Nicole could barely stand as we brought her into dialysis clinic two years ago. Her blood sugar had been low for an half-hour and wasn’t going up. The nursing staff refused to give her dialysis. They ordered us off to the ER.
“All she needs is some water,” I assured them. They got me the water, but treated me like I was crazy. Especially since I refused giving her anymore sugar. “Glucose tabs aren’t going to help.”
What had happened? Nicole had had lunch about an hour ago. She’d taken a full dose of Regular insulin. The insulin was in her blood stream. Her lunch wasn’t. Her lunch still sat in her stomach.
Nicole gulped down a large quantity of warm water. By the time the ER doc saw Nicole her blood sugar was about 7.0mmol/L and she didn’t sound drunk. It was a short visit.
At that time, Nicole was still suffering with a mild form of gastroparesis (delayed stomach emptying) even though her HgbA1C was below 5.5%. She was still unable to take a full dose of insulin with her meals. If she did, she’d go low at the two-hour mark. A long-time sufferer of gastroparesis, this disease prevents the pylorus from releasing chyme (a rather poetic name for the ghastly contents of the stomach) into the intestines.
Interestingly, when Nicole swtiched to nasal breathing last October we noticed her blood sugar was rising at the two-hours after a meal. As she began incorporating the Buteyko Breathing exercises, in a matter of weeks, she was taking full doses of Regular insulin with each meal.
Like any muscle, the pylorus will relax when carbon dioxide (CO2) levels get high enough. Breathing through the nose limits the amount of CO2 exhaled, thus helping relax the entire gastrointestinal tract. A 1995 Mayo Clinic trial, for example, found a direct connection between low CO2 levels and irritable bowel syndrome. My own digestive problems of nearly 30 years, have all but disappeared thanks to breathing retraining.
It makes perfect sense. Over-breathing and mouth-breathing triggers a fight-flight response. Blood flow and oxygen are redirected from the gut to the arms and legs. If you’re running from a tiger, digesting your lunch can wait. Most (if not all) people with type-1 diabeties, exhibit breathing patterns which suggest their body thinks they are running from tigers 24/7.
Many people blame gastroparesis on high blood sugars. I think this is true only indirectly. Another day I’ll explain why. In our experience, though, nasal breathing 24/7 plus Buteyko Breathing exercises cleared up 15 years of gastroparesis in about 15 days. Well, at least the worst of it. Nicole still hasn’t tried a raw salad.
Thinking outside the type-1 matrix,
–John C. A. Manley
P.S. For more information on breathing retraining you can read Close Your Mouth and Lower Your Blood Sugar
P.P.S. Find out how nasal breathing can help avoid cavities, improve your sex life and make you smarter in The Power of Your Breath by Anders Olsson. It’s available at amazon.com, amazon.ca and amazon.co.uk.