Hide this

Do Redheads Feel More Pain?

September 05, 2009 | 25,851 views
Share This Article Share

redhead, red hairA new study measured the anxiety that redheads feel about the dentist and concluded that they are not only nervous, but are more than twice as likely to avoid a visit altogether compared with their brunette and blonde counterparts.

Previous studies have found that people with red hair are typically more sensitive to pain and more resistant to anesthesia --- and require about 20 percent more of it to be effective.

Red hair is usually caused by a mutation in a gene called MC1R, which produces the substance that gives hair, skin and eyes their color. Some studies have indicated that this mutation may also affect the way pain is felt.

Effortless Healing – One Step at a Time – NOW AVAILABLE!

My newest book, Effortless Healing is now available! I've organized this book into a guide that will help you avoid the many pitfalls of the conventional approach to health. Rather than relying on expensive and potentially dangerous drugs, I will help you effortlessly make small shifts in what you eat and how you live to achieve your health goals. I promise, Effortless Healing isn't a book that will overwhelm you. On top of that, ordering the book today entitles you to 3 exclusive bonuses:


A sneak peek of my new book! You won’t need to wait for the book to arrive to get started. Begin reading my new book right away with your free sneak preview!


My most popular video interviews, all in one place. I’ve compiled 18 of my BEST expert interviews for you to watch and listen to at your leisure, and in the comfort of your own home or office.


Receive 15% off your next Mercola.com order. Depending on your order, your savings from this one bonus alone could more than cover the cost of your book!

All My Profits from This Book Will Be Donated

That's right. When you order a copy of my new book Effortless Healing, you'll be making a much-deserved donation to the key organizations that work quietly and efficiently behind the scenes to make the world a healthier place for you, your family, and your community.

Among them, you'll be benefiting and supporting the actions of:

  • National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) – A non-profit organization that seeks to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education and defending your right of informed choice.
  • Organic Consumers Association (OCA) – A grassroots public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability, and addressing food safety, GMOs, the industrial agricultural complex, children's health, and more. The ONLY U.S. organization focused exclusively on the interests that you and I share!
  • Consumers for Dental Choice – Children, the unborn, and employees in the dental field are particularly vulnerable to mercury. But so is everyone with a mouthful of amalgam fillings (which are 50% mercury) at risk. Consumers for Dental Choice is working to phase out amalgam use and to promote access to mercury-free alternatives.
  • Fluoride Action Network (FAN) – An international coalition aimed at ending water fluoridation and alerting you to fluoride's environmental and health risks. FAN keeps you informed about fluoride toxicity, and monitors government actions that may expose you to fluoride.

Are you ready to get started? The timing has never been better. Order your copy of Effortless Healing today, collect your free gifts, and let your journey begin!


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Only about 1 percent to 2 percent of the world's population has red hair, which is caused by a mutation in MC1R, a protein involved in regulating skin and hair color.

The color of your hair is determined by a protein called melanin. There are two kinds of melanin: eumelanin colors your hair brown to black, and pheomelanin turns it yellow-blond to red. The levels of each of these two kinds of melanin will determine the color and shade of your hair.

Red hair is also associated with fair skin, freckles and sensitivity to ultraviolet light, and occurs more frequently in northern and western Europeans and their descendants.

You've likely heard one of the most common stereotypes given to redheads, which is a tendency to have a "fiery" personality. While this has no basis in science that I know of, there are some studies that show redheads may, in fact, have a different tolerance to pain than the rest of us.

Although how that tolerance differs is still being debated.

Do Redheads Have More or Less Tolerance to Pain?

The latest study on pain and red hair, published by the Journal of the American Dental Association, found that redheads are more than twice as likely to avoid going to the dentist than people with blonde or brunette locks. The researchers suggested this increased anxiety was due to redheads' increased sensitivity to pain.

Other studies, too, have found such a link, including research by Edwin Liem, who conducted the research at the Outcomes Research Institute of the University of Louisville, US.

Liem found that people with red hair are so sensitive to pain they require 20 percent more anesthetic to dull pain. He said in New Scientist:

"Red hair is the first visible human trait, or phenotype, that is linked to anaesthetic requirement."

Liem reasoned that a dysfunctional melanocortin 1 receptor, found in redheads, stimulates a brain receptor related to pain sensitivity.

The issue is not black and white, however, as other studies have found quite the opposite.

Research by Canadian researcher Jeffery Mogil found that those with red hair actually have a higher tolerance for pain … and need less anesthesia during surgery. Ian Jackson, head of medical and developmental genetics at the Medical Research Council in Edinburgh, meanwhile, has conducted studies on mice showing that male redheads have a similar pain tolerance to non-redheads.

Please Share Your Opinions!

It could very well be that pain tolerance differs from person to person among redheads, just as it does among people with any hair color. But it is always interesting to hear your personal experiences.

If you or someone in your family has red hair, please share your experiences in the Community Comments section below.

Do you find you are more or less sensitive to pain than others, or have you required extra anesthetic during dental visits?

If you aren't already registered, it will literally only take a moment to register so you can post your words of wisdom.

Many of our articles are read by over 100,000 people who are passionate about natural health and have life experiences that enrich our understanding of "mysteries" like these.

Thank you! Your purchases help us support these charities and organizations.

Food Democracy Now
Mercury Free Dentistry
Fluoride Action Network
National Vaccine Information Center
Institute for Responsible Technology
Organic Consumers Association
Center for Nutrtion Advocacy
Cornucopia Institute
Vitamin D Council
GrassrootsHealth - Vitamin D*action
Alliance for Natural Health USA
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation
The Rabies Challenge Fund
Cropped Catis Mexico