Here’s Looking Achoo! Debunking The Sneeze

From NPR:

Technically, sneezing is a reflex to the usual irritants such as germs, dust or pollen. But it turns out your nose can get ruffled by some of the strangest things. One false move may trigger an epic sneezing fit, and the 1969 978-day record is ripe for the taking.

Let’s look deeper into your nose and all of its mysteries, shall we?

Sneezing is bad for the soul.

In 1515, Leonardo da Vinci dissected a human brain in an effort to find the soul. Though his soulsearching came up empty, this did not stop people from believing that the soul lives inside the head – a concept widely held during that time. When someone sneezed, the soul was believed to have been thrown from the body, thereby leaving it open for invasion by evil spirits.

Sneezing is good for the soul.

The good news is that once invaded, the body would try to quickly force the spirit out; this is best accomplished, of course, by sneezing. No matter which way the spirits are moving, however, sneezes were thought to be a gateway to the supernatural.

If you say “God Bless You,” God might spare you. Or not.

The origin of this custom is varied, but one of the more prevalent theories is that during the 6th-century plague, which originated via disease-carrying mice in Egypt, Pope Gregory I urged divine intercession to help ward off illness. Because sneezing was one of the first signs of the deadly plague, he commanded people to say “God Bless You” after a sneeze. Even so, by the time the plague had run its course, it had killed half the population of Europe. Pope Gregory may have benefited from a backup plan.

Your heart stops or skips a beat when you sneeze.

It doesn’t. However, the increase in pressure …

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