Overview of Thyroid

We shall first discuss some important aspects of the thyroid and parathyroid gland (together called the thyroids)

What is Thyroid Gland?

Thyroid gland is located in the front part of the lower neck, is shaped like a bow tie or butterfly.It produces thyroid hormones (thyroxin and tri-iodothyronine). These hormones control the rate at which cells burn fuels from food to produce energy.

Functioning of the Thyroid

The production and release of thyroid hormones is controlled by thyrotropin which is secreted by pituitary gland.The more thyroid hormone there is in a person’s blood stream, faster chemical reactions occur in the body.Thyroid hormones help kids and teens develop strong bones. They also play a major role in the development of the brain and the nervous system.Attached to the thyroid are four tiny glands (functioning together), called parathyroid gland. They release parathyroid hormone. The parathyroid hormone regulates level of calcium in blood using calcitonin produced in thyroid.

Faulty thyroids give rise to severe metabolic disorders which manifest in physical body in the form of very sluggish body, high weight gains, slowing down of heart rate, constipation etc or reverse of all of these.

Types of Thyroid Hormones

The principal thyroid hormones are traditionally known are

T3 (tri-iodothyronine)

T4 (thyroxin)

TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)

Malfunctioning of the Thyroid

Hypothyroidism is associated with lower generation of thyroxin while in hyperthyroidism it is generated in excess.

Hypothyroid condition is associated with increased risk for high generation of LDL and hence for heart diseases.

T4 (thyroxin) is greater than T3 (tri-iodothyronine) but T3 (tri-iodothyronine) is four times more potent. The body converts T4 to T3 as per needs. The generation of these hormones is controlled by thyrotropin which is secreted by pituitary gland.

How to Correct Thyroid Problems

Thus by ensuring proper working of pituitary gland, we can ensure proper generation of thyroid hormones.We have seen this in our previous articles how Breath directly energizes the glands in the brain-Human Endocrine System

Pranayama yoga therefore is capable of curing thyroid problems.

All You Need to Know About Cholesterol

Is High Cholesterol the Cause of Your Heart Problems?

Majority of the people believe that cholesterol is very dangerous to the body and thus, its levels in the blood should be kept as low as possible. The fear in the minds of common people about high cholesterol levels has been put by heart specialists and surgeons based upon the high risk factors associated with high blood cholesterol levels in causing complex cardio-vascular diseases. As a matter of fact, they are only partially right. The reality is as follows:

A few Myths behind Cholesterol

  • Cholesterol  is  considered  as  leading  risk  factor  for   cardiovascular diseases. A few  decades  ago,  the  problem  of  high  cholesterol and associated heart diseases  was  noticed  mostly  in  elderly  people  and  rarely in  younger  generation. It is a fact that in the recent years, the standard of health awareness has increased manifold. So also the stresses and strains in life have increased to a much larger. This has made the problem of high cholesterol extremely widespread.
  • The  number  of  people,  especially  in  the  high  profile  young/middle  age  people   having  high  cholesterol (in  general,  hyperlipidemia) is  now  on  increase  and  consequently  a  large  number  of  them  are  considered as potential candidates who are likely to suffer  from  complex  cardiovascular  diseases. Consequently they are put on cholesterol reducing drug therapy. There are some complex side effects of cholesterol lowering drugs which we shall discuss later.
  • It  is  generally  believed  that  the  major  reason  for  hyperlipidemia (commonly  called  as  high  cholesterol)  is  faulty  life  style,  dietary  habits  and  stresses in conscious and the subconscious mind. This is quite correct. Nevertheless, these factors cannot be overcome by only drugs. A lot needs to be done by the individual in so far as life style, dietary habits and most importantly the stresses.

It is appropriate that we understand what cholesterol is and its role in the physiology. A few myths about cholesterol are as follows:

How Cholesterol plays a Vital Role in the Human Body?

  • Far from being a health destroyer, cholesterol is absolutely essential for life. Most people think that it is fat in the blood. In reality, it is not fat at all. Also its content in blood is only 7%. The bulk of the cholesterol in our body (93%), located in every cell of the body is made by the body itself.
  • It is pearly colored, waxy, solid alcohol that is soapy to touch. Its unique waxy, soapy consistency provides the structural integrity to cell membranes. We know that structural integrity of the cell is very important for the health. The cholesterol also regulates the inflow of nutrients and outflow of waste products from the cells.
  • Cholesterol is the building block of several important hormones produced in the body. Some of them are: 1) adrenal hormones (aldosterone which helps in regulating the blood pressure), hydrocortisones (body’s natural steroid) and the sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone).
  • Cholesterol is the natural detoxification mechanism of the body. Cholesterol levels go up in response to the presence of toxins in the body. The toxins are neutralized by cholesterol. When the toxins levels go down, a significant drop in cholesterol levels (below 200) is observed.
  • Many researchers have shown that elevation of serum cholesterol level serve only as a marker for various toxic exposures. Excess cholesterol may reflect excessive oxidative stress and nutrient deficiency (vitamin C, B3 (Niacin), Copper, Chromium, Zinc, Calcium, Essential Fatty Acids etc).
  • Cholesterol is pre-curser to formation of vitamin D in the skin, the pre-curser molecule is converted to active form when exposed to sunlight
  • Cholesterol is the main component of bile acids, which aid in the digestion of foods, particularly fatty foods. Without cholesterol it is not possible to absorb the essential fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K from the food we eat.
  •  Cholesterol is necessary for normal growth and development of the brain and nervous system. Cholesterol coats the nerves and makes the efficient transmission of nerve impulses possible.
  • Cholesterol is important for normal growth and repair of tissues since every cell membrane and the organelles (the tiny structures inside the cells that carry out specific functions) within the cells are rich in cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol plays a major role in the transportation of triglycerides (blood fats) through the circulatory system.

Is Cholesterol Really The ‘Bad’ Guy?

A review of this list should give a better idea of what cholesterol does and to dispel any notion that it is a destroyer of health, to be feared and avoided at all costs. Far from being a serial killer, cholesterol is absolutely essential for good health; without it we would die. Without cholesterol we would lose the strength and stability of our cells, making them much less resistant to invasion by infection and malignancy. In fact, a grave sign of serious illness, such as Cancer initiation and progression or crippling arthritis, is very low level of cholesterol and a rapidly falling cholesterol level.

In reality, when people refer to the cholesterol, they actually refer to the lipoproteins and the triglycerides. We shall therefore now discuss about lipoproteins and the triglycerides which are commonly and loosely called the cholesterol.

Lipoproteins and Triglycerides

Bulk of the cholesterol is produced internally in the body.  Diet contributes hardly 6-7 % of the body’s total requirement of cholesterol.  The cholesterol  is present in high concentrations in tissues which either produce more or have more densely packed membranes – for example, liver, spinal cord, brain and atheroma. It is very important to note that cholesterol is not water soluble and hence cannot dissolve in water based blood stream. Instead, it is transported in the blood stream by lipoproteins (protein molecular suit cases) which are water soluble. This ensures internal transport of cholesterol

  • Two major lipoproteins are: 1) low density lipoprotein (LDL) and 2) high density lipoprotein (HDL). There is one more lipoprotein called very low density lipoprotein (VLDL)
  • The largest lipoproteins which primarily transport fats from intestinal mucosa to the liver are called chylomicrons. They carry mostly triglyceride fats and cholesterol (both from food and especially internal cholesterol secreted by the liver into bile).
  • In the liver, chylomicron particles give up triglycerides and some cholesterol and are converted into LDL particles. This LDL carries triglycerides and cholesterol on to body cells.
  • In healthy individuals, the HDL particles are large in size and few in number. In these circumstances, they do not attach to arterial walls and thus do not cause blockages in them.
  • Conversely large number of small size LDL particles is often likely to cause arterial plaque and thus arterial blockages can occur in this condition.
  • HDL particles transport cholesterol back to liver for excretion but their effectiveness varies considerably.
  • Large number of large size HDL is indicator of good health.

Range of LDL, HDL and Triglyceride Levels in human blood

The table as shown below indicates acceptable and non acceptable levels of LDL, HDL and Triglycerides in human blood.

The important guiding factors are also indicated in the table. It is necessary to understand that the total cholesterol level alone is insufficient to indicate possibility of the existing or future cardiovascular disease. For example, a total cholesterol level well below 200mg/dl is ok only when the levels of LDL is well below 100mg/dl and the HDL level is well above 60mg/dl and the triglycerides are below 150mg/dl. The risk of atherosclerosis and consequently the heart stroke is very high when Triglyceride levels are in excess of 150 mg/dl and LDL level is in excess of 160mg/dl and HDL level is well below 40mg/dl. One should note that it is only a risk factor and does not necessarily mean an impending heart attack. There are other indicators also which can forewarn about impending heart attacks.

  • The cholesterols in LDL and HDL are identical. The only difference between them is the carrier protein molecules (lipoprotein).
  • Since only small size but large in number LDL particles have a tendency to form arterial plaque,   a higher content of LDL in blood lipid profile may generally indicate only a possible danger of arterial blockage. Higher level of LDL does not necessarily mean onset of heart attack. However, the fear of it may do so.

How Can You Lower Cholesterol Naturally?

  • Causative factors for high LDL/VLDL are: 1) genetic factors, 2) diseases such as diabetes, thyroid gland malfunctions, liver and the kidney disorders. Thus using cholesterol level reducing drugs such as Statin without checking these factors is meaningless.
  • Kapalbhati, Bhastrika, Anulom – Vilom Pranayama can correct disorders of thyroid glands, pancreas, adrenal glands and tone up liver.  The diaphragmatic motion in Pranayama is the key factor as it facilitates vigorous activity of the cisterna chyli reservoir (containing chyle) and the lymph that carries metabolic byproducts of tissues, muscles and the glands. This also results in efficient transport of chylomicrons to the toned up liver which inhibits formation of small size LDL & VLDL.  Thus, barring genetic factors, all other factors which give rise to high LDL & VLDL are totally removable by resorting to Pranayama practice.
  • In addition, Pranayama enables higher ‘in-body’ production of Coenzyme Q10 which plays a very vital role in manufacture of ATP, the fuel that runs cellular processes. Q10 is also a great heart protector. The likely hood of heart attacks become very high if Coenzyme Q10 is absent or its levels are low regardless of whether or not the lipid profile is healthy.

The Dark Side of Cholesterol Reducing Drugs

Cholesterol reducing drugs such as Statin inhibit cholesterol formation in liver but parallely reduce production of Coenzyme Q10. Such drugs have numerous side effects on the body as discussed above.

Curds can be Consumed as an alternative to Cholesterol Reducing Drugs

Recent research shows that the lactobacillus contained in curds have a very high cholesterol lowering potential and thus are strong alternative to Statin. People in several regions of rural India regularly consume significant amount of curds in the form of curd rice, lassi and they seldom encounter high cholesterol problem.

Best Possible Treatment for High Cholesterol Problems

Finally in my humble opinion , the best possible treatment for high cholesterol problem is healthy life style, avoiding junk food and yoga including Pranayama practice. Although Pranayama cannot remove the basic factors in daily life that may cause worries , fears, negative emotions etc, it can certainly reduce/eliminate the ill effects of these factors on the health. This is principally on account of tranquility of the mind achieved through Pranayama practice.

Dealing with Obesity

Obesity is a problem spread world over especially in extremely developed countries and started appearing in a big way in developing country like India.

What is Obesity?

  • Fat accumulation over entire body – prominent in waist, stomach, thigh region, upper arms etc. The body looks like swollen figure. Obese people find it very uncomfortable to appear in public and usually develop a great deal of inferiority complex and sadness. The obese usually try to divert their mind from this state of mind by resorting to engage their mind in eating making the problem much worse. Of course majority of obese people deny this strongly.
  • Obese people usually put up very significant efforts such as reduction in amount of diet, exercising etc to eliminate/reduce obesity but, most times, they miserably fail to achieve the goals.
  • The efforts include diet control (mostly switch over to vegetables, fruits and avoid cereals etc.), exercises (very difficult for them) and even taking slimming medicines.
  • The obese develop high level of inferiority complex and remain in mentally stressed condition
  • Externally/outwardly they appear to be very jolly but internally their hearts bleed.
  • Strangely obesity is very severe in highly developed countries and it is reaching alarming levels in developing countries like India.
  • Mostly obesity affected people belong to higher income class and rarely in lower income class.
  • Adverse effects of obesity are not limited to only physical looks .It is well known that obese have a higher chance of getting diabetes, hypertension, heart attacks, cancer etc.
  • It is important to understand the reasons for becoming obese so that with your own efforts you can get rid of it.
  • This discussion is aimed at bringing out facts about obesity which are not known to common man including a few medical professionals.
  • Note that there is no pill/medicine which will eliminate obesity.

Well known Causes of Obesity

  • Overeating: Compulsive overeating because of lack of other meaningful activities, munching while watching TV programs, movies or during drinking sessions. One has to train his/her mind to understand that without starters programs can be enjoyed.
  • Lack of physical exercises due to comforts offered by powered vehicles, lifts and various home appliances like vacuum cleaners, automatic washing machines, food processors etc.
  • Overconsumption of dietary supplements advertized in TV programs.
  •  Increased number of times eating is done since nothing else is there at hand to do.

Important Reasons of Obesity that you Probably Never Knew

  • Defective life style caused by over abundance of means of physical comforts.
  • Unrestful mind.
  • Stresses in mind resulting in breathing disorders.
  • Defective breathing such as hyper ventilation or hypo ventilation.
  • Genetic factors (as claimed by modern medical science).
  • Most important consequence of defective breathing is abnormal growth of fat cells. This is one of most little known reasons of obesity which we discussed in earlier slides.
  • The healthy breathing rate in inactive/resting state of body is about 10 -15 breaths per minute. This breathing is rhythmic in nature and involves smooth movement of abdominal muscles. We can see it in breathing of infants.

Hyperventilation and Hypoventilation are the primary cause for Obesity

What happens when cells do not get enough oxygen?

In case the breathing process adopted does not allow enough oxygen to the cell, the energy generation in the cell is by fermentation process in which the by- products include lactic acid, uric acid etc. These are all toxic wastes called lactates. The body does not allow these toxic overloads to move to circulation system. Body in turn develops excess fat cells in which the toxic overloads are stored. This causes creation of generation of fats in the body locations such as hips, belly regions, thighs, upper arms etc. The above is described for common man to understand that both hyperventilation and hypo ventilation are the prime cause of obesity.

Why is it so Hard for Obese People to Lose Weight?

Our body’s ability to process trash, including toxic trash, is a pervasive factor in our ability to lose weight and reach a healthy goal weight. Struggling with this issue activates backup strategies for dealing with toxic overload, which include expanding the number of fat cells and stuffing them with toxins as well as fat. This is likely done to get the toxic trash out of our circulation and away from key organs. It causes easy weight gain and complicates weight loss because our body does not easily give up the toxic fat it has stored.

Other Complications of Obesity

The scientific theory of how these chemicals cause weight gain and difficulty losing weight has now been established.  They bind to gene signalling within white adipose tissue and induce new fat cells to form while simultaneously increasing inflammation. Oftentimes, the newly formed fat cells are themselves damaged by the toxins so that they cannot metabolically perform, which includes an inability to make leptin normally. These damaged fat cells can fill up with excess fat and toxins, but are not able to efficiently carry out normal functions of fat cells, leading directly to increased risk for type 2 diabetes via the suppression of the important fat cell hormone known as adiponectin. These chemicals pose a serious problem to the thyroid gland and the efficient utilization of thyroid hormone throughout our body.  Furthermore, they can cause either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

What is The Best Way to Combat Obesity?

Trying to get the fat and toxins out of these damaged fat cells is no small challenge in terms of successful weight loss, yet it is vital to restore normal metabolism. This means that we must improve our breathing method, resort to healthy diet and if possible, learn pranayama under guidance of a experienced and qualified pranayama teacher. Try to avoid vigorous exercises which can drain you of your energy because of which there is a huge temptation and likelihood of overeating. Yogasanas certainly help in reducing the flab but they also must be done with lot of patience. Do not believe in slimming drugs as they can pose dangerous problems.

In many ways, our polluted world is a true test of genetic survival of the fittest. The number of toxic chemicals now threatens the reproductive ability of the human race and is also a large part of the cancer issue. These chemicals contribute to weight gain in various ways, including disruption of the hormone signalling system that regulates our metabolism, damage to and accumulation in our white adipose tissue, and increased risk for poisoning during weight loss. It is absolutely vital that we understand this subject fully well.

Lymphatic System and its Connection with Breath


Figure shows a typical lymph node. The plasma cells mentioned in the above figure are the large antibody providing cells that develop into B cells. The antibodies play a vital role in the immune system. The outgoing Lymph vessel carries the immune cells as well as the debris of the invaders.

It is obvious that the lymphatic system plays a vital role in body’s immune system. We shall now discuss this.

Overview of Lymphatic System

It is important to note that:

  • Lymphatic system is primary component of the body’s immune system.
  • It carries fluids infused with bacteria, virus, and fungus into immune-active lymph nodes.
  • At the nodes, lymphocytes, reticular cells and macrophages kill or neutralize toxic, enemy cells and organisms.
  • Lymphatic system collects interstitial fluid with the byproducts of cellular activity and transports it to blood system.
  • Lymphatic system assists in bringing nutritional factors in proximity with tissues.
  • Breath, movement and postures have profound influence on lymphatic especially in production and circulation of lymph.
  • Lymph fluid is partly cellular water and part blood plasma

Several mechanisms are associated with lymphatic system. They are;

  • Lymph generation
  • Lymph propulsion
  • Immune system
  • Cerebrospinal fluid circulation
  • Nutritive mechanism

We shall now discuss the most important aspects of lymph generation, propulsion.

Mechanism of Lymph Generation

As late as 1985, medical science believed that generation of lymph is due to filtration of blood plasma from capillaries. This view has now altered.

It is now understood that the major portion of the body’s lymph is produced by the identical physiological process that generates body’s chemical energy (oxygen metabolism).in the simplest form, at the cell level following chemical reaction takes place

6O2 (from breath) + C6H12O6 (glucose in blood) + BMR (basal metabolic rate) = ergs (energy) +6Co2 +6H2O (pure water)

Thus six molecules of water are generated for each six molecules of oxygen that are metabolized in energy production. This water and the blood plasma make the lymph fluid. As per calculations of Krebs cycle, about 700 -1000 cc of pure interstitial water is produced in a semi active person. In an active person practicing Pranayama, yogasanas etc, this amount goes up to 1400 cc and is put in subclavian vein daily. It should be remembered that in the above reaction, the oxygen uptake by the blood is very important as we discussed in our earlier paper. This uptake depends upon the hemoglobin content of the blood.

This water is the vehicle of transport for metabolic byproducts into lymph vessel. From the tissues it is propelled as lymph to the immune potent nodal treatment sites and finally to the elimination organs via the blood.

Part of the constituents of blood goes out of blood capillaries to join surrounding tissues passing through the space between each cell.

The liquid that is filtered from the blood capillary is reabsorbed: 1) 80 -98 % by the small veins emerging from blood capillaries and remaining 2 -20% by the small initial lymphatic capillaries. In case the body is unable to use the remaining liquid, the fluid gets accumulated. The result is swelling in that particular tissue. This could, in long run, cause severe complications.

The lymphatic system should therefore fine tune the drainage of the space between the cells. This drainage is very important as it evacuates water and excess substances in the interstitial environment.

Some of the Kriyas such as Svedan in Panchakarma (detoxification procedures in Ayurvedic medical system) aim at creating a perfect balance of the overflow and thus toxins are driven out of the body.

Initial lymph capillaries which originate in almost every tissue are at their beginning feather fine. They slowly increase in size moving into lymphatic collectors and eventually join major venous circulation, just before reaching the heart, behind clavicles. Thus lymph circulation ends in systemic blood circulation just before heart. Prior to that, the lymphatic system transports proteins, foreign bodies and pathogenic agents (toxins, germs etc) in its pathway through lymphatic nodes which act as purification centers. The nodes destroy these particles so that eventually they can be flushed out of the body through alimentary tract.

Mechanism of Lymph Propulsion

The human blood circulation system uses heart as the pumping mechanism. There is however, no pumping organ for the circulation of the lymph. The lymphatic flow can stagnate or even stop for many reasons such as fatigue, stress, emotional shock, consumption of certain foods. This, of course does not cause instant death as it may happen when heart fails to work. But then it creates such bad health conditions that the quality of life becomes extremely poor. This is because supplying and regeneration of cells is very poorly carried out. The toxins accumulate, aging hastens and flood gates are open for proliferation of very complex health disorders.

How to ensure proper lymph movement

The following enable propulsion of the lymph.

  • Breathing mechanism.
  •  Specific body postures called yogasanas.
  • Yogic exercise “Surya Namaskar” is one of most effective way for lymph propulsion.
  • Walking/jogging and other aerobic exercises.
  • Pranayama

The oxygen metabolism reaction produces pure water which is the raw material for the production of lymph. The interstitial water is collected through feather like capillaries and during the course, blood plasma, the lymphocytes, nutrients and the cerebrospinal fluid containing the Neuropeptides get added to make the lymph. Ultimately the lymph enters the blood circulation system at right and left subclavian vein.The body’s biggest lymphatic vessel is the thoracic duct. Itbegins near the lower part of the spine. Thoracic duct collects lymph from the lower limbs, pelvis, abdomen and lower chest..

Lymph and Pranayama

The rate of flow of the lymph at the thoracic duct is proportional to the depth of inhalation. The total volume of lymph that enters the central veins depends both on the depth of inhalation and the overall breathing rate. The diaphragm is the main pump of the lymphatic system.

It is for this reason that Yoga practice strongly recommends many of the Asana and especially Surya Namaskar which greatly tone up diaphragm and also increase the flow of lymph. Thus the most powerful apparatus for lymph propulsion is the breath apparatus. The lymphoid tissue is concentrated just above and below the diaphragm. Lymph that has been carried from all over the body accumulates centrally and is then propelled by breath/diaphragm in a final rush through thoracic lymph duct into the blood at subclavian vein where it leaves its identity as lymph and is transformed into blood serum. Above the diaphragm, the thoracic duct of the lymphatic system is a central large size collecting vessel. Below the diaphragm a substantial dilation of thoracic duct forms a collecting capsule  that is called “Cisterna Chyli reservoir” which contains chyle (milky fluid containing nutrients, lacteals absorbed from small intestine) and lymph  that carries metabolic by products of tissues, muscles and glands.

How proper breathing ensures effective lymph generation and propulsion

The circulation of lymph is most optimum when we do deep breathing involving the diaphragm. It is important to note the following points:

  • During Pranayama inhalation, the diaphragm goes down and the lymph is forced upwards into subclavian vein.
  • During Pranayama exhalation the lymph reservoir fills up.
  • Same phenomena occur during aerobic exercises but aerobic exercises are energy spending (catabolic) processes.
  • Bhastrika, Kapalbhati and Anulom – Vilom are the most effective Pranayama breathing methods that build up body’s immune system through optimum circulation of lymph.

Breath directly energizes the glands in the brain-Human Endocrine System


What is the role of endocrine system?

The endocrine gland system is a collection of glands that produce hormones.These hormones regulate growth,metabolism,sexual function etc

How endocrine system impacts health?

The endocrine gland system has a profound influence on the health of human beings. The most important endocrine glands (the pineal, the pituitary and the hypothalamus) are located in the brain. The working of these glands is very crucial since unless they release their hormones in correct quantity, the other glands such as the thyroids, the adrenals, the pancreas and the male/female sex glands do not function properly. These gives rise to complex health issues such as hypertension, diabetes, Parkinsonism, Alzheimer disease and host other complex diseases

Types of glands in our body

There are two types of glands encountered in human anatomy. They are:

  • Duct glands, also known as exocrine glands. These glands have ducts (canals) which limit area of their secretions. Examples are – tear glands, sweat glands, salivary glands.
  • Ductless glands also known as endocrine glands. These glands release their secretions, called hormones, into the blood stream. The blood loaded with the hormone secreted by the gland is carried to the locations where these hormones carry out their action. Examples are – hypothalamus, pituitary, pineal thyroid, parathyroid, adrenals, pancreas etc. .

Key functions of the glands

Figure shows the three glands in the brain. The glands have specific functions to perform. They are:

Pituitary Gland

It is a pea sized gland which is considered the most important part of the endocrine system. It is often called master gland because it makes hormones that control several other glands. Production and secretions of pituitary hormones can be influenced by factors such as emotions, change of season, anxiety and many other environmental factors. Hypothalamus relays the information sensed by the brain (emotions, fear, anxiety etc) to pituitary through nerve cells from hypothalamus. The pituitary gland controls the working of other important glands in the body.

is a pea sized gland which is considered the most important part of the endocrine system. It is often called master gland because it makes hormones that control several other glands. Production and secretions of pituitary hormones can be influenced by factors such as emotions, change of season, anxiety and many other environmental factors. Hypothalamus relays the information sensed by the brain (emotions, fear, anxiety etc) to pituitary through nerve cells from hypothalamus. The pituitary gland controls the working of other important glands in the body.

Pituitary gland is divided into two parts

The two parts of Pituitary Gland

– The anterior lobe regulates activity of thyroid, adrenals and reproduction glands by secreting some hormones which play very important roles in human physiology. The anterior lobe also secretes growth hormone which stimulates growth of bones and body tissues. It plays an important role in body’s handling of nutrients and minerals. It secretes prolactin which activates milk glands in women who are breast feeding. Thytropin secreted by the anterior lobe stimulates thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones. The anterior lobe also secretes Corticotropin which stimulates the adrenal glands to produce its own hormones. Anterior lobe secretes endorphin chemicals that act on nervous system and reduce the feeling of pain. The anterior lobe also secrets some hormones that signal reproductive system to make sex hormones and controls ovulation/menstrual cycle in women

– The posterior lobe releases anti-diuretic hormone which controls balance of water in the body.

Thyroid Gland

It is located in the front part of the lower neck, is shaped like a bow tie or butterfly.It produces thyroid hormones (thyroxin and tri-iodothyronine). These hormones control the rate at which cell burn fuels from food to produce energy.The production and release of thyroid hormones is controlled by thyrotropin which is secreted by pituitary gland.The more thyroid hormone there is in a person’s blood stream, faster chemical reactions occur in the body.Thyroid hormones help kids and teens develop strong bones. They also play a major role in the development of the brain and the nervous system.Attached to the thyroid are four tiny glands (functioning together), called parathyroid gland. They release parathyroid hormone. The parathyroid hormone regulates level of calcium in blood using calcitonin produced in thyroid.

Adrenal Glands

Adrenal glands are two triangular glands one on top of each kidney.  Each of the glands produces a set of hormones which have different functions.The outer part, called adrenal cortex, produces hormones called corticosteroids that influence or regulate salt and water balance in the body, body’s response to stress, metabolism, immune system and sexual development/function.The inner part, called adrenal medulla, produces hormones, catecholamine’s such as epinephrine (also called adrenalin). This hormone is responsible for increase in blood pressure and the heart rate when body experiences stress, fear/flight.


Gonads are the sex glands. These glands are the main source of sex hormones. In males, they are located in the scrotum. Male gonads or testes secrete hormones called androgens, the most important of which is testosterone. These hormones regulate body changes associated with sexual development, the growth spurt that occur during puberty. This is also associated with secondary characteristics such as deepening of voice, growth of facial and pubic hair, increased muscle growth and strength. Working with hormones from pituitary gland, testosterone also supports production of sperms.

Female gonads, ovaries, are located in pelvis. They produce eggs and secrete the female hormones, estrogens and progesterone. Estrogen is involved in development of female sexual features such as breast growth, accumulation of body fat around hips and thighs. Both are involved in pregnancy and regulation of menstrual cycle.


Pancreas produces two important hormones, insulin and glucagon. These hormones work together to maintain a steady level of glucose or sugar in the blood and keep the body supplied with fuel to produce and maintain stores of energy. It also activates various enzymes and co-enzymes which support the glycolysis reactions which generate the primary ATP energy bonds. Malfunction of this gland is associated with various very serious health issues in addition to diabetes.

The mysterical Pineal Gland

Pineal gland is the most mysterious gland whose function is not fully understood and is a subject of intense research at present. It is at the geometric center of the brain in a tiny cave behind and above the pituitary gland which lies a little behind the root of the nose. It is located directly behind the eyes, attached to third ventricle. The microscopic examination reveals that the pineal gland is divided into two fine hemispheres. This gland is activated by light and it controls various bio rhythms of the body. It works in harmony with hypothalamus gland which directs the body’s thirst, hunger, sexual desire and biological clock that determines our aging process.

Pineal Gland- the link between the physical and spiritual worlds

The Bhramari Pranayama is said to activate this gland and offers several spiritual powers including capability to be able to see things in higher dimensions.

Functioning of endocrine system

Endocrine glands secrete hormones. Once a hormone is secreted, it travels from the gland through blood stream to the cells, called target cells, designated to receive the message. Along the way to target cells, special proteins bind to the hormone. These proteins act as carriers that control the amount of hormone that is available to interact with and cause the desired effect on the target cell. This happens as target cells have receptors that latch onto only specific hormone. This in other words means that each hormone has its own receptors so that each hormone will communicate only with specific target cells that possess receptors for that hormone. When the hormone reaches its target cells, it locks onto the cells specific receptor. These hormone-receptor combinations give rise to chemical interaction within the cell internals to fulfill function of the cell. When hormone levels reach a certain normal level, further secretion is controlled by important body mechanisms. The body mechanisms maintain the level of hormone in the blood. The regulation of hormone secretion may involve the hormone itself or another substance in the blood related to the hormone.

As an example of above, if thyroid gland has secreted adequate amount of thyroid hormone into the blood, the pituitary gland senses the normal level of thyroid hormone in the blood stream and adjusts its release of thyrotropin (pituitary hormone) that stimulates the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone. Thus high or low levels thyroid hormones are controlled or corrected by pituitary gland. 

Another example is parathyroid hormone which increases the level of calcium in the blood. When the level of calcium in blood rises, the parathyroid glands sense this change and decrease their secretion of parathyroid hormones – a process which can be called a negative feedback system. It is thus need less to over emphasize the role of master glands in the brain. It must be remembered that the master glands in the brain receive life energy though breath directly.

Malfunctionings of the Endocrine System

At times, the things can go wrong. A few of them are:

  • Too much secretion of hormone may be harmful. For example, too much secretion of growth hormone by pituitary gland can result in excessive growth – gigantic growth
  • Too little secretion of growth hormone by pituitary gland may make the child abnormally short.
  • Adrenal insufficiency caused by dysfunction of adrenal cortex and underproduction of adrenal corticosteroid hormone may cause excessive weakness despite healthy diet, fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, dehydration and acute skin changes
  • Excessive amount of glucocorticoid hormone or excessive intake of steroids for treatment of some acute diseases can cause very severe side effects such as obesity, muscle weakness, high BP, higher heart rate.
  • Hyperthyroidism is due to excessive secretion of thyroid hormones. It  can result in weight loss, nervousness, excessive sweating, increased HR,BP, protruding eyes, goiter
  • Hypothyroidism is due to insufficient secretion of thyroid hormones can cause obesity, slow hr, constipation, acute sense of disease

The list can be very long indeed. But dealing with these conditions by drugs can prove inadequate and in many cases they are associated with severe side effects.

Endocrine system disorders can be due to deficiency in hormone generation or excessive generation of the hormone.

  • External supply of lacking hormone to treat deficiency, in theory, is ok barring the side effects which, at times can be very serious.
  • Suppression of hormone generation by antagonist drugs can also suppress generation of other important hormones which can produce severe symptoms. This is an extremely serious issue.
  • It is well known that in many autoimmune disorders, the specific immune system cells and the antibodies destroy the cells of some of important glands. For example, in type 1 diabetes, the cells and the antibodies produced in the immune system attack and destroy the cells of pancreas which produces insulin. At present, in such cases external supply of insulin is inevitable.
  •  The research has shown that regular practice of Pranayama dramatically improves the working of the most important glands in the brain (hypothalamus, pituitary, pineal) which in turn improves the working of other glands in the body.
  •  The research has also shown that one of major benefits of Pranayama and Yogasanas is to greatly improve working of immune system. Thus in general, disorders of endocrine system can be cured by Pranayama and Yogasanas and no or very little hormone supplement or antagonist may be enough.

How Breath can make an impact on the Endocrine System
Effects of Bhastrika and Kapalbhati Pranayama

  • Deeper and slow inhalation in Bhastrika will ensure higher air volume. This greatly improves O2 supply to blood. Forceful exhalation in Bhastrika ensures effective removal of CO2. It is possible to have breathing rate as low as 5-6 BPM or even less without any discomfort for 7-10 minutes of Bhastrika.
  • Pressure on abdominal viscera from diaphragmatic motion during Kapalbhati as well as Bhastrika breathing also contributes to venous blood to return to heart with force. This gives tremendous benefit to heart as we shall see later. We can safely do Kapalbhati for 15-20 minutes or more if we maintain 60-70 strokes per minute rhythm in Kapalbhati Pranayama.
  • The resulting oscillations/vibrations of the respiratory muscles, blood capillaries, and abdominal viscera are highly useful to the body and mind.
  • Lower is the rate of breathing in Bhastrika, we experience total tranquility of the mind and the mental stress disappears. Kapalbhati done for 15 minutes or more also removes the stresses. This is evident from the fact that the exhalation is the activity controlled by the parasympathetic nervous system which triggers the relaxation of the mind.
  • The master glands in the brain receive life energy though breath directly.

We shall discuss about obesity issues with present generation in our next post. A good understanding of endocrine glands is required since in many cases root cause of obesity can be malfunctioning of endocrine glands.

How does Pranayama Strengthen Immunity

What is Immune System?

The immune system is the network of cells, tissues and organs that work together to defend the body against attacks by foreign invaders. These invaders are microbes (germs) – tiny infection causing bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi, cancer cells.

It is the job of immune system to keep them out. In case these invaders find entry in the body, the immune system must destroy them. Complex diseases such as arthritis, cancer or AIDS can occur when the immune system is crippled.

Some of the most important facts about the immune system are:

  • It is an extremely complex system.
  • It can recognize and remember millions of different enemies.
  • To destroy them, the immune system produces secretions (chemicals) that kill and wipe out each one of the enemies.
  • The efficient immune system is able to do so because it has an elaborate and dynamic communication network comprising of millions and millions of cells organized into sets, subsets.
  • These cells gather like cluster of red ants crowding around an unprotected food article and transporting it to their homes during which they pass information back and forth.
  • Once the immune cells receive the alarm, they begin to produce very powerful chemicals. It is most important that these cells receive right alarm at right time.
  • Additionally, these chemicals allow cells to regulate their own growth so that they do not grow abnormally to become cancer cells.

What if Immune System Attacks Itself?

For certain reasons, the things can go wrong and the immune system can get significantly crippled. The healthy system has a remarkable ability to distinguish between body’s own cells, self and foreign cells – non self. Body’s immune defenses which include various cells normally co-exist peacefully with other cells that carry distinctive “self” marker molecules. Thus when immune defenders encounter cells or organisms carrying markers that say “foreign”, they immediately launch attack on them so that they can be destroyed. This process is called the immune system response.

Anything that triggers such a response is called the antigen. The antigen can be a microbe or virus or anything such as a cancer cell which immune defenders fail to recognize as own self. However, at times, there are abnormal situations in which the immune defenders fail to recognize body’s own cells. In such a situation, the immune system destroys body’s own cells. In other words the immune system may mistake itself as non self and launch an attack against body’s own cells or tissues. The result is called auto immune disorder. Some forms of arthritis and diabetes are auto immune disorders.

In some cases, the immune system responds to seemingly harmless foreign substance such as ragweed pollens. The result is allergy and this kind of antigen is called allergen. In today’s world we suffer from all kinds of these problems

Components of Immune System

The immune system comprises of

  • Lymphocytes in blood: these comprise of T-cells and NK cells – surveillance cells of immune system. They are capable of destroying tumor cells and infected cells.They are the key players in the immune system
  • Lymph system which carries these soldiers.
  •  Lymphoid organs are the battle grounds for lymphocytes. This is extremely important to ensure that the blood circulation system is not required to participate in the battle between the lymphocytes and the invaders. They are  strategically positioned throughout the body.

Important Lymph Nodes

The distribution system of the lymph nodes is very complex. The most important lymph nodes are:

  • Spleen is a flattened organ located at the upper left of the abdomen. The spleen contains specialized compartments where immune cells gather and work. The spleen serves as meeting ground where immune defenses confront antigens. There are some serious medical conditions that require full or partial spleenoctomy. The persons undergoing full or partial spleenoctomy are required to be extremely careful against various infections
  • Tonsils. The tonsils are the first security posts where streptococcus and staphylococcus infections are fought. It is therefore very important to avoid their surgical removal as far as possible.
  • Adenoid. Like tonsils, sometimes they are removed surgically. But the price paid is the weakened immune system.
  • Appendix. Many people think that appendix has no important function to deliver. This is quite untrue.
  • M.A.L.T. (Mucosal Associated Lymphoid Tissue).

 Immune cells (lymphocytes) and foreign particles or invaders enter lymph nodes via incoming lymphatic vessels or the tiny blood vessels on the nodes.

All the lymphocytes exit lymph nodes through outgoing lymphatic vessels – once they are in blood stream, they are transported to tissues throughout the body. These are very complex systems.

A few important points which should be noted are:

  • One can see the overall spread of the lymphatic system and also the most important nodes. We can see several lymph nodes in abdominal region including diaphragm. The diaphragm plays a major role in enabling the immune system to work efficiently.
  • Major vessel is the thoracic duct which begins near lower part of the spine and collects lymph from pelvis, abdomen and lower chest.
  • Thoracic duct runs up through the chest and empties into blood through a larger vein near left side of the neck.
  • Right lymphatic duct is other major lymphatic vessel and collects lymph from right side of the neck and empties into a large vein near right side.
  • Note that while for blood circulation we have heart as a pump, lymphatic system has no pump. The propulsion of lymph has a great influence on the working of body’s immune system.

In the above article, we saw the brief working of the Human Immune System. From the above we can conclude the efficacy of Pranayama Technique in better lymph movement and drainage.

How Do You Calm Butterflies In Your Stomach:Stress and Gut- Part 3

How To Heal Your Gut Naturally

Top 4 Stressors

The factors which give rise to intense stresses in mind and methods to overcome them are

  1. Fear of Death. This fear is inbuilt in majority of human beings. It is absurd to estimate our life span in terms of days, months and years which is based upon human perception of day and night. We may note that if we go to space there is no such thing as day and night. Actually the life assigned (by natural death} is given by number of heart beats permitted since it is controlled by crista gali which has function like electronic switch. For example, picture tube of our televisions can be made on and off any number of times till its permitted number. Once we cross it, the life is consumed. Similarly the Almighty has given us finite number of permissible beats of our heart, beyond which we cannot live. It is up to us to consume the designated heart beats over short time or long time. If we keep our breathing rate, as slow as possible it will suitably guide our heart rate. Consequently, we are most likely to live longer unless accidents, war etc consume us. Slow breathing also enables us to pacify our mind.
  2. Fear of competition and loss of opportunities. To grow in status is a natural desire of most of us. We however conveniently forget about our real capabilities and self hypnotize ourselves to develop a superiority complex so when we lose promotions or financial rewards, we feel hurt. One lesson I have learnt in life is that you get only that which you are destined for and entitled to get. Nothing less and nothing more.  Nobody can snatch anything that we are entitled for in life. This does not mean that we should give up our efforts. One should also remember that our professional life makes only a small part of our total life
  3. Venting our anger and frustrations on our family members. Do not do this. Everybody needs somebody with us to share our frustrations, reasons for anger, depression etc. The best to do this is to share with our life partner, brother or friend the issues troubling us.  This should be done with balanced mind.
  4. Complex family issues. These may include children education, getting them settled, security for self and family in retired life etc. We can plan for our retired life but not for career of children. They will become that which they are destined for. We can only financially and morally support them to only some extent. We cannot fashion their destiny to our liking.

The list can be endless and I feel incapable of dealing all of them

6 Simple Things You Can Do To Reduce Stress

These simple steps are very useful in making the needed biochemical and neurological changes in the body to reduce stress.

  • Exercise
  • Prayer
  • Meditation
  • Laughter
  • Yoga
  • Pranayama

Ways To Improve Gut Health

We can also improve our gut health by:

  • Avoiding sugar/fructose: Eating excess sugar and fructose will distort the ratio of good to bad bacteria in your gut by serving as a fertilizer/fuel for pathogenic bacteria, yeast and fungi that negatively inhibit the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
  • Eating fermented foods: Traditionally made, unpasteurized fermented foods are a rich source of probiotics. Healthy choices include lassi (an Indian yoghurt drink, traditionally enjoyed before dinner), fermented grass fed organic milk such as kefir, various pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash and carrots, and ­natto (fermented soy).

How Do You Calm Butterflies In Your Stomach:Stress and Gut-Part 2

How is Stress Linked to Your Gut

The stress response causes a large number of detrimental events in our gut, which include:

  • Decreased absorption of nutrients necessary for the proper cellular processes in our body
  • Decreased oxygenation in our gut cells
  • Significantly deficient blood flow to our digestive system. this leads to impaired metabolism
  • Decreased enzymatic output in our gut – this can be very substantial
  • Affects the “brain-gut-axis”

There is something which is far more important than what people think of the nervous system.

Yoga practice has given a great importance to chakras and especially the Manipur chakra lying around naval region. The Manipur chakra is a very important plexus of sympathetic and parasympathetic components of autonomic nervous system. The breathing system is part of autonomic nervous system that can be under conscious control of human beings. There is one more nervous system (commonly not well known). It is called the enteric nervous system (ENS) or intrinsic nervous system. It is one of the main divisions of the nervous system and consists of a mesh-like system of neurons that governs the function of the gastrointestinal system.It is now usually referred to as separate from the autonomic nervous system since it has its own independent reflex activity.

You are Actually Two Brains Living In One Person

In a very real sense, humans have two brains, one inside our skull and one in our gut. Conventional anatomy experts do not fully appreciate this. Interestingly, these two organs (brain) are actually created out of the same type of tissue. Many a times the second brain is called the abdominal brain. One can notice that the sudden shock causes a pit in stomach.

Yoga science believes that diaphragm divides the body in two parts- one part consisting of Manipur chakra, Swadhishthan (Sacral chakra) and Mooladhar (Root chakra) and other part consisting of Anahat (heart) chakra, Vishuddhi (throat) chakra and Adnya chakra. Crown chakra is the chakra of merging with almighty (Parabhrahma).

During fetal development, one part turns into our central nervous system while the other develops into our enteric nervous system. These two systems are connected via the Vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from our brain stem down to our abdomen. This “brain-gut axis” is what connects our two brains together, and explains why we get butterflies in our stomach when we are nervous, for example

Physical Symptoms of Stress

  • Stiff or tense muscles, especially in the neck and shoulders
  • Headaches
  • Sleep disorders
  • Shakiness and tremors
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Abnormal weight loss
  • Restlessness

Behavioural Symptoms of Stress

  • Procrastination
  • Grinding teeth
  • Difficulty completing work assignments
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol and/over smoking
  • Desire to withdraw from others
  • Too much talkative
  • Continuous brooding on stressful situations

Emotional Symptoms of Stress

  • Crying silently and or for long durations
  • Overwhelming sense of tension or pressure
  • Trouble relaxing / Nervousness
  • Quick temper
  • Loss of sense of humour
  • Trouble remembering things
  • Indecisiveness

Harvard Reviews on Stomach Disorders

Hippocrates once said that “all diseases begin in the gut,”. This was known to Vedic science much earlier. It is also widely known that stress is a trigger that causes multiple chronic disease processes to occur. These two health dogmas are actually intricately intertwined, as stress is detrimental to our gut health, and together stress and a damaged gut can contribute to multiple inflammatory diseases and conditions, such as:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Lupus
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Chronic skin conditions
  • Kidney and urinary conditions
  • Allergies
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Several degenerative diseas

To put it simply, chronic stress of unknown origin and other negative emotions like extreme anger, deep rooted anxiety, envy and very high level of sadness can trigger symptoms and full-blown disease in our gut. Harvard researchers explain:

“Psychology combines with physical factors to cause pain and other bowel symptoms. Psychosocial factors influence the actual physiology of the gut, as well as symptoms. In other words, stress or depression or other psychological factors can affect movement and contractions of the GI tract, cause inflammation, or make us more susceptible to infection.

In addition, research suggests that some people with functional GI disorders perceive pain more acutely than other people do because their brains do not properly regulate pain signals from the GI tract. Stress can make the existing pain seem even worse.” Interestingly, the connection works both ways, meaning that while stress can cause gut problems, gut problems can also wreak havoc on our emotions. The Harvard researchers continue:

“This connection goes both ways. A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. That’s because the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system are intimately connected — so intimately that they should be viewed as one system.”

Major effects of stress on gut physiology

  1. Alterations in gastrointestinal motility
  2. Increase in visceral perception
  3. Changes in gastrointestinal secretion
  4. Negative effects on regenerative capacity of gastrointestinal mucosa and mucosal blood flow
  5. Negative effects on intestinal micro flora

Mast cells (MC) are important effectors of brain-gut axis that translate the stress signals into the release of a wide range of neurotransmitters and pro-inflammatory cytokines, which may profoundly affect the gastrointestinal physiology.

How Do You Calm Butterflies In Your Stomach:Stress and Gut-Part 1

Stress and Gut connection

All of our feelings create highly perceptible physiological changes. Some of them are happiness, mental peace, contentment and compassionate etc. These ensure very healthy physiology of their body and the bearers of these feelings generally live long and happy life. Majority of people in modern day life carry negative feelings for reasons best known to them. One of the most common feeling experienced by majority of modern day people that include youth, young adults as well as old adults is highly stressed feeling. The long term exposure to mental stresses subjects these people to derailed physiology and working of their body without any exception. Please note that we are not talking about physical stress that is very adaptive to body unless it is excessive.

While under mental stress, our heart rate can go up, our blood pressure may rise, and blood is shunted away from our midsection, going to our arms, legs, and head for quick thinking, fighting, or fleeing. A short term exposure to excess stress may not always give rise to higher heart rate and BP provided we order our mind to calm down. Please believe that humans have capability to do so

This exposure to severe mental stress is meant to be a temporary response to help with survival.  However when stress becomes chronic, as it is the case for millions of people who might be reading this, it can pull the rug out from beneath our health, wreaking havoc firstly  on our gut and digestive health. Ultimately it leads to complex diseases such as high BP, diabetes, irritable bowels syndrome, Alzheimer, Parkinson disease and even cancers. On the other hand, if we strictly follow Ahar, Vihar and Vichar principles given in Patanjali Yoga Sutra such a situation is not likely to occur.

The Science Of Breath

Why Do We Breathe

This is a very fundamental question. We eat food which is basically complex molecule of hydrocarbon which upon digestion gets converted into sugar. The energy is supplied to entire cellular structure by conversion of this sugar to energy utilizing oxygen we breathe from respiration. This phenomenon occurs in every living cell –dead cell cannot generate energy. The cells are kept alive by life energy in cosmos which is tapped by entire cellular structure through breathing process. Thus breathing process supplies oxygen to each cell while cell remains alive from the life energy we take through breathing process. The cell then uses oxygen to convert food into sugar energy

What Happens When We Breathe? – Oxygen Metabolism in Ideal Case

It is very important to note the following effects associated with breathing:
Bohr Effect: Haemoglobin’s oxygen binding capacity is inversely related to carbon dioxide concentrations, meaning that without CO2 oxygen cannot be released into tissues, as it cannot be released from the haemoglobin molecule.
Haldane effect: Deoxygenation of the blood increases its capacity for carbon dioxide.
Interactions in cellular processes take place in mitochondria of the cell.
Mitochondria: Cellular organelle, often considered the “energy factory” / “power plant” of the cell.
This is extremely important to understand the basic process of oxygen metabolism. We, now discuss it as follows:
 O2 picked up by the blood in small blood vessels is used by body cells to generate energy. The process also generates H2O and CO2 as per the aerobic reaction known as oxygen metabolism reaction:
6O2 (from breath) + C6H12O6 (glucose in blood) + BMR (basal metabolic rate) = ergs/ATP (energy) +6CO2 +6H2O (pure water). Perfect reaction
 The water generated in this reaction is used for making lymph which is a very important part of immune system of the body. Any problem in correctly achieving the above reaction causes dramatic lowering of the energy generation and most importantly, generation of water required to make lymph which is a very important component of our immune system.
 A part of CO2 dissolves in water making carbonic acid which is returned to blood. This makes the blood relatively acidic (in comparison with tissue) in character.This is the key to disease free body is oxygen metabolism, generation and propulsion of lymph and precise pH value of blood (7.3-7.45)

Breathing Defects

Breathing defects derail the basic oxygen metabolism process to a great extent causing complex diseases in the body. One of the most easily identified mechanisms underlying these observations is
inhibition of the Bohr Effect, in which, haemoglobin’s oxygen binding capacity is inversely related to carbon dioxide concentrations. This means that high carbon dioxide concentrations produced as a result of efficient oxidative metabolism allows for oxygen release where it is needed (for example, in heart), at least when the system is functioning in an organised manner. When someone hyperventilates he/she breathes out large amounts of carbon dioxide and inhibits the Bohr Effect. Thus paradoxically over breathing results in decreased cellular respiration, even though the blood may be carrying significant quantities of oxygen. This results in increased rates of glycolysis – an inefficient form of energy (ATP) production, resulting in the formation of lactic acid. This further exacerbates the situation as lactic acid appears to compete with carbon dioxide in the blood resulting in increased losses of carbon dioxide, whereas carbon dioxide inhibits lactate production, some of these effects are likely mediated through acid-base homeostasis. This is in many respects the respiratory pathology that Otto Warburg noted as the defining feature of cancer, aerobic glycolysis – the production of lactate in presence of oxygen. This aerobic glycolysis is claimed to be a fundamental respiratory defect. I am not inclined to not accept this theory. If it is so, all the people who hyperventilate while breathing should develop cancer. It also does not explain why cancers originate in particular region of the body and not in whole body at a time, although once it originates, it can spread to other regions if not treated. Obviously there are some other issues which are not purely biochemical in nature. The other very important issue is the electrical potential of the cell which is a measure of cell’s capacity to carry out biochemical reactions required for generating CO2 as a by-product. The healthy cells have electrical potential of the order of 120 mV whereas cancers cells have less than 60 mV electrical potential.
Aerobic glycolysis as per present theory occurs whenever the mitochondrial oxidation of pyruvate is inhibited. There are, as per modern theory, multiple chemical agents capable of inhibiting this efficient energy production by combustion of sugar. They however all appear to function in fairly common manner that is they stimulate inflammation, or cellular swelling and oedema. These agents include estrogen, histamine, bacterial endotoxin, polyunsaturated fatty acids, serotonin, and lactate itself. In my humble opinion this phenomenon will not happen if the entire cellular structure is adequately energised. Such energization is possible with correct breathing process. Pranayama practice sets the correct breathing process when done properly.
Anaerobic glycolysis occurring as a result of short term intense physical exertion as well as in some of the Pranayama kriyas such as Kapal bhati, Bhastrika etc is adaptive with those actions of lactate that assist in the organism’s adaptation to the stress. For example, lactate’s stimulation of angiogenesis can be seen as a functional signal assisting in bringing increased blood (through creation of new blood vessels) to an area undergoing adaptive growth. In Pranayama breathing a deliberate pause in breathing is given. It is called the Kumbhak. When done properly, Kumbhak gives extraordinary benefits to the practioners of Pranayama. Of course in other circumstances, the signals involved are vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), transforming growth factor beta (TGF beta), interleukin-1 (IL-1), and hypoxia-inducible factor (hif-1alpha), which are all associated with pathological conditions as that of cancer if exposure is for long term and repeated. In long terms these represent a fundamentally out of control situation. In a state of health these signals of inflammation and dedifferentiation are inevitably calmed by the overall coherence of the organism and its environment. This coherence exists if the entire cellular is energised. The fact that so many chronic inflammatory conditions have become so common today, should, if people were paying attention serve as a warning that our “civilization” is dangerously incoherent.
Majority of people incorrectly consider CO2 as the major threat to health and overly consider only O2 as the major protector of our health. This is grossly untrue and misleading. Ray Peat suggests that the effect carbon dioxide has on haemoglobin, in allowing the release of oxygen into tissues is a general electronic effect, and that carbon dioxide is capable of acting to structure water in the cell eliminating swelling and oedema, restoring order and coherence to the excited cell.
Evidence for carbon dioxide’s capacity to act in way that restores order and coherence to the cellular structure can be seen in its capacity to protect the brain from hypoxia (Vannucci et al. 1995), inhibit formation of reactive oxygen species ROS (Kogan et al. 1997), stabilise mast cells inhibiting histamine release (Strider et al. 2010), stabilising nerve cells (Krnjevic et al. 1965), its inhibition of lactate formation (Cohen et al. 1990). These attributes (especially the inhibition of ROS and lactate) suggest that carbon dioxide is acting to optimize energy production, preventing electron leakage during redox reactions, favouring efficient coherent mitochondrial oxidative metabolism. The use of carbonic anhydrase inhibitors in reducing tumour growth supports the importance of carbon dioxide as a fundamental regulator of metabolism (Supuran and Scozzafava 2000).
Carbon dioxide has many other physiological actions including, vasodilatation. It is thus obvious that chronic hyperventilation would lead to hypertension and other circulatory diseases because of less generation of cellular CO2. It also plays a crucial role in the aetiology of neurodegenerative diseases. This is made possible both through its promotion of circulation (being vasodilator), and optimizing mitochondrial function. Both of these are inhibited by hyperventilation. CO2 is also involved in bronco dilation (van den Elshout et al. 1991), and muscle relaxation (Hoyle 1960). Carbon dioxide appears to play a role in bone mineralization, and whilst metabolic acidosis has some associations with bone loss, respiratory acidosis (high CO2) does not show the same associations and may be protective (Bushinsky et al. 1993). Perhaps this would explain the stories of yogis and internal martial artists having strong bones. Carbon dioxide seems to play a key role in the secretion of hydrochloric acid by the stomach (Davies 1951). This supports the assertion that Pranayama increases ‘the digestive fire’ of the Pranayama practioners. Carbon dioxide protects against lung injury both prophylactically and therapeutically (Laffey et al. 2003, Salmon and Hotchkiss 2007).
If the cancer cell is used as an illustrative example of a cell in a disordered chaotic condition, wherein the swelling characteristic of this disorder is produced by its overly reduced state (having an excess of electrons, and hence being alkaline), carbon dioxide is capable of acting as a Lewis acid and withdrawing electrons from the excited proteins, the oxygen delivery facilitated by carbon dioxide further resolves this condition by restoring healthy oxidative metabolism
Serious Breathing Defects
• Hyperventilation – rapid and deep breathing
• Shallow breathing
• These are significantly dependent upon our state of mind. In the stressed condition of mind, the breathing rate goes up significantly which does not allow oxygen metabolism to take place correctly. Shallow breathing is associated with lethargic mind. In this case sufficient oxygen does not reach the cellular structure.
• Long term exposure to these defects do cause serious health issues and thus it is very important to know about these defects and methods to overcome them