Dr. Cheney's Breathing Technique

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Mikie, Mar 10, 2005.

  1. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    I posted this as a response under another thread, but I want to ensure everyone will have a chance to read it. This is the same technique used by pulmonary therapists to help their patients increase oxygen to the body.

    Increasing oxygen helps keep the population of pathogens down in the body. It also helps with circulation and brain function. It is free and easy to do. I grew up at high altitude and can tell y'all that it is an advantage.

    Love, Mikie

    <b>Dr. Cheney on an Effective Breathing Technique Alternative to the “Rebreather” Protocol for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome</b>
    by Carol Sieverling


    Editor’s Note: Dr. Paul Cheney, M.D., discussed a "new" breathing technique with patient Carol Sieverling – he presented it to her as no cost, easier, and more effective at increasing oxygen transport than the "rebreather" protocol. The following is a transcription from a conversation taped with Dr. Cheney by Carol Sieverling, that took place in November 2000.

    First, here are the benefits of increased oxygen:

    1) more energy at the cellular level

    2) suppresses growth of yeast (and other pathogens)

    3) prevents swelling of the brain caused by decreased oxygen

    Dr. Cheney said this was not uncommon in CFIDS and is the connection between Chiari Malformation and CFIDS. Dr. Cheney said that Chiari is a compression phenomenon due to lack of sufficient width/depth at the base of the skull, while CFIDS is a compression phenomenon due to anoxic cerebral edema. Many CFIDS patients are familiar with Dr. Cheney's earlier oxygen protocol using a partial rebreather mask to address tissue acidosis/blood alkalosis and thereby improve oxygen transport from the blood into cells (see www.virtualhometown.com/dfwcfids for Cheney Treatment Plan Prescriptions).

    Dr. Cheney has realized this rebreather protocol, while beneficial, has limitations. It can be difficult to find the equipment, it is expensive, and the procedure requires much "tweaking." Most significantly, he has come to realize that it does not address the underlying problem of 2,3 DPG levels.

    2,3 DPG is a substance that allows oxygen to be released from the hemoglobin in our blood. Without 2,3 DPG, oxygen can't get off the hemoglobin and into the cells of our body. This oxygen deprivation makes the body switch over to anaerobic metabolism, which produces tissue acidosis, which can be painful. However, the more 2,3 DPG one has, the more oxygen is released from the blood into the tissues and organs and brain. (And oxygen will help kill candida and other pathogens.)

    The very simple breathing technique Cheney is recommending to all his patients can be found on Andrew Weil's tape of eight different breathing methods. This particular method is Weil's favorite - he says it's the most powerful way to treat chronic illness that he knows of. Ayurvedic physicians developed it 3,000 years ago. And 30 years of clinical experience now back it up.

    Here is how it works:

    1) Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds

    2) Hold your breath for 7 seconds

    3) Exhale through tightly pursed lips for 8 seconds, creating "back pressure" (you should be able to hear the air being forced out of your mouth as you do this.)

    Do this 8 times in a total of two and a half minutes. Do this twice a day - a grand total of 5 minutes a day. That's all it takes. (If you feel lightheaded, just do it 6 times or until you begin to feel lightheaded, then build up to 8.) You must be very faithful and consistent for this to work, and it takes weeks for the body to adjust the 2,3 DPG levels. But your oxygen transport will get better and better over time.

    What does this breathing exercise do? This method is based on the same principle at work in the marathon runners from Kenya who frequently win the Boston Marathon. They live and train at a high altitude. They run at 12,000 feet. To compensate for the lack of oxygen at higher altitudes, their bodies make a physiological adjustment, raising 2,3 DPG levels so more oxygen is released. The higher the 2,3 DPG goes, the easier it is to run. Then the Kenyans go to Boston, which is at sea level (with more oxygen in the atmosphere of course), and run their race. But their bodies are still set for high altitude, so they end up with more oxygen being transported into their tissues than other runners. They are superoxygenated, transporting oxygen like crazy.

    Dr. Cheney's goal is to “trick” our bodies into thinking we live at a higher altitude, thus raising our 2,3 DPG levels, thereby transporting more oxygen from our blood into our tissues. How is that done? By not breathing! This method is actually regulated breath holding. As you regularly breath hold, your O2 drops. You induce a state called desaturation. And for those five minutes a day of desaturation, your body panics. It believes it's high up in the mountains and it spends the rest of the day compensating for that (by raising 2,3 DPG), even though you're not actually up in the mountains. The body is so concerned with desaturation that even though you live in Dallas, for example, it will program your body as if you live in Denver (at a higher altitude).

    Besides being cheaper, easier, and more effective, Cheney says this method has another advantage over the rebreather mask: you can't "overregulate." With the rebreather mask you can "counterregulate" - the result is that you can get too much oxygen transfer going on, which will cause your body to lower 2,3 DPG, ultimately lowering oxygen transfer. This is why the rebreather stopped working for many of us after several months.

    With this breathing method, Cheney said that the body will raise 2,3 DPG to the point that it is beneficial, but it won't raise it so high that it "forces a more profound alkalosis" of the blood.

  2. spartanjt

    spartanjt New Member

    I've been using this technique for several months now & it really does help. I feel like it helps clear out some of the brain fog too.

    If everyone on the board would at least give it a try, I think they'd find it to be of benefit too.

    Thanks for posting again,,,,good to re-post this on the board from time to time.

  3. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    I'm so glad it is helping you. Some things are so good that they bear repeating for the new members.

    Love, Mikie
  4. bossco

    bossco New Member

    I have seen a growing shallowness in my breath as time continues with the cfs. I combat it thru yoga, fresh air and walking, and will feel stronger internally as a result. This seems a wonderful new technique addition, I'll copy the directions, keep them in view so as not to fog out and forget!!! I could see the potential for one less bothersome symptom thru doing this.
  5. JerseySue

    JerseySue New Member

    and definitely worth a try. It's free which is even better! Thanks for the helpful info Mikie!
    Gentle Hugs Sue
  6. bct

    bct Active Member

    I've been doing this, increasing slowly. It was suggested to me by a psychogist/counsellor. It also is good for relaxation and meditation initiation.

    Best Wishes,
  7. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    Athletes train at high altitude. I'm a mountain girl and at sea level, where I live now, I still utilize oxygen very efficiently. I do this exercise to ensure I maintain the advantage I had growing up in CO.

    Love, Mikie
  8. ZapPain

    ZapPain New Member

    My psychologist recommended a breathing technique which I have used over many years. It's supposed to calm you & focus you & kick in the "relaxation response".
    1] Breathe in deeply thru your nose to an internal count of four
    2] Hold your breath for a count of four
    3] Exhale thru your mouth to a count of four
    4] Hold for a count of four

    When you are holding your breath, it is important to actually close the back of your throat so air does not escape. It is good to establish a regular rhythm. On the intakes & exhales, you can substitute any word that has meaning for the "1" count. Examples: love/anger, light/darkness, hope/fear, joy/despair, comfort/pain, etc.

    I'm not sure if this totally qualifies, but you could increase #2 hold for a count of seven. Just a suggestion that worked for me.
  9. Dlebbole

    Dlebbole New Member

    There was a period of time when I did this a whole lot. I actually got my characteristic die-off effect that I ususally only get with some microbe-killing med. I'm back on this, thanks! diane
  10. Lynikins

    Lynikins Member

    I'm trying it ,,,I'm a very shallow breather.....
  11. simonedb

    simonedb Member

    after someone posted here in the last week or so about being diagnosed with "hyperventilation syndrome" I did a bunch of research on treating that and it sure seems like its very similar to the heart of cheney's suggestions with heart o2 and breathing.
    hyperventilaion dx and tx is actually very old school, you know, breathe into a bag, same prinicipal is cheney's advice. but he uses fancy explanation for it.
    this is curious to me.
  12. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    There are breathing techniques for relaxation where one focuses on breathing. They can help one get into a meditative state and are often the first steps in learning meditation.

    Cheney's technique is one often taught by respiratory technicians. It is intended to help the body better utilize the available oxygen. As I stated above, that is why athletes train at high altitude. It forces the body to learn to exert itself with less ambient oxygen. By using the technique Cheney recommends, it replicates the high-altitude effect on the body.

    Love, Mikie
  13. simonedb

    simonedb Member

    don't get me wrong i am not against meditation or cheney

    but have you researched hyperventilation? its uncanny, it isnt mere "anxiety" its exact same problem wiht oxygen cheney talks about and breagthing into bag is like rebreathing etc to breathe back in yr ownc02 or whatver it is
    its actually depressing, it can casue all the same multiorgan sx as cfs, a person could unconsciously and unanxiosuly accidentally breathe too mucha nd get the oxygen toxicity thing cheney talking about
    i guess the camp that calls it hyperventilaton synrdome has psychologized the dx some i am not sure if they should
    but i am sure cheney got his rebreathing and 02 toxicity ideas from the same prinicpal the hyperventilation sydrome (HS) people got theirs, they are talkin about the same thing

    it just weirds me out, seriously really look into HS--its very involved like learning how to breatheall over again, it sounds way too hard for me.......i dont know if its a dx to just blame the client or if they are right???
  14. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    For what it's worth. People with our illnesses can have anxiety attacks. Anxiety attacks can cause people to hyperventilate. That doesn't mean that our anxiety or hyperventilating causes our illnesses or our symptoms. I don't know whether breathing into a bag is a good way to overcome hyperventilating or not. I have had some anxiety attacks but they did not cause me to hyperventilate. The Klonopin stopped the anxiety, among other symptoms.

    Some people are not comfortable unless they feel they have answers. Right now, there are darn few answers, and a whole lot of questions, regarding our illnesses. The medical community will often assign causes to conditions when they have nothing else to offer patients. Citing anxiety or depression as cuases for what ails us lets the docs off the hook, in their minds, at least.

    I do believe the breathing exercise Cheney prescribes is helpful in utilizing available oxygen but don't know whether it would help with hyperventilating or not.

    Love, Mikie
  15. simonedb

    simonedb Member

    mikie and all
    here is the thing, its not like classic hyperventilation where yer freakin out on a plane and sayin 'oh my god i need a bag' etc, its "overbreathing" chronically, and not knowing it supposedly.
    the results sound a lot like some sx of cfs, i am not sayin' this is the same as cfs.
    but, this aspect is so much like cheney's idea aobut o2 toxicity, but its different semantics and framework.
    check it out:

    a treatment for it (talk about longterm dedication):BR>


    this is explanation on HS lifted from someone's site which I list at end of descriptive:

    Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome
    Okay, so there's this thing called Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome which few doctors seem able to diagnose, but which causes lots of people a lot of unhappiness. I was one of those people. It sucked. I'm doing better now, but I figure I'd like to help any others who might be suffering some of the same horribleness.

    The biggest clue to Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome is the presence of vague dizziness accompanied by a lot of other seemingly unrelated symptoms, which might include any of the following:

    shortness of breath for no apparent reason
    frequent sighing or yawning
    chest pains
    heart palpitations
    syncope (fainting)
    slurred speech
    cold, tingling, or numb lips or extremities
    nausea or irritable bowel syndrome
    aching muscles or joints, or tremors
    tiredness, unsteadiness, or diffuse weakness
    restless sleep, insomnia, or nightmares
    sexual problems
    anxiety or phobias
    fear that perhaps you're a hypochondriac
    dry mouth
    pressure in throat or difficulty swallowing
    bloating, belching, flatulence, or abdominal pain
    impaired memory or concentration
    confusion / disorientation
    tinnitis (ringing in ears)
    blurred vision, tunnel vision, double vision, or flashing lights
    tachycardia (rapid pulse)
    erratic blood pressure
    If several of these symptoms sound familiar, ask your doctor about Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome. If she's never heard of it, ask her to find out about it. If she seems reluctant, research online (I've listed some useful links below) and inform her.

    Why So Many Weird Symptoms?
    My understanding of this syndrome is far from perfect, as I am not a doctor. I am only a sufferer of this disorder who has done some research, but I'll do my best to share with you what I think I've learned. I highly recommend that you consult the links below, and talk to your own personal physician, to get more reliable information.
    As it was explained to me, Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome constantly and slowly depletes your blood of carbon dioxide. With too little carbon dioxide in the blood, receptors that should be bonding with CO2 end up bonding with oxygen instead. Ironically, your blood ends up having too little free oxygen available to your body's systems and organs.
    As a result, all of your body's systems receive too little oxygen. That means your brain, your stomach, your muscles ... they're all getting slightly deprived of oxygen. As a result, you start having seemily unrelated symptoms in all these different areas of the body. Your doctor might send you to a gazillion specialists, trying to figure out what's wrong with your ears, or your stomach, or your brain. I, myself, was sent -- over the course of 7 months or so of doctoral confusion -- to an ear doctor, an allergist, and a neurologist before they finally figured out what was going on. Some people with HVS go through a lot more intrusive and expensive tests than I did.
    What the doctors are missing in these cases is the BIG PICTURE: the fact that the patient has several systems going slightly haywire ... probably from one source. And that source in this case is the oxygen-depleted blood.

    So What Do You Do About It?
    Opinions on treatment for Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome vary, because opinions on the causes vary widely, as well. Some doctors believe HVS is caused by anxiety. Others believe anxiety is understandably caused by your body's constant yet unconscious fear of impending suffocation. I personally think they're probably both right, and that some sort of vicious cycle gets started, in which the HVS and anxiety feed off each other.
    So, anyway, some of the recommended treatments I've seen discussed include:

    Anti-anxiety medications
    Relaxation techniques such as meditation
    Breathing exercise

    For the rest of info:


    [This Message was Edited on 10/26/2008]
  16. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    This is really good info. I had no idea. Like I said, I never had these problems with my anxiety attacks, which I consider the least of the problems which the Klonopin addressed.

    There are sooooo many conditions and syndromes associated with our illnesses. I think that's what makes it so hard for us to get help. There is so much trial and error involved and, basically, it's up to us to do the research.

    Thanks again for this improtant info.

    Love, Mikie