QUESTION: Dear Current Science,
Why do people sneeze?
Grand Prairie, Texas
ANSWER: Dear Michelle,
Sneezing occurs when dust, smoke, or other particles in the air=20
irritate the lining of the nostrils. A sneeze is an automatic=20
reaction, or reflex, that blows away the irritants in a violent=20
outburst that can send the irritants flying as far as 9 meters (about=20
People suffering from colds sneeze a lot because cold viruses make=20
the linings of the nostrils extremely sensitive to irritants.
Sneezing can also be an allergic response-an abnormal reaction to=20
harmless substances, such as grass and tree pollen, in the=20
environment. When those substances are inhaled, a reaction occurs in=20
the nose that releases histamine-a highly irritating chemical that=20
triggers sneezing. People who have allergies often take drugs, called=20
antihistamines, to block the irritating effect of histamines on the=20
Doctors have reported rare cases of people who can't stop sneezing.=20
One young girl who couldn't stop sneezing was cured when she moved to=20
the Alps in Switzerland, where the air is virtually free of the=20
substances that trigger chronic sneezing.
The worst sneezing fit on record began on January 13, 1981.=20
Eleven-year-old Donna Griffiths of Pershore, Great Britain, sneezed=20
constantly for 978 days. During her first year of sneezing, Griffiths=20
sneezed about 1 million times.
Is Self Induced Sneezeing the Highest Plateau?
Excerpted from Sneezing Made Easy, A Step by Step Guide for the=20
by Donna Barrow, Ph.S., Licensed Sneezologist, with design by Ira=20
Pepper. Donna Barrow and Ira Pepper live on a small boat with their=20
seven cats off the coast of Point Nez, CA. Complete copies of the=20
guide may be obtained by writing to Sneezing Made Easy, 8 Broadmoor=20
Ave., San Anselmo, CA 94960. Enclose $2 for mailing and handling.
Often people find themselves dissatisfied with ordinary=20
relaxation techniques. After thousands of hours of meditation, John=20
Hambuck (Chairperson of Sneezers of America, or SOA) still found=20
himself edgy and tense. He needed something more: a sudden intense=20
release. That was three years ago.
After his last transcendental experience, John noticed that=20
something was different. He found he had an itch in his nose. "That=20
was strange," he thought, "Here I am as relaxed as I could possibly=20
imagine and yet my nose itches." Reluctantly, John rubbed his nose.=20
Accidentally, he had caused himself to sneeze. After this experience,=20
John felt at peace, completely relaxed.
Not long after John's first self-induced sneeze, he stopped=20
meditating altogether and began devoting just a few minutes a day to=20
self-induced sneezing, achieving what he calls the =91highest plateau'=20
of relaxation. John has finally found what has been missing in his=20
He does not regret his former meditative experiences. In fact, he=20
claims that these experiences led him to the ultimate peace. For he=20
had become relaxed enough through transcendental meditation that he=20
became able to hear and ready to respond to psychic instruction=D0the=20
itchy nose and the subsequent rub.
"I've always enjoyed sneezing, but I assumed I had to be=20
congested to actually sneeze," said May Le Claire, founder of=20
Sneezing is OK (SIOK). "Now that I've mastered the self-induced=20
sneeze, I feel a calling to reach others. That's why I founded this=20
SIOK assists individuals through all phases of sneezing. Set deep=20
in the woods of Humboldt County in Northern California, SIOK=20
headquarters looks a lot like a summer camp."Because sneezing is=20
natural...one has got to feel a oneness with nature. That's why we=20
chose Humboldt," says Mary.
The training is very regimented without being austere.=20
Individuals choose to participate in this six week training program=20
when they feel "ready." Every aspect of the program is designed to=20
create a climate that allows for a "natural, self-induced sneeze."=20
=46or example, meals are prepared with large amounts of pepper and=20
onion. SIOK clients are encouraged to add more pepper to their=20
dishes. For subliminal stimulation, the pepper shakers are in the=20
shapes of noses and are made from rubber.
There are three training hours and two, three-hour support groups=20
each day. Training deals with technique, and support groups work with=20
such common issues as insecurity and frustration. Sneezing and=20
relaxation exercises are assigned as homework and are to be completed=20
by clients on their own before bedtime.
Out of the 32 people who sign up for the program every six weeks,=20
an average of three do not successfully complete the course. The=20
other 29 leave to pursue career interests and lead more peaceful=20
Anyone who desires nasal control. It is a state of mind rather=20
than a social class or age group that determines who will become a=20
Can I Sneeze?
That common question is almost always asked by the first time=20
sneezer. Sometimes the most difficult questions have the most simple=20
solutions. Yes, you can sneeze too. It takes a lot of hard work; but=20
once you have successfully induced a sneeze, the sneezes that follow=20
will become increasingly less difficult.