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June 3, 2006 11:49 AM   Subscribe

What are some secrets of the human body?

I came across an article in Men's Health a few months ago that detailed different tricks you could work with your body. These included some things such as...

a. tickling you ear to relieve a throat itch
b. rock your neck back and forth to wake up your arm falling alseep
c. exhale as your right foot hits the ground while running to prevent a side-ache (liver)
d. take quick, short breaths to extend your lung capacity before holding your breath underwater
e. cough to lessen pain (temporarily causes rise in pressure in the chest and spinal canal, inhibiting pain-conductors)

etc.

I'd like to hear more of these that you guys have to share.
posted by Mach3avelli to Health & Fitness (62 answers total) 108 users marked this as a favorite
 
To cure hiccups: Fill a glass of water. Stand up straight. Fill your mouth with water. Bend over as much as you can. Swallow the water. Stand up again. Repeat.

I swear it works.
posted by brain_drain at 11:55 AM on June 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Rotate your right foot clockwise, then draw a "6" in the air with your right hand. See what happened to your foot? :)
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 12:00 PM on June 3, 2006 [2 favorites]


brain_drain - that's just silly. Everyone knows the cure for hiccups is a little bit of sugar thrown into the back of your throat.
posted by FlamingBore at 12:04 PM on June 3, 2006


your foot is the same length as your forearm
posted by edgeways at 12:08 PM on June 3, 2006


There are some interesting ones here.
posted by milquetoast at 12:09 PM on June 3, 2006


pinching your earlobe is suppose to be good for nausea
posted by edgeways at 12:10 PM on June 3, 2006


If you can't sleep, lay in bed and concentrate on a point two inches above the roof of your mouth.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:12 PM on June 3, 2006


your foot is the same length as your forearm

Huh? Not even close.
posted by dobbs at 12:14 PM on June 3, 2006


Dobbs: what edgeways meant was "From your elbow to your wrist" For most people, that is an accurate statement. Also, your outstretched arms from fingertip to fingertip are more or less your height.
posted by griffey at 12:23 PM on June 3, 2006


When you get that "coolie head" thing from eating too much ice cream or whatever, push your tongue up against the soft palate in the back of your mouth and it will go away.
posted by jessamyn at 12:43 PM on June 3, 2006


When you get a leg cramp, pinch your bottom lip to stop it.
posted by Airhen at 12:47 PM on June 3, 2006


You should check out reflexology charts. There are connections between parts of your hands and feet and most other parts of your body, mainly your organs. Like, massaging or paying particular attention (pressure, accupuncture, etc) to a spot on your foot that corresponds to your shoulder can ease an injury or arthritis or a frozen shoulder, for example. I've had a little experience with reflexology and it's pretty cool...it works. See how the liver/foot area is much larger on the right foot? Exhaling as that spot hits the ground could possibly take some stress off of the moment of impact, lessening injury or soreness in the liver. That's just a 'hmmm...I wonder....' - me thinking out loud, not actual fact -based on what you said you read in Men's Health.

I just read recently that for every single age spot on the face, hands, arms, etc of an older person, there is a corresponding stone in the liver that is the exact same shape and size.
posted by iconomy at 12:50 PM on June 3, 2006


Not sure if this is the sort of thing you're talking about, but I have always loved this trick.
posted by peep at 12:52 PM on June 3, 2006


what edgeways meant was "From your elbow to your wrist" For most people, that is an accurate statement.

Not even close for me. I don't buy it.
posted by scottreynen at 12:54 PM on June 3, 2006


Elbow to wrist is just about exactly the length of my foot. Huh. Neat!
posted by livii at 1:04 PM on June 3, 2006


Don't take quick short breaths then dive underwater. It reduces the CO2 in the blood making you think you don't need to breathe when you do. You can pass out.
posted by lunkfish at 1:04 PM on June 3, 2006


On the topic of curing hiccups, I find that asking someone what their middle name is works far more often than it has any right to.

Seriously. Try it sometime. You'll both be shocked.
posted by BaronEarth at 1:19 PM on June 3, 2006


When your eyes water and sting from onion-cutting, hold your hands under cold water. The irritation stops immediately.
posted by cometwendy at 2:15 PM on June 3, 2006


Experiment with cold water in your light and right ear.

(e) Clinical effects of caloric stimulation in bipolar disorder?

In view of the efficacy of caloric stimulation in inducing unilateral hemispheric activation (Bottini et al. 1994; Vitte et al. 1996), we suggest that caloric stimulation in acutely manic or depressed patients might support our model of bipolar disorder. The technique is known to temporarily reverse unilateral neglect and anosognosia associated with right-sided lesions (Cappa et al. 1987; Vallar et al. 1993; Ramachandran 1994). Thus cold caloric stimulation of the left ear (activating the right hemisphere) might temporarily reduce the symptoms of mania, while depression might be temporarily reduced by cold right ear caloric stimulation.

google google:

Vestibular stimulation in mania: a case report


Caloric vestibular stimulation represents a novel approach to the treatment of mania. It is possible that it exerts its effect on mood through stimulation of mood related neural circuits. Following caloric vestibular stimulation, functional magnetic resonance imaging shows widespread, mainly contralateral activation of diencephalic and cortical regions which include the basal ganglia, insula, cingulate gyrus, prefrontal, and parieto-temporal areas.1 These areas have also been implicated in disorders of mood, and some laterality of mood is suggested by neuroimaging and lesion studies that link depression to left cerebral impairment and mania to right cerebral impairment.45 Thus impulses transmitted by vestibular afferents in response to caloric vestibular stimulation may reach previously underactive neural pathways, so restoring a balance to previously imbalanced mood circuits.

posted by bleary at 2:27 PM on June 3, 2006 [2 favorites]


s/light/left
posted by bleary at 2:29 PM on June 3, 2006


I swear looking into a bright light for an instant will help you sneeze if you're having trouble doing so.
posted by deep_sea_diving_suit at 2:33 PM on June 3, 2006


With a thumbnail, scratch the inside of a man's thigh with a sharp upward motion. The testicle on that side will rise a centimeter or two, involuntarily.

With one finger in the anus, tug gently on the penis or tap gently on the clitoris. You will observe that the anal sphincter involuntarily contracts.

Flex the proximal interphalangeal joint (middle knuckle of the finger) to a 90 degree angle. Now, tap your fingertip. Because all tendons to the fingertip are slack in this position, the fingertip will dangle freely. Works best on the ring finger.

The next two are dangerous and should not be attempted:

In a squatting position in a hot room, perform the Valsalva maneuver for one minute. (This consists of expiring forcefully against a closed glottis, as a flexing weightlifting or a person straining at stool.) Then, spring upright to your full height while breathing deeply. This will cause most people to lose consciousness, falling to the ground.

Pressure on the eyeball lowers the heart rate by up to 20 beats per minute. The risks of this maneuver include retinal detachment, rupture of the globe, and loss of consciousness.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:35 PM on June 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


I don't recommend cold-water calorics for any purpose, by the way. Awake people stimulated with cold-water calorics will vomit reflexively at least 50% of the time. In addition, risks of the procedure include rupture of the ear-drum.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:36 PM on June 3, 2006


I discovered this, and it works on everyone but me: if someone tells you they have the hiccups, deny it and ask them to prove it. Their hiccups will stop immediately.
posted by arcticwoman at 2:58 PM on June 3, 2006 [3 favorites]


deep_sea_diving_suit, there's a reason for that.
posted by kimota at 3:05 PM on June 3, 2006


Reading something funny on the internet while you are enjoying a refreshing beverage can cause the beverage to be ejected through the nostrils.
posted by horsewithnoname at 3:12 PM on June 3, 2006


Pumping the prostate.
posted by wackybrit at 3:23 PM on June 3, 2006


brain_drain, I tell people the same thing, it is effective for sure.
posted by parallax7d at 3:38 PM on June 3, 2006


Your 'ape index' is your armspam compared to your height as above - +2 means your arms are 2" longer than your height.

On another note, I tried the Valsalva maneuver with a BP monitor just now. It got up to 300 and then gave up. Neat! I wonder if poking my eyeballs repeatedly would balance everything out..
posted by kcm at 3:59 PM on June 3, 2006


Tucking your chin to your chest and breathing slowly and deeply can lower your heart rate.

Related: your pulse tends to quicken on the inhale, slow on the exhale.

My doctor tried tapping my knee for a reflex, not much happened. He had me make fists and my leg jumped very high when tapped.
posted by Phred182 at 4:02 PM on June 3, 2006


If you cross your fingers and rub a pencil between the tips, you'll feel two pencils. Try it on someone who has their eyes closed--they will swear there are two. Your brain hasn't developed the ability to figure this out.

When you blink, your eyelids move down more quickly than they move back up. You can notice this when film is run backwards.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:26 PM on June 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Eating two tablespoons of extra light olive oil at a point in the day when you haven't had any flavor in your mouth for the past hour and won't for the next hour -- this tricks your brain into suppressing your appetite all day long. Doing this every day will help you lose weight. Details.

Works for me.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 4:30 PM on June 3, 2006 [2 favorites]


Most "bad" cholesterol is produced internally by the body.

A major reduction in sugar intake plus the consumption of grape juice is extremely effective at reducing cholesterol levels, without the damage to the liver caused by statin drugs.
posted by invitapriore at 4:59 PM on June 3, 2006 [2 favorites]


your foot is the same length as your forearm


ummm.... not by quite a bit.
posted by Doohickie at 5:24 PM on June 3, 2006


Close your eyes and have someone poke you in the finger tip with either one pencil point or two points and say what you feel. You will be very accurate, even when the points are very, very close. Try it again on the back of your neck and you won't be able to tell the difference between one and two when they're separated by less than 1/2 inch.

Go into a pitch dark room and let your eyes settle in, then take a flash picture and close your eyes. About 3-5 seconds later, you will see an complete and detailed image of what was in front of your eyes.

Wear a pair of prismatic glasses that flip your view upside down for a couple weeks. Suddenly, you will see the world right side up with the glasses on. If you're standing up when the change happens, you're likely to fall over. Take them off and the world will again be upside down.
posted by plinth at 5:33 PM on June 3, 2006


With one finger in the anus, tug gently on the penis or tap gently on the clitoris. You will observe that the anal sphincter involuntarily contracts.

Well, whaddya know, it does!
posted by ludwig_van at 5:34 PM on June 3, 2006


if you have heartburn and no antiacid around, sleep on your left side.
posted by hafif at 6:17 PM on June 3, 2006


Try standing up dead straight and grinning like an idiot. You will feel elated! Feeling miserable has a lot to do with assuming the posture, expression and breathing pattern of a miserable person.

Try slowly and deeply breathing in through your nose (whilst pushing your stomach, not your chest, out) then breathe out through your mouth. Repeat, and you will feel even more elated. I usually end up laughing involuntarily. "Oxygen gets you high".

If you've been sat slouching at a pooter all day, try flexing the muscles all over your back from top to bottom. When I do that I hear and feel all kinds of delicious cracks and snaps, and my back feels loads better for it.
posted by 6am at 7:24 PM on June 3, 2006


Hiccup remedies work because they stop you from being worried about the next hiccup. They distract you, and allow your whateveritis--sympathetic nervous system? I dunno--to regulate itself back to normality again.

Bright lights and sneezing is a well documented phenomenon.

Have someone tap you just above your nose, right between your eyebrows. You will blink, and will be unable to resist it.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:06 PM on June 3, 2006


If you have a stuffed up nose, try placing your thumb in the middle of the roof of your mouth and your index finger on the bridge of your nose. Rock gently back and forth. More often than not, it'll drain in a most satisfying way and stay clear for a little while.

If you want to get a quick idea if pants are going to fit or not, wrap the waist around your neck. If the two ends overlap at the back of your neck, they're going to be too big. The two sides don't touch? (Or chokes you?) Too small.
ikkyu2: In a squatting position in a hot room, perform the Valsalva maneuver for one minute. (This consists of expiring forcefully against a closed glottis, as a flexing weightlifting or a person straining at stool.) Then, spring upright to your full height while breathing deeply. This will cause most people to lose consciousness, falling to the ground.
This cracked me up. I can't imagine the context of how this was first discovered.

"Oy, mate! Look what I can do! EEEEERRRRRGGGG." *thud*
posted by icosahedral at 8:08 PM on June 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


1. If your eyes are adjusted to the dark, and then you are exposed to a bright light your night vision will be ruined and you will have to spend another 30 minutes getting used to the dark. Unless you keep one eye closed...that eye will still be adjusted to the dark.
2. Pilots who pull a lot of "Gs" do what they call a "hook" manuver. Basically the same thing you do when you go #2...keeps the blood in your brain.
3. When you play that stupid picnic game, dizzy izzy (where you put your head on a bat and spin around it 20 times and get really dizzy and then try to run a specific distance) most people will fall down. But if you push on one side of your head (you'll know which one) you can stay upright and run.
posted by QAF at 8:09 PM on June 3, 2006


kcm: Being that that's (at least) five beats a second, I wouldn't recommend doing that again.
posted by abcde at 8:49 PM on June 3, 2006


I've always enjoyed the trick where you click your teeth together while staring at a CRT monitor across the room.
posted by machaus at 9:08 PM on June 3, 2006


That works with LED clocks too, for pretty much the same technical reason.
posted by intermod at 9:27 PM on June 3, 2006


Fun experiment that demonstrates brain hemisphere asymmetry:

Get two pens (/pencils/crayons/whatever) and a piece of paper. With a pen in each hand, simultaneously write your name forward with your dominant hand and backwards with your other hand. It helps to concentrate on the dominant hand and ignore the other hand if you can.

You should get a remarkably close mirror-image of your name (remarkable because it's hard enough to write with your non-dominant hand, but backwards is near impossible). This works best with your name because you're not concentrating on the formation of the letters--the more automatic the writing, the better your non-dominant hand will be at making a mirror image.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:52 PM on June 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Close your eyes and hold your hand out vertically (thumb facing your nose) about 1' in front of your face. Keeping your eyes closed, move your hand from right to left and stop when you think your hand is right in the middle of your face. (It will be.)

Repeat with your hand held horizontally, moving from top to bottom.
posted by aberrant at 11:50 PM on June 3, 2006


I give up.

What's supposed to come as a result of the teeth clicking+CRT/LED thing?
posted by porntips guzzardo at 2:30 AM on June 4, 2006


The forearm/foot thing is right depending on from what points you are measuring. If you line up the heel with the absolute base/edge of the elbow, it won't appear correct, but if you touch the tip of your toe to the knot at the wrist, you can touch the elbow with your heel, if you press far enough in.
posted by vanoakenfold at 6:15 AM on June 4, 2006


You can't make a fist if your wrist is bent all the way down/palmside at a 90-degree angle. Alternately, if you make a fist and try to bend the wrist in that direction, you won't make it all the way.

As far as I know, you can't lick your elbow.

When I'm hungry for something to snack on, pinching an ear lobe, the tip of my nose, or both at the same time, for 10 seconds, makes the desire disappear.

Similar to QAF's one-eye dark-sight, if the sunlight is so bright you need to squint, just clench one eyelid closed and you can open the other one up as normal.

You can't sneeze with your eyes open. You will always blink at the crucial point.
posted by vanoakenfold at 6:27 AM on June 4, 2006


Tightly close one eye with the other eye open, and hold for 5-10 seconds. Then tightly close the other eye and open the previously closed one. For me, it always takes way longer than normal to focus properly on the newly-opened eye. I noticed this when using an amateur telescope at night, squinting one eye would always cause it to be tremendously blurry after opening it.

With your eyes open and lids only barely closed, press very very gently with a finger onto the lids at the outsides making the eyeball move ever so slightly. Looking to either the extreme far left or right you will see a pitch-black circle with a ring of light around it almost like a solar eclipse.
posted by vanoakenfold at 6:34 AM on June 4, 2006


This cracked me up. I can't imagine the context of how this was first discovered.

US Army experiment with 'volunteers' in the 50's. There's film of the experiment kicking around.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:41 AM on June 4, 2006


My doctor tried tapping my knee for a reflex, not much happened. He had me make fists and my leg jumped very high when tapped.

This is known as the Jendrassik maneuver, after the person who described it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:43 AM on June 4, 2006


Pinching the fleshy bit between the thumb and forefinger with a flattened thumb and opposite ring finger for a minute or two, gently but firmly, makes a headache disappear (most times).
posted by tristeza at 6:22 PM on June 4, 2006


What's supposed to come as a result of the teeth clicking+CRT/LED thing?
You get a strobe effect with the scanning lines on the CRT. Eating crunchy chips will produce the same effect. The static on the screen will jump with each bite.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:40 PM on June 4, 2006


You get a strobe effect with the scanning lines on the CRT

you can also do this by holding your ATM card partway between your teeth and twanging on it while looking at the screen.
posted by jessamyn at 11:09 PM on June 4, 2006


If you tell someone that they can't lick their elbow 99% of the time they'll try
posted by joshuak at 11:13 PM on June 4, 2006


hiccups cure #73: drink one full glass of water as fast as you can with one hand plugging your nose very tightly. works for me 95% of the time.

i'd heard that school of thought that reasons that hiccups cures were supposed to merely distract you..... but if it's just a good ol' spasm of the diaphragm, it seems to me that there ought to be something you could do to get things back on track.... but hey, i am (obviously) not a doctor.
posted by puddles at 8:06 AM on June 5, 2006


This one is really impressive.

First, you need to get your night vision going on. Stay outside for 30-45 minutes without any artificial light around; alternatively, sit in a dark room indoors with no light around.

After that much time has passed, your pupils are well dilated. Now, cover one eye securely with your hand or some kind of eye patch. Light a candle. Stare at the candle flame for a few minutes. If you're an outdoor educator, and you're doing this with kids on a night hike, now is a good time to tell them some sort of story.

Finally, blow out the candle so you're back in the dark. Now, alternate looking out of first one eye, then the other, keeping one eye closed at a time. Just comparing.

The difference between the eye that's acclimated to the dark, and the one acclimated to light, is astounding.

Perhaps not so co-incidentally, twilight in temperate climates is just about the same length of time that it takes a human eye to fully make the adjustment to night vision.
posted by Miko at 8:38 PM on June 5, 2006


If you wet the space between your top lip and nose slightly, your heart rate will drop by a few beats.

This is a bit of genetics we share with marine mammals (like seals). When a seal dives into the water, its heart rate drops to only a few beats per minute, to conserve metabolic activity. We get the same effect (just less pronounced) by dunking our heads into a bucket of water, but since the moisture sensors are localted above your upper lip, wetting that works just as well.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 11:38 PM on June 5, 2006


Tickling the roof of your mouth with your tongue will stop a sneeze. Works like a charm.
posted by vronsky at 10:51 PM on June 8, 2006


If you have a nosebleed, take both middle fingers and link them together such that the middle segment of each finger is pressing against the other.

Hold for... 10 seconds? 30 seconds?

In my experience it tends to stop most of my nosebleeds. Learned it at a Chinese immersion course.
posted by nihraguk at 2:46 AM on June 13, 2006


You cannot sneeze with your eyes open.
You cannot sneeze in your sleep.
posted by megatherium at 5:40 PM on September 25, 2006


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