So, how could something as simple as breathing control blood pressure?
1) One theory is that it’s actually not so much about relaxation and has more to do with helping the body get salt out. When people are under stress, they tend to take shallow breaths. This “inhibitory breathing” in turn, makes the blood more acidic and makes the kidneys less efficient at removing sodium from the blood.
In research conducted by Dr. David Anderson of the National Institute of Health, inhibitory breathing was linked to elevated salt and higher blood pressure.
“If you sit there under-breathing all day, as most people do, and you have high salt intake, your kidneys may be less effective at getting rid of salt,” said Anderson.
When people do slow, deep breathing, “They may be changing their blood gases and the way their kidneys are regulating salt,” Anderson says.
2) Another theory is that Guided Breathing increases nitric oxide transmission in our blood. “Nitric oxide is a substance that helps keep our blood vessels open,” says Dr. Elijah Saunders, head of hypertension research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Cardiology Department.
The endothelium cells (the cells that line our blood vessels) use nitric oxide to tell the muscles that surround them to relax. This process is known as “vasodilation” and results in increased blood flow.
In research conducted by Dr. Nick Vaziri, of the UC Irvine College of Medicine, high blood pressure was linked with impaired nitric oxide pathways. It appears that Guided Breathing may help keep our bodies’ nitric oxide levels in better balance – allowing our blood vessels to relax naturally.
3) A third theory is that slow, deep breathing helps us oxygenate. Our brains are only 2% of our body weight yet they consume 20% of the oxygen we inhale.
“Slight changes in oxygen content in the brain can alter the way a person feels and behaves,” says Dr. Daniel G. Amen, author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.
The shallow breaths associated with stress and negative emotions don’t allow us to get enough oxygen. “The oxygen content in the stressed person’s blood is lowered,” says Dr. Amen, leading to more stress in a downward spiral.
The answer is to break the cycle by recognizing when our shallow breathing isn’t serving our best interests. Slow, deep breathing gives our body the oxygen it needs and signals the body to get things back in balance.
4) The fourth theory centers around a concept known as “entrainment.” This is the tendency of the brain to mimic a stimulus. For example, when you hear slow, mellow Jazz, the electrical currents in your brain will get calm too. It’s thought that through slow, deep breathing, your brain takes a cue to break the stress cycle.
The fascinating thing is that the break in the stress cycle isn’t just temporary. After a few weeks of regular deep relaxation practice, the “calm” centers of our brains start to become permanently more active.
Research conducted by Dr. Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin-Madison compared brain activity and immune response in two groups: “deep relaxation” vs. control group. The “deep relaxation” group showed increased immune response and increased activity in the left prefrontal cortex (that’s the part of the brain associated with a positive temperament). It appears that regular relaxation isn’t temporary – it actually helps the brain rewire.
“What we’ve found is that the [deep relaxation] trained mind, or brain, is physically different from the untrained one,” says Davidson.
Theory aside, the great news is that we know Guided Breathing works. Double-blind clinical trials have shown permanent blood pressure reductions of up to 36 points systolic and 20 points diastolic.
The technique used in the Breathtaking Nature Method is endorsed and/or taught by: Harvard Medical School, The Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Rush Presbyterian Hospital, The American Heart Association and other leading medical institutions.
To learn more about natural ways to lower your blood pressure without drugs, watch our FREE video “127 Secrets that the Drug Industry DON’T Want You to Know” at www.LowerBloodPressureDrugFree.com.
profession: Naturopathic Health Product Designer
credentials: Creator of The Breathtaking Nature Method, Whole Brain and Body, Calm Me For Life
specialties: Digital Information Product Design
institutions: Arizona State University
topic of interests: Naturopathic Cures for High Blood Pressure, Mind-Body Balance