Saturday 29 October 2016

Giving Hugs Can Be Better Than Paracetamol


Latest research shows that a hug from someone can take away your pain better than paracetamol.

Studies show than - rather than swallowing a couple of tablets - the touch of a loved one could be all you really need when you hurt.

The news many came as welcome relief to Brits who spend around £500m every year on over-the-counter painkillers - with the same amount again spent by the NHS on more powerful prescription-only medicines.

But it all depends who is touching you - as a physical sign of warmth from a stranger does not have the same effect.

Scientists believe that this is because we have no feelings towards them - and argue it's the emotional bond we feel towards the person touching is what helps alleviate aches and pains.

They've even come up with a scientific term for it - 'love-induced analgesia'.

The discovery is all centred on the power of the brain to control pain.

A 2011 Stanford University study also found that staring at a lover's picture reduced pain levels by 44%.

And previous studies have shown that skin-to-skin contact can be a powerful analgesic.


What's new here is the discovery that it depends who is doing the touching.

Researchers at Israel's Haifa University tested dozens of female volunteers - giving them a temporary mild pain by with a hot metal rod on their arm.

Then they compared a complete stranger holding their hand to try and comfort them with their husband or partner standing close to them - with no skin contact.

Then the scientists allowed their loved one to hold or stroke their hand as the hot metal rod was pressed against their skin.

They found that both a stranger's touch AND having a partner close to them made little or no difference to the pain.

But the 'love-induced analgesia' kicked in when their loved one touched them.

What's more, the more their partner expressed empathy and support, the greater the level of relief, scientists found.

The scientists reported in the Journal of Pain: "The findings highlight the powerful analgesic effect of social touch and suggest that empathy between romantic partners may explain its pain-alleviating effects."



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