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The Benefits of Slow Breathing

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There are all method of purported hiccup “cures,” which embrace every part from chewing on a lemon, inhaling pepper, or, our canine’s favourite, eating a spoonful of peanut butter. In my video How to Strengthen the Mind-Body Connection, I discuss concerning the method I’m excited to attempt the following time I get hiccups: “supra-supramaximal inspiration,” the place you are taking a really deep breath, maintain for ten seconds, then, with out exhaling, breathe in much more and maintain for one more 5 seconds, after which take one last, tiny breath in and maintain for 5 final seconds to attain “an immediate and permanent termination to hiccups…”

When I used to be a child, I taught myself to regulate my very own hiccups utilizing slow-paced respiratory, and, as an grownup, was so excited to see there was lastly a case report written up on it.

There’s a nerve—the vagus nerve—that goes straight from our mind, to our chest, and to our abdomen, connecting our mind forwards and backwards to our coronary heart and our intestine, and even to our immune system. The vagus nerve is just like the “‘hard-wired’ connection” that enables our mind to show down irritation inside our physique. When you hear concerning the mind-body connection, that’s what the vagus nerve is and does. “There has been increasing interest in treating a wide range of disorders with implanted pacemaker-like devices for stimulating the vagal afferent [vagus nerve] pathways,” however sure Eastern traditions like Yoga, QiGong, and Zen figured a option to do it with out having electrodes implanted into your physique.  

“A healthy heart is not a metronome,” as a examine titled precisely that explains. “Your heart rate goes up and down with your breathing. When you breathe in, your heart rate tends to go up. When you breathe out, your heart rate tends to go down.” Test this out on your self proper now by feeling your pulse change as you breathe out and in.

Isn’t that exceptional?

That heart-rate variability is a measure of vagal tone—the exercise of your vagus nerve. Next time you’re bored, attempt to make your coronary heart fee pace up and decelerate as a lot as attainable inside every breath. This will be finished as a result of there’s a completely different oscillating cycle happening on the identical time, as you possibly can see at 2:08 in my video, which is the dashing up after which slowing down of your coronary heart fee, primarily based on moment-to-moment modifications in your blood strain. And, as any physics pupil can inform you, “all oscillating feedback systems with a constant delay have the characteristic of resonance,” that means you possibly can enhance the amplitude should you get the cycles in sync. It’s like pushing your child on a swing: If you get the timing good, you possibly can enhance them larger and better. Similarly, should you breathe out and in at simply the best frequency, you possibly can drive the cycles in sync and enhance your coronary heart fee variability, as you possibly can see at 2:36 in my video.

And what’s the profit once more? According to the neurophysiologic mannequin postulation it permits us to have an effect on the perform of our autonomic nervous system by way of vagal afferents to brainstem nuclei just like the locus coeruleus, activating hypothalamic vigilance areas.


In different phrases, it’s not nearly curing hiccups. Practicing sluggish respiratory a couple of minutes a day could have lasting helpful results on a quantity of medical and emotional problems, together with bronchial asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and depression. In the United States, we’ve additionally put it to make use of to enhance batting efficiency in baseball.

To date, most research have lacked correct controls and have used fancy biofeedback machines to find out every person’s resonant frequency, however, for most individuals, it comes out to be about 5 and a half breaths per minute, which is a full breath out and in about each 11 seconds. You can see the graph at 3:34 in my video. When musicians have been randomized into slow-breathing teams with or with out biofeedback, sluggish respiratory helped regardless. It’s the identical with hypertension. As you possibly can see at 3:52 in my video, you should utilize this method to considerably drop your blood strain inside minutes. The hope is should you apply this a couple of minutes every single day, you possibly can have long-lasting results the remaining of the day respiratory usually.

Practice what precisely? Slow respiratory—taking 5 – 6 breaths per minute, cut up equally between inhaling and respiratory out. So, that’s 5 seconds in, then 5 seconds out, all of the whereas respiratory “shallowly and naturally.” You don’t wish to hyperventilate, so simply take pure, shallow breaths, however be sure you merely breathe actually slowly. Try it the following time you get hiccups. Works for me each time!

For extra tips, watch my video on How to Stop Hiccups.

And, as a result of slowing down our pulse normally can also have helpful results, I encourage you to take a look at:

Every time I’m amazed by historic knowledge, I’ve to remind myself of the video I did on poisonous heavy metals—Get the Lead Out. So, although conventional therapeutic strategies could supply a plethora of insights, they nonetheless have to be put to the check.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t but, you possibly can subscribe to my free movies right here and watch my dwell displays:

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