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7 Superstitions and Old Wives' Tales Involving the Human Body

Cindy is an author and paranormal enthusiast who has published numerous books and articles on the subject of true unexplained phenomena.

Many people believe that their bodies can predict changes in the weather.

Many people believe that their bodies can predict changes in the weather.

There are those who swear that their knees and backs can predict the weather much more accurately than any meteorologist. If you happen to be one of those folks who believe the old wives' tale that a worsening of your aches and pains is a result of a change in the atmosphere, you are not alone. All the same, this widespread belief, despite its popularity, does have its detractors.

A controlled study of nearly twelve million Medicare patients found that complaints of excessive pain in the joints and bones were actually greater on days when the weather was dry. Although the margin was negligible, it was enough to convince researchers that our bodies react pretty much the same regardless of weather conditions.

Be that as it may, those who suffer from arthritis and other similar afflictions will be quick to tell you that the study is dead wrong. They know from experience that their backs and knees act up prior to, and during, a cloudburst. While some scientists proclaim that these symptoms would be present regardless of what is happening outside, those suffering from a touch of bursitis would beg to differ.

Conversely, other documented studies have shown that temperature fluctuations and damp weather do indeed bring with them an increased level of discomfort, something that any old wife worth her salt already knew.

Cold weather

Cold weather

2. Cold Begets Cold

While we're on the subject of weather, as a child, you were probably cautioned on more than one occasion to bundle up before venturing outdoors so you wouldn't catch a cold. It stands to reason that stepping out into the frigid air would fill your lungs with an icy influx that would subsequently lead to sickness. As sound as that theory may be, a fair bit of doubt has been cast on its validity.

Keeping your body's core temperature regulated boosts your immune system, of that there is no doubt. This is why we are advised to wear layers of clothing when the mercury drops. While this precaution may make us more comfortable, it does nothing to prevent us from contracting a bug.

Since the common cold is a virus, it enters our system through contact with the bacteria-laden droplets of those who carry the infection. Contrary to the teachings of lore, the weather--hot, cold, or otherwise--isn't to blame for your stuffy nose and racking cough. If this is in fact the case, the next time you're down with a nasty cold, you can thank the walking germ machine who failed to cover their sneeze instead of the frosty temperatures.

3. Stubbing Your Toe

We all know how painful it can be to stub one of our toes on a piece of furniture, or other obstacle, that sneaks out in front of us without warning. As superstition has it, what we don't realize as we nurse our aching appendage, is that our serendipitous mishap was actually destiny's way of telling us that we were headed someplace we weren't meant to be.

Fate, rather than allowing us to continue on and risk facing whatever catastrophe is lying in wait, throws something in our path in order to impede our progress. This action, excruciating though it may be, is not intended do to us harm, but to save us from a greater threat that lies ahead.



4. Sneezing

If you happen to find yourself suddenly overcome by a sneezing fit, and are not suffering from a cold or other respiratory condition, you just might be preying on someone's mind. This could be taken as an insult, a boon to your ego, or a gift from you immortal soul, depending on the circumstances.

To sneeze once and be done with it suggests that someone, somewhere, is talking about you in less-than-glowing terms. Their negativity is so invasive that it threatens to pollute your system. In order to expel the vitriol, you sneeze it out which frees you from the lingering effects of the hurtful words.

If you sneeze twice in a row, this means that an individual you haven't seen in a while misses you with all of their being. Their feelings of longing are so intense that they are parlayed to you through channels we can't begin to understand; ultimately manifesting in the form of a pair of sneezes.

Three consecutive sneezes points to the possibility that you have a secret admirer. Even though you may be completely unaware of their existence, the triple sneeze is their way of sending you a subliminal message that they are pining for you from afar.

The belief that gazing into the sun will make you sneeze is one that has been around for centuries. Unlike some of the other far-fetched notions mentioned here, this is a thoroughly researched phenomenon that affects nearly a third of the world's population.

As it turns out, the urge to sneeze that is brought on by the sun is a reflex action that occurs when the bright light enters the eye, causing our pupils to constrict. When this happens, the trigeminal nerve is triggered which in turn irritates the sinus passages. These nerve endings, which don't normally interact, work in unison when confronted with the powerful rays causing some people to sneeze.



5. Yawning

When we are worn out from the drudgery of daily life, or because we are sleep deprived, our bodies come to the rescue by forcing us to yawn. This action floods our blood stream with oxygen, allowing us to momentarily feel rejuvenated.

For those who believe that even the most mundane occurrence should be approached with caution, yawning is more than just a way of clearing a foggy mind. These out-of-the-box thinkers will tell you that the act of opening your mouth involuntarily is brought about by the knowledge that, buried deep in your psyche, you are aware that someone has just spoken your name.

Although you neither heard nor saw this take place, you attempt to reply only to discover that you are at a loss for words. The only thing you can manage at that moment is a deep inhalation of air followed by a slow exhalation.

These same people will also advise you to cover your mouth when yawning, just as you would when you sneeze. Neglecting to do this could very well make you a sitting duck for roaming demons that might see your gaping mouth as an invitation to enter and dive right in.

Once the interloper has made itself at home, a world of turmoil lay ahead. From then on, your existence will be poisoned by the awareness that you are no longer yourself, but powerless to do anything about it. The remainder of your life will be spent bemoaning the fact that the portal that was created by yawning would have been inaccessible had you only taken the time to cover your mouth.

6. Hiccups

When babies and small children get the hiccups, parents often joke that their little ones are growing. However, when adults are overcome with these sometimes uncomfortable muscle spasms, it's not nearly as cute or amusing.

Hiccups can occur for a variety of reasons, none of which are a precursor to a growth spurt. Wolfing down food or indulging in a bubbly beverage can introduce air and gas into our systems that agitate our diaphragm, resulting in a bout of hiccups.

In some cultures, hiccups are thought to mean that the sufferer is monopolizing the thoughts of another. Normally, this is taken as a sign that a person in whom you have a romantic interest feels the same way and can't stop thinking about you.

For those who see everything as a negative, a sudden attack of hiccups indicates that someone known to the afflicted party is thinking of them, not with love, but with contempt. The resulting spasms are their subconscious mind's way of warning them that there is an enemy in their midst.



7. Monobrows

Monobrows, also known as unibrows, occur when a person's eyebrows form one continuous line. While some who sport this unique feature wear it proudly, others choose to shave or wax the hair growing above their nose in order to keep stares to a minimum. In superstition, eyebrows with no noticeable separation have meanings ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Some claim that those with prominent monobrows possess above-average intelligence. By their estimation, the individual's mind is so fertile that it encourages excessive hair growth above the eyes. This overgrowth is thought to mimic the constant hub of activity taking place beneath the surface.

Along those same lines, men who wear their monobrows with aplomb are said to be not only intimidating, but also extremely virile. Considered the ultimate man's man, their company is coveted by women who long for a large family. While not everyone's cup of tea, a bushy monobrow suggests that the one boasting the unusual feature will have no trouble fathering a brood of children.

In the days when monstrous predators were rumored to stalk the moors, those with monobrows were forced to keep their atypical shocks of facial hair covered up lest they be branded a werewolf.

Those who braved the public with their unibrows on full display quickly drew the attention of paranoid villagers who assumed that a devilish beast was walking among them in human form. Scrutinized for their appearance, the object of these suspicions was forced to assimilate or face the wrath of their overzealous neighbors.


  • U.S. News

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.