Body Cleanse (Detox): Diets vs. Breathing Retraining (Review)
How many people can trigger a real cleansing reaction (when toxins are literally driven out through several organs of elimination) using diets? Maybe one person in a hundred may get it. I am talking here about a real reaction of detoxification (also known as the "sanogenesis reaction"). This reaction is manifested in urine that can have black, brown or red color, fresh and numerous boils with pus on the skin, diarrhea, and other temporary specific effects.
At the same time, the majority of breathing students, who have ordinary or regular diets, but who practice right breathing exercises (with measurable results) and experience a certain progress in their results (see more details below), will have a severe detox reaction.
A body cleanse is a state of the human body characterized by
intensive elimination of toxic and unwanted substances from the human organism.
In most breathing students, when present, the cleansing reactions do not last more than
4-5 days (usually 1-2 days). Those people who have been taking many pills and other types
of medication every day for many years may have cleansing reactions for 1-2 weeks,
very rarely up to 3 weeks (never more).
1. Humans have the highest chances of severe health problems (heart attacks, strokes, asthma exacerbations, seizures, etc.), as well as the highest mortality rates, during early morning hours (from 4-7 am), not after they ate or drunk something wrong. This fact alone cleary proves that it is naive to assume that detox diets or cleansing drinks can improve health in modern people. This is in complete agreement with the following quote.
2. The chief causes of these health problems (deep breathing and low body O2) are mouth breathing and supine sleep. Therefore, breathing retraining is the major factor that naturally triggers body detoxification, not diets and drinks!
Review of main myths of body cleansing
The problem is that heavy breathing in the sick (see Homepage for numbers) causes tissue hypoxia, which is the main cause of free radicals and body pollution. Therefore, diets and foods are
useless when then body oxygen level is less than 10 seconds.
You can eat tons of supplements and super-foods, drink canisters of
herbal drinks, have hundreds of colonic irrigations, and practice yoga for
many hours every day, but if your body oxygen level remains the same, you
will suffer from the same symptoms and require the same dosage of
The human organism detoxifies itself 24/7. However, when the body
oxygen level is low, the abilities of the immune system are
suppressed. One of the largest negative shifts takes place when the body
oxygen level drops below 20 s even if only for 20-30 minutes. Cell hypoxia, caused by
hyperventilation, leads to an anaerobic energy production mechanism in
the mitochondria. This causes formation of increased levels of lactic acid and
incompletely oxidized chemicals or free radicals causing cellular
damage due to the heavy breathing. This hypoxic body state is typical
for people with chronic diseases (heart disease, cancer, asthma,
diabetes, etc.). The body becomes even more polluted when a person with
low body-oxygen content uses medical drugs and becomes obese at the same
time since many toxic chemicals are stored in fat cells.
Breathing normalization causes higher CP and when the students
quickly improve their CPs, their immune system can eliminate toxins
within a short period of time so that the process of their elimination
disrupts many natural or normal physiological processes.
While Dr. Buteyko provided an excellent general theoretical
explanation of the body's cleansing reactions in his writings (e.g., see Section
Clearance Reaction from the Buteyko
manual), many practitioners and their students often confuse a body
cleanse with digestive flare-ups, migraines, allergic responses to
various foods, and some other situations, which do not make the human
body cleaner or purer.
Examples of body cleansing
Here are some practical examples in order to get a better understanding
about what is a body cleanse and what is not.
A. When a students' urine is black or red in color for some 2-3 days,
this is a typical body cleanse. This reaction is usually
accompanied by many other reactions, like temporary diarrhea and skin
abscesses or boils with pus and/or other substances being eliminated
from the body.
B. If a student gets a migraine headache due to eating chocolate or
inhaling tiny doses of ink in air (from newspapers, books, and other
printed materials), then this migraine is not detoxification or a body
cleanse. It is a normal reaction to allergic triggers.
C. If long breath holds, or maximum pauses, or strong air hunger due
to very shallow breathing consistently and for weeks or months leads to
unusual bowel movements indicating pathological gut flora, they are caused by
the following physiological mechanism. When the CO2 and CP sharply rise due to breathing exercises (often
up to 2 zones in the Buteyko Table or up to about 20 s CP), the
sensitivity of the immune system is greatly improved and it is able to
fight pathogens present in various parts of the body. Since most modern
people suffer from GI dysbiosis or abnormal GI flora in the gut, the
sudden CP increase leads to intensive peristalsis since the human
organism tries to get rid of pathological content in the small and large
intestines. This effect is beneficial. The gut is in a mechanically
strong state (no damage to tissues or inflammation is present) and such
positive reactions happen after, for example, food poisoning.
However, when the mucosal surface of the colon is inflamed, the
inflamed villi are very weak mechanically. Hence, intensive peristaltic
waves can easily cause the villi to be broken (or separated) and wiped down along the GI
tract. All these processes take place beyond the stomach and, as a
result, broken villi cannot be digested normally. Instead, they start to
putrefy in the colon, which, in such cases, is full of pathogens who
will "enjoy" these proteins in the warm moist conditions of the gut.
This in turn will produce toxins in the blood and an offensive smell in the surrounding
The problem is that naive and ignorant Buteyko practitioners declare to their
students that this is a "body detoxification"
due to higher CPs caused by breathing exercises. (If one is in a sober
mind, how can he or she think or believe that there are mysterious
toxins that cause this horrible odor and these (kilograms of?) toxins
regularly coming out of the body for many weeks or months?) Hence, the
main effect of such breathwork is destruction of the GI tract leading to
a cascade of negative events involving worsened inflammation, cortisol
deficiency, fatigue, poor sleep, and many others.
When the gut becomes even more inflamed due to intensive breathing
exercises, a flare up can also be triggered by other mechanical or
chemical causes, including fiber roughage (e.g., raw vegetables, most
greens, skin of
fruits, and nuts), essential oils, acids (e.g., vitamin C and citric
citrus fruits), garlic, gluten from grains (wheat, rye, barley, etc.),
bending yourself (gastroenterologists use a similar "pressure test" to
evoke intensive peristaltic waves that provoke and confirm presence of GI
inflammation) and other situations. Thus, the situation becomes even
more complex due to the appearance of new triggers of this "body
What to do? When the gut is already inflamed, it is necessary to use
a soft diet with elimination of all chemical and mechanical triggers.
Villi grow with amazing speed (in matter of 8-12 hours), but they
require some days in order to become mechanically strong and resilient
in relation to ordinary food or roughage. Too strong air hunger, too
long breath holds, and too sudden CP increase (up to 15-20 s in less
than a few hours), all these factors greatly enhance sensitivity of the
immune system and can lead to intensive peristaltic waves that can
destroy inflamed villi. (It is beyond the scope of this
web page to describe all details of breathing normalization in cases of
Such severe GI reactions are normal for students with existing GI
damage due to Crohn's disease, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), IBD
(inflammatory bowel disease), etc. Since most modern people suffer from
mild forms of gastritis, practicing breathwork with solid food in the
stomach can easily inflame and damage lower parts of the stomach,
pyloric valve and then duodenum creating all conditions for the flare-up
effect described above.
What is the main reason for claiming that this is not a classical Buteyko
body cleanse reaction? Indeed, superficially the above described mechanism
looks like the process of removal of bad bacteria and their waste products from the
gut due to higher CPs. But a real Buteyko body cleanse involves the removal of
previously accumulated toxic or waste products. When a student
consistently creates new damage to her or his body, she or he does not
move forward and these activities are, at best, a waste of time.
D. If a student consumes milk and cheese every day and gets a lot of mucus, then it is sensible to face the reality and stop using dairy products - since this mucus is most likely a reaction to dairy products and not a cleansing reaction. (Butter, due to the absence of casein, the main protein in dairy products, and lactose, will not lead to this allergic reaction.)
E. If a student gets yellow and green
semi-solid mucus-type discharges from the lungs for 2-3 consecutive days
(in a shape of
noodles, plugs, etc.), that would be a body cleansing. This is how
the lungs of asthmatics
F. If a student with severe kidney disease (on dialysis or
in a pre-dialysis state) gets about 30 s for his morning CP and his
production of urine drastically drops down to about 500-700 ml of urine
per day for the next 2 weeks regardless of his water intake during these 2
weeks, then this is how the kidneys detoxify themselves naturally due to
breathing training and higher CP.
H. If a pregnant female quickly improves her low CP by practicing strong
air hunger and/or doing a large amount of breathwork, her immune system
can reject an embryo when it is not yet attached to the womb of the
mother (or during the first trimester of the pregnancy). Hence,
spontaneous abortion can also be an example of a body cleanse.
I. If a student increases his CP up to 35-40 s and vomits old bile
(not for weeks or months, but for 1-2 days only), then this is a
cleansing of his liver.
The classical Buteyko body cleanse reactions are exceptionally rare in
modern Western students due to the following reasons:
1. In the 1960s-80s, Soviet Buteyko breathing students practiced up to
2-3 hours of breathing exercises per day and applied hours of daily
physical exercise with only nose breathing to quickly improve their body
oxygen content. As a result, many of them progressed with the speed of
5-10 s CP per day so that after some days of breathwork they could
increase their morning CPs up to 3 or more times. Modern Western
Buteyko students often practice for about 40-60 min per day and their
rate of progress is usually about 2-5 s morning CP per week. This slow
increase rate makes the process of detoxification more gradual and the body
2. Many Western people regularly use mineral supplements, especially Ca
and Mg. An abundance of essential minerals and salts
reduces the severity and duration of body cleanse reactions as it is described
in the Section
Nutritional deficiencies and body cleansing reactions (part 3.2 of the
Major Nutrients Guide).
3. Modern western students are exposed to much larger doses and varieties
of chemicals in comparison with Soviet Buteyko students (the environment
became more polluted). As a result,
various allergic reactions are much more common in modern Western
4. The greatly increased prevalence of mild and light GI problems makes
modern students more susceptible to developing serious GI problems
according to the mechanism described above.
Who and why reacts with cleansing to breathing retraining?
Practically, when students learn breathing retraining, only some students experience cleansing reactions. For example, my students nearly never experience cleansing reactions unless they practice for a certain amount of time per day. Then cleansing reactions are common. Find out these general observations right below here as your bonus content.
Dr. Buteyko on the body cleansing reactions
(Part of his small manual “Method of volitional elimination of deep breathing”,
with details about duration, severity and physiological mechanisms of common body cleanses).
- Signs of perfect digestion and how to improve digestion with a right diet.
- This page in Spanish: Reacción de limpieza del cuerpo | Causas de desintoxicación.
You can leave your grammatically correct feedback and/or comments below. (But Artour is on a summer vacation now.) Thanks.