The way you breathe greatly impacts your health and healing. Breathing fresh air deeply can flood your body with life-giving oxygen and increase your energy tremendously. Conversely, not breathing deeply enough, or not having enough fresh air replete with oxygen, can drain a person of energy and can lead to a mild state of hypoxyia or low oxygen that like suffocation can have potentially catastrophic health effects.
The most common cause of hypoxia is from anemia or low blood hemoglobin. Severe anemia can be fatal because it can cause low oxygen levels in vital organs. Your vital organs are those that are vital to your survival, such as your heart, lungs and liver. For example: Severe anemia can lead to heart attack.
Anemia and low blood oxygen can also cause irritability, sleeplessness (including in newborn infants and young children), reduced mental sharpness, lack of energy or tiring easily (fatigue), increased heart rate (tachycardia), abnormal paleness or lack of color of the skin, sore or swollen tongue, enlarged spleen and a desire to eat peculiar substances such as dirt or ice (a condition called pica).
Obviously, it is of the utmost importance for your body cells and tissues to have adequate oxygen 24/7. Breathing deeply and assuring adequate fresh air and oxygen to your tissues is critical both day and night. Leaving a window open for fresh air at night and getting effective treatment for snoring and sleep apnea with nasal dilators can greatly boost your health. Likewise, using nasal dilators during times of heavy physical labor such as during marathons and other stressful activities can also help to properly aerate your body and assure top performance and optimal physical and mental health.Calgary Naturopathsand Naturopathic medicine can make a huge difference in your health – why not visit a naturopath like:
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How important is Adequate Oxygen to Good Health?The human body and all other living creatures have evolved elaborate systems of assuring an adequate oxygen supply to all body cells. A healthy circulatory system is required for delivering oxygen, other vital nutrients and regulatory compounds to cells and carrying away carbon dioxide and other wastes.
Blood formation occurs within bone marrow where red corpuscles are made with a ‘factory-like’ output of approximately one billion corpuscles every minute; there are literally trillions of red blood cells in the blood stream at any given time. Imagine, if you can, that there are normally over 5 million such red cells in 1 cubic millimetre of blood—the amount of blood in a cube almost 0.04 inches on each side! Your blood count is the
number of cells in a cubic millimetre, which varies considerably from person to person. Each corpuscle must contain a normal amount of hemoglobin (protein that carries iron); there are ideally about 16 grams of hemoglobin in about a half cup (100 cc.) of blood.
The colour brightness of 100% hemoglobin saturation (which represents 16 grams per 100cc.) is used as the standard for measuring people’s blood hemoglobin levels. Most people have 14 grams or less of hemoglobin per 100 cc. of blood—which is only 87.5% or less of what they should have. This may be due to low red corpuscles production or a lack of hemoglobin. A person without healthy blood is listless, tires easily, lacks energy, looks pale, is often forgetful and cannot think quickly or clearly. Brittle nails and hair are also symptoms of anemia.
Iron deficiency anemia causing “hypoxia” or low oxygen in bodily tissues, is reputedly the most common deficiency disease in the world. Iron deficiency is considered the most common nutrient deficiency in the industrialized Western world with estimates of up to 26% of the population being in this category. The Journal of the American Medical Association concluded in their March 1997 issue that: “Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia are still common in toddlers, adolescent girls and women of childbearing age” (Looker et al. 1997). Other researchers report that iron deficiency is the most common deficiency worldwide, which affects about 20% of the world population (Bruner et al. 1996).
According to a CDC report from 2002, “Iron deficiency, the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, has negative effects on work capacity and on motor and mental development in infants, children, and adolescents, and maternal iron deficiency anemia might cause low birth-weight and preterm delivery. Although iron deficiency is more common in developing countries, a significant prevalence was observed in the United States during the early 1990s among certain populations, such as toddlers and females of childbearing age. The estimated prevalence of iron deficiency was greatest among toddlers aged 1—2 years (7%) and adolescent and adult females aged 12—49 years (9%—16%). The prevalence of iron deficiency was approximately two times higher among non-Hispanic black and Mexican-American females (19%—22%) than among non-Hispanic white females (10%). One of the national health objectives for 2010 is to reduce iron deficiency in these vulnerable populations by 3—4 percentage points (objective no. 19-12).”
Pregnancy and AnemiaDuring pregnancy, a woman’s blood volume actually doubles. The amount of blood pumping through the body can put a strain on all of the organ systems, especially if there is a deficiency of iron and hence poor blood quality. Many authorities believe that 90 percent of pregnant women are, or become, Iron Defficient or Anemic. Dr. Abbott and Dr. Ahmann of the University of Florida Agricultural Experiment Station studied the blood of almost nine hundred people. They used low standards by which 13.7 grams of hemoglobin was considered normal. Even using lowered standards they found that 50 percent of the subjects were anemic and 31 percent more were borderline. Many people only had a third of normal hemoglobin levels. Authorities conclude that constant fatigue, inefficiency and poor thinking caused by anemia cannot be ignored. Many other studies have had the same findings. Studies have also proven that when a diet rich in iron is provided, particularly from liquid iron gluconate products that can be found in most health food stores, both the amount of hemoglobin and the number of red corpuscles in the blood normalize.
It has been shown that anemia during pregnancy can cause a decrease in IQ of the unborn child. It has also been shown that premature birth for an infant can actually increase their IQ due to the increased oxygen available to the infant after birth. This may be precisely why anemia in pregnant women increases the risk of premature birth; nature prevents further damage to the unborn child that is essentially being “suffocated” slowly.
It may be that pregnant women and their unborn children can also benefit greatly from the regular use of a nasal dilator to assure adequate oxygenation of blood day and night.
Breath as EnergizerDr. Andrew Weil, in his book, Spontaneous Healing, points out that in many languages the words for spirit and breath are the same: Sanskrit, prana; Greek, pneuma; Hebrew, ruach; Latin, spiritus.
“How we breathe both reflects the state of the nervous system and influences the state of the nervous system. You can learn to regulate heart rate, blood pressure, circulation, and digestion by consciously changing the rhythm and depth of breathing. You can tone the healing system in the same way”.
“Breath is the essence of being, and in all aspects of the universe we can see the same rhythmic pattern of expansion and contraction, whether in the cycles of day and night, waking and sleeping, high and low tides, or seasonal growth and decay. Oscillation between two phases exists at every level of reality, even up to the scale of the observable universe itself, which is presently in expansion but will surely at some point contract back to the original, unimaginable point that is everything and nothing, completing one cosmic breath”.
Dr. Weil tells the story of a man who recovered from advanced kidney cancer, in large part due to his improved breathing.
“A Japanese friend of mine, Shin-ichiro Terayama, who is an executive director of the Japan Holistic Medical Society, is a cancer survivor. By training, Shin is a solid-state physicist and management consultant. Now fifty-eight and radiantly healthy, he is an international networker for the cause of holistic medicine, an accomplished cellist, and a consellor of the sick, especially those with cancer. I do not think I would have liked him if we had met ten years ago, before he was diagnosed with cancer. In photographs from that time he appears pinched and unpleasant, nothing like the warmhearted, spiritually awake man I know.
Back then he was a workaholic, on call twenty-four hours a day. He slept little, drank between ten and twenty cups of coffee a day, was much enamored of beefsteaks and sweets and had no time for music in his life. In the fall of 1983 he had a fever lasting a month and could not stand or walk, but medical tests were normal. In November 1984, at the urging of his wife, a physician, Shin went into hospital. X-rays revealed a tumor, and the doctors pressed him to consent to surgical removal of the kidney. Shin asked if the tumor was benign or malignant and was told it was “something in between”. In fact, it was renal cell carcinoma—kidney cancer—and had already metastasized to his lungs.
One night, after several chemo and radiation treatments, he had a powerful dream about attending his own funeral, which made him feel for the first time that he was very sick and might die and had been deluded about the real nature of his illness. He also developed an unusual symptom, a hyperacute sense of smell.
“I was on the second floor of the hospital,” he recalled, “but I could smell food being prepared on the fourth floor. I could smell the body odors of all the nurses. I was in a ward with six patients, and the smells became intolerable. I had to get away from them; they reminded me of death.” Shin waited until after dark, got out of bed unseen, and followed his nose to safety. The only place that smelled all right to him was the roof of the hospital, where he drank fresh air into his lungs. After that, Shin checked out of the hospital and consulted with a traditional Oriental medicine friend, who urged him to adopt a strict brown rice diet. “I couldn’t imagine it,” said Shin.
When Shin awoke the next day, he was amazed to find himself alive. The morning seemed to him unbearably beautiful, and he was aware of a great desire to watch the sun rise. He went to the eighth floor rooftop of his apartment house, where he could look over the skyline of Tokyo. He recited Buddhist mantras and poems, put his hands together to pray, and awaited the sun. When it rose, he felt a ray enter his chest, sending energy through his body. “I felt something wonderful was going to happen, and I started to cry,” he says. “I was just so happy to be alive. I saw the sun as God. When I came back down to my apartment, I saw auras around all my family members. I thought everyone was God.
During the next few weeks Shin observed the strict diet and performed daily the important ritual of watching the sun rise from his roof—and breathing deeply of the fresh air—the one thing he looked forward to each day. His condition fluctuated. His doctor tried to warn him off the macrobiotic diet, urging him to eat more meat and fish, and also tried to get him to take oral chemotherapy. Shin refused. He then checked into a new healing retreat a friend had opened in the Japan Alps, with hot spring baths and excellent natural food. He rested, took daily walks in the forests and mountains, and began to play the cello, something he had not done for years.
He just kept breathing deeply of fresh air.
“The clean air and water invigorated me”, he recalls, “and I became aware of the natural healing power that is within me and around me. Gradually, I began to realize that I had created my own cancer. I had created it by my behaviour. And as I came to that realization, I saw that I had to love my cancer, not attack it as an enemy. It was part of me, and I had to love my whole self.
Today Shin Terayama is not merely a cancer survivor. He is a transformed being who neither looks, acts, nor thinks like his old self. I have been privileged to hike with him in the mountains of Japan and America, sit with him in hot springs, attend his concerts and lectures and listen to him counsel dozens of newly diagnosed cancer patients. “You must love your cancer,” he always tells his clients. “Your cancer is a gift. It is the way to your transformation and new life”.
Shin’s story well illustrates the power of breath and body/mind/spirit in healing.
My Own Story with Breathing and HealthPersonally, when I feel stressed and worried, I tend to breathe shallow—and not really embrace life as fully as I would like to.
I recently lived in a house that was contaminated with exhaust from a natural gas fireplace that was not functioning properly due to below standard pipe work into the fireplace and poor ventilation. The house was very beautiful and we were very happy to move in but it turned out that there were very serious problems with the house. I called Terasen Gas and then a service company that they recommended but was told there was nothing wrong.
All winter I felt terribly worried that something was wrong (I could smell it but I couldn’t prove it) and I was often terrified at night that there was a real danger of fire or an explosion. I thought that the fireplace was venting on the roof through a chimney only to find out too late that it was venting on a side wall and coming back into the house. Because of this there was an almost total lack of fresh air in the house—the exhaust was permeating the inside and outside of the structure 24/7. In February 2007, I woke up at 1:30AM one morning to the smell of natural gas permeating the house. A valve outside of the house that was at ground level, running through the dirt (not done to code) had inadvertently been knocked by a garbage can and had almost shut off the gas flow to the fireplace. Under these conditions, the gas doesn’t burn completely and it can cause a dangerous situation. But thankfully, when the pilot light went out the backup safety system worked and the magnets cooled and shut off the gas flow to the fireplace after 15 seconds or so—so that there was no explosive situation. Thereafter, I realized what the problem had been and took steps to solve the problem. The landlords had to replace the faulty, kinked and corroded pipe work into the fireplace (costing over $500). But when it came to the venting problem, which was equally dangerous to the health and wellbeing of myself and my family, the service company that had said that there was no problem in the fall when I first called (and the serviceman never checked the pipe work on the outside of the house back then to see that it was not meeting code) said again that there was really no problem and that nothing should be done. I subsequently called the Fire Department and an official inspected the fireplace and recommended that the landlords should divert the exhaust plume with a metal sheet so that it would vent away from the house rather than going directly back into the house. It was a no-brainer but not to the landlords…
I moved into that house in Sept. 2006 and by spring 2007, after suffering through these and other equally horrific problems with the house, I had lost my job and my car. Gone with the smoke was my long-term contract with the company that I had worked for as a loyal employee for 13 years.
I know that my health and memory were negatively impacted by this problem. During that winter I had a terrible time remembering names of other parents that I met. I have to wonder if any of my other problems were at all related, as a negative side effect, to this problem with bad air and low oxygen (and possibly carbon monoxide) in my system.
After writing this article, I plan to change my breathing habits for the better and I hope that I will experience some of the life-changing benefits that others have reported!
A Breathing Exercise to Help you Relax, Heal and Energize (from Dr. Weil):”Take a relaxing breath. You may do this with the back straight, lying on the back or even standing or walking. Place the tongue in the yogic position (touching the roof of your mouth directly behind your top front teeth) and keep it there during the whole exercise. Exhale completely through the mouth, making an audible sound. Then close the mouth and inhale quietly through the nose to a (silent) count of four. Then hold the breath for a count of seven. Then exhale audibly through the mouth to the count of eight. Repeat for a total of four cycles, then breathe normally. Note that the speed with which you do the exercise is unimportant. What is important is the ratio of four : seven : eight for inhalation, hold and exhalation. You will be limited by how long you can comfortably hold the breath, so adjust your counting accordingly. As you practice this breath, you will be able to slow it down, which is desirable. Do it twice a day. After one month, if it agrees with you, increase to eight cycles twice a day.
I do these relaxing breaths in the morning before I meditate and in the evening when I am lying in bed just before falling asleep. I also try to remember to do it whenever I feel anxious or experience an emotional upset. I teach it to almost all my patients I see, and I receive reports of remarkable benefits. It cures digestive problems, allows cardiac arrhythmias to subside, lowers high blood pressure, combats anxiety and insomnia, and more. I think of it as a tonic for the nervous system—a spiritual tonic rather than a material one—and cannot recommend it too highly.” Spontaneous Healing by Andrew Weil.
For those who snore, using nasal dilators can alleviate the problem of snoring while also invigorating health in many ways. John Barson of the American Wellness Network, tells his own story about how MegaVent nasal dilators have transformed his life and afford those who use them with innumerable health benefits. The dilators, which are quite comfortable, have alleviated his long-standing problem of snoring. “You don’t really notice them after a few minutes. They are made from the highest grade of EVA plastic, are phthalate and BPA free and are recyclable. They are also reusable unlike the breathing strips. And, they have a Class 1 Medical Device rating in Europe.
Whether you do breathing exercises or use breathing aids such as nasal dilators, the increased oxygen to your tissues will most certainly give you a tremendous boost to your health and vitality.
How will improved breathing change your life?