In honor of Valentine’s day, let’s consider love as our drug of choice!  UCLA researchers have found that instead of bottles of painkillers, maybe we should be putting a photo or photo album in our bathroom medicine cabinet to help reduce pain. What? Can photos reduce pain?

It won’t come as any surprise that there have been several studies showing that the social support of having a loved one with you is associated with pain reduction. But this study took the concept even further. They looked at whether merely showing someone a photo of their sweetheart would produce similar pain-reducing effects. 

Study Design

Twenty-five women in long-term relationships were tested for their pain threshold to heat, as a baseline.

Then with their arm hidden behind an opaque curtain, they were subjected to 84 thermal stimulations on that arm.  The thermal stimulations were given in groups of 6 under 7 different conditions. Each group of 6 stimulations/condition was repeated. 

Three out of six stimulations for each condition were given at the baseline pain threshold temperature and the other three were given at 1 degree C hotter than their pain threshold. 

Take a look at the infographic to see what the test conditions were and what they found. 

Infographic about study showing looking at your sweetheart's photo reduced pain from

Forget Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and more powerful analgesics. Let’s make full use of the powerful impact social support can have on our lives. As we see here, support doesn’t even have to be in person. A simple photo of someone you love can reduce your pain. 

So Happy Valentine’s day. Take a photo of your loved one today!

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