Low body oxygen level is a hallmark of virtually all chronic diseases ranging from heart disease and cancer to diabetes and epilepsy. Chest breathing leads to lower oxygen level in the arterial blood, thus, promoting diseases. When automatic breathing is too large or deep (increased tidal volume during respiration at rest), overbreathing also reduces oxygen content in cells.
Tissue hypoxia and chronic diseases
Low body oxygen level is a hallmark of virtually all chronic diseases ranging from heart disease and cancer to diabetes and epilepsy seizures. With progression of these conditions, cell oxygenation gets lower and lower. Eventually, many people with advanced diseases require oxygen so that to extend their lives by some weeks or months.
Furthermore, when these diseases become intense and people are hospitalized or maybe in critical care as a result of attacks or acute exacerbations, emergency specialists typically employ pure oxygen to save their lives. Exactly why? This is because oxygen amounts within body cells becomes dangerously low.
Effects of chest breathing on O2 transport
Majority of modern people, as you can easily notice, are chest breathers. Chest breathing is even more common in the sick. What are the effects?
Diaphragm, in healthy people, does over 75% of the work of breathing at rest (Ganong, 1995; Castro, 2000). Generally, if your diaphragm decreases, your lungs expand while your tummy moves out. As soon as a person’s diaphragm moves upward, your abdomen moves in, and you lungs is relaxed.
Diaphragmatic inhalations and exhalations are necessary for people’s health and fitness. Firstly, the diaphragm aids you to control effective O2 transport and (partial) CO2 elimination. Bear in mind that, although most of modern day persons believe in the deep breathing delusion and noxious character associated with CO2, health science has found many benefits of CO2 within the human body.
At the same time, although normal inhaling and exhaling at rest has modest tidal amount (only about 500 mL for one breath of air for a 70-kg person), it supplies hemoglobin in the arterial blood vessels with about 98-99% O2 saturation. This is the crucial function of the diaphragm in the respiratory process related to oxygen transport. Hence, healthy breathing is slow, light and mainly abdominal. The medical norm for the minute ventilation is 6 Liters per minute for a 70 kg man (see textbooks below: Castro, 2000; Ganong, 1995; Guyton, 1984; Straub, 1998; etc.)
On the other hand, chest breathing, as in most sick people, is generally greater and deeper: up to 12-18 L/min for minute ventilation, 700-900 mL for tidal volume, and 18-25 breaths/minute for breathing frequency in moderate forms of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma and so forth – but bloodstream oxygen amounts are usually lessened because of the inhomogeneous gas exchange: lower portions of the lungs can not acquire enough oxygen supply during chest breathing.
Respiratory Physiology, by John West, claims that the upper 7% of the lung delivers 4 mL of O2 per one minute, while the lower 13% of the lung brings in 60 mL of O2 per minute (West, 2000). Therefore, lower parts of the lungs are about 7 times more useful in oxygen transport. Hence, chest breathing drastically worsens oxygen transport.
Consequently, chest inhalations advance serious health conditions as a result of lessened oxygen delivery to body organs. Chest breathing suppresses the immune system, can cause dyspnea (or shortness of breath), excessive sighing, cramps and spasms, weakness of the respiratory, and especially inspiratory muscles, coughing , blocked nose, constipation and many other symptoms of hyperventilation.
Chest breathing and lymphatic drainage
Next, diaphragmatic breathing triggers natural massage of the lymphatic nodes based just underneath the diaphragm. The lymphatic system, or the sewage system of the body, does not use a pump and as a consequence, the lymph nodes are located throughout those portions of the body where natural pressure is produced.
As an example, you’ll find great number of lymph nodes on our neck. In the daytime, we all make 1000’s of moves involving our head. Therefore, the lymphatic fluid is forced by means of valves away producing natural drainage of the lymphatic system. In a similar fashion, you’ll find a good number of lymph nodes under arms and adjacent parts, making sure that when you move our arms, the lymph nodes obtain natural massage to get rid of waste products. Within the groin area, there exists one more number of lymph nodes which is massaged by means of actions of our lower limbs. You can find no lymph nodes around those areas belonging to the body which do not experience natural massage.
On the other hand, the lymph nodes from the stomach, kidneys, liver, spleen, pancreas, both colons, along with other bodily organs are located just beneath the diaphragm.
Dr. Shields, in his published study, “Lymph, lymph glands, and homeostasis” (Shields, 1992), reported that diaphragmatic breathing stimulates the cleansing of the lymphatic nodes by creating a negative pressure that is pulling the lymph through the lymphatic system. This increases the rate of waste elimination by about 15 times.
Consequently, nature expects all of us to respire while using diaphragm at rest, day and night. In the event that we have chest breathing, we support interior pollution and build up of waste products around and within the abdominal organs. For that reason, it isn’t a surprise that severely sick men and women often pass away due to multiple organ failure.
Most modern individuals have only nearly 20-25 seconds, instead of 40-60 s, of oxygen in the system (stress-free breath holding test carried out right after typical exhale and only until first stress) because their breathing is around twofold larger than the medical norm. Sick people generally have less than 20 seconds for the body oxygen test and chest breathing is one of the factors that contribute to their low body oxygen state.
Why breathing should be small
Overbreathing lowers carbon dioxide concentration in all muscular tissues, like the diaphragm. Since CO2 is a relaxant of all smooth muscles of the human body, hyperventilation generates a state of spasm within the blood vessels and diaphragm. Moreover, deep breathing additionally predisposes us to slouching as a result of stiffness surrounding the shoulders, neck, as well as other muscles in the upper portion of the human body.
Not only the diaphragm, other smooth muscles, like those found around arteries and arterioles, also constrict. As a result, less blood and oxygen delivered to body tissues even during abdominal hyperventilation. Therefore, healthy breathing is very small in volume, but abdominal.
In the sick people with asthma, seizures, heart problems and many other conditions, the situation is even worse. Their breathing is heavier at rest and they have a smaller amount oxygen and carbon dioxide in body cells. Hence, virtually all of them are chest breathers.
Among the methods that happen to be useful with regard to developing diaphragmatic breathing are: the Frolov breathing device, Amazing DIY breathing device, Samozdrav, Strelnikova respiratory gymnastic, Buteyko breathing therapy, and hatha yoga breathing exercises.
How to Get Rid of Cramps in 1-2 minutes: Simple Breathing Exercise
Treatment of Seizures – Why breathing retraining can prevent and eliminate different types of seizures
Inspiratory Muscle Training: Review of Medical Research (application of respiratory trainers (breathing devices) Powerlung, Powerbreathe, UltraBreathe, and Expand-A-Lung for sports performance (cycling, rowing, and swimming) and chronic diseases (bronchiectasis, asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, chronic heart failure, ischaemic heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pre- and postsurgery, ventilator weaning, and neuromuscular diseases).
Inspiratory Muscle Training Studies – References
Castro M. Control of breathing. In: Physiology, Berne RM, Levy MN (eds), 4-th edition, Mosby, St. Louis, 1998.
Ganong WF, Review of medical physiology, 15-th ed., 1995, Prentice Hall Int., London.
Guyton AC, Physiology of the human body, 6-th ed., 1984, Suanders College Publ., Philadelphia.
Shields JW, MD, Lymph, lymph glands, and homeostasis, Lymphology, Dec. 1992, 25, 4: 147.
Straub NC, Section V, The Respiratory System, in Physiology, eds. RM Berne & MN Levy, 4-th edition, Mosby, St. Louis, 1998
West JB. Respiratory physiology: the essentials. 6th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins; 2000.