Swearing DOES help numb your pain, expert claims – as Brits say the F word is best remedy for stubbing toes
- A survey of 2,000 Brits found almost two thirds claim swearing numbs pain
- And research has suggested it does in fact work as ‘short-term pain relief’
Blurting out a swear word when you stub your toe is instinctual for many.
But rather than just a need-jerk reaction, one expert claims that swearing actually functions as a natural painkiller.
Cursing triggers part of the brain involved in the body’s fight-or-flight response, Dr Rachel Taylor says.
This can then, she claims, trigger a surge in adrenaline — a natural form of pain relief.
It may explain why almost two thirds of Brits (64 per cent) claim that effing and blinding helps take away the agony of injury.
F**k was the preferred pain relief, closely followed by s**t — which 50 per cent say they use, according to a survey.
F**k came out on top as the preferred pain relief, closely followed by S**t – which 50% of Brits say they use
The poll of 2,000 Brits, conducted by research agency Perspectus Global, found that the average person swears nine times day — 10 times for men and eight for women.
After f**k and s**t, the third most popular swear word uttered in response to pain is bloody hell, with one in four saying they used the phrase, according to the results.
Among the other popular phrases were b****cks (23 per cent), damn (23 per cent), bugger (19 per cent) and crap (17 per cent).
Sh**e (16 per cent), c*** (15 per cent) and c**k (6 per cent) were also favoured by Brits in pain.
Dr Taylor said that research suggests swearing can activate the amygdala — part of the brain that makes up the limbic system, which is responsible for behaviour and emotional responses that are instinctive and difficult to control.
The amygdala triggers a fight-or-flight response, she said.
READ MORE: DR MICHAEL MOSLEY: From chilli cream to swearing, how to beat pain without pills
‘This then leads to a surge in adrenaline, a natural form of pain relief,’ Dr Taylor added.
However, the most prolific swearers can become immune to the words’ pain-healing properties, Dr Taylor warned.
Her comments are based on a 2009 study by scientists at Keele University, who found that swearing can produce ‘short-term pain relief’.
The team, led by psychologist Dr Richard Stephens, looked at the pain response of 64 student volunteers.
Each participant had to place their hand in ice cold water for as long as possible, first while repeating a swear word of their choice and later while repeating a more commonplace word such as table.
The scientists found that participants could hold their hand in the cold water for longer when repeating the swear word.
Speaking at the time, Dr Stephens said: ‘Swearing has been around for centuries and is an almost universal human linguistic phenomenon.
‘It taps into emotional brain centres and appears to arise in the right brain, whereas most language production occurs in the left cerebral hemisphere of the brain.’
He added: ‘What is clear is that swearing triggers not only an emotional response, but a physical one too, which may explain why the centuries-old practice of cursing developed and still persists today.’
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