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In pain? Look at a photo of your love

When life is a pain, don't pop a pill. We've got a beautiful way to stop the hurt, no purchase required. Just open your photo albums (digital or not) and gaze at a picture of the one you love. Presto, your pain will ease, according to two studies.

When some gutsy volunteers rated the pain of moderate to hot (ouch) heat on their arms, they found it didn't hurt anywhere near as much when they were looking at pictures of their romantic partners as it did when they gazed at photos of attractive acquaintances.

How's that for the power of love? The romantic photos decreased activity in the brain's pain-processing areas and sparked the reward-pleasure centers, making them light up like starlets posing for paparazzi. And there's a fascinating twist: Photos of loved ones worked even better than the real thing.

Yep, when pain kicked in while volunteers were holding hands with their partner, their honey's touch helped. But gazing at a photo of their partner was the best painkiller of all.

Researchers aren't sure why, but it could be that real-life lovers aren't all that dependable in their ability to cope with a partner's pain; photos are a steadier presence.

One thing's for sure. Next time you're going to the dentist or facing a bikini wax, grab a photo of your honey.

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