A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down

Mary Poppins convinced me as a child that a little bit of sweetness makes everything better.  but what I wanted to know if it really helps to take a spoonful of sugar to make that awful medicine go down?

A top paediatrician in Britain, Dr. Heaton claimed that a small amount of the sweet goodness of sugar can help ease the pain of infants when receiving injections. Apparently, this small amount of sugar on the tongue acts as an analgesia which is commonly known for its painkilling ways.

When you place a little sucrose (sugar) solution on your tongue, it sends nerve signals to your brain telling it to perceive this signal as ‘sweet’. The brain then responds by releasing endorphins which people know as ‘pain relievers’.

Dr Heaton goes on to say that ‘pain’ is not a natural feeling or sensation for babies as their nervous system is still developing. So, if they were to experience pain at an early age, this may well set up their nervous system to be more aware of pain stimulus and become more sensitive, which means pain may last for longer periods of time. Minimising pain at this age is a good thing for the child’s neural development.

That’s why you see some doctors giving lollipops to children before they receive any injections.

It is also the most effective form of medicine, sweetening a little antibiotic in liquid form.  So a little bit of sugar goes a long way as a child.

This treatment goes on way before Mary Poppin’s time. Ancient literature reported that Jews use to give honey to their babies before they were circumcised- Ahh wow.

Maybe Mary Poppin’s really should have sung

“Just a drop of sucrose solution minimises the pain of an injection”- but it probably won’t be as catchy as the original.

As an adult, it doesn’t really matter as we can understand the importance of medicines, injections and so forth, pain is temporary, but if my doctor offered me a sweet before an injection I definitely won’t refuse.

This may be why some of us (mainly females) use chocolate to feel a little better. Some studies have linked chocolate to the release of endorphins in the body, particularly in females, it gives you a feeling of comfort and goodness.




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