resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Help Patients Achieve Optimal Vitamin D Levels
Much research has been done on vitamin D levels and their impact on health; optimal levels have been correlated with a reduced risk of developing numerous conditions.
Understanding and Identifying Pediatric Growth-Plate Fractures
In general, fractures in children heal well with little intervention as long as the alignment is good. Fractures involving the growth plate, however, are a different issue. In fact, growth-plate injuries are the primary reason for the subspecialty of pediatric orthopedics.
Calcium Helps Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Over the past 25 to 30 years, studies have suggested calcium may confer protection against colorectal cancer.
To The Finish Line With the Help of TCM
When acupuncturist Eddy De Smedt pursued a career in Traditional Chinese Medicine, he knew he wanted to make a difference.
Saying No to Medicine
An interesting article recently appeared in Men's Journal titled "When to Say No to Your Doctor." The article begins with the summary statement above and effectively arms readers with information that will help them "take more responsibility for your own health care, because you can't be sure anyone else is.
The Tao of Gender
If you think gender is as simple as having a new client check off the "male" or "female" box on your intake form, we hope this article will expand your understanding and thus the reach of your health care.
Simple Ways To Find True Happiness
Patients in our clinics are always seeking happiness. As their health advocate, we need to ensure we inform them that in order to find happiness, they have to make sure to identify what makes them happy in the first place.
Blaming the Gluteus Medius, Overlooking the Deltoid
The gluteus medius (Gmed) is commonly written about, strengthened and blamed for many conditions, and rightfully so. After all, the Gmed plays a role in pelvic stability, hip motor control and lower-quarter dynamic movements.
Transparency and Accountability: Q&A With the CCE
Every profession needs an organization dedicated to upholding the quality and integrity of its degree programs and educational institutions.
Managing Today's Fertility Patient
I recently received an email from one of my fertility patients: "Got my lab results back. FSH is 11, AMH is 0.7. My doctor said these numbers aren't good. I guess I'm infertile. Just as a thought. Just set up an appointment to speak with an adoption agency."
Pulse Diagnosis: What We Know
I am still finding pearls of wisdom from the books and papers that I inherited from my pulse diagnosis mentor Jim Ramholz.
The Heart Protector
On the physical level, the Pericardium is a double-layered sac of fibrous tissue that envelops the Heart. The space between the layers is filled with serous fluid that protects the Heart from external shock or trauma and lubricates to allow for normal Heart movement.
Healing With TCM at San Quentin State Prison
For the prisoners at San Quentin State Prison, life-sentences are the reality of every day life. It is not often that prisoners get the opportunity to use alternative medicine to deal with common ailments they encounter behind bars such as, depression, anxiety and pain.
Jingei Diagnosis: An Effective and Powerful Diagnostic
I graduated from the Kotatama Institute under the direction of Drs. Masahilo and Katsuharu Nakazono in 1984. As a student, I was exposed to the practice of most of the various theories and modalites of Oriental Medicine.
5 Ways to Occupy Occupational Health
Despite the progress that has been made to better protect workers, occupational health and safety remains a priority area for many national governmental organizations due to the widespread problem of occupationally related morbidity and mortality.
Talking to Patients About Healthy Aging
I've noticed that a particular category of patients seems to make up more and more of my practice – they work out, but still experience lots of degenerative joint disease (DJD) issues.
The X Factor in Clinical Research: The Patient
It was the great baseball legend, former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra – he of countless aphorisms, each with a mind-bending twist – who once declared, "You can observe a lot by watching."
AOMA Strengthens Leadership Team
AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, a leading college of acupuncture & herbal medicine, announced the appointment of Donna LaPoint Hurta, MBA as the new VP of Finance & Operations this Fall.
Web Marketing: Content Is King
Google's sweeping updates to its search algorithms over the past few years have brought a paradigm shift in how you can optimize your chiropractic website to gain maximum marketing leverage.
The Wonders of Light Therapy: An Interview with Wes Burwell
I first met Wes Burwell in 2011 when he was teaching a class on light. Since then, every time I hear him speak, his understanding of the benefits, function and capacity of light has evolved.
Managing Patient Expectations About Acupuncture
Last year, I attended the Pacific Symposium in San Diego for the first time in six or seven years. It was the 25th anniversary of this event, and on one evening there was a panel discussion with the title; "What is Qi?."
Lime Jello on Morphine
Taste is in the eyes... actually the mouth... of the beholder. My food preferences have changed, lightening from the food of my youth. My parents loved heavy eastern European cuisine and I loved it as a child. Now I enjoy leaner, healthier whole foods.
December, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 12
Understanding and Rehabilitating Unbalanced Breathing
By Leon Chaitow, ND, DO
In the October issue of Massage Today,1 I outlined some of the symptoms that can be created or aggravated by Breathing Pattern Disorders (BPD) such as hyperventilation.The response to this has been remarkable. I honestly can say that in the many years I have written articles and books, I have never had such a rapid and insistent response asking for more information. This follow-up article goes a small way toward meeting those requests.
This article contains information focusing on three overlapping areas: the background to BPDs, how to recognize BPD in a new client and how to begin rehabilitation. More detailed information can be found in my co-authored book published by Elsevier, Multidisciplinary Approaches to Breathing Pattern Disorders (Chaitow, Bradley & Gilbert 2002).
Back pain research and breathing rehabilitation2
A very recent research paper has been published that demonstrates another aspect of the benefit of breathing rehabilitation improvement in chronic low back pain! In this randomized, controlled study, patients with moderate chronic low back pain, of average 1-year duration, improved significantly (both pain and function) whether they were treated with either Breathing Rehabilitation or what was described as "Gold Standard" Physical Therapy. Both groups received one introductory evaluation session of 60 minutes, and 12 individual therapy sessions of equal duration of 45 minutes, over six to eight weeks.
Summary of some of the main BPD effects:3
Excessive carbon-dioxide loss causes blood pH to rise, creating respiratory alkalosis. This induces increased sympathetic arousal, altering nerve function (including motor control). It also encourages a sense of apprehension and anxiety which affects balance. Calcium and Magnesium ions are lost as the kidneys attempt to restore pH balance by excreting bicarbonate. This enhances neural sensitization, encouraging spasm and reducing pain threshold. Smooth muscle cells constrict, leading to vasoconstriction (and possibly altering fascial tone). Smooth muscle constriction can lead to colon spasm and pseudo-angina. Due to alkalinity, the so-called Bohr effect reduces oxygen release to the cells because haemoglobin retains oxygen more effectively in an alkaline environment, thus affecting tissues and the brain, encouraging ischemia, fatigue and pain. Ischemia encourages the evolution of myofascial trigger points. Overbreathing creates biomechanical overuse stresses, particularly on the accessory breathing muscles (scalenes, sternomastoid, upper trapezius, etc), as well as compromising core stability and posture.
Breathing Pattern Disorders commonly are habitual, easily recognizedand usually capable of being improved or eliminated.
Background and Definition of Breathing Pattern Disorders
The extreme of a BPD is hyperventilation, which is defined as breathing in excess of metabolic requirements. A client might show an odd arrhythmic breathing pattern and not be hyperventilating, and perhaps more importantly, might look as if they are breathing okay, but actually be hyperventilating even if apparently fit with good lung function.
About 10% of all patients attending general internal medicine practice in the U.S. are estimated to be suffering from chronic hyperventilation.4 My own clinical experience with this sort of problem suggests that a large patient population exists with BPDs who don't meet the criteria for hyperventilation, but whose breathing patterns contribute greatly to their symptom picture.
What are the Symptoms?
The vast majority of patients who chronically overbreathe in this way present with symptoms such as: fatigue, widespread pain (such as fibromyalgia), irritable bowel symptoms, chronic bladder problems, anxiety, allergies, chemical sensitivities, headaches, premenstrual syndromes, photophobia and hyperacusis. In many such conditions, BPDs rarely are causal (except perhaps where anxiety is a major feature), but they almost always are contributory, and sometimes have become a major obstacle to recovery.
As will become clear, the effects of BPDs are global, affecting all systems, having profound neurological, psychological, digestive and circulatory influences. BPDs commonly are habitual, and with a cooperative patient, usually are capable of significant improvement and are sometimes curable over a three to six month time-frame. Chronic HVS can present with respiratory, cardiac, neurological or GI symptoms, without any clinically apparent overbreathing by the patient.5
BPDs More Common in Women
HVS/BPD is female dominated, ranging from a ratio of 2:1 to 7:1 (peak ages 15-55 years). Women are more at risk possibly because progesterone is a respiratory accelerator. This also can have implications for women on hormone replacement therapy. During the post-ovulation phase, carbon dioxide levels drop about 25% and additional stress then "increases ventilation at a time when CO2 levels are already low."6
Blood Sugar and BPD
Feelings of faintness, cold sweats, weakness and disturbed consciousness are common to both hyperventilation and low blood sugar, and symptoms are far worse when both situations are present at the same time.
It also has been found that fluctuating blood glucose levels, even when these stay within normal limits, can trigger hyperventilation/BPD symptoms. People affected in this way are recommended to eat breakfast (including protein) and to avoid going without food for more than three hours or following a little-and-often, or grazing pattern of eating. This particularly is important to patients who experience panic attacks or seizures.9
Perspective of a Cardiologist
Peter Nixon a leading UK-based cardiologist reported: "When dysfunctional thoracic breathing predominates, a shift occurs towards excessive arousal, which as a catabolic state predisposes the soma towards pathology."10 Someone suffering from BPD could experience catabolic changes; protein, fat and carbohydrate synthesis halted; energy mobilized from increased breakdown of protein, fat and carbohydrates; blood levels of glucose, LDL and cholesterol increase; decrease in repair and replacement of bone; decrease in repair and replacement of skin and gut cells; decreased production of immune cells (thymus shrinks, less WBCs); decreased sexual function; increased blood pressure; and increased salt and fluid retention.
Why do people breathe this way? One of the major medical researchers into BPD, Claude Lum, discussed the reasons for people becoming hyperventilators, "Neurological considerations leave little doubt that habitually unstable breathing is the prime cause of symptoms. Why people breathe in this way must be a matter for speculation, but manifestly the salient characteristics are pure habit."11
Although an absolute diagnosis only can be made with CO2 monitoring using a capnograph that monitors carbon dioxide levels in exhaled air, a simple questionnaire (Nijmegen Questionnaire) is internationally accepted as being over 90% accurate in suggesting that hyperventilation exists as a contributory feature of person's symptom picture. This non-invasive test is a simple and accurate indicator of acute and chronic hyperventilation.12, 13
What Patient Signs MightAlert You to BPD?
Possible Treatment Sequence for HVS/BPD
Note: The sequence outlined below is one I have evolved for my own practice and is not a recommendation for others. It does however contain the elements I feel are necessary for a successful restoration of breathing. Treatment and retraining commonly involves eight to 12 weekly sessions, followed by treatment every two to three weeks, for approximately six months. An educational component should be included at each session.
First Two Treatments: (Not less than weekly): release and/or stretch of upper fixators of the shoulders/accessory breathing muscle (upper traps, levator, scalenes/SCS, pecs, lats) as well as attention to trigger points in these; soft tissue (NMT, MET, PRT, etc) attention to the diaphragm area (anterior intercostals, sternum, abdominal attachments costal margin, quadratus lumborum/psoas), as well as attention to trigger points in these. Retraining: pursed lip breathing, as well as guidance as to restricting shoulder rise during inhalation. Give an introduction of the capnograph biofeedback method.
Sessions (Weeks) Three and Four: As above, plus mobilization of thoracic spine and ribs (as well as lymphatic pump/drainage methods), plus address fascial and osseous links (cranial, pelvic, limbs). Retraining: anti-arousal breathing, plus specific relaxation methods, stress management, autogenic training, visualisation, meditation, counselling. Sessions of capnograph biofeedback training as required.
Sessions (Weeks) Five to Twelve: As above, plus focus on other body influences (ergonomics, posture). Retraining: additional exercises as appropriate.
Sessions (Weeks) 13 to 26: Review and treat residual dysfunctional patterns/tissues. Throughout: as indicated nutrition, psychotherapy and adjunctive methods, such as hydrotherapy, tai chi, yoga, Pilates, massage, acupuncture, etc.
Successful breathing retraining
There have been many reports and studies showing the value of breathing rehabilitation.14 Lum 15 reported on a study in which more than 1000 anxious and phobic patients were treated using breathing retraining, physical therapy and relaxation. Symptoms were usually abolished in one to six months with some younger patients requiring only a few weeks. At 12 months, 75% were free of all symptoms and 20% had only mild symptoms however, about one patient in twenty had "intractable symptoms."
Instructions for Anti-Arousal/Pursed Lip Breathing 16 17 18 19
Place yourself in a comfortable (seated-or reclining) position, and exhaleslowly and fully through pursed lips (as though you are blowing through a drinking straw), with your lips just barely separated. Imagine that a candle flame is about 10 inches from your mouth and exhale (blowing a thin stream of air) in such a way as to not blow this out, but to just make it flicker. When you have exhaled fully, without strain, close your lips and pause for a count of one and then inhale through your nose. The complete exhalation will have created a "coiled spring" so you do not have to try to control how you inhale. Then, without pausing to hold the breath, exhale fully and slowly through pursed lips once again, blowing the air in a thin stream until you feel the need to inhale. Close your lips, pause for a count of one, and then inhale freely through the nose again. Repeat the inhalation and the exhalation for not less than 30 cycles of in and out. Practice this exercise morning and evening. You might feel light headed after the 30 cycles, so rest for a few minutes before resuming normal activities.
Methods need to be taught to encourage the restraining of shoulder movement (accessory muscle activation) during breathing using one of a variety of methods. For example: The patient is seated at the edge of a chair with arms hanging down, palms facing forward. On inhalation, the patient gently turns the arms so the thumbs point slightly backwards, and on exhalation this is released and relaxed. The rhythmic breathing pattern, along with this gentle restraint of accessory breathing muscles, starts the process of separating the act of inhalation from their over-activity.
The information in this short article has focused on the background, appearance, assessment and rehabilitation of breathing pattern disorders these are not pathologies any more than poor posture is a pathology but they can profoundly influence emotions, chemistry and structure. I sincerely hope you can use the essential features of this message to benefit your clients and perhaps yourself.
Click here for more information about Leon Chaitow, ND, DO.
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