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*
* Worlds 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 1960s 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?
Reference pages: Breathing norms and the DIY body oxygen test:
- Breathing norms: Parameters, graph, and description of the normal breathing pattern
- Body-oxygen test (CP test) : How to measure your own breathing and body oxygenation (two in one) using a simple DIY test
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 body tissues
- Nerve stabilization: Carbon dioxide has powerful calmative and sedative effects on brain neurons and nerve cells
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