My Personal Experience Using Breathing Dynamics to Achieve a Top Ten Finish at The Molokai World Sursfski ChampionshipsIn 2010 I studied the science of breathing, qualified as a respiratory therapist and started working clinically with asthma & breathing difficulties, snoring & sleep apnoea, fatigue, anxiety, sinusitis etc., plus working with athletes I coach on performance breathing. I was seeing great results both clinically and with athletes. In 2012 I decided to take on the Molokai Surfski Challenge – my first venture at this event. At 53km from Molokai Island to Oahu Island across the Kaiwi Channel (The Channel of Bones), the Molokai Surfski Challenge is the ocean paddling equivalent to the Kona Hawaii Ironman triathlon – the unofficial world endurance championship. Like Kona, Molokai is the bucket list event of all ocean paddlers, and probably the toughest race in the world, often with big seas and winds, and a lot of heat and humidity to contend with also. I had 16 weeks to prepare, so it presented a fantastic opportunity to train my body to breathe optimally (using the diaphragm to drive breathing and mostly the nose on inhalation & exhalation) at higher levels of exertion. And at 45 years of age, I figured it was worth exploring a natural competitive edge as I didn’t have the strength or speed that I had when I was younger, or the time to train as much as I used to. So this presented a fantastic opportunity to see explore how much more I could gain in performance by learning how to breathe optimally whilst competing in the sport I was once at elite level in. In my youth I had been an Australian representative at the World Sprint Kayak Championships and a national medallist in surf lifesaving competition in Australia. Unfortunately my career at international level was cut short in my early 20s by illness – what we now know as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or post viral syndrome. So I was a very capable paddler in sprint or middle distance with my best races being in the 1-3 minute range. I was more a sprinter or high lactic tolerance paddler, rather than a paddler with a high VO2 max. I wasn’t a great at time trials over a distance or a great marathon paddler (unless I could sit on a wash and sprint off at the end). As such, I knew that doing an endurance race, particularly against the best marathon ocean paddlers in the world, would not be my forte. But I grew up surfing and paddling in the ocean, and the Molokai race happens at a time of the year when the Hawaiian trade winds blow consistently in a particular direction, it is typically a downwind event where you surf the wind runs and ground swells, gathering great speeds. As I love surfing and downwind paddling, I couldn’t wait to do a race on one of the best downwind courses in the world. And exploring how much extra I could gain in performance from the breath training excited me also. The objective with breath training for sporting performance is to:
- Breathe predominantly using the nose, only using the mouth in emergencies, or if the exertion level becomes extreme – indications from what I’d experienced, as well as with other athletes who have explored performance breathing during exercise suggest that it is possible to nose breathe up to about 90% of max heart rate, suggesting that this is ideal especially for endurance sports. For people doing sports that involve intervals of sprinting interspersed with rest periods at random; i.e. football, hockey, basketball, etc etc; will find it harder to nose breath all the time, however there are still significant benefits to be gained by breathing only using the nose when recovering between sprints.
- Use the diaphragm to initiate inhalation – the chest is also used during exercise, but most huff and puff with their chest only. The diaphragm is the primary breathing muscle, and it is far more efficient to breathe using the diaphragm only at rest, and initially during low-level exercise, and then using the chest in addition to the diaphragm as exertion levels increase.
“Essentially, less is better with breathing for performance. That is, a slower breathing rate and lower breathing volume – be it at rest of during the exertion of sports performance. This is counterintuitive, as we want to huff and puff more the harder it gets, thinking that we’re sucking more oxygen in. But huffing and puffing reduces breathing efficiency, as it reduces the amount of oxygen that actually reaches your cells for energy production – which is the purpose of breathing in the first place. Whereas reducing the breathing rate and volume, will increase oxygen delivery to cells for energy production, and therefore efficiency in performance. It is very difficult initially without training to breathe less whilst exercising (or even at rest), but the benefits are worth the effort.”The benefits of nose & diaphragm breathing, or performance breathing during exercise include:
- Using greater lung surface area for gas exchange
- More efficient oxygen delivery to cells for energy production
- Learning how to breathe at lower breathing & heart rates at high levels of exercise
- Delaying lactic acid onset
- Reducing recovery times between efforts
- Increasing relaxation during exercise
- Allowing greater access to ‘zone’ or ‘alpha’ states during exercise
- Improving relaxation and calmness at competitions
- Improving postural stability.
- Day to day diaphragm & nose breathing rhythms aimed at slowing down the breathing rate and reducing the volume of the breath – this represents what I would call ‘base training’ which restores normal or optimal breathing function on a day to day basis, and prepares the body for performance breath training. 30 minutes per day.
- Off the water diaphragm strengthening exercises (as most people’s diaphragm muscle is weak and atonic due to lack of use), combined with breath holds (to increase the brain’s tolerance to increased CO2 levels experienced during exertion). 20-30 minutes, 3-5 times per week.
- Practice of nose & diaphragm breathing whilst doing my paddle training or cross training – it takes time for the body to adjust to the reduced volume and rate of breathing experience when predominantly nose/diaphragm breathing, so I was fortunate to be able to build my capacity to breathe optimally as my program built in intensity from aerobic base training, to higher intensity race pace training, and finally lactic tolerance and speed training. If you try to nose/diaphragm breathe at really high intensity initially, before your body has time to adapt, it can really hurt, and lead to one feeling badly out of breath, light headed or having a headache. You simply have t build your tolerance to increased CO2 over time.
Below is a testimonial from a client who made a great recovery from chronic fatigue (CFS). It’s so humbling to witness the freedom and accomplishment clients experience after recoverng from chronic illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, anxiety & depression, IBS etc.
Especially given they are so frequently told by medical practitioners and ‘research’ that a cure is not possible, so most sufferers end up feeling so helpless. It is so confidence and soul destorying for them.
Having experienced this myself, I know how they feel, and that is why I have been so motivated to find the most potent modalities to achieve recoveries over the last 20+ years of practice.
Plus it gives me such joy and a warm heart to see the change in them. As mentioned, it’s extremely humbling to guide them on their journey to recovery.
“After years of struggling with chronic fatigue with no improvement, I had lost hope of ever getting better. But working with Tim led to a huge boost in my overall well being. Using Mickel therapy, breathing exercises, and a variety of lifestyle enhancements, I’ve had levels of improvement that I didn’t think would be possible. He told me from day one that he wanted to help me become more resilient, and that’s exactly what we accomplished together.
My primary care doctor once told me that recovery from CFS is a game of percentages — that anything you can do to increase your energy by a small percentage is considered a success. And I can say that working with Tim has dramatically flipped those percentages in my favor. At my worst point, I spent a solid 90% of every day feeling absolutely miserable. And now I’d say it’s comfortably the other way around. I’m able to work full time, maintain a healthy social life, and even mix in some exercise at this point! I can’t recommend highly enough.”
But, wait there’s more. He sent me an addition a little while later:
“I also want you to know that I played my first 20 minutes of soccer in over two years this weekend! ……….I can’t tell you how great it felt to be on a field playing again.”
I love it. What was even more cool, was that this client lives on the other side of the planet from me, so all of the work we did together towards his recovery was done via online consultations.
If you suffer from CFS, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, IBS or any other chronic illness, and are suck of feeling helpless, then contact me to have a chat about a potential recovery.
Asthma is probably one of the world’s most over-diagnosed and over-medicated ailments.
In an article in the Asthma Update, Issue 25, September 2004, asthma researcher, Associate Professor Colin Robertson, Respiratory Physician at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, suggests that; “80 percent of children diagnosed with asthma may have symptoms induced by exercise; therefore the community at large perceives asthma in a certain way. This can be positive in the sense that the problem can be easily recognised, however sometimes other respiratory conditions can mimic asthma.”
Professor Robertson suggests, “Doctors, relatives and enthusiastic physical education teachers can mistake a child who exercises and gets out of breath as having asthma when they are actually just unfit”.
“This gets interpreted as Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA) but it doesn’t respond to anti-asthma therapy. What they need is breathing exercises to learn how to control it. It is a simple effective intervention and it is important for people to know that it exists”
As such, many people who have a history of being diagnosed with asthma, and have been treated using medications to deal with this over a long period of time, may actually have just been experiencing difficulties in breathing, and have simply been using a band-aid treatment via their medications, rather than addressing the ‘root’ or ‘underlying’ cause to their situation, or symptom picture.
By not addressing this underlying cause they have limited their way of living and potential, and opened themselves up to a myriad of unwanted side-effects that come from pharmaceutical drugs.
If we take a step back to look for the underlying cause, 2 things stand out:
- The pathology experienced when one suffers from difficulty in breathing, or asthma, is simply that – difficulty or dysfunction in breathing. In other words, the pathology is with our breathing.
- Virtually all of us habitually breathe dysfunctionally – or nowhere near the way we should according to medical diagnostic norms.
We breathe far too often (twice as often as we should), and with far too much volume – in other words we over-breathe, or mildly hyperventilate all of the time.
Plus, we breathe using our chest & shoulders rather than our diaphragm, and often use our mouth in addition to, or instead of our nose.
The result is that we breathe as if we are in emergency mode all of the time (the mouth and chest & shoulders are secondary breathing mechanisms used to deal with the increased demands of emergencies, such as exercise etc.), which is far from functional or efficient, and leads to a significant imbalance in our respiratory system which decreases how we deliver inhaled oxygen to our cells for energy production.
The body sees this as a potential threat to survival, so it aims to restore balance however it can.
One of the main ways it does this is by constricting the smooth muscle that surrounds our breathing muscles, tubes, and airways resulting in symptoms such as tightness in the chest, feeling out of breath, wheezing, spasm in the airways, coughing, mucous production etc. – the exact symptoms we experience when we have an asthma attack, or we experience difficulty in breathing.
Therefore, these symptoms we experience when we have asthma or difficulties in breathing, can be argued to be an adaptation by the body to imbalance, or poor/inefficient function, rather than an ‘illness’.
So treating the symptoms as such by dealing with the ‘root cause’ and correcting imbalance in the body, rather than masking them with drugs, provides a long term solution that can open the person to a much freer, or less limited lifestyle (rather than living in fear of symptoms), as well as to reduce or potentially free them from a reliance on drugs.
In addition, it doesn’t necessarily matter what the diagnosis is; whether it is asthma or difficulty in breathing that the person is experiencing, the approach to addressing the underlying cause, and eliminating respiratory imbalance is the same.
We do this by retraining the body, over time to breathe more slowly and gently mostly through the nose, and using predominantly the diaphragm to drive breathing. It takes practice initially, but not that much time, and it doesn’t take long for the practice to start to restore balance in the body, and you experience less symptoms.
This approach is not limited to treatment of dysfunctional breathing. It is far more potent and effective in preventing the likelihood of symptoms appearing in the first place.
As such, we are not necessarily treating asthma, or suggesting you throw away your medications – we are correcting breathing dysfunction, and imbalance in the respiratory system, and therefore reducing or eliminating the reliance on drugs, and dramatically increasing the person’s physical and mental freedom.
Click on this link to enrol in, or gather more information on the ‘Breathing Dynamics Solutions to Asthma’ online breathing retraining course – https://timaltman.com.au/lp-courses/
A Personal Evolution from Chronic Illness to Optimal Living
Having suffered from post viral syndrome, adrenal fatigue, or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), ME – or whatever name one ascribes to this chronic condition) I understand how debilitating it is and how helpless and misunderstood sufferers feel.
It is extremely frustrating, and there’s rarely anything doctors, or most other practitioners can do to help.
And those suffering from chronic ailments or ‘syndromes’ such as fibromyalgia, anxiety, IBS, POTS and many more share the same or similar experiences, or feelings.
As such, I have the last 30 years of mt life exploring solutions, and the last 20 years as a natural medicine practitioner working with clients on making solutions.
Given I experienced a complete recovery 25 years ago, and my general health and resilience has improved so significantly over the last 10 years as a result of this exploration, I know intimately that there are solutions that create complete recoveries, so I have searched extensively for techniques that yield more than just partial or temporary results.
I’ve experienced complete recovery myself which allowed me to believe that it is possible, and have witnessed it with clients many times, so it has set a benchmark to aim for.
It often, or almost always, requires more than one technique. As such, it involves a combination of techniques.
And it involves a bit of a paradigm shift in one’s perspective of health and disease.
Rather than a predominantly medicinal approach, be they pharmaceutical or natural, I have found that the most profound or complete resolutions have come from behavioural of lifestyle changes.
It’s a far less appealing model for the general public, as it requires more work and responsibility for the individual. Plus, we have been so indoctrinated by the medical and pharmaceutical model that many believe that in order to change processes of illness in the body, we must take something.
However, if one takes a step back, we can see how short sighted this approach is – especially with chronic illness.
Agreed, it is absolutely necessary if one catches an infectious disease, and modern medicine & the pharmaceutical approach evolved at a time when 90% or deaths came as a result of infectious diseases and trauma. As such, this model, aided heavily by modern engineering and sanitisation, was highly successful.
However, the world has changed dramatically, and 90% of deaths now result from chronic, lifestyle preventable illnesses.
Therefore, a different approach is required. Hence , the need for a paradigm shift to yield more complete results. Or, dare I say it, complete resolutions.
This shift comes from looking at the fields of evolutionary medicine, genetics/epigenetics, and anthropology.
Research has found that it takes 40,000 to 100,000 for a change in our environment to be assimilated by our bodies, at DNA level. As such, the bodies we now inhabit, are those of our ‘hunter gatherer’ ancestors some 40,000 years ago.
Our bodies adapted to live, and flourish the way we did then.
But that’s a long way from how we live now. Pretty much most of what we do is different.
We sit more, eat differently, exercise less, stress more constantly, breathe far less efficiently, think too much, work too much etc. etc.
Life is much higher paced, and far more complicated. We’ve created a huge mismatch between the bodies we inherited from our hunter gatheerer ancestors, and the world we have now created.
Our highly evolved thinking or rational brains have allowed us to become ‘so-called’ top of the animal kingdom, yet we have forgotten how to live as we evolved to, or we are built to.
To quote one of my favourite evolutionary medicine specialists, Daniel Lieberman, in hos book ‘The Story of the Human Body. Evolution, Health and Disease’.
“We didn’t evolve to be healthy, but instead we were selected to have as many offspring as possible under diverse, challenging conditions. As a consequence, we never evolved to make rational choices about what to eat or how to exercise in conditions of abundance or comfort. What’s more, interactions between the bodies we inherited, the environment we create, and the decisions we sometimes make have set in motion an insidious feedback loop. We get sick from chronic diseases by doing what we evolved to do but under conditions for which our bodies are poorly adapted, and we then pass on those same conditions to our children, who also then get sick. If we wish to halt this vicious circle then we need to figure out how to respectfully and sensibly nudge, push and sometimes oblige ourselves to eat foods that promote health and to be more physically active. That too, is what we evolved to do.”
The way to create complete and long term resolutions to chronic ailments is to address this mismatch.
It was when I began to explore techniques based on this approach, that I started to witness far more potent results in clients.
Here are a list of some of the techniques I use both with clients, and personally in my exploration of optimal living. More information on each can be found in many articles I have written on this site. I shall provide a link to one of these for many:
- Mickel Therapy – the core approach or rudder that guides the rest. Eliminating (via action) the ‘sub-conscious behavioural and lifestyle habits that suppress energy and send us into constant ‘hypervigilance’, ‘fight or flight mode’ or internal overdrive. https://timaltman.com.au/video-tim-altman-mickel-therapist/ https://timaltman.com.au/mickel-therapy-case-study-fibomyalgia/
- Breathing Dynamics – diaphragmatic breathing rhythms to retrain ideal breathing. https://timaltman.com.au/breathing-life-death/
- Optimal nutrition – including regulating blood sugar levels, increasing vegetable and fruit intake. https://timaltman.com.au/the-ideal-nutrition-plan-for-the-modern-world/
- Meditation. https://timaltman.com.au/meditation-is-medicine-2/
- Therapeutic fasting. https://timaltman.com.au/fasting-solution-optimal-health/ https://timaltman.com.au/fasting-history-purposes/ https://timaltman.com.au/fast-benefits-fasting/
- Optimising our response to stress: https://timaltman.com.au/deal-stress-number-one-contributor-mortality/
- Creating work-life balance – meeting your own deep seated needs as well as those of others or work.
- Optimal sleep practices.
- Herbal medicine.
- Sauna therapy. https://timaltman.com.au/benefits-sauna-therapy/
- Creating more joy or play.
It won’t require all of these modalities or techniques to get better. For many, it only requires a few. Whilst it does require some work and responsibility from you, it is not as difficult or time consuming as you would think.
Once you start seeing results, it spurs you to start exploring more, and seeing further results.
I can assure you, the process of going from helplessness and despair to freedom and joy is certainly worth it.
What have you got to lose.
And the good news is that most of these modalities work as effectively when taught online via Zoom etc. as the do in person, so you don’t have to live locally to see the benefits.
If you’d like to explore further, email me at email@example.com or call 0425 739 918.
Linked below is a great interview on the ‘Take A Breath Health and Lifestyle Show’ podcast that I co-host, with Dr Craig Hassed, world renowned researcher and lecturer on mindulness, meditation and psychoneuroimmunology, Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), also referred to as psychoendoneuroimmunology (PENI) or psychoneuroendocrinoimmunology (PNEI), is the study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body.
Dr Hassed has written many books on mindfulness, meditation and mind-body medicine, including ‘The Freedom Trap – Reclaiming Liberty and Well-being’, and ‘Mindfulness For Life’ among many more.
His fantastic book, ‘New Frontiers In Medicine: The Body As a Shadow of the Soul’ was a huge inspiration to me many years ago during my studies into natural medicine and in my process to optimal health & living following my successful and complete recovery from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
Both myself, and Take A Breath co-host Matt Radford (https://www.takeabreath.com.au/) were super nervous prior, and a bit star struck during our interview as Dr Hassed has been such an inspiration to us. However, we was super friendly and relaxed, so we really enjoyed it, and his discussion on the podcast is brilliant. I highly recommend you take the time to listen.
“Hi Tim, just wanted to say thanks for all the guidance over the last 12 months. My physical health is at it’s best since getting crook, and my mental health, and my ability to handle stress has improved greatly. This has been from all the little things that I have implemented through your guidance. Looking forward to taking that next step in my health this year.” Brandon, Colac
Above is a lovely new year’s message from a client who came to me just over 12 months ago with chronic fatigue syndrome or CFS.
His main, or most prominent symptoms were chronic fatigue, brain fog, dizziness, anxiety and shortness of breath.
His program included a combination of
- Behavioural and lifestyle modifications based on the neuroscience principles of Mickel Therapy aimed at detecting the triggers that lead to or increase symptoms and lessening the impact of these, or changing the behaviours or subconscious habits that lead to symptoms. This aspect is grossly underrated, but essential in the recovery from any chronic illness.
- Breath retraining using diaphragmatic breathing rhythms taught in a 4-5 stage process over time to increase energy production, regulate the autonomic nervous system and increase blood and lymph flow throughout the body.
- Nutritional changes and optimisation, culminating in a comprehensive 7-10 day juice fast followed by 3-4 week re-introduction to food process.
- The use of a small range of specifically targeted herbs and nutritional medicines that are all pure extracts (derived directly from plants rather than being synthetically manufactured) for increased bio-availability.
If you or someone you know has chronic fatigue syndrome, CFS, post-viral syndrome, adrenal fatigue, fibromyalgia, IBS, anxiety or any other chronic complaint, contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org or 0425 739 918.
My work is equally effective online as it is in person – in fact the client who is the subject of this post was an online client.
1. Practice diaphragmatic breathing rhythms 3 times daily for 10 minutes ea.
Most people breathe nowhere near their full potential – twice as often as we should (according to diagnostic norms) using our chest and shoulders instead of our diaphragm, and with our mouth in addition to, or instead of our nose. This impairs energy production by the cells, upsets our nervous system putting us in constant low to mid-level fight or flight mode, and can significantly reduce our performance and contribute to many health conditions, including:
- asthma and breathing difficulties
- sleep issues – including snoring and sleep apnoea
- fatigue and chronic pain
- anxiety and depression
- headaches and migraines
- allergies and sinusitis
- IBS and other digestive complaints
2. Eat more fruit and vegetables.
The most common denominator from the last 100 years or so of nutritional research is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the better your quality of life, and immune system, and the more you prevent the chronic illnesses that account for 90% of medical expenses and deaths in the western world.
3. Get more variety and reward in your day.
- Combine work with reward; i.e. 45 minutes on, 15 minutes reward, or 2 hours on, half and hour reward, 3 hours on, 1 hour reward etc.
- In your reward time, gut up from your desk and do something different – that you enjoy.
- On that note, spend more time each day on activities you enjoy for no reason – your brain and nervous system will love you for it. If the list of things you enjoy has grown small over the years of grinding at work, think back to what you used to enjoy or what you’d like to do more of, and start applying them.
- Get more variety in the tasks you do each working day. For example, if you spend long hours at your computer, then schedule in work calls regularly, and get up from your desk if you can and move around or go somewhere else whilst taking the call.
- Sit less. Find ways of working in different postures – a standing desk, ergonomic chairs etc. I often lie on the floor and work on my computer when working from home.
- Spend more time outside every day.
- Take time after work to transition from work to home/social life. The breathing techniques above are great for this.
- These adjustments require a significant shift in attitude, but most people who take the leap and start to implement these changes find they get far more done in each day, in less time than they did previously. Plus they don’t experience the burn-out and lack of joy that so many of us do.
We Were Overdue A Visit From a Pandemic!
“Whether currently-circulating avian, swine and other zoonotic (transferred from animal to human) influenza viruses will result in a future pandemic is unknown. However, the diversity of zoonotic influenza viruses that have caused human infections is alarming and necessitates strengthened surveillance in both animal and human populations” World Health Organisation on influenza
The above quote, cited by Vybarr Cregan-Reid in his book, “Primate Change. How the World We Made is Remaking Us” (Octopus Publishing Group 2018) is an alarming warning or foretelling of the present circumstances we find ourselves on a global scale with CoVid-19, given the book was published in 2018, so this quote predates that time.
It sends us sobering message that we are not the innocent victims of some random virus. The virus is a bi-product of the world we have created.
Is nature biting us back?
Below is some further text from this book that really sends this message so strongly:
“Animals are now reared with such intensity that mathematically it is only a matter of time before one of the many mutated flu viruses becomes an epidemic that passes freely to, and between, humans.
Farming animals no doubt provided us with opportunities for survival and growth, but with the intensification of farming practices today which encourage food-borne illnesses and antimicrobial resistance, the scene is set for viruses to mutate, trading genes to become the next super-flu transmissible between humans. There are major flu outbreaks approximately every three decades. We are currently overdue a visit from one.
That is our inheritance. This is what we have done with agriculture; but it is not yet done with us.”
Vybarr Cregan-Reid; “Primate Change. How The World We Made is Remaking Us” Octopus Publishing Group 2018
This would suggest that, not only have we created our current situation, if we do not change our ways, even if we eliminate the current threat from CoVid-19, it is highly likely that similar circumstances will occur again. Perhaps it is time to shift our focus from trying to eliminate the threat of CoVid-19 so we can get back to ‘normal’, to addressing the root cause of this problem.
What has led us to this? Where have we gone wrong?
As a species, we’ve become the so-called ‘top of the animal kingdom’ as a result of having a highly sophisticated intelligence, or thinking brain, and our culture and education system over the last few hundred, or arguably thousand years, has encouraged us to think rationally all the time, and that emotions are unreliable and weak.
However, the down side of this skewed logic is that we are so ‘in our heads’, we have forgotten that we are an animal – we have completely detached from our instinctive, intuitive emotional brain that is as much a part of us, and how we process information as our thinking, or rational brain.
To ignore this intelligence leads us to disconnect from our bodies, our feelings, instincts, and the planet ecosystem that nurtures us. It creates huge imbalance internally, both for our nervous system, and our body in general, leaving us in permanent low to mid-level ‘fight or flight’ mode (some more than low to mid-level), and creates discord in the external environment with which we interact.
Or basic needs as an animal are for happiness, safety and comfort. These are real biological, evolutionary needs, and cannot be ignored.
Our primary motivation as hunter gatherers may have been to create a more comfortable and secure existence, but the advent of the concept of economics (it might seem shocking to some that our economic system is not necessarily real – it is a concept), has seen us go way beyond having enough to be happy, safe and comfortable, and we have become increasingly disconnected from who we are as a species, and from the planet and ecosystem that sustains us.
Our religious adherence to this concept, or economic model has blinded us to what it is that sustains us, and allows us to thrive in the first place. A predominance in importance is placed on profitability, productivity and success over sustainability, yet these ‘concepts’ lead us invariably to sacrifice our basic needs for happiness, safety and comfort. And that is where the imbalance, both internally and environmentally begin.
I hear so many people complain that the lock downs we have faced, or are still facing, are destroying our economy, which are valid concerns for our present and future happiness, safety and comfort, but it is time we see that our ‘slavery’ to profitability, and ‘success’ has been the ‘root cause’ of the current problem, and what is also currently threatening our economic viability.
In other words, we are being given possibly the strongest reminder in history, that our economic model of existence is clearly not sustainable – both physically and economically. We will continue to pay for our short sightedness if we don’t start looking beyond our current concepts and way of living.
Is it possible that this time in history marks the moment that the mess we have created has tipped us, and the planet over the edge and either goes one way or another – we continue to face similar environmental and lifestyle challenges that ultimately bring down our economic system on its’ own, or we wake up and learn the lessons from our past, and we listen to the messages our planet is sending?
Whilst the agricultural, industrial and technological revolutions were an outstanding success from an economic perspective, and one might say an inevitable outcome of evolution (of intelligence as well physical evolution), it was an absolute disaster for our bodies, and the environments in which we live.
Research in the fields of genetics and anthropology has found that it takes 40,000 to 100,000 years for change in our environment to be fully assimilated by our bodies – at DNA level.
What that means, is that the bodies we now inhabit, still think we are wandering the land as hunter gatherers some 40,000 years ago, and the environment we lived in, and lifestyle we lived as hunter gatherers is that which makes us thrive.
Yet we now live completely differently from how we evolved to live – or how we evolved to thrive.
The changes impact us across all levels, from how we eat and drink, move and stabilise, sleep, breathe, the hours we work and type of work we perform, our exposure to radiation and new to nature chemicals, and how we process information and stress (the combination of how we think and emote).
The present circumstances have seen a huge increase in hostility, and confusion as to what is truth, and what is imaginary. There are so many conspiracy theories, and so many polarised opinions, and hostility throughout the community – perpetuated increasingly by mainstream and social media. It is growing extremely difficult nowadays to know who to trust anymore.
No matter what you believe; be it the information we are being given by mainstream media, or the myriad of conspiracy theories out there, the solution is unquestionably the same for us as individuals. That is, to raise your own frequency or increase your resilience by improving your health, simplifying your life, increasing connection to yourself, your family and friends, and to the immediate environment in which you live. That is all you can do. No point getting angry. Just nurture what nurtures you deep inside.
Whilst we cannot go back to living as hunter gatherers, as our planet would not sustain so many people living this way, plus there were also downsides to this lifestyle that threatened our basic safety on a day to day basis that we have overcome for the better, but we could do very well to understand how we lived then, and the environment in which our current bodies adapted to thrive in, and compare it to nowadays.
Nor am I suggesting we all become vegans as, whilst there are both arguments for this approach both physically and especially ethically, there are considerable questions as to the efficacy of this approach for long tem well-being.
Going to the opposite extreme will create its’ own problems given the world we’ve already set up.
It is an opportunity to shift the balance far more significantly from profitability to sustainability.
I do not have the whole solution, as I believe it is something we are going to need explore as a collective as it unfolds, however it is very clear to me that the current circumstances we are facing is are very strong warning from the planet that it is time we shifted our perspective and approach to living, or we will pay more and more dearly down the track.
Not just gradual change. It is a significant shift in our attitude that is required. Our priority must be to raise our frequency and connect more intimately with or bodies and ourselves, as well as the humans, animals and the environment around us.
Here are a few suggestions:
- A massive focus on sustainability over profitability.
- Reducing our working hours by at least 20% – research has suggested our hunter gatherer ancestors worked 15-25 hours per week hunting and gathering. The rest was spent with a combination of leisure, ritual, sleep, doing nothing (a lost art in our culture), social etc.
- Following from the above point, creating more time in our days for family and social time, and also activities that allow us to experience joy. We are not built to smash ourselves with just working, eating and sleeping. It comes at a cost to our physical and mental health. We need more variety, and joy.
- Spend more time outdoors – especially if you live in cities or towns.
- Get more down time – time to self and those close to you.
- Breathe gently in and out through your nose, using your diaphragm – most fail at this far more often than they realise, and it significantly impacts their well-being and performance.
- Meditate – meditation is medicine; both physically and mentally.
- Try to be present more often – check in regularly and be present with, and aware of what you’re doing at the time, nothing else.
- Be open to feeling your feelings, and to communicating them – it’s ok to be vulnerable. It can be scary initially, but it’s ok.
- Eat fresh food over packaged, and processed food – grow your own as much as you can.
- Buy organic food (especially meat).
- Eat more fruit and vegetables – lots more.
- Fast occasionally to give your body a rest.
- Sit less, walk more.
- Reduce radiation exposure via wi-fi, phones, screens, artificial lighting etc.
- Exercise daily, and enjoy your exercise. Don’t smash yourself all of the time (or at all) – vary it around.
The Mouth is For Eating, Drinking, Talking, Singing, Kissing, but Only For Breathing in Emergencies – Not All of the Time!!
Based on how the anatomy and physiology of our respiratory system is set up, and the biochemical principles that describe how oxygen in the air we inhale in our lungs, most efficiently arrives at the individual cells in our body (via the bloodstream) for energy production (described in intimate detail by ‘The Bohr Effect’, for which Danish biochemist Christian Bohr won a Nobel Prize in 1903), it is beyond question that the nose is specifically designed for breathing. Not the mouth.
Yet, most of us do not realise or understand how important this is. We take our breathing for granted thinking it is fine, yet the vast majority of us over-breathe using our mouth as well as our nose, breathing twice as often as we should (based on medical diagnostic norms) and with far too much volume.
The mouth is for eating, drinking, talking, drinking, kissing, but is only useful for breathing in emergencies. But not breathing.
Your breathing is as, or more important than nutrition for your health and performance, so there are consequences to mouth breathing:
- Too much volume of air leads to too little energy – mouth breathing allows up to six times the volume of air to enter our lungs and respiratory system, which seriously upsets the delicate biochemical balance that governs how efficiently we get oxygen to our cells for energy production (mentioned above). If you breathe with your mouth open or with parted lips, you will produce energy far less efficiently and therefore get tired more quickly.
- It kicks you into fight or flight mode – when you breathe with your mouth it puts you straight into emergency mode. For example, when someone gives you a fright, you take a big gasp which involves a big mouth breath using the chest and shoulders. This puts you straight into ‘fight or flight’ mode, but is only useful in short bursts. As such, mouth breathing a lot will wear you out. A lot.
- You by-pass an incredible air-conditioning process – for respiration to work efficiently, the air reaching the lungs needs to be filtered, disinfected, humidified and heated or cooled. Breathing through the nose does exactly this. The nasal hairs filter the air, the mucus in the nose and sinuses disinfect, humidify and heat or cool the inhaled air. If we by-pass this incredible air conditioning system by mouth breathing we make the lungs work harder, expose ourselves to higher risk of respiratory tract infection, minimise oxygen uptake in our lungs, and reduce energy production.
- Much less nitric oxide – nose breathing leads to 50% higher production of nitric oxide than mouth breathing. Nitric oxide acts as a neurotransmitter, immunoregulator and vasodilator, particularly in the gut and lungs. Some of its’ actions include: regulating blood pressure, boosting the immune system, fighting bacteria and viruses, fighting cancer, increasing blood flow to cells, in muscular control and balance, and protecting against cardiovascular disease, impotence, diabetic retinopathy, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
- Over breathing – nose breathing contributes to over-breathing, or breathing too often as well as with too much volume. The body’s reaction to counter this is either apnoea episodes or constriction and spasm of the smooth muscle surrounding our breathing tubes (this reaction is typical of symptoms seen in asthma and breathing difficulties). Unfortunately this can create a flow on affect and affect other systems in our body serviced by tubes contributing directly to, or predisposing us to a number of ailments: fatigue, asthma and breathing difficulties, snoring and apnoea, headaches and migraines, anxiety, IBS, reflux and other digestive complaints, chronic pain and many more.
Put simply, mouth breathing is far less efficient, and it will make you more tired – and sick. Don’t do it unless it’s an emergency.
Contact me via email email@example.com or phone 0425 739 918 to have your breathing efficiency assessed or to learn how to breath more efficiently to eliminate illness, enhance performance or increase relaxation and wellness.
ABC National Radio Interview on Breath Coaching with Joel Spry
A recent radio interview on ABC National radio with Joel Spry, a former client, now good friend of mine with whom, we used a combination of MIckel Therapy and Breath work to overcome IBS, anxiety and CFS. Interview linked at the bottom.
We discussed breath coaching and many things breathing related – that most of us don’t breathe correctly; we over-breathe. The consequences over over-breathing, including:
- Lack of energy
- Apnoea episodes
- Constriction of our breathing tubes as we see in asthma and breathing difficulties
- Constriction in other tubes in our body, as seen in IBS, reflux and constipation, which are so often worse when we’re stressed and we breathe more rapidly.
We also discussed the affect of slouching whilst we’re sitting on our breathing; why we over-breathe in the first place; and what we can do now to correct this.
Finally, we finished with a simple diaphragmatic, nose breathing exercise.
See www.takeabreath.com.au or www.timaltman.com.au for more details.
Can Breathing Retraining Help To Resolve Ailments Such As Anxiety, IBS, Sinusitis and Psoriasis?
Woman – 65 y.o.
Anxiety – prone to anxiety regularly. Her osteopath (who referred her to me) says that she has an extremely tense body to touch – especially shoulders.
Also IBS < stress. Takes a probiotic daily. Stiffness and pain in neck and shoulders – unable to turn head around without pain. Polymyalgia rheumatica -> discomfort. Arthritis in hands.
Member of weight watchers.
Recently has had lots of sinusitis, and congestion in upper chest/throat.
Gets tired very easily.
Also psoriasis – very itchy.
Read my book on breathing and thinks she over-breathes.
As a 14 y.o. had severe asthma – in children’s hospital for a year. Did postural drainage (was called nervous asthma) and lots of deep bx. No longer has asthma.
Sleep – thinks she bx’s rapidly – almost panic. Thinks it affects sleep. Sometimes has trouble with sleep. Wakes with a dry mouth. Definitely snores. Sleeps on side. Dry mouth in am and during the night. Night time toilet trips – at least 2 per night (for the last 20 years since menopause). No water at night.
Supplements – Magnesium and a probiotic. I suggested also a fish oil (for anti-inflammatory properties, and glucosamine for the arthritis).
Medication – Voltaren cream for arthritis when needed. Previously on steroids for her arthritis, but she discontinued as she gained too much weight.
Looking at her symptom presentation and history, she has a history of issues that can be related to dysfunctional breathing – asthma, sinusitis, anxiety, IBS, poor sleep quality. As such, it is possible that breathing is a major contributor to her current health picture.
Her nutrition is quite good (compared), with very little indication of hypoglycaemia, or fluctuating blood sugar levels, and no clear or significant excesses or deficiencies.
Therefore, correcting her breathing function could go a long way to resolving many of these issues. Her breathing patterns at night; snoring, dry mouth, frequent night time toilet trips, tired in the morning; all indicate mouth breathing whilst she’s sleeping, which is dysfunctional breathing. Linked is an article discussing the importance of breathing for health:
As such, I felt the first priority to assess her breathing efficiency using the capnometer – a biofeedback driven technology used in hospitals to monitor whether a patient is breathing, that measures breathing rate and exhaled carbon dioxide (measured as the volume of CO2 in the lungs at the end of exhalation – end tidal carbon dioxide – ETCO2). My blog, linked below, will discuss the importance of ETCO2 as a parameter in measuring breathing efficiency; however, in short, CO2 in our blood stream governs how efficiently we get oxygen (O2) from the air in our lungs, to the cells of our body for energy production (the purpose of respiration). Whilst oxygen is essential for energy production, without CO2 being present in our arterial blood stream, the oxygen would not be able to get to our cells in sufficient quantity. And given there is only 0.03% CO2 in our atmosphere, we must store it to have access to it. Therefore, it could be argued that CO2 is the limiting factor in respiration.
CO2 is a by-product of energy production, so we make it, and whilst some CO2 is available to us in our venous blood supply (as it makes its way to the lungs to be exhaled), there is not enough here for efficient energy production, so we ideally have a store of 6.5% CO2 in our lungs at the end of exhalation (ETCO2), which translates to 40mmHg partial pressure of CO2 as a minimum ideal for efficient respiration, and energy production. This ETCO2 permeates back into our blood stream to allow the O2 to get to our cells.
So, ideal levels on the capnometer for functional breathing, based on medical diagnostic norms, are 8-10 breathes per minute and an ETCO2 of 40mmHg.
This client’s initial base reading was between 13-16 breaths per minute, which is at least roughly 50% higher than the ideal average of 8-10 bpm.
And her ETCO2 was 30.8-32.0mmHg, so around 25% lower than the minimum ideal of 40mmHg.
This suggests that she breathes at 25-50% below what is considered as functional – which is not at all uncommon. But is sufficient that it will definitely result in reduced energy production, and is likely that it will start to result in symptoms in the body.
On further investigation, I also determined that we needed to address both breathing rate and volume in this client.
Based on these thoughts and the breathing analysis, her only treatment after this initial session involved retraining her breathing so that she could breathe closer to functional levels at all times, including whilst sleeping.
The objectives of treatment were:
1. Breathe through the nose at all times (unless exercising at high levels).
2. Use the diaphragm at all times.
3. Increase tolerance to elevated CO2 (hypercapnia).
4. Reduce rate and volume of breathing to optimise O2 delivery to cells for energy production and allow dilation of airways, blood vessels, GIT etc.
5. Regulate the autonomic nervous system (via the diaphragm) to increase the parasympathetic (PSNS – relax, rest and digest): sympathetic (SNS – fight or flight) ratio.
1. Diaphragmatic breathing rhythms that aimed at having her breathe only through her nose, using her diaphragm only (not chest and shoulders) at rhythms designed to retrain her day to day breathing rhythm. 2-3 x 10 minutes each per day.
2. Preventing mouth breathing at night by keeping the tongue at the roof of the mouth, and/or taping the mouth closed at night using 1 inch porous paper tape; i.e. Micropore tape.
3. Practising breath holds to increase the brain’s tolerance to higher CO2 levels which will result in the body accepting lower breathing rate and volume (and therefore more efficient breathing) more permanently. 3-5 per day at least.
I didn’t make any nutritional changes or add any herbs and supplements at this stage as I wanted her to focus on the breathing retraining. Plus I didn’t want to overwhelm her.
Outcome 1 – 3 Weeks Later
She said she is snoring much less, although she didn’t tape her mouth at night as the adhesive on the tape made her itch. She did concentrate on keeping her tongue on the roof of her mouth as she went to bed prior to sleeping. In addition, she did plenty of breathing rhythms and breath holds – at least the specified amount.
Her overall report was:
• Hasn’t had a night time toilet trip since.
• No dry mouth in the morning.
• She feels much better – more energetic. Much less fatigue at 3pm also.
• She also feels much calmer – less anxiety.
• No hyperventilating or feeling panic when going to bed.
• No clenching of her jaw.
• IBS symptoms much better – no cramps, pain, diarrhoea or constipation.
• Her psoriasis hasn’t been itchy at all, and the scabs on her head have mostly cleared up.
• Her arthritis was bad for 3 days last week – she thinks she overdid it with the gardening. It felt better after a warm shower and Voltaren cream.
Overall, I am not surprised to see results given her history of dysfunctional breathing, but these scope of the results were a very pleasant surprise.
I expected to see results with her sleep related symptoms and quality, anxiety, and possibly with energy levels and her IBS symptoms. Linked is an article and video on IBS and breathing.
However, I was surprised to see such significant results with her psoriasis. It makes sense that functional breathing can help with psoriasis symptoms, as it will create more vasodilation, and therefore more blood and lymph flow to the scalp; plus the diaphragmatic rhythms will help decrease sympathetic (or fight and flight) nervous system activation and dominance, and therefore improve immune function.
A bonus. But we need to see what happens over time. Will these improvements persist?
Capnometry results were also significantly improved – much closer to functional breathing.
Treatment as is.
Outcome 2 – 7 weeks from the start
A persistence in all improvements from last session.
• Still no night time toilet trips or dry mouth in the morning.
• Sleep quality is still good, and no snoring.
• Psoriasis nearly all cleared up – she’d had this for 20 years!!
• No jaw clenching.
• Also, significantly reduced tightness and pain in her neck and shoulders – her osteopath (who referred her to me) is amazed.
• IBS stable – no issues.
• No hyperventilation or panic when she goes to bed.
• Definitely calmer, more relaxed and better energy still. She feels quote distant from her worries now – she was in a family situation that would previously have wound her up, and she didn’t care.
She used to have pain in her ribs that musculoskeletal practitioners had said was cartilage damage, but it has cleared up, so it may have been an issue with tightness in her previously underused diaphragm.
She did have a cold for 3 days that blocked her up and she couldn’t nose breathe, which h she did not enjoy. But she was fine once it cleared up.
Her arthritis is still not great on a cold day however.
I advised her to continue with treatment as is, and take a fish oil, glucosamine, and turmeric for her arthritis.
Outcome 3 – 12 Weeks from the start.
Continuation of all improvements experienced thus far, so she’s very happy.
• Still no night time toilet trips – no urgency even on waking. Her husband is shocked.
• Also, still no jaw clenching at night or dry mouth in the am.
• She thinks he psoriasis is gone – only one tiny spot left.
• Still able to turn her neck around, and no pain in shoulders.
• No IBS symptoms – however if she overeats, gut is not happy with her.
The only thing that has not shifted is her arthritis – although this is manageable using Voltaren cream, or the occasional Panadol osteo if it flares up. Unfortunately she didn’t take the glucosamine, and fish oil I recommended.
She has maintained her breathing exercises now for 3 months, and the improvements in symptoms have now continued, so I am confident that her practice will continue and that she has established a pattern of breathing that will continue to yield these results.
It does not take long to see improvements in clients when implementing functional breathing practices, however it takes 3-4 months of continuous practice to make long term change in the way a client breathes. Once this is achieved, improvements in breathing and associated symptoms (with dysfunctional breathing), are likely to stick. In this client’s case, I believe she has reached this point, so she no longer needs to see me.
Whilst we do not see such significant and widespread changes in all clients when retraining their breathing, I do commonly see similar results, so I was very confident of seeing good results with this client, given her history of symptoms and conditions associated with breathing dysfunction.
I am not legally allowed to make claims that breathing retraining will resolve certain ailments, however I can report on how the client presented at each visit and the treatment strategies I implemented. – as I have done in this case. I’ll let you make your own conclusions on whether the treatment strategy was responsible for the change in symptoms.
And, I am very comfortable in saying again I regularly see similar outcomes or improvements by addressing dysfunctional breathing. Not surprising given that most people breathe dysfunctionally, or over-breathe – twice as often as we should, with far too much volume, using mouth and nose (instead of nose only), and using shoulders and chest instead of the diaphragm.
Article: “My Guided 5 Days of Fasting / Juice Cleanse (What Really Happened)”, by Cam Nicholls of www.bikechaser.com.au
Linked below is an article written by a client who embarked on a 5 day fast with me supervising him, as an experiment to improve his immune system and performance in criterium cycling races.
I won’t say too much here as the article, videos and podcasts say it all. He has certainly been thorough in his application, and documentation of the process. It was a pleasure working with him, and despite his difficulty in giving up coffee and his impatience to recommence, we are both glad he didn’t as it gave him an opportunity to experience some of the benefits of fasting, and therefore experience the level of health, energy and clarity that is inherent in us all – if we give our bodies a chance to show it 🙂
The benefits included:
- Improved and sustained energy levels.
- Great sleep.
- His sinuses are the clearest they’ve ever been.
- Dramatically improved concentration and mental aptitude.
Whilst it’s super thorough, if you’re interested in fasting or considering doing a fast/cleanse, I highly recommend you have a read, listen, watch as he covers just about everything you’ll need to know. Obviously, if this motivates you to act, then i can help you. I offer supervised fasts in my clinic addresses in Torquay, Sth Melbourne and Barwon Heads, or online.
Here’s the video created by Cam Nicholl’s the day after he finished his 5 day fast.
We discuss his experience, the results (including the Bio-Impedance test comparison between now and before he started), why he has to wait before he can have his first coffee, and the importance of his re-introduction to food program…
A client of mine, Cam Nicholls of Bike Chaser, www.bikechaser.com.au, is documenting his journey on a 5 day fast in order to strengthen his immune system in order to win an A grade criterium event in Melbourne this upcoming season.
In addition to strengthening his immune system, fasting is also likely to optimise his body by improving his energy levels, sleep cycles, recovery from training, mental clarity, focus, gut function and helping to reduce aches an pains.
It will be fun to join him on his journey and see how his body responds. Stay tuned for more videos, articles etc.
Below are his words on his mission….with a little bit from me also 🙂 . And the video.
“In this video, I share with you a consultation I had with a fasting expert here in Melbourne, Tim Altman (https://timaltman.com.au/). My original plan was to do a water fast for 5 days. However, following my consultation with Tim, I will be starting a 5-day juice fast in a few days time. The purpose of this cleanse is to strengthen my immune system before a large block of training. As my subscribers will know, I am targeting a big cycling goal later this year. In this video, Tim describes how he got into fasting himself – through a chronic fatigue rehabilitation process. Then he outlines the process and benefits I should see from a 5-day juice fast/cleanse, and how he will be supporting and providing a thorough 5-day program, including the reintroduction to food.”
There’s Far More To Treating IBS, Reflux & Other Digestive Issues Than Correcting The Gut Microbiome
The gut has been topical of late – with terms such as ‘gut microbiome’, the ‘third brain’ etc. becoming very popular. It has certainly become evident that gut function plays a huge role in both our physical and mental health, and we have seen an increase in digestive issues such as reflux, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease, Coeliac’s Disease etc. etc.
In treating such conditions, and indeed in exploring optimal health and well-being, we need to focus on correcting and optimising the internal environment of our digestive system. Treatments have included stool analyses, detox diets, eliminative diets such as FODMAP, paleo and gluten free programs, antibiotic treatments, prebiotic and probiotic treatments, digestive enzyme therapy etc. have become extremely useful strategies. However, very often these treatments struggle to yield significant or complete resolutions.
Given this, it is worth considering that there are other influences on digestive or gut function, other than what goes on inside the digestive system, and that ignoring these can lead to less than complete resolutions. 2 other influences that have a significant impact on gut function, and must be attended to in order to treat the gut more completely, include:
1. Our breathing via the smooth muscle that surrounds the digestive tract – the average person over-breathes, meaning they breathe twice as often as they should, and with far too much volume (because they use mouth and nose rather than nose only). This upsets the delicate biochemical balance in our respiratory system that governs how we get oxygen from the air we inhale into our cells for energy production (the mechanism of which is known as ‘The Bohr Effect’). One of the compensations that result from the upset in the respiratory system by over-breathing is for the body to constrict the smooth muscle around our breathing tubes – and we experience symptoms of breathing difficulties and asthma as a result. Yet, the rest of the tubes that service our body are also surrounded by smooth muscle and over-breathing can lead to constriction and spasm in our digestive system, which is in itself a large tube, forcing it into lock down and preventing the peristaltic action of the digestive system to work effectively, leading to digestive symptoms. This is particularly highlighted by the fact that a vast majority of digestive symptoms and ailments are exacerbated by stress, are often see associated anxiety along with them (especially IBS or reflux). When we are stressed or anxious we over-breathe or hyperventilate even more, which can really exacerbate this constriction and spasm in the digestive system.
2. How we process stress – which is regulated via our hypothalamus. Our hypothalamus, in the brain stem, regulates the automatic bodily functions (including the gut, breathing, circulation etc.), endocrine function (glands and hormones), immune function, sleep cycle, neurotransmitters, some cognitive function etc. It’s job is homeostasis, and it really is the general in regulating our body and keeping it ‘purring’ along. But a hypothalamus that is ‘angry’ or ‘overdrive’ because it is working too hard as we live in constant low level fight or flight in this modern world, can then dys-regulate the function of many o all of our automatic functions – including digestion and the gut. How we process stress in the brain is governed by the healthy working relationship between our two intelligence systems: our thinking, or rational brain, whose job it is to allow us to interface with the world we live in by analysing and interpreting information, data processing, solving problems (the world of thoughts and rational – including our story of our past, and future); and the pre-thinking, instinctive emotional brain whose role is to keep us safe, happy and comfortable by constantly scanning the environment around us (in the now) and warning us of any threat, or stress, via emotions, which serve as a call to action to deal with the threat. If these two work together we attend to emotions as they arise, our thinking brain interpreting the call to action and activating action, then we process stress effectively and we go back to being happy, safe and comfortable. However, we have created a big mismatch between the bodies we have inherited (from our hunter gatherer ancestors) and the high tech, high paced world we have created, and we are taught to ignore emotions and discomfort (therefore the call to action to deal with stress) – be tough, don’t be so sensitive/emotional/irrational, don’t be a girl/sissy, push though, tough it out, don’t show weakness etc. As such we have become top of the animal kingdom, but have forgotten how to be an animal, so we internalise stress rather that dealing with it effectively. This sends us into permanent low-level ‘fight or flight’ activation, leading to symptoms.
We must attend to more than just the inside of the gut to treat it effectively!!
Video: Breathing Retraining Provides a Fantastic Natural Solution for Resolving Asthma and Breathing Difficulties
Tim Altman. breathing coach and naturopath (www.timaltman.com.au) discusses some fantastic and simple to learn, natural solutions to asthma, that more often than not, will help you wean off your asthma medication for good.
Most people accept that the medical treatment of asthma using pharmaceutical drugs, such as preventers, relievers and the modern combination medicines of these two, is the only effective way to manage asthma long term.
This is not true.
Research has started to suggest that what is often diagnosed by GP’s as asthma is more likely breathing difficulty (in about 80% of cases). As such, the main pathology in most asthma is to do with dysfunctional breathing.
This is not surprrising given the average person breathes nowhere near what is considered functional, according to medical diagnostic norms. We breathe twice as often as we should, and with far too much volume (meaning that we over breathe), using our mouth and chest/shoulders to breathe, rather than mostly our nose and diaphragm. In fact, when not exercising we should use our nose and diaphragm only.
This over breathing upsets the delicate biochemical balance in our respiratory system that dictates how much oxygen we get from the air we inhale into our lungs to the cells of our body for energy production (the mechanics of which are described by the ‘Bohr Effect’). If we breathe too much, we fail to produce energy efficiently, and the body perceives this as a threat to survival, so it creates constriction and spasm of the tubes that service our lungs and respiratory system to prevent the excessive loss of air; which are the symptoms we see as asthma and breathing difficulty.
As such, whilst we must also address immune hypersensitivity in some cases, the treatment priority needs to be correcting breathing function – eliminating over breathing by retraining the breathing to functional levels, breathing more slowly and with less volume. This will naturally dilate the whole respiratory system and prevent, or make it far less likely that asthma and breathing difficulties will occur at all.
We use biofeedback technology (Capnometry) to assess a person’s breathing, and retrain them using specifically created breathing rhythms that retrain your breathing from the level you are at.
There are other breathing techniques that we can also to facilitate or speed up this process also. For example, we know that a 45 second breath hold will produce roughly the equivalent vasodilation in your lungs as a puff of Ventolin.
I have found that using breathing retaining to treat and prevent asthma to be a simple and easy to learn solution that will give most clients a permanent solution to their asthma and breathing difficulties with a couple of months. It takes practice and some persistence, but it provides a long term solution, that avoids the expense and negative side effects of long term use of medications. The only side effect of breathing retraining, other than being free of symptoms of asthma and breathing difficulties, are that you will feel more relaxed, and have more energy!!
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0425 739 918 to make an appointment.
I offer clinical sessions online, or n person in Torquay, Barwon Heads at 13th Beach Health Services – www.13thbeachhealthservices.com.au) and Melbourne.
Research Suggests the Average Working Week Creates Too Much Stress and Fatigue, and Reduces Productivity.
People Over 40 Should Only Work Three Days a Week, Study Concludes
The linked article below from the University of Melbourne echoes what I have noticed so often in clinic when working with clients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, post viral syndrome, adrenal fatigue, anxiety, IBS, depression and auto-immune illnesses.
When looking at what we’ve learned from neuroscience and neuropsychology about how our brains process information, especially stress, in combination with what we’ve leaned from genetic and anthropological research on how we’re built to live (our body’s still think we live as we did as hunter gatherers), we know that our essential biological needs as an animal are for food and water, shelter, safety and love – or happiness, safety and comfort.
It’s also been determined from investigations of existing hunter-gatherer cultures, and what we can tell from previous ones, that the overage hunter gatherer cultures worked between 15-20 hour per week. Yet, the modern day human works, on average, at least double this in the name of economics, which is a concept. In other words, it’s not real according to the body’s we have inherited.
This essentially means that the average worker sacrifices a sense of our basic biological needs, including work-life balance, happiness, variety, and fulfillment in the name of a concept. Similarly, in pursuit of material or fiscal success, another concept that is learned, and therefore not real, we so often sacrifice our basic need for fulfillment, variety and leisure – and therefore happiness.
This ultimately leads to us being permanently in over-dive or constant, unrelenting low-level stress, which in turn leads to symptoms of illness that we see in the above ailments, and in the general symptoms most people seem to accept as part of life in the modern world:
- Gut or digestive symptoms
- Difficult sleeping
- Lack of joy
- Brain fog
- And many more.
Yet, as per the quote below from the linked article suggests, and many more studies appearing are stating to suggest, fitting with what we have learned about how our hunter gatherer bodies are built to live, our productivity, presence at work, work-life balance, sense of fulfillment and happiness all improve when we work a little less.
“After factoring in people’s quality of life, economic well-being, family structures and employment, economic researchers found that individuals who worked an average of 25 hours per week tended to perform the best. In fact, overall cognitive performance would rise until people hit the 25-hour mark, at which point cognitive test scores began dropping because of fatigue and stress.”
Hopefully one day the economic system will focus more on quality of work, and worker satisfaction, than being focused mainly on dollars and quantity of time spent working (at the expense of workers).
Nevertheless, there is still plenty we can do to reduce stress and create more balance in our current working life by understanding what our bodies are built for. More focus on work-reward ratio, work-life balance, variety at work, and a greater focus on worker well being all make a significant improvement in client’s symptoms.
In clinic when working with a client, it’s just a matter of strategy, and then trial and error, using the client’s bodily results (in terms of symptoms and emotions) to determine the effectiveness of changes made. It takes practice, and perseverance, but it works a treat. And allows the body to heal itself, which saves a fortune on medications, and supplements.St
If you would like to find more work-life balance, experience less stress, fatigue, pain, gut symptoms, sleep more soundly, or just experience more joy and happiness, then contact me at email@example.com or phone 0425 739 918. Working in this way with clients has yielded far more potent results than any approach I’ve seen; and it’s made a huge difference to how I, and many of my clients live – for the better.
Free Talk on Men’s Health Issues @ Surfcoast Wholefoods, Torquay
“Men’s Health Issues”
Free Talk by Tim Altman www.timaltman.com.au
Surfcoast Wholefoods, Monday 9th of July @ 7.30pm – Bookings not necessary. firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0425 739 918.
Over 20 years of practice these are the main complaints I hear from men, but most suffer in silence.
Fatigue, Burn Out or Lack of Joy
Stress, Anxiety or are ‘in your head’ a lot
Impatience, Irritability or Chronic Pain
Difficulty Sleeping or Poor Sleep
Breathing and/or Digestive Issues
Using an evolutionary medicine approach based on genetic, anthropological and neuroscience research, I outline simple and easy to implement solutions to this chronic issue by addressing not only nutrition, breathing and exercise, but also how we rest and rejuvenate, process stress, communicate, and find work/life balance.
A World-First Longitudinal Study by University led by the University of Melbourne has specifically looked at the long-term effects of removing the tonsils and adenoids in childhood.
“For the first time, researchers have examined the long-term effects of removing tonsils and adenoids in childhood, finding the operations are associated with increased respiratory, infectious and allergic diseases.”
In is fantastic that the linked article (below – and captioned above), by Dr Nerissa Hannink, of The University of Melbourne, has looked at the long-term risk of removing the tonsils and adenoids in childhood – and, especially that the conclusion was; “…..our results support delaying tonsil and adenoid removal if possible, which could aid normal immune system development in childhood and reduce the possible later-life disease risks we observed in our study,” Dr Byars says.
For practitioners working with the impact of dysfunctional breathing (according to medical diagnostic norms) in clients, we find this as no surprise, especially given that most people fail to breath anywhere near medical diagnostic norms for what is considered functional for breathing – and the dysfunction most often begins at a young age.
In the linked article the tonsils and adenoids are described as acting as first line of immune defense.
“But we now know that adenoids and tonsils are strategically positioned in the nose and throat respectively, in an arrangement known as Waldeyer’s ring. They act as a first line of defense, helping to recognise airborne pathogens like bacteria and viruses, and begin the immune response to clear them from the body.”
However, when you look at the structure of the entire respiratory system, including the nose, we are designed to principally breathe in and out of the nose – the mouth being reserved for breathing in emergencies such as high level exercise or when one is startled or out of breath, and takes a gasp. The hairs in the nose filter the air we breathe, and the mucus in the nose and sinuses disinfect, humidify, and heat and cool the air that we inhale, so that when air reaches the lungs for gas exchange it is moist. at the right temperature and clean, optimising gas exchange.
As such, perhaps that tonsils and adenoids are not first line of immune defense. It would make more sense that the nose and sinuses are first and second line (in correct breathing), making the tonsils and adenoids third or fourth line of immune defense.
This may also then explain why the tonsils and adenoids become so inflamed in children. Given so many people mouth breathe instead of, or in addition to, primarily nose breathing, this would mean that the nose and sinuses are largely or completely by-passed by inhaled air making the tonsils and adenoids now first line of immune defense instead of 3rd or 4th. Therefore, perhaps they are being overworked by taking too much of the load of a function they merely assist in, rather than performing entirely – the resultant inflammation of tonsils and adenoids being a consequence of this overload.
In addition to delaying the removal of tonsils and adenoids as suggested by the research in the article, it may also be prudent to investigate the reason why the tonsils and adenoids become inflamed so often in children.
Correcting, or retaining breathing to functional norms, could be the first step in addressing this issue. That, on a few occasions has certainly has been my findings in clinic with clients, and that many of my colleagues report.
If you’d like to learn to retrain your breathing to correct, or functional levels, then contact me at email@example.com or phone 0425 739 918.