Chronic pain and sweets - really?


I read an article that was suggesting that chronic pain and sweets really do help pain.

I am not going to argue about this, but I am going to say - CHUFFING GREAT! :)

Apparently sweet tastes and sweet smells have been shown to increase our pain tolerance, our perceptions of pain diminishes when we smell or taste sweet foods.

ScienceBlog carried out on a study and followed 3 types of smells:

  • Sweet and Pleasant (Caramel)

  • Unsweet and Pleasant (After Shave)

  • Unpleasant (Civet Musk)



The reason for including both the sweet and unsweet smells allowed the study to distinguish between the analgesic effects of the pleasantness of the smell from that to the sweetness.

The participants who took part were given a mask and the smells were placed inside of the mask, they measured the breathing patterns of each participant, the particpants were not told that the mask was performing this task.

Each participants put on the mask, and then placed their hands into a vat of water at 5° Celsius (41° Fahrenheit) for up to 4 minutes. They did this in two trials, separated by 15 minutes, one trial with the smell and one without (they wore the mask for both). The key measure was how long participants kept their hand in the cold water. Prescott and Wilkie also asked them to rate how intense the pain was right after putting their hands in, thirty seconds later, and when they pulled their hands out of the water.”

The results showed that the sweet smell helped people tolerate the pain - and that group kept their hands in the water more than twice as long, on average, than the participants in the other two conditions, when the smell was present.

The actual, subjective perception of pain did not differ across all three conditions, so it seems that the participants subjectively experienced the same levels of pain, but they were able to tolerate it better when the sweet and pleasant smell was present.

The researchers also hypothesized that the analgesic effects of sweet smells are likely the result of learned associations.

So, what do we all think to that, are we now heading to the shop to buy chocolate bars, or perhaps we are going to the kitchen to start cooking?

I must say that I eat a lot of chocolate and I would agree that your tolerance is better when eating sweet things, but this pain tolerance is only temporary, while you are eating the chocolate, therefore, not really a breakthrough for us with Chronic Pain as we need relief for more than a few minutes and we cannot spend all our days eating chocolate/sweet things everytime we have a bout of pain, we would all end up fat (because we struggle to exercise as well as an able bodied person) and suffer further health problems because we became obese!

Any comments about this? Maybe you have tried chocolate as a pain relief and agree or completely disagree with this study that was undertaken.

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