Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome

hyperventilateIt goes without saying that we understand the importance of monitoring our intake of both foods and liquids in any kind of dietary protocol. But did you ever stop to think that the same approach may be useful as applied to a breathing protocol? In fact it could be argued that depending on how long you have been compromised with a chronic illness and how old you are, any changes that you make with diet or exercise will yield little results.  It is actually your rate and depth of breathing that primarily determine carbon dioxide levels and CO2 is the primary driver behind most of the catalytic processes in the body.

The breath mechanism is driven not by a lack of oxygen, but by an access of CO2 in the blood. When you increase the rate of breathing that depletes CO2 faster then its rate of production by the body’s metabolism you become trapped in a cycle of hyperventilation. Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome CHVS is a paradoxical condition where through over-breathing more oxygen then is metabolically required you are actually receiving less oxygen to the tissues. This illustrates clearly that more is not better when it comes to our rate of breathing.

The theory of Hyperventilation Syndrome goes back over a century to the 1870′s when it was observed that American soldiers during the civil war suffered from a complex of symptoms known as “soldiers heart” and later as DaCosta’s syndrome. These symptoms which included extreme fatigue and intolerance to exertion, visual and auditory disturbances, phobias, panic attacks, flu like symptoms, loss of blood supply to the brain and many other unrelated symptoms became collectively known as Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome, CHVS.

One of the major difficulties in dealing with CHVS is that it is largely invisible. We are not aware of over-breathing even though our rate of breathing may be 3X faster then a healthy subject, continually washing CO2 from the lungs and rapidly shifting blood pH.

Dr. Charles Stroebel professor of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut Medical School believes that hyperventilation syndrome is a causative or contributing factor in 50% to 70% of all diseases. And yes, you read that right, it’s as high as 7 out of 10 chronic illnesses!

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