Could JFK's Speech Literally Make Santorum Vomit?
Brain, gut can both send nausea signals: Will Oremus
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2012 11:15 AM CST
Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum touches his nose as he speaks during a campaign rally, Monday, Feb. 27, 2012, in Lansing, Mich.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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(Newser) – Twice now, Rick Santorum has said that the idea of absolute separation of church and state makes him feel like vomiting. But could he literally be provoked to throw up just by thinking about something? Yes, writes Will Oremus in a particularly gross Explainer column on Slate. Both the gut and the brain can send signals to the gastrointestinal system, meaning it's not just food poisoning that can cause you to lose your lunch—a strong enough signal from the brain can do the same thing.

One example is sympathetic vomiting, in which a person vomits simply because they saw another person vomit. Another: Cancer patients who have repeatedly been nauseated by chemotherapy sometimes vomit as soon as they enter the treatment room. Studies have also shown that gross images can trigger nausea just as putrid smells do, and some subjects have become nauseated just from looking at pictures of other people who look disgusted. If you can stomach more—including why Santorum might be particularly prone to nausea—click to read on.
 

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