychological Society's annual conference in Glasgow.

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