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What the Germs in Your Bellybutton Say About You

At one time or another, every human goes through the rather introverted and personal experience of omphaloskepsis.

The term, better known as navel-gazing, originally described the act of self-reflection through a complete physical and mental focus on the bellybutton. The practice has been recognized as a method of prayer as well as a way to open up the Manipura Chakra and bring oneself closer to inner harmony.

The bellybutton has also been a focus for others as evidenced by the development of navel-focused exhibitions such as belly dancing, samba and well, Britney Spears.

But for people like my colleague Dr. Rob Dunn, the nature of the germs inside the navel tells a far more fascinating tale.

About 18 months ago, researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Dunn, a North Carolina State University professor, came up with an idea to explore the ecology and evolution of daily life and wanted to find a spot on the body that could provide an understanding of the natural skin microbiome. They needed a place that was infrequently disturbed, avoided the scrubbing of daily wash and was common to all humans. There was no better choice than the bellybutton. Dunn and his clan of navel gazers then invited people from two conferences, 60 in total, to swab their bellybuttons and provide him with the samples, which he took back to his lab and cultured. The next several months were spent not only growing the bacteria, but also typing them to identify the species.

Click "source" to read more.

The Huffington Post, Canada - Jason Tetro

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