The Loh Down On Science

Surprising connection between fear, anxiety, and Tylenol

Do you agonize over the meaning of life?  Or obsessively ponder your own mortality?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying, we may have just the thing for you: Tylenol.

Recent studies have found that the pain reliever is good for more than just physical pain.  It also helps with emotional pain, like being socially excluded. 

But what about existential pain?  That general anxiety about the human condition?  Think Woody Allen or Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye.  Could Tylenol help them?  Maybe. 

University of British Columbia researchers gave roughly one-hundred people gel capsules. They contained either a sugar placebo or acetominophen, the generic form of Tylenol. 

Later, half were asked to write about what would happen to their bodies after death.  Ah!  Then all were asked to set bail for an arrested prostitute.  The idea was that people in pain will give harsher punishments.

And?  Indeed, people who got the placebo and wrote about scary death set much harsher bail than people who got pain-relieving acetominophen. 

In short, life’s bitter pill . . . just got a better pill.  Take two and cheer up!

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

Thursday, from 2-3 p.m. on the LDOS blog: Sandra chats with author Nathanael Johnson about his book All Natural.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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