Aches and pains

Five odd relief tips that work

 
 
Green apple covered in water droplets isolated against a white background
Green apple covered in water droplets isolated against a white background

Prevention magazine

After, oh, age 8 or so, you no longer get away with wailing when you get stung by a bee or stub your toe. But unfortunately — whether it’s a much-needed bikini wax or your annual mammogram — pain is a part of our everyday lives.

It turns out, though, that you don’t have to rely only on your aspirin to get relief. Research reveals some quirky but effective natural ways to reduce aches without popping a pill.

1. Shout a four-letter word

Next time you take a spill, don’t hold your tongue. Swearing can increase your tolerance for discomfort, found researchers. People could keep their hands submerged 35-percent longer in a tub of ice-cold water when they repeated an epithet in lieu of a more acceptable word. Swearing may trigger a series of physical and hormonal reactions that ease the sting of an injury.

2. Flip through photos

Scanning your iPhone for loving faces before an uncomfortable test like a mammogram may make it more bearable. Women who viewed pictures of their partners during a lab test reported less pain than those who looked at inanimate objects or strangers. A loving face may spur the release of chemicals that shut down pain-processing areas of the brain.

3. Drum up a steamy fantasy

Let your mind wander to a sexy encounter to offset acute aches and pains. In one study, participants could withstand more pain and experienced less anxiety during a lab experiment when their minds meandered to something sexual, compared with other people who thought about more vanilla topics. Such fantasy distracts you from the pain, and it also reduces anxiety and relaxes you.

4. Sniff a green apple

Feel a headache coming on? Munch on an apple or light a similarly scented candle. In one study, when people in the midst of a migraine attack sniffed test tubes containing a green apple smell, the pain improved more than when they sniffed tubes that had no scent. Researchers say it could be a matter of distraction, or it could be that the smell of green apple actually reduces muscle contractions in the head and neck, reducing headache pain. Earlier studies found that the smell of green apples helps reduce anxiety.

5. Visit Van Gogh

Gazing at works by your favorite painter may help ease pain, say researchers at Italy’s University of Bari. They delivered stinging sensations from lasers to the skin of 12 healthy subjects who were looking at paintings they had previously rated as beautiful, neutral or ugly. Reported pain was about one-third less intense among subjects who gazed at art they found pleasing; conversely, the pain was more intense when they saw pieces they didn’t like.

Read more Health stories from the Miami Herald

  • Chew on This

    Food-based therapies becoming mainstream

    Morning television can educate and infuriate.

  • Skin Deep

    A Closer Look at Melasma

    Skin discoloration, or hyperpigmentation, is usually a sign of sun damage that begins to worsen as years of unprotected sun exposure rise to the surface of the skin. While typical age spots become visible around the late ‘30s and early ‘40s, a skin condition called melasma usually makes its presence known much earlier.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">Very veggie:</span> While veggie burgers are better than they used to be, condiments like a Moroccan spice paste help bring their flavor to life.

    The Edgy Veggie

    Taste-testing the new wave of veggie burgers

    The first wave of commercial veggie burgers had issues.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category