Did you know probably one of the best secrets to health, is to simply shut your mouth?
The mouth has been designed over millions of years for talking, eating, drinking and as a way for us to grab that little extra oxygen while doing more intensive exercise, but it is the nose that was truly designed for breathing.
There is truly no better way to illustrate this than quote Dr. R. C. Macfie's popular work 'The Romance of the Human Body'
"The nostrils, not the mouth, are the portals of the air: they contain little thin curled scrolls of bone, the so-called turbinal bones, covered with mucous membrane which are for the purpose of filtering, moistening, and warming the air. The mucous membrane of the bones presents little hair-like processes towards the interior of the nostrils, and these little hair-like processes are in constant movement and gradually flick foreign particles and germs out of the nostril. The mucous membrane is also moistened with sticky mucus, which both entraps and kills germs much as sticky fly- papers entrap and kill flies. It has been found that if air containing thousands of germs is inspired through the nose, only two or three germs succeed in passing through, and it has been found, too, that most germs trapped on the mucous membrane of the nose are soon killed. Not only does the mucous membrane, spread over the curled bones, offer an extensive surface to catch germs, but the devious, crooked course of the nostrils also offers obstacles to the passage of germs."
The nose is truly a natural work of immense complexity, and as simple as it may seem, it has never really been given the attention it truly deserves. After all, the nose is ultimately your first line of defence against pollution from factories, exhaust fumes, microbes, bacteria and of course the new plague of the 21st century, the emissions of livestock farting. (Which,funny enough is being touted as possibly the largest contributor to the hole in the ozone)
Yes, by the simple act of filtering it eases the burden on the human body by providing a semi impenetrable fort, but there is a catch, and what a catch it is, you must breathe through your nose.
Think about that for a second, you are so worried about filtering your water, and typically only drink 2-3 litres daily, have you ever stopped to ask yourself what care you take to filter your air.
Now for the bomb
You breathe in roughly 516 litres of air a day, if you breathe through your mouth, it is unfiltered, if your breathe through your nose, filtered.
Case closed, or should I say "mouth closed!"
The nose can function as a heat pump
The ability of the nose at heating and moistening air could possibly surpass how amazing it is at filtering. Air at 14 F below freezing is heated to 77 F during its journey through the nasal passages, and air at 65 F is heated to 88 F, should you inhale dry air, the nose has the ability to moisten it with water to one-third its capacity, before it reaches the throat.
Now as some parts of Australia do become very dry, it becomes a basic necessity to breathe through the nose, the same can be said for the reverse. If you breath through your nose you never have to worry about the cold air damaging the chest and lungs.
In regards to providing us with our own personal defence against the extremes of the planets temperatures, nature has heard our call, and nature has well and truly answered.
The nose and vasodilation
In 1998 the Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded to three American scientists for their discovery of nitrogen oxide’s ability to expand blood vessels. This phenomenon is called vasodilation.
Nitrogen oxide (NO) plays a role in that in enables the blood vessel walls to relax, thereby increasing blood flow.
This means, nose breathing lowers blood pressure.
At the health retreat, when a guest presented upon arrival with high blood pressure or anxiety, the first thing I would do would be to sit them down and ask them to breath through their nose for a few minutes, as I spoke. I would normally make a joke, as funny as I can be at times, to break the ice.
After a few minutes I would re-take their blood pressure, and all of them would show a dramatic decrease. Sometimes this was so significant that I could take someone from high to low blood pressure just with this technique.
Now if I could influence someone's blood pressure this dramatically in a few minutes of nose breathing, could you imagine the benefits if I could ingrain this as a habit.
"In 2002 a research group from Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, found that NO is formed and released in human sinuses. Further they showed that the NO concentration in the nasal cavity increases as much as 15 times if you make a “buzzing sound”, because it creates vibrations, which mixes air from the sinuses with nasal air.
Athletes and nose breathing
Due to the powerful effects of NO being a vasodilator, especially under easy to mild exertion, I would recommend breathing through the nose for yoga, meditation, weight lifting and long distance events such as swimming, biking and running.
Try it, you may be astounded with the results.
It has also been shown that improved learning can be achieved by slowing the heart rate down, this is very easily achieved by relaxing music, anything with less than 60 beats per minutes will tend to slow the heart rate. That is why baroque music has proved so beneficial during childbirth.
Sleep apnea and snoring
Try to snore with your mouth closed and you will find it virtually impossible.
Thats right, snorers and the majority of individuals with sleep apnea tend to be mouth breathers.
I would tell clients to go to a chemist and purchase some tape to put over your mouth as you go to bed.
Maybe a good idea, is to wait to the lights turn off, so you don't give your partner a heart attack. Apply the tape after the bedrooms festivities have ended.
Place the tape over your mouth, and simply try to breathe through your nose. You may find that you wake during the night and rip the tape off, somewhat subconsciously, but persist to apply the tape each night as you will find you do get use to it. After about three weeks you will find you are now a nose breather, and even wake up in the morning with the tape still on.
I have chatted with previous guests after my talk how they also did this but for their asthmatic child, to which I was informed was a procedure that was talk through Butekco breathing and how to get use to breathing through the nose should mouth breathing become difficult, especially under duress. The nose breathing helped to ease the patient slightly, reducing anxiety.
This is probably the most effective way to teach an adult, as it is hard to remind yourself when you are awake. While you are asleep it is easy, and that's one third of the day. You will find that you will wake more refreshed and simply breathing through your nose changes the ph of your saliva so its also good for dental decay, as it creates a less encouraging environment in the mouth.
A little about indigenous cultures
A common practice among indigenous cultures was once the baby had been breast feed, to simply press the lips closed. This would encourage the baby to once again breath through the nose. It is a lot easier to ingrain these good habits in children before they have become to set in their ways.
Another common practice, especially amongst the American Indians was to elevate the back of the head just prior to sleeping, the simple act of raising the head ever so slightly forward would drop the mouth closed and encourage breathing through the mouth.
As the mouth is closed it creates a vacuum in the mouth which lifts the tongue to the roof of the mouth. This technique also works really well with snorers. I have found that if the nose becomes blocked at anytime during sleep, the sleeper will automatically revert to breathing through the mouth once again.
An instant giveaway is waking up with a dry mouth, as you sleep you produce less saliva and breathing through the mouth will accelerate the loss of fluid in the mouth, hence causing a dry mouth. If the nose becomes blocked during sleep, I often look at the diet, especially for the culprit foods such as sugars, processed dairy and milk solids. Milk solids are used to thicken ice cream, breads, pastries, snacks, low fat milk and yogurts.
If you have any questions, please ask.
I do offer private online consultations, and can be contacted at blairharvey.com or message me with the links on my site.