, 2nd July, 2000
human being produces between half and four litres a day of this
sticky viscous fluid. It's used for everything from protection
to transport. So why is it so disgusting to us?
Pillay as she gets up everyone's nose
is made out of a protein called mucin, water and salt. It's
produced by mucus cells which are found in the mouth, nose,
stomach, genital and urinary tracts. More is produced when you
talk, eat or exercise. Foods which help in the production of
mucus include dairy products and refined sugar and flour products
such as bread.
for the science buffs ....
pus (or green nasal mucus) is caused by iron-containing myelo-peroxidases
and other oxidases and peroxidases used by polymorphonuclear
(PMN) granulocytes (neutrophils). These short-lived phyagoytising
leucocytes avidly ingest all sorts of bacteria and inactivate
them by oxidative processes, involving the iron-containing
enzymes above. The resulting breakdown product (comprising
dead PMNs, digested bacteria and used enzymes), pus, contains
significant amounts of iron, which gives it its greenish colour.
edge spoke to the BBC World Service science unit's Roland
Pease about exactly what goes into the genuine article.
Do We Need Slime?
is an essential part of many bodily functions. Without mucus
our stomachs would be vulnerable to the acid we use to break
down our food. Our noses use mucus to flush out harmful material
from inhaled air and to protect against infection. Mucus in
our mouths softens and lubricates the food to make it easier
has lots of other uses in the natural world as well. The hagfish
uses it to deter potential predators. Douglas Fudge, a graduate
student in the zoology department at the University of British
Columbia in Vancouver comments:
'Throw a medium-sized hagfish into a five-gallon bucket
and annoy it sufficiently grab it or stress it out in some
way and it can turn pretty much all the water in the bucket
to slime. Almost instantaneously.'
are perhaps the most famous producers of mucus - without it
they wouldn't be going anywhere. Okay so they're slow but
there's a reason for it. In fact using mucus as a means of
transport is laborious and expensive.
Sabie Newton says that 'the word bogey is associated with
bad things - spirits, darkness and the bogeymen'.
Why Do People Pick?
at one time or another has stuck their finger up their nose.So
why do so many people have a fascination with the little green
men who live up our noses?
to what she has to say about Freud and nose picking.
There's a lot of people out there who enjoy it, even flaunt
it. Listen to this - gross!
has even written a song about it!
For A While or, The Singer's Plaint Upon Being Afflicted
With The Grippe.
"Music for a While", composed by Mr. Hen. Purcell. Accompanied
most Preferably on the Catarrh.
for a while,
all your Nose Defile;
Wond'ring how your Pains were eased,
Losing Count how much you've Sneezed,
Till the Phthisick stop the Flows
From their Eternall Drips;
Till the Rheum drops from your Nose
And the Cold Sores chap your Lips. Mucus, for a while,
Shall all your Nose Defile