Last Wednesday, 2:15am: I woke up to a lot of pain. My head felt like it would burst. Blood pounded in my ears like marching soldiers clad in watery armour. Wosh! Wosh! Invisible pliers clamped around my teeth.
Rewind to 3;30am the previous day. I woke up naturally and full of energy. But by 11am I had to confess to my wife, Nicole, that I had a cold. She said she felt the same way. Our son, Jonah, was already in the midst of a cold (along with half the people we know).
I tried my usual remedies. Four neti-pots. Two coffee enemas. And four rounds of Buteyko Breathing. By 3:30am I wasn’t feeling much better. I went back to bed. An hour later, I woke up feeling even worse.
Well, I thought, it’s time to test some of these Buteyko Breathing Methods for nasal congestion. As readers of this blog know, we’ve been experimenting with a breathing retraining methodology. It’s been shown to reduce or eliminate over 150 diseases – including many of the complications of type-1 diabetes. It’s also rather good for breathing problems. And right now, I had a painful breathing problem.
Via Skype, Nicole’s been working with Chris Bauman, a Buteyko breathing retrainer in Vancouver. Chris advised a technique that involved pinching the nose (with the mouth closed) for 1-3 seconds in between each breath. It’s called Buteyko Mini-Pauses. She recommended 100 such pauses in a row to get rid of nasal congestion.
“This is due to three factors:” explains Chris in an email, “nitric oxide which is created in the nose, is a natural bronchial dilator; a small temporary rise in CO2 also means greater upper airway dilation as well and calming down the histamine reaction. Thirdly, the change in internal pressure contributes to the reopening of the airways.”
So I put on my shoes, a jacket and headed to the path that runs about 3km along the man-made lake in the center of town. Mouth closed. Slow inhale. Relaxed exhale. Pinch the nose. Three steps forward. Repeat.
At first, I would gulp air after the forced pause. By the tenth round I noticed my inhalation had become slower and more relaxed. By round fifty, my head felt clear. By round 60, the right nostril (which had been totally blocked) could inhale again. By round 80, I was spitting up phlegm. An hour later I collapsed in bed. I slept well for the next few hours.
Nicole found the same technique also helped her recovery. Interestingly, it had a strong effect on her blood sugar. I’ll tell you what happened on Friday (subscribe so you don’t miss out).
Thinking outside the type-1 matrix,
–John C. A. Manley
P.S. For more on how carbon dioxide can help with T1D: CO2 to the Rescue: How Breathing Less Can Help Reverse Complications of Type-1 Diabetes
P.P.S. Nicole has been receiving Buteyko Breathing Retraining via Skype with Chris Bauman. You can learn more about her services at breathinglady.com.