Is it just...over-breathing?


Active Member
Holy Mackerel, is it all down to over-breathing?
I know this appears to be about horses, but it's really not (see extracts below). Are we killing our body's carbon dioxode levels by over-breathing and therefore disregulating all kinds of things? It makes perfect sense - the excessive lactic acid, magnesium-deficiencies, cramps, adrenaline, the vicious-cycle nature of it. It needs some intense self-training to fix it - this is unlikely to spontaneously resolve.

If the term 'air hunger' chimes for you, you may want to look into this. I'm starting some Buteyko Breathing training to see what happens. It's free, eg here - you're simply recalibrating your carbon-dioxide. My hospital doctors mentioned way back that I was over-breathing, but they didn't say any more than that so I disregarded it, not knowing it was a Thing.

Ugh! - there's a self-test in the Buteyko method - 'Control Pause (CP)' in which you exhale normally and then count how many seconds you can hold your nose before wanting to breathe again. A healthy person (like my breathing-fan friend) can do a minute. Free-divers can do several minutes. I can just about manage 15 seconds. Which is in the very-sick category...

Here are some key points in just this webpage:

Breathing is controlled by the respiratory driver in the brain. It is triggered by carbon dioxide. If carbon dioxide levels fall due to chronic over breathing, the respiratory driver gradually becomes recalibrated to lower levels of carbon dioxide and fails to bring the breathing back to a normal level.

Oxygen availability
Blood takes up oxygen in the lungs and delivers it to the cells of the muscles and organs. The lower the carbon dioxide levels the less oxygen is released to the tissues. The result is that the more air you breathe in, the more oxygen you take in but the more carbon dioxide you lose, so paradoxically the LESS oxygen is available to you.

If oxygen is unavailable the cells have to switch to anaerobic respiration which produces only a small fraction of the energy. And instead of producing much needed and useful carbon dioxide and water, anaerobic respiration produces lactic acid, which needs to be removed.

Acid/alkaline balance
Carbon dioxide is the main buffer for the body’s fluids, keeping them at the correct pH level. Cells die if the pH changes only a little from the biological norm.
When carbon dioxide is low the body has to use other mechanisms for maintaining viable pH levels. An example is the excretion by the kidneys of substances such as buffer bases which may then fall to low levels.
Countless biochemical reactions go on in the body and require a specific chemical environment. Many of these reactions are disrupted when the acid balance is disturbed causing malfunctioning for example of the immune and endocrine (hormone producing)systems.
Changes of the electrolyte balance disrupts calcium mechanism which may result in muscle spasm and stiffness, arthritis and osteoporosis.

Nervous system cell functioning
At low levels of carbon dioxide nerve cells become hypersensitive so that any stimulus of noise, light, touch (grooming for example) etc can be painful.

Over breathing causes the body to produce adrenaline which increases the heart rate and takes the body from the relaxed ('anabolic' or 'parasympathetic') state into the flight or fight, or 'catabolic' state.

In addition, if a horse is generally stressed and chronically over breathes a vicious cycle sets up because adrenaline also acts to directly increase breathing.

Compensatory mechanisms

Some effects of low carbon dioxide would be fatal if the body did not turn on emergency compensatory measures, such as excretion of buffer bases by the kidneys. Although life saving, these compensatory measures have their own unwelcome side effects including depletion of the essential buffer base reserves and substances such as magnesium.

Compensatory mechanisms are slow to turn off so if the breathing is reduced, allowing carbon dioxide to build up (a good thing) the ongoing compensatory mechanisms push the body out of equilibrium and it does the quickest thing to regain equilibrium which is to increase the breathing again (a bad thing).

This makes it difficult for a horse (or person) to regain normal breathing without an organised training program. Regular training gradually enables the body to turn off the compensatory mechanisms as they are no longer needed.

Lactic acid

Low carbon dioxide results in lack of oxygen for the cells. Muscle cells go into anaerobic respiration and produce lactic acid instead of carbon dioxide. Lactic acid builds up and is toxic and compromises muscle function, but it also acts directly on the respiratory driver to increase breathing. This further reduces carbon dioxide levels.

This website also references this PhD article on respiration:
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
Nice write up. I'm on board and doing the breathing thing too.

I also got the criss cross mouth tape for sleep. I have been using it for about a month. Sleep better for longer. Don't seem to have apena any more and not using machine. Not snoring with mouth closed. Don't wake with dry mouth. Has started rearranging bones in my face and jaw and head. Seldom have pain in my jaw now. (You learn to reposition your tongue with the tape on.) My oxygen when I wake is now 98 when it was going down to 89 and sometimes lower.

I'm seeming to have better breathing on my long walk to the mailbox. Not having shortness of breath so bad.

So I think there is something to it. Hypoxia is a HUGE problem. I'm not cured yet. But doing better.


Active Member
I've also discovered that hypoxia causes degranulation of mast cells >>>>> HISTAMINE, my total nemesis. I now have my face back from underneath all the constant puffiness.

I'm quite fascinated by the urine thing - if it's acidic, that's an indication your body has had to eat into your alkaline reserves to stay pH-balanced. You're aiming for slighty alkaline, which the breathing exercises helps with. That, and green veggies.

I've also noticed, from the exercises, how micro-stressed I am all day - whether from ruminating on something stoopid, or coping with tech failures - and how I overbreathe as a result. I spend a little time underbreathing whenever I catch myself.

@Issie You tape your mouth up?! That's so funny. I did consider it, but it felt too weird an idea. Maybe I will.

@Remy - I'd made so many changes over 20 years with so little result... Really the only ones that have mattered have been Keto, serious magnesium supplementation, and now this breathing.


Well-Known Member
@London POTS, yes I tape my mouth to sleep. It's a part of that breathing thing. And he makes one, but I get one that is more in a "x" shape and put in center of mouth. Makes you aware to keep your mouth shut. Put lip balm on first. It really helps.

Also I have had terrible mast cell issues and that is a lot better too. Look at the threads on here about histamine and acetaldehyde. You will note some things that help this. Oh BTW, I have POTS too.

Forum Tips

Support Our Work



Shopping on For HR

Latest Resources