Swearing helps pain, to a point

Swearing is a common response to pain. A study just published in The Journal of Pain examines whether swearing can actually help pain. Oxford English Dictionary defines swearing as the use of offensive or obscene language. Prior studies by the same researchers at the Keele University in the UK showed that for most people swearing produces a pain lessening effect. In this new study Richard Stephens and Claudia Umland looked at the effect of repeated daily swearing on experimental pain. They took 71 healthy undergraduate students (who else?) and subjected them to pain using a standard research procedure – submerging subjects’ hand into cold water. They again showed that swearing reduces pain and increases heart rate. The latter suggests that swearing reduces pain not only by distraction, but through physiologic effect on the body. They also found that people who tended to swear frequently throughout the day had less of a pain relieving effect from swearing when subjected to pain. So, listen to your mother and don’t swear all the time – save it for when it can do some good for you.

1 comment
  1. Debbie Valentin, L.Ac says: 02/15/201212:04 pm

    It is all about the breath! Breathe in! Breathe out! (If your breath out contains an expletive, I won’t tell your mother!)

Submit comment