It’s considered pretty faux pas to stick your fingers in your nose these days. Most people think it’s unhygienic, disgusting, and a sign of a poor upbringing. But is it really so bad? One researcher doesn’t think it’s bad at all, in fact, he says it’s good for you!
Scott Napper is a Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. He claims that mucophagy (the technical term for nose-picking) is not only harmless, but beneficial for your whole body.
He first came out with this thesis in 2013 and not surprisingly, it raised some eyebrows. To understand where he’s coming from, it’s helpful to take a look at what boogers actually are.
The majority of “nose gold” is really just hardened nose secretion that flows down the pharynx into the esophagus. After a while, it hardens in your nostrils and becomes the substance we all know well. Things like dirt and dust also collect in there, but 90% of the booger is really just water, which is obviously completely harmless.
But Napper takes the whole matter one step further and argues that this “dirt and dust” is exactly the thing that makes eating boogies healthy and important. “From an evolutionary perspective, we’ve fought our way out of very dirty conditions. But there can also be disadvantages to having our surroundings completely sterile,” argues Napper. He adds that about one percent of nose secretion is made up of antibodies that can boost your immune system.
He feels reassured by the fact that polls suggest up to 91% of people pick their noses. He’s looking for volunteers for a long-term study on the effects of nose-picking and eating the “findings.” His colleagues at the university are skeptical, but his students seem a bit more on board to “dig a little deeper” into the subject.
A bold claim, but if we’re honest, it is an amazing feeling to breath freely after digging out a big hunk of something up there. Scott Napper has no intention of letting this research topic go and hopes that we’ll soon develop a new, healthier relationship to the contents of our noses.