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Stress-free version of the breath
holding time test is the best
predictor of body oxygenation

Body-oxygen content or body oxygen level can be measured using special infrared devices and biopsy. These direct measurements are done in laboratories. However, stress-free breath holding time after usual exhalation is very sensitive to body oxygenation. This test is so fundamental for the Buteyko self-oxygenation therapy that Russian MDs who practice this therapy use a special name "the CP" or "the Control Pause".

Western medical literature described numerous versions of the breath holding time test. It can be done after full inhalation, or normal inhalation, or after maximum exhalation. We can do the test till the first stress or for as long as we can. We can take 1, or 2, or 3 deep breaths prior the test. Why are other breath holding tests less accurate? If we hold breath for as long as we can, then previous breath holding practice (as for divers) and our will power are factors which distort the objective results. We do not need additional effects of our breath holding practice or our willpower to be tested. Hence, the oxygenation test should be done only until the first stress or discomfort.

When we take a full inhalation, different sizes of our lungs interfere with the result. Those people who have greater lungs' capacity will get better numbers. Complete exhalations also introduce variables connected with the physiological make-up of our lungs. Taking deep breaths before the test again distort the sensitivity of the test since these breaths can be different. Hence, it should be done after the usual exhalation.

Finally, the CP (Control Pause) is the most natural, among all breath holds, from the physiological viewpoint. Many people instinctively hold their breath in certain situations, for example, in a state of awe, fear, or while hiding.

Try the CP test yourself. Breathe normally while sitting. After your usual exhale pinch the nose (to prevent slight unconscious breathing) and hold your breath only until the first distress. The most common mistake is to overdo the test. When we pass the correct mark, you will notice that the stress is gradually increasing. You should finish slightly earlier. If you do the test correctly, you will not gasp for air after the test. In fact, your breathing pattern must be exactly the same after the correct test as it was just before it. [Warning. Some, not all, people with heart disease, migraine headaches, and panic attacks may experience negative symptoms minutes later after this light version of the test. If this happens, they should avoid this test.]

Why is body oxygen level important? It is the prime cause of cancer. Cellular hypoxia is a normal feature for people with asthma, heart disease, chronic fatigue, bronchitis, acne, sexual importance, diabetes, and many other disorders. Dozens of Western studies proved that patients with numerous conditions have impaired breath holding abilities. Severely sick, hospitalized, and terminally ill patients have from 1 to 10 s CP. They fight with death and symptoms. With approaching death, their breathing gets bigger, deeper, and heavier, body oxygenation becomes critically low, and breathing 100% oxygen can be life-saving, while breath holding time approaches zero: 5, 4, 3, 2, and only 1 second just before the death. This is the way over 90% of sick people die, in conditions of severe tissue hypoxia. You may remember heavy breathing and last huge gasps for air in your friends or relatives just before their death. (This paradox of breathing: heavy breathing reduces body oxygenation was noticed by Doctor Buteyko who later invented a system of breathing exercises how to slow down breathing and increase body oxygenation.)

Patients with mild forms of the disease (heart disease, diabetes, cancer, COPD, etc.) have about 10-20 s CP. These patients are usually on medication to control their symptoms. Asymptomatic asthmatics and heart patients have slightly more than 20 s of oxygen in the body. Healthy adults, according to published western results, should have about 40-60 s CP.

About 200 Russian doctors have been practicing the Buteyko self-oxygenation therapy for over 40 years. They treated over 200,000 people (mostly with asthma and heart disease). These MDs found that numerous life style factors and alternative therapies can increase body oxygenation. In particular, they found that physical exercise with only nasal breathing is probably the most powerful booster of body oxygenation. Next, prevention of mouth breathing day and night (breathing only through the nose) and prevention of sleeping on one's back are crucial for better oxygenation. Many other health techniques can have very positive effects in cases when the therapy addresses the needs and health concerns of the person.

The Buteyko method is currently the only health therapy which directly aims to increase body oxygenation. In fact, Doctor Buteyko demanded 60 s CP from all his medical colleagues (about 200 people) who taught and still teach the Buteyko breathing method in Russia. Maximum breath holding time for all these doctors, if they take a full inhalation, and hold breath for as long as they could, would be about 5 minutes!

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