Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

The purpose of this blog and the entire website is to provide evidence-based information on how to live a vibrant, meaningful life while living with chronic health challenges or other life challenges.

Every Tuesday I post a new, very brief video from my presentations or interviews. Every Friday this Q&A column appears.

Here is this week’s question:

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: Why is diaphragmatic breathing good?

ANSWER:  Proper diaphragmatic breathing regulates acid-base balance as well as heart rate and rhythm. It also improves oxygenation and perfusion of tissues and organs, including the brain. In diaphragmatic breathing, gas exchange takes place in the lower, middle, and upper lobes of the lungs. Whereas, in shallow, chest breathing (hypoventilation), too much CO2 is retained in the lower lobes, reducing blood pH and resulting in acid-base imbalances. If breathing becomes shallow enough, the pH can get low enough to send us into metabolic compensation—a feedback process by which the kidneys secrete bicarb in order to raise blood pH. When we become very frightened, we may hyperventilate; this causes an acid-base imbalance that has varied effects depending on the depth of respiration. If it is shallow, we will trend toward respiratory alkalosis, in which the pH is too high, and if it is deep, pH will trend toward respiratory acidosis (low pH).

This website is offered as a free public service, supplying information that has been found helpful to certain people living with chronic health challenges or issues related to wellbeing. No treatment is offered on this website. The advice is general, and may or may not apply to your individual situation, and is not a substitute for psychotherapy or medical treatment.

What questions do you have about living a life of mindfulness-based mastery or about the relationship between the mind and health or wellbeing? Just scroll down and type your question in the comment box below. An answer to your specific question may not appear in this column. The reason for that is I wait until I get a certain number of related questions, then I pick one that covers them all and I answer that one. People attending my presentations asked most of the questions appearing in this column, and I repeat them here so you may benefit.