Play Tricks on Your Body

Nov. 7, 2005— -- Have a tickle in your throat? Scratch your ear.

Stuffy nose? Use your tongue.

Brain freeze? Heat your mouth.

According to editor in chief of Men's Health, Dave Zinczenko, these are several of the simple self-healing tricks people can do with their own bodies.

"Whenever we're feeling achy or under the weather, we reach for the drugs in the medicine cabinet," Zinczenko said. "But the body has its own hidden cures, once you know how to push your body's own buttons."

Simply opening the ear canal with a little scratch stimulates nerves that create a reflex in the throat, which cause a muscle spasm -- or a gag -- which will relieve the tickle.

Pushing the tongue to the top of the mouth while pushing on the spot between the eyebrows with the pointer finger will help clear a stuffy nose. Pushing on both places at the same time moves the vomer bone, which runs through the nasal passages, back and forth like a seesaw. The motion loosens the congestion and after about 20 seconds, the sinuses begin to drain.

Zinczenko also said that coughing can dull the pain of receiving a shot. The cough causes a temporary rise in pressure in the chest and spinal canal, which blocks the areas in the spine where pain originates.

When eating ice cream, many people dig in too quickly and get the dreaded "brain freeze." Zinczenko said that pressing the tongue flat against the roof of the mouth -- covering it as much as possible -- will "fake the body out." When the mouth gets very cold, it fools the body into thinking the brain is also freezing. The headache comes from the body compensating and overheating. Heating the mouth will prevent this.