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Folk-lore Treatment of Sneezing

Nature volume 150, page 118 (25 July 1942) | Download Citation



THE March issue of the Bulletin of the History of Medicine contains an interesting article on contemporary folk-lore treatment of sneezing by Dr. Leo Kanner of Baltimore, who classifies the folk-lore remedies for this condition in the following categories: (1) suggestions, general or specific, of the healers whom the patient should consult ; (2) metaphysical cures and prayers, mental equilibrium and magnetic treatment ; (3) cure through fright ; (4) external remedies, such as pressing and rubbing ; (5) local applications to the nasal mucous membrane; (6) spraying, inhaling, snuffling, smelling and gargling ; (7) exhaling; (8) remedies per os ; (9) complicated recipes ; and (10) hygienic and dietetic measures. Dr. Kanner comes to the conclusion that contemporary folk-lore, despite its apparent simplicity, is a highly complex mixture of a number of different ingredients which consist of the retention of beliefs and practices dating back from the earliest times ; borrowed but not fully understood gleanings from current scientific medicine ; survival of methods which were part of the repertory of practitioners two or three generations ago ; and references to present-day healing cults.

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