These days every parent thinks their child is gifted, exceptional. One visit to a children’s museum or other place where moms gather and you will overhear the struggle of how their child is wittier, smarter, quicker, faster or more advanced than “other children.” You can, of course, relate to the sense of pride I felt when my then three year old daughter, in the glory of a prodigy, uttered the knowledge and understanding of the scientific concept of: deliquescence dissolution… The act or process of resolving or dissolving into parts or elements. My head swelled with pride and there were stars in my eyes. At that moment I was certain that my daughter, smarter than all other three year olds that have ever lived, would one day change the world the way she had already changed mine.
“Mama, when you eat boogers, they DISSOLVE.”
Did you hear that? She not only KNEW and SAID a big word, but she clearly understood the concept as well because she scientifically put to to the test when she…wait……….um…oh…no….she. eats. boogers? My princess EATS boogers???
Let’s face it, everyone picks their nose, except me, of course. Oh, and you, dear reader. But we know everyone else does. We’ve seen (other people’s) kids play finger twister. How often at a stoplight have you seen someone knuckle-deep in the nose, in a trance only a green light can break? If you miss the green arrow, the guy in front of you is either texting or picking his nose. Usually the picking is followed by a shirt wipe or what I call the thumb and finger roll followed by a flick. Ew. But have you ever seen anyone EAT one?
Probably, yes. Your gifted child.
This got me curious. If my highly-intelligent three year old eats her boogers, along with millions of other brilliant children (you know who they are) there must be a reason. So I set out to find out what is was.
Boogers, as you know are dried bits of mucous mixed with dust and germs. One of the functions of nasal mucous is to trap these toxins before they reach your lungs and enter your bloodstream. It’s like the defensive lineup in football, when we don’t want a microbe to score a touchdown.
Mucous contains important antibodies that help kill trapped viruses and bacteria, making boogers, perhaps, another part of our microbiome. Some suggest that the proteins and polysaccharides in mucous act like a medicine when combined with trapped germs and then ingested. Like a micro-auto vaccination?
Researchers at MIT have found that mucous does not merely trap germs, but prevents the microbes from forming biofilms, which cause difficult-to-treat and chronic infections. This means mucous helps keep bacteria from clumping together so your immune system can more easily combat them.
These researchers are looking into ways that mucin, a protein in mucous, can be used to treat infections better than antibiotics, which can also kill healthy bacteria.
Oral mucins are thought to help prevent against cavities.
The polysaccahrides in mucous have a sweet-ish taste. Biochemistry professor and researcher Dr. Scott Napper, claims that this sugary taste may be a way to entice humans to ingest boogers for the benefit of the immune system.
While no scientific studies regarding the ingestion of boogers have been reported, there is much evidence with regard to the ways that mucous helps keep us healthy and healthy mucous is part of a larger microbiome. Maybe your nose-picking kid is a savant, afterall. I know mine is.
Razi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.