"People think this subject is funny, but it's snot," joked Gesnot Muekous, Professor of Biology at Shepherd University. "Actually, it's a topic that makes most people squeamish. We don't like talking about mucus membranes and related fluids, but it's all connected to our overall health."
Meukous recently published a college textbook / "How-To" guide on nose-picking, entitled, "Rhinotillexomania*: Pick Your Weapon" (available now in the Shepherd University Bookstore in the Required Reading section for $145). In it he delves into nose pickings historical and cultural taboos, as well as health related reasons why it's not all that bad.
* Rhinotillexomania (rhino=nose, tillexis=habit of picking at something, mania=obsession with something).
In his 523 page text book, Meukous lists many advantages of nose mining:
- Increased Air Circulation
Without all the mucus clogging your nostrils, you can inhale more air, quicker. Effectively, increasing blood oxygen levels, which may boost brain function in temporary boosts. 20% of your body's oxygen goes up to your brain for use, it's a pretty hard working muscle; leaving your nostrils clogged and closed may leave your body and your brain oxygen deprived in very extreme cases.
- Removal of Foreign Bacteria / Viruses / ...Things
Imagine constantly inhaling millions if not billions of dying and trapped microbes floating around in the slowly drying mucus, now that is disgusting.
- Eating Boogers Can Boost Immune Systems
While doctors usually recommend complete avoidance of contamination, such as washing hands and not eating your boogers, in order to decrease the amount of diseases you are exposed to, however, this also decreases the amount of diseases you are immune to. Eating your boogers will introduce many already dying and trapped microbes that your body may easily defeat and develop immunity against, into your digestive system, which will boost your overall immune system. It's like a free vaccine shot, complimentary of your nose!
In chapter ten, Meukous covers the psychology of nose picking, particularly picking the noses of others. "We as humans often do things that are distasteful. We take care of stinky babies - our own and those of others, we pick up after our pets messes and even wade into flooded areas walking through who knows what. Why don't we even consider picking the noses of our friends?"
It turns out, it's a really bad idea. "An ancient papyrus scroll dated 1330 BC suggest Egyptian Pharaoh, Tutankhamen, had his own personal nose-picker who was paid three heads of cattle for his work. However, like most things from ancient Egypt, we've lost the knowledge of that specific skill.
"In every clinical study performed over the course of 7 years, multiple nose-bleeds were reported as well as infections, bruising and in three cases -- death from an infection that spread to the brain. So, unless you are a professionally trained, well-paid nose picker for the King of Egypt, we don't recommend it."
"On a side note," add Meukous, "I'd like to thank the American Government for providing the grant money to conduct our study."
Ready for some slimy statistics?
- 8.7% claim that they have never picked their nose. (In other words, they are liars or they can't remember doing it as a kid.)
- 91% stated that they had picked their nose in the past and were still actively practicing this habit. Yet, only 49.2% of the respondents actually thought that nose-picking was common in adults.
- 9.2% rate their pickin' as "more than average."
- 25.6% actually pick their noses daily, 22.3% do it 2 to 5 times each day, and three people admitted to doing it at least hourly.
- 55.5% spent 1-5 minutes, 23.5% spent 5-15 minutes, and 0.8% (2 people) spent 15-30 minutes each day cleaning their nostrils. One lone soul claims to devote over 2 hours each day to this ritual (I'm not a doctor and I can tell you that this guy definitely has rhinotillexomania).
- 18% reported nosebleeds, while 0.8% claimed perforation of the nasal septum from their nose-picking.
- 82.8% had picked their noses to "unclog the nasal passages", 66.4% had done it to relieve discomfort or itchiness, 35.7% to avoid the unsightly appearance of a booger hanging from their nose, 34.0% for personal hygiene, and 17.2% picked out of habit. 2.1% (five people) claimed to pick solely for enjoyment. To no one's surprise, one perverted person picked his/her nose for "sexual stimulation."
- 65.1% use their index finger, 20.2% use their pinky, and 16.4% use their thumb (must have BIG nostrils to fit a thumb in) as their instrument of choice.
- Most people (90.3%) disposed of the goop in a tissue or a handkerchief, while 28.6% used the floor, and 7.6% stuck it to the furniture.
- 8% of the respondents actually ate the end product. In case you are thinking of trying this delicacy, the study claims that the pickings are quite tasty (salty).