[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
February 28th is International Sword Swallowers Awareness Day, according to practitioner Dan Meyer, who recently demonstrated the technique at the AAAS meeting in Chicago.
“When I put the sword in my mouth, I will repress the gag reflex in the back of the throat. Then I have to go behind my Adam’s apple, my prominentia laryngea, behind the voice box, the larynx, down about through the crichopharyngeal sphincter, up in the upper part of the mouth here. Then down into the esophagus, repress the peristalysis reflex, which is 22 pairs of muscles that swallows your food. From there relax the esophageal muscles, relax the lower esophageal sphincter, and slip the blade down into my stomach, repress the wretch reflex in my stomach.”
Sword swallowers have made important contributions to medicine—besides giving doctors work. “In 1868 Dr. Adolph Kussmaul at the University of Freiberg, Germany, developed the rigid endoscope, by using a sword swallower as his guinea pig. And he took him around on demonstrations. And sword swallowers have been used throughout the years as guinea pigs for the medical and science communities. That’s what we’re celebrating on February 28th, on Sword Swallowers Day.”