How to Measure and Increase Body and Brain Oxygen
“All chronic pain, suffering and diseases
from a lack of oxygen at the cell level."
Prof. A.C. Guyton, MD, The Textbook of Medical Physiology*
* World’s most widely used
medical textbook of any kind
* World's best-selling physiology book
Total brain oxygen content
If we look at this Graph showing brain oxygen levels in one cross section, we can notice that oxygen distribution is very inhomogeneous. The most oxygenated area is around the hypothalamus, which is also the most ancient or primitive brain present even in the simplest creatures like worms. The hypothalamus is responsible for primitive reflexes and bodily reactions, and it is generally the most active area of the brain. Since nerve activity requires more oxygen, nature provided the hypothalamus with a rich network of arteries to provide more blood (and oxygen).
Depending on the situation and state of the human body, certain areas of the brain, similar to hypothalamus, can be more or less active requiring different oxygen supplies, and that explains why this graph shows inhomogeneous oxygen distribution for normal breathing and hyperventilation, which is present in over 90% of modern people.
In addition, on a cell level, oxygen distribution among neighboring cells can also vary widely. Those cells that are adjacent to capillaries can have high oxygen pressure (up to 4-5% or around 30-38 mm Hg). But more distant cells (cells can be located as far away as 3-4 cells away from the nearest blood vessel) can have only 1% or about 7.6 mm Hg for oxygen partial pressure.
Therefore, it is very difficult to measure the total brain oxygen content using direct methods. Even if we make thousands of similar PET scans, and then define average oxygenation for each cross section and then the average content for the whole brain, there is a large factor related to this cellular oxygen distribution effect.
Total oxygen content in the body
The situation with total one's body-oxygen content is even more complex. Blood flow to different organs is greatly influenced by the autoregulation effect that can change the perfusion of certain organs up to 3-4 times. Autoregulation takes place due to various bodily processes, such as digestion, sleep, exercise, adaptation to temperature changes, emotions, local and global infections, local inflammation, and many others. Therefore, the total picture is very complex and, from the purely technical viewpoint, one's total body-oxygen content is exceptionally difficult and expensive to measure.
A simple DIY test to measure body and brain oxygen content
In the 1960's, Dr. Buteyko had devices to measure body-oxygen levels and test people for low brain oxygen. He knew about the effects described above when he worked as the Manager of the Laboratory of the Functional Diagnostic in Novosibirsk (see the photo of his Laboratory from the 1960’s on the right) for first Soviet Spaceship Missions. He was also interested in finding total body-oxygen content. After years of research, he stated,
"Oxygen content in the organism can be found using a simple method: after exhalation, observe, how long the person can pause their breath without stress" Dr. K. P.Buteyko, "Dr. Buteyko lecture in the Moscow State University on 9 December 1969"
This observation makes sense since, in spite of autoregulation and inhomogeneous O2 distribution, CO2 is the main factor that controls oxygen delivery and blood flow in a dose-dependent manner. For example, numerous studies proved that blood flow to various organs is linearly proportional to the arterial CO2 level. Furthermore, the clinical observations of over 180 Soviet and Russian physicians suggests that this test is simple and exceptionally valuable in order to define the current physiological state of the person, their symptoms and requirements in medication. For only a small portion of people (about 1% or less in ordinary people and slightly more in the sick), this simple body-oxygen test is not an accurate measure for their health.
How to increase brain oxygen?
This website explains how to increase one's brain oxygen content by breathing normalization (or learning how to breathe in accordance with medical norms). One needs to address numerous lifestyle factors related to sleep, exercise, diet, stress and much more. See the Learning Section of this site for all details or start with the educational YouTube video list.
For more information about normal numbers, numbers in sick people, and the exact details of this test to measure brain and body abd brain oxygen content, visit the page "DIY body-oxygen test".
Reference pages: Breathing norms and medical facts:
- Breathing norms: Parameters, graph, and description of the normal breathing pattern
- 6 breathing myths: Myths and superstitions about breathing and body oxygenation (prevalence: over 90%)
- Hyperventilation: Definitions of hyperventilation: their advantages and weak points
- Hyperventilation syndrome: Western scientific evidence about prevalence of chronic hyperventilation in patients with chronic conditions (37 medical studies)
- Normal minute ventilation: Small and slow breathing at rest is enjoyed by healthy subjects (14 studies)
- Hyperventilation prevalence: Present in over 90% of normal people (24 medical studies)
- HV and hypoxia: How and why deep breathing reduces oxygenation of cells and tissues of all vital organs
- Body-oxygen test (CP test) : How to measure your own breathing and body oxygenation (two in one) using a simple DIY test
- Body oxygen in healthy: Results for the body-oxygen test for healthy people (27 medical studies)
- Body oxygen in sick : Results for the body-oxygen test for sick people (14 medical studies)
- Buteyko Table of Health Zones: Clinical description and ranges for breathing zones: from the critically ill (severely sick) up to super healthy people with maximum possible body oxygenation
- Morning hyperventilation: Why people feel worse and critically ill people are most likely to die during early morning hours
References: pages about CO2 effect:
- Vasodilation: CO2 expands arteries and arterioles facilitating perfusion (or blood supply) to all vital organs
- The Bohr effect: How and why oxygen is released by red blood cells in tissues
- Cell oxygen levels: How alveolar CO2 influences oxygen transport
- Oxygen transport: O2 transport is controlled by vasoconstriction-vasodilation and the Bohr effects, both of which rely on CO2
- Free radical generation: Reactive oxygen species are produced within cells due to anaerobic cell respiration caused by cell hypoxia
- Inflammatory response: Chronic inflammation in fueled by the hypoxia-inducible factor 1, while normal breathing reduces and eliminates inflammation
- Nerve stabilization: People remain calm due to calmative or sedative effects of carbon dioxide in neurons or nerve cells
- Muscle relaxation: Relaxation of muscle cells is normal at high CO2, while hypocapnia causes muscular tension, poor posture and, sometimes, aggression and violence
- Bronchodilation: Dilation of airways (bronchi and bronchioles) is caused by carbon dioxide, and their constriction by hypocapnia (low CO2)
- Blood pH: Regulation of blood pH due to breathing and regulation of other bodily fluids
- CO2: lung damage: Elevated carbon dioxide prevents lung injury and promotes healing of lung tissues
- CO2: Topical carbon dioxide can heal skin and tissues
- Synthesis of glutamine in the brain, CO2 fixation, and other chemical reactions
- Deep breathing myth: Ignorant and naive people promote the idea that deep breathing and breathing more air at rest is beneficial for health
- Breathing control: How is our breathing regulated? Why hypocapnia makes breathing uneven, irregular and erratic.
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