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The Mechanism of Stress

Just about anyone you talk to complains about "stress". It's such a common complaint, that everyone is familar with it, but very few actually know what it is.

In his typical style, Professor Buteyko explained the mechanics and how one reaction leads to another. It's a short but good read. Particularly so, for those who know how to control their breathing and ameiliorate something we all dislike.


Any stress that you are going through inevitably leads to a deepening of the breathing. This is an ancient bodily reaction. Its role is to avoid CO2 deficiency in the organism. The point is that in cases of positive or negative emotions, an intensive CO2 exhalation from the body occurs. As a result, the central nervous system becomes over reactive and the breathing deepens.

Because of deep breathing the oxygen content in lungs slightly increases. Finally a strong tension develops which is necessary to mobilize physical strength to attend the stress - in the form of fighting attacking, defending or fleeing, etc.

We have to view the increase in CO2 exhaling, the boost of energy and the intensification of metabolism as compensatory factors. That is why any emotion must be discharged physically. That is our point of view. I.P Pavlov failed to explain why undischarged emotions are so bad for the organism. We did it.

I want to emphasize once again that we consider deep breathing stressful. It means that during stressful situations, in order to eliminate stress, one has to lessen the depth of breathing, in other words, to use our method and by doing that, calm the nervous system down.

During stress some psychotropic substances - such as adrenaline, noradrenalin and others are produced. They sstimulate our defence and attack reactions, enhance our muscular strength, and so on. At the same time, the production of insulin goes down and its concentration in the blood drops. Deep breathing causes some reactions leading to the increase of sugar content in blood which helps the body to cope with the energy upsurge. The increase of blood sugar is useful when there is enough insulin in the body because it enhances the gaseous flow into muscles, brain and cells and consequently normalizes their function.

However, if the deep breathing lasts longer, the compensatory mechanisms turn into pathological ones and in time, an insulin deficiency develops. For example, due to stress and deep breathing, arthritis patients have increased cholesterol content. We have confirmed by experiments that by decreasing the depth of breathing the cholesterol content in blood returns to normal.

Taken from Part 1 of : To the theory of diabetes mellitus pathogenesis - Basic principles of hormonotherapy by K.P. Buteyko PhD., Science Consultant, the Institute of Clinical Experimental Medicine, the Siberian branch of the Academy of Science, U.S.S.R.

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