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Is Deep Breathing Really Good for You?

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Is Deep Breathing Really Good for You?

Many methods of relaxation teach us to breath deeply, exhaling “stale” air, and emphasize a need to get “fresh air.” The Lamaze method of breathing for women while undergoing labor has taught us to breathe deep breaths. Kundalini yoga teaches rapid deep breaths. In most situations this is not a good approach.

When we have anxiety we often think we can’t get enough air, we’re trapped.

The truth is we almost always have a reserve of air in our lungs. There is almost always enough oxygen available to us at any time. The real secret of breathing is the availability of carbon dioxide in our blood.

We learned in basic science classes that humans breathe in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide. Plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. That’s why you don’t want the rainforest to be cut down, because it cuts back on the planet’s supply of oxygen.

Now another difference between humans and plants, is that humans run on red blood cells that have iron as its mineral base. The red blood cells carry the oxygen to where it is needed in the body. That’s why if you are anemic, that is have fewer functioning red blood cells, you feel run down. You aren’t getting enough oxygen.

But remember, the real secret is carbon dioxide or CO2. CO2 releases oxygen from its bond to the red blood cells. So not enough CO2 means your brain and body don’t get enough oxygen. This is not a big secret; during every surgery the anesthesiologist is constantly checking a monitor that tells them how much carbon dioxide is in the breath.

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Dr. Andrew Lange

Dr. Andrew Lange served as Chair of the Department of Homeopathic Medicine and Supervising Clinical Physician at Bastyr University in Seattle. He is the author of Getting to the Root: Treating the Deepest Source of Disease. He is the Medical Director at and practices in Boulder, Colorado. For more information go to


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10:38AM PST on Dec 3, 2011

In actor training you're told that, when the breath is expelled, the diaphragm pulls down, making room for new air. So it's about letting the diaphragm doing what it needs to do, rather than making any effort.

10:42AM PST on Feb 17, 2011

Tough sleep with good breathe?

7:47PM PDT on Oct 18, 2010

WOW. That's not at all how respiration works.

What is this quack a doctor of? Underwater basket weaving with a minor in jackassery?

2:42PM PDT on Oct 18, 2010

This article's explanation of why CO2 is important is bogus. Has no one here heard of the "electron transport chain" from cell biology 101? or read any layman's article on the concept of hyperventilation? You don't "need" CO2 to release O2 if you already have O2 where it's needed. However, you need CO2 to maintain the appropriate blood pH so O2 can get where it's needed. Just say "no" to junk science.

10:22AM PDT on Aug 11, 2010

it is best to have an inspiration date rather than going on an expiration date.... breathing a sigh of relief is good if you have a lot of sighs on hand... and remember not to breathe like a plant.. and if you are sleeping don't breathe like a dolphin because you will have to come up for air... you will wonder where your autonomic nervous system has gone...

5:34PM PDT on Aug 10, 2010

Personally, I think it is. It has helped me calm down at times.

4:28AM PDT on Aug 10, 2010

Deep breathing is really good for ones health. In a way it is type of meditation only which keep you fit and relaxed and after doing it for 10 to 15 minutes you feel yourself on the top of heaven.

Eye Allergies

1:19PM PDT on Aug 9, 2010

The easiest way to tell if you are breathing in a natural, healthy fashion is just to listen for the sound of your own breath. If you can hear the air moving in and out your nostrils in an effortless rhythmic fashion, using the diaphragm, then you're probably doing optimum breathing. There's no effort to it, no instructions to suck in hold it, push out extra hard, pause between in and out or any of that. If you or another person in the room can't hear the sound of your lungs moving the air in and out, then you are shallow breathing. Shallow breathing invokes the sympathetic nervous system and floods the body with adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. Not good things to be dosing yourself with on a regular basis. Observe yourself & other people and listen for the sound of your own breath. Then you're in control. It's not easy to break the shallow breathing pattern we all learned, but if you, then you get the tremendous benefits!

11:50AM PDT on Aug 9, 2010

Well, James, here is your opportunity to pass on your knowledge to the rest of us. The following comment was my input. Your simple exercise, please?

"Careful breath control with emphasis on
exhaling helps us to relax under any kind of tension or stress. Exercise: Place the shoulder blades as nearly together as you can without strain (this opens the lungs for deep breathing), then breath out gently and fully. Pause, then inhale with a deep, slow gentle breath, until the lungs are comfortably filled. Breath out slowly through the nose with a long sigh and without altering the shoulder blades. Do this a dozen times. This eases nervous tension and depression by stimulating and inspiring the brain with a full supply of oxygen. Ref:'Sivananda Yoga Teachers Manual; Pranayama or Yogic Breathing'"

10:37AM PDT on Aug 9, 2010

I was in a swimming team from age 9 to 19, doing a quarter-mile 5 days a week for all those years. (Deep, Full, Belly-Breathing.) I still do it while walking around the block - about a mile, 2 or three days a week. The explanation above is Unnecessarily Complicated and Confusing. The writer ought to go back and SIMPLIFY IT for all the rest of us. PLEASE !!!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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people are talking

all that protesting/complaining....adorable

Thanks for sharing.

This is incredible!! I still imagine how Dr Osauyi brought my husband back to me in just 2days. No o…

thank you for the good article


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