Breathing Retraining: From Sick/Victims to Superhumans

Cystic Fibrosis in Lungs Is Reversible

Alveoli in lungsPeople with cystic fibrosis in lungs destroy their alveoli and airways due to their chronic hyperventilation. Overbreathing is a norm in cystic fibrosis (see the table below). There are several mechanisms that are responsible for deleterious effects of hyperventilation on the lung tissue.

Effects of hyperventilation on lungs

While studying the effects of CO2 (carbon dioxide) on lung tissue a large group of scientists from the Lung Biology Program, The Research Institute and Department of Critical Care Medicine and Anesthesia, (University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada) concluded that "CO2 modulates key physiologic indices of lung injury, including alveolar-arterial oxygen gradient and airway pressure, indicating a potential role in the pathogenesis of ventilator-associated lung injury. These effects are surfactant independent." (Laffey et al, 2003).

Minute ventilation in cystic fibrosis patients at rest

Condition Minute
ventilation
Number of
patients
References
Normal breathing 6 L/min - Medical textbooks
Healthy subjects 6-7 L/min >400 Results of 14 studies
Cystic fibrosis 15 L/min 15 Fauroux et al, 2006
Cystic fibrosis* 13 (~+mn~2) L/min 10 Bell et al, 1996
Cystic fibrosis 10 L/min 11 Browning et al, 1990
Cystic fibrosis 11-14 L/min 6 Tepper et al, 1983
Cystic fibrosis* 10 L/min 10 Ward et al, 1999
CF and diabetes* 10 L/min 7 Ward et al, 1999
Cystic fibrosis 16 L/min 7 Dodd et al, 2006
Cystic fibrosis 18 L/min 9 McKone et al, 2005
Click here for all Cystic Fibrosis References

Effects of whole body hypoxia on lungs

Effects of cough and overbreathing on brain O2 Studies showed that the transport of ions of Na and Cl, and water in the epithelium layers of the lungs depend on oxygen levels (Clerici & Matthay, 2000; Karle et al, 2004; Mairbaurl et al, 1997; Mairbaurl et al, 2002 - these references can be found on other CF pages). This effect is present in all mammals. What about cystic fibrosis related research? Several medical studies found that the function of the CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator) gene is directly influenced by body-oxygen levels, which define concentrations of hypoxia inducible factor-1 (Bebk et al, 2001; Guimbellot et al, 2008; Yeger et al, 2001; Zheng et al, 2009 - these references are also provided on other CF pages).

Young smiling medical doctors Tissue hypoxia is a normal outcome of hyperventilation (see links to hundreds of studies below). Do people with cystic fibrosis hyperventilate? Consider minute ventilation (how many liters per minute the person inhales) at rest in cystic fibrosis patients.

Find more details in this YouTube video - Trailer of the Amazon Kindle Book "Cystic Fibrosis Life Expectancy".

Hyperventilation and mouth breathing causes drying and overcooling of airways

What are the effects of habitual mouth breathing and hyperventilation? One study measured the effects of the breathing route on humidity and surface temperature in airways of normal and CF subjects. During nose breathing, the nasal passages can humidify and warm up the incoming flow of air. Mouth breathing leads to the drying and cooling of airways. For example, during inspiration, the humidity at the pharynx for nose breathing was about 95%, while for oral breathing it was only 75% (Primiano et al, 1988). Hence, mouth breathing requires 5 times more water from bronchi and bronchioles in order to achieve 100% humidity.  These doctors observed that, “… These data suggest that when the rate of evaporation is sufficiently high, the rate-limiting step may be water transport through the mucosal tissue and/or secretions. At least for the upper airways, this rate limitation is more evident for CF patients than for normal subjects.

Girl coughingAn additional effect of hyperventilation relates to the overcooling of airways, especially in cases of mouth breathing and coughing through the mouth. Even stronger effects are expected due to physical exercise with mouth breathing. All physical activity in patients with cystic fibrosis must be done with nose breathing only (in and out).

While measuring the temperature of airways during pulmonary and hyperventilation tests, a group of Italian doctors discovered that hyperventilation induced a significant temperature loss (Vitacca et al, 1994). The aim of their study was to test the usefulness of hygroscopic humidifiers on the secretion of mucus and on inspired gas temperature in tracheostomized patients. These Italian doctors found that hygroscopic condenser humidifiers have positive effects on the thickness and coloring of mucosal secretions: “Statistically significant differences were found in thickness and coloring of secretions between the two groups during the period of 10 days. Group 2 showed a significantly greater trend in number of bacteria than Group 1. The group with the hygroscopic condenser humidifier showed respiratory function improvement over time for forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and tidal volume (VT), maximal inspiratory pressure (MIP), and maximal voluntary ventilation (MVV) in comparison to the control group, who did not.” In conclusions, they wrote that hygroscopic condenser humidifiers can be useful, among other things, to “heat inspiratory airflow, possibly protecting against temperature loss during a hyperventilation test”.

These results suggest that chronic hyperventilation in cystic fibrosis also leads to overcooling of airways. In addition, even a slight drop in temperatures of airways can lead to immune dysfunction and possible respiratory infections. Overcooling may also contribute to thickness and coloring of sputum, as the above study suggested. All these effects worsen cystic fibrosis in lungs.

Other effects of overbreathing on development
of cystic fibrosis and problems in lungs

Woman coughing As we discovered before, CO2 dilates airways (see links below). Furthermore, reduced CO2 in airways and reduced oxygenation of the cells will suppress the immune system. Medical studies have found that low CO2 in airways prevents the repair of lung tissue.

Chronic overbreathing creates cell hypoxia and, hence, suppresses the immune system due to the production of free radicals and cellular damage, as well as abnormalities in the metabolism of proteins. It is logical then that heavy and fast breathing in cystic fibrosis patients leads to the typical symptoms and features of chronic alveolar hyperventilation, including frequent infections of airways, coughing, pneumothorax, bouts of bronchitis, sinusitis, and pneumonia, diarrhea, foul-smelling, greasy stools, severe constipation, rectal prolapse, liver disease, pancreatitis, diabetes, gallstones, and infertility.

Cystic fibrosis in lungs and clinical experience of Russian MDs

MDs smiling Over 170 Soviet and Russian medical doctors found that cystic fibrosis in the lungs is reversible with breathing normalization. Meanwhile, people with cystic fibrosis can retrain their breathing and learn how to breathe differently 24/7 or they are able to change their breathing pattern using direct means (e.g., diaphragmatic breathing exercises and strictly nasal breathing during physical exercise) and indirect techniques (like taping one's mouth at night, prevention of sleeping on one's back, correct posture 24/7, normal thermo-exchange, etc.). To achieve over 20 seconds for the morning body-oxygen test is the crucial first step to prevent and reverse main problems with cystic fibrosis in lungs. By the way, these Russian doctors do not teach silly forceful coughing techniques for the removal of mucus since it worsens cystic fibrosis in lungs. (Such coughing techniques are still used by many medical professionals.)

References: CO2 and cystic fibrosis in lungs

Crit Care Med. 2003 Nov;31(11):2634-40.
Carbon dioxide attenuates pulmonary impairment resulting from hyperventilation.
Laffey JG, Engelberts D, Duggan M, Veldhuizen R, Lewis JF, Kavanagh BP.

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2000 Aug;162(2 Pt 1):399-405.
Injurious effects of hypocapnic alkalosis in the isolated lung.
Laffey JG, Engelberts D, Kavanagh BP.

Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69:913–9.
Energy expenditure and substrate utilization in adults with cystic fibrosis and diabetes mellitus
Ward SA, Tomezsko JL, Holsclaw DS, Paolone AM

Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 153 (2006) 217–225
Mechanical limitation during CO2 rebreathing in young patients with cystic fibrosis
Brigitte Fauroux, FrŽedŽeric Nicot, Pierre-Yves Boelle, Mich`ele BoulŽe, Annick ClŽement, FrŽedŽeric Lofaso, Monique Bonora

Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 152 (2006) 176–185
Respiratory factors do not limit maximal symptom-limited exercise in patients with mild cystic fibrosis lung disease
Jonathan D. Dodd, Sinead C. Barry, Charles G. Gallaghe

Chest. 1990 Jun;97(6):1317-21.
Importance of respiratory rate as an indicator of respiratory dysfunction in patients with cystic fibrosis.
Browning IB, D'Alonzo GE, Tobin MJ

For complete abstracts of these studies, click here: Abstracts for cystic fibrosis in lungs.

Or go back to Cystic fibrosis pages

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