If you do a search on the web for information about rhinotillexis (aka nose picking) you'll soon run across references to Dr. Friedrich Bischinger, described as an Austrian lung specialist, who is quoted as saying that nose-picking combined with nasal mucus eating is a healthy habit:
"With the finger you can get to places you just can't reach with a handkerchief, keeping your nose far cleaner.
"And eating the dry remains of what you pull out is a great way of strengthening the body's immune system.
"Medically it makes great sense and is a perfectly natural thing to do. In terms of the immune system the nose is a filter in which a great deal of bacteria are collected, and when this mixture arrives in the intestines it works just like a medicine.
"Modern medicine is constantly trying to do the same thing through far more complicated methods, people who pick their nose and eat it get a natural boost to their immune system for free."
Bischinger is referenced in the Wikipedia article about nose-picking
as well as in a Damn Interesting article
on the same subject.
The problem is that this quotation from Dr. Bischinger doesn't come from a medical journal article. Instead, it traces back to an Ananova article
(never a good sign), and before that to a news wire article that did the rounds in March 2004.
I had to wonder, does Dr. Bischinger even exist, or was he the creation of a bored journalist?
Well, he does exist. I couldn't find any medical articles authored by him, but after some searching I did find his contact details
listed at the arztverzeichnis website. He is an Austrian lung specialist. Based on a posting on the Improbable Research site
, it looks like Bischinger was first interviewed by a German-language magazine, Tirol
, and then the quotation was noticed and circulated by a news wire reporter.
To conclude: I don't know if nose-picking and booger-eating is good for you. All we can say is that in the opinion of one Austrian doctor it is healthy. However, Dr. Bischinger doesn't appear to have conducted an actual medical study of the habit.