1. If your throat tickles, scratch your ear.

When you were 9, playing your armpit was a cool trick.
Now, as an adult, you can still appreciate a good
body-based feat, but you're more discriminating. Take
that tickle in your throat; it's not worth gagging
over. Here's a better way to scratch your itch: "When
the nerves in the ear are stimulated, it creates a
reflex in the throat that can cause a muscle spasm,"
says Scott Schaffer, M.D., president of an ear, nose
and throat specialty center in Gibbsboro, New Jersey.
"This spasm relieves the tickle."

2. Experience supersonic hearing!

If you're stuck chatting up a mumbler at a cocktail
party, lean in with your right ear. It's better than
your left at following the rapid rhythms of speech,
according to researchers at the UCLA David Geffen
School of Medicine. If, on the other hand, you're
trying to identify that song playing softly in the
elevator, turn your left ear toward the sound. The
left ear is better at picking up music tones.

3. Overcome your most primal urge!

Need to pee? No bathroom nearby? Fantasize about
Jessica Simpson. Thinking about sex preoccupies your
brain, so you won't feel as much discomfort, says
Larry Lipshultz, M.D., chief of male reproductive
medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine. For best
results, try Simpson's "These Boots Are Made for
Walking" video.

4. Feel no pain!

German researchers have discovered that coughing
during an injection can lessen the pain of the needle
stick. According to Taras Usichenko, author of a study
on the phenomenon, the trick causes a sudden,
temporary rise in pressure in the chest and spinal
canal, inhibiting the pain-conducting structures of
the spinal cord.

5. Clear your stuffed nose!

Forget Sudafed. An easier, quicker, and cheaper way to
relieve sinus pressure is by alternately thrusting
your tongue against the roof of your mouth, then
pressing between your eyebrows with one finger. This
causes the vomer bone, which runs through the nasal
passages to the mouth, to rock back and forth, says
Lisa DeStefano, D.O., an assistant professor at the
Michigan State University college of osteopathic
medicine. The motion loosens congestion; after 20
seconds, you'll feel your sinuses start to drain.

6. Fight fire without water!

Worried those wings will repeat on you tonight? "Sleep
on your left side," says Anthony A. Star-poli, M.D., a
New York City gastroenterologist and assistant
professor of medicine at New York Medical College.
Studies have shown that patients who sleep on their
left sides are less likely to suffer from acid reflux.
The esophagus and stomach connect at an angle. When
you sleep on your right, the stomach is higher than
the esophagus, allowing food and stomach acid to slide
up your throat. When you're on your left, the stomach
is lower than the esophagus, so gravity's in your

7. Cure your toothache without opening your mouth!

Just rub ice on the back of your hand, on the V-shaped
webbed area between your thumb and index finger. A
Canadian study found that this technique reduces
toothache pain by as much as 50 percent compared with
using no ice. The nerve pathways at the base of that V
stimulate an area of the brain that blocks pain
signals from the face and hands.

8. Make burns disappear!

When you accidentally singe your finger on the stove,
clean the skin and apply light pressure with the
finger pads of your unmarred hand. Ice will relieve
your pain more quickly, Dr. DeStefano says, but since
the natural method brings the burned skin back to a
normal temperature, the skin is less likely to

9. Stop the world from spinning!

One too many drinks left you dizzy? Put your hand on
something stable. The part of your ear responsible for
balance—the cupula—floats in a fluid of the same
density as blood. "As alcohol dilutes blood in the
cupula, the cupula becomes less dense and rises," says
Dr. Schaffer. This confuses your brain. The tactile
input from a stable object gives the brain a second
opinion, and you feel more in balance. Because the
nerves in the hand are so sensitive, this works better
than the conventional foot-on-the-floor wisdom.

10. Unstitch your side!

If you're like most people, when you run, you exhale
as your right foot hits the ground. This puts downward
pressure on your liver (which lives on your right
side), which then tugs at the diaphragm and creates a
side stitch, according to The Doctors Book of Home
Remedies for Men. The fix: Exhale as your left foot
strikes the ground.

11. Stanch blood with a single finger!

Pinching your nose and leaning back is a great way to
stop a nosebleed—if you don't mind choking on your own
O positive. A more civil approach: Put some cotton on
your upper gums—just behind that small dent below your
nose—and press against it, hard. "Most bleeds come
from the front of the septum, the cartilage wall that
divides the nose," says Peter Desmarais, M.D., an ear,
nose, and throat specialist at Entabeni Hospital, in
Durban, South Africa. "Pressing here helps stop them."

12. Make your heart stand still!

Trying to quell first-date jitters? Blow on your
thumb. The vagus nerve, which governs heart rate, can
be controlled through breathing, says Ben Abo, an
emergency medical-services specialist at the
University of Pittsburgh. It'll get your heart rate
back to normal.

13. Thaw your brain!

Too much Chipwich too fast will freeze the brains of
lesser men. As for you, press your tongue flat against
the roof of your mouth, covering as much as you can.
"Since the nerves in the roof of your mouth get
extremely cold, your body thinks your brain is
freezing, too," says Abo. "In compensating, it
overheats, causing an ice-cream headache." The more
pressure you apply to the roof of your mouth, the
faster your headache will subside.

14. Prevent near-sightedness!

Poor distance vision is rarely caused by genetics,
says Anne Barber, O.D., an optometrist in Tacoma,
Washington. "It's usually caused by near-point
stress." In other words, staring at your computer
screen for too long. So flex your way to 20/20 vision.
Every few hours during the day, close your eyes, tense
your body, take a deep breath, and, after a few
seconds, release your breath and muscles at the same
time. Tightening and releasing muscles such as the
biceps and glutes can trick involuntary muscles—like
the eyes—into relaxing as well.

15. Wake the dead!

If your hand falls asleep while you're driving or
sitting in an odd position, rock your head from side
to side. It'll painlessly banish your pins and needles
in less than a minute, says Dr. DeStefano. A tingly
hand or arm is often the result of compression in the
bundle of nerves in your neck; loosening your neck
muscles releases the pressure. Compressed nerves lower
in the body govern the feet, so don't let your
sleeping dogs lie. Stand up and walk around.

16. Impress your friends!

Next time you're at a party, try this trick: Have a
person hold one arm straight out to the side, palm
down, and instruct him to maintain this position. Then
place two fingers on his wrist and push down. He'll
resist. Now have him put one foot on a surface that's
a half inch higher (a few magazines) and repeat. This
time his arm will fold like a house of cards. By
misaligning his hips, you've offset his spine, says
Rachel Cosgrove, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Results
Fitness, in Santa Clarita, California. Your brain
senses that the spine is vulnerable, so it shuts down
the body's ability to resist.

17. Breathe underwater!

If you're dying to retrieve that quarter from the
bottom of the pool, take several short breaths
first—essentially, hyperventilate. When you're
underwater, it's not a lack of oxygen that makes you
desperate for a breath; it's the buildup of carbon
dioxide, which makes your blood acidic, which signals
your brain that somethin' ain't right. "When you
hyperventilate, the influx of oxygen lowers blood
acidity," says Jonathan Armbruster, Ph.D., an
associate professor of biology at Auburn University.
"This tricks your brain into thinking it has more
oxygen." It'll buy you up to 10 seconds.

18. Read minds!

Your own! "If you're giving a speech the next day,
review it before falling asleep," says Candi
Heimgartner, an instructor of biological sciences at
the University of Idaho. Since most memory
consolidation happens during sleep, anything you read
right before bed is more likely to be encoded as
long-term memory.

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