A Presentation to Rotary by Susanna Philippoussis October 31, 2023

Few scientists set out to study breathing, but somehow in some way breathing kept finding them. They discovered that our capacity to breathe has changed through the long process of human evolution, and that the way we breathe has gotten way worse since the dawn of the industrial age. They discovered 90% of us are very likely breathing incorrectly, and that this failure is either causing or aggravating a laundry list of chronic diseases. On a more inspiring note, some of these researchers were also showing that many modern issues like asthma, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, psoriasis, and more could either be reduced or reversed, simply by changing the way we inhale and exhale. The missing pillar of Health is breath. It all starts here. The question which you are probably asking now is why do I need to learn how to breathe? I’ve been breathing my whole life. We assume at our peril that breathing is a passive action. just something that we do: breathe live, stop breathing, die, but breathing is not binary. And the more I immersed myself in the subject, the more personally invested I felt about sharing this basic truth.

There are as many ways to breathe as there are foods to eat, and each way we breathe, will affect our bodies in different ways. Ancient cultures believed that breathing was powerful medicine. Seven books of the Chinese tao dating back to around 400 BCE focused entirely on breathing, how it could kill us or heal us depending on how we used it. These manuscripts included detailed instruction on how to regulate the breath: slow it, hold it and swallow it. Even earlier, Hindus considered breath and spirit the same thing and described the practices that were meant to balance breathing and preserve both physical and mental health. but if you look at modern medicine, there is next to nothing written about the breath. In fact, modern medicine doesn’t believe breathing technique is important. 20 times a minute 10 times through the mouth, nose or breathing tube it’s all the same. The point is to get air in and let the body do the rest. Think back to your last medical check up. Chances are your doctor took your blood pressure, pulse and temperature, then placed the stethoscope to your chest to assess the health of your heart and lungs. Maybe they discussed diet, taking vitamins, stresses at work. Asked if there were any issues digesting food? How about sleep? Were there seasonal allergies getting worse? What about those headaches? But they likely never checked your respiratory rate. they never checked the balance of your oxygen and carbon dioxide in your bloodstream. How you breathe and the quality of each breath we’re not on the menu. However, if ancient

texts were to be believed, how we breathe affects all things. How could it be so important and unimportant at the same time.

For the past century, the prevailing belief in western medicine was that the nose was more less an ancillary organ. we should breathe out of it, if we can, the thinking went, but if not, no problem, that’s what the mouth is for. Many researchers and scientists still support this position. There are 27 departments of the national Institute of health, devoted to lungs, eye, skin, disease, ears, and so on. the nose and sinuses aren’t represented in any of them. 40% of today’s population suffer from chronic nasal obstruction and around half of us are habitual mouth breathers with females and children suffering the most. The causes are many: dry air to stress inflammation to allergies, pollution, the pharmaceuticals, but much of the blame can actually be placed on the Ever shrinking Real Estate in the front of the human skull. When mouths don’t grow wide enough, the roof of the mouth tends to rise up instead of out, forming what’s called a V-shaped or high arc pallet. The upward growth impedes the development of the nasal cavity, shrinking it, and disrupting the delicate structure of the nose. The reduced nasal space leads to obstruction and inhibits airflow. Overall, humans have the sad distinction of being the most plugged up species on earth. When the nasal cavity gets congested, airflow decreases, bacteria flourish, these bacteria replicate and can lead to infections and colds and more congestion. Congestion. begets congestion, which gives us no other option, but to habitually breathe from the mouth.

Dr. Mariana Evans is an orthodontist and dental researcher. She has been studying the Morton collection at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of archaeology and anthropology. The Morton collection of skulls range from 200 to thousands of years old. The ancient skulls had enormous forward facing jaws, they had expensive sinus cavities and broad mouths and bizarrely even though none of the ancient people ever flossed or brushed or saw a dentist, they all had straight teeth. The facial growth and large mouth created wider airways. These people very likely never snored, or had sleep apnea or any other chronic respiratory problems that affect modern populations. they did not because they could not. Their mouths were far too large and their airways too wide for anything to block them. They breathed easy.

Every modern skull had the opposite growth pattern: meaning the angles were reversed. Chins had recessed behind foreheads, jaws were slumped back, sinuses shrunken. All the modern skulls showed some degree of crooked teeth. Of the 5400 different species of mammals on the planet, Humans are now the only ones to routinely have misaligned jaws, overbites, underbites and snaggle teeth, a condition formally called occlusion today. The human body is changing in ways that have nothing to do with the survival of the fittest. Instead we are adopting and

passing down traits that are detrimental to our health. This explains why our backs ache, feet hurt, and bones are growing more brittle.

James Nester participated in a Stanford study in which a scientist plugged his nasal airways for 10 days. On the first night his snoring increased by 1300% to 75 minutes through the night. By day five, the readouts reveal that mouth breathing is destroying his health. His blood pressure had spiked an average of 13 points from where it was before the test, which put him into stage one hypertension. If left unchecked, the state of chronically raised blood pressure ( also shared by a third of the US population) can cause heart attacks, strokes, and other serious problems, heart rate variability, a measure of the nervous system balance had plummeted suggesting that his body is in a state of stress. His pulse had increased, and his body temperature had decreased and his mental clarity had hit rock bottom. By day 10 his snoring had increased 4820%. he began to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea meaning he was choking so severely that his oxygen levels dropped to 90% or below. When oxygen falls below 90% the blood can’t carry enough of it to support body tissues. If this goes on too long, it can lead to heart failure, depression, memory problems, and early death.

Mouth breathing also causes the body to lose 40% more water. He felt this at night every night waking up constantly parched and dry. You think the moisture loss would decrease the need to urinate but oddly the opposite is true. During the deepest most restful stages of sleep, the pituitary gland, a pea size ball, at the base of the brain, secretes hormones that control the release of adrenaline, growth hormone And other substances, including vasopressin, which communicates with cells to store more water. This is how animals can sleep through the night without feeling thirsty or needing to relieve themselves, but if the body has inadequate time in deep sleep as it does, when it experiences chronic sleep apnea, vasopressin won’t be secreted normally. The kidneys will release water which triggers the need to urinate and signals to our brain that we should consume more liquid.

There are several books that describe the horrendous health effects of snoring and sleep apnea. They explain how these afflictions lead to bed wetting, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and so on. Chronic insomnia, long assumed to be a psychological problem, is often a breathing problem, and contrary to what most of us might think, no amount of snoring is normal, and no amount of sleep apnea comes without risks of serious health effects.

Mouth breathing also makes you dumber. A recent Japanese study showed that rats that had their nostrils obstructed and forced breathing through their mouth, developed fewer brain cells

and took twice as long to make their way through the maze than the nasal breathing control group. Another Japanese study on humans from 2013 found that mouth breathing delivered a disturbance of oxygen to the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain associated with ADHD Nasal breathing has no such effects.



Dr. John Douillard was a trainer to elite athletes. In the 1990s he became convinced that mouth breathing was hurting his clients. To prove it, he gathered a group of professional cyclists, rigged them up with sensors to record their heart rate and breathing rate and put them on stationary bikes. During the first trial, he had them breathe entirely through their mouths. As the intensity increased, the athletes reached the hardest stage of the test, peddling out 200 W of power they were panting, and struggling to catch a breath. Then he repeated the test with the athletes breathing through their noses as the intensity of exercises increased during this phase, the rate of breathing decreased. At the final 200 W stage, one subject that had been mouth breathing at a rate of 47 breaths per minute was nasal breathing at a rate of 14 breaths per minute. He maintained the same rate at which he started the test, even though the intensity of the exercise had increased tenfold. Simply training yourself to breathe through your nose Douillard reported, could cut total exertion in half and offer huge gains and endurance. The athletes felt invigorated, while nasal breathing rather than exhausted.

To understand how and why Douillard’s experiment worked, we first need to understand the ways the body makes energy from air and food. There are two options with the oxygen process, one known as aerobic respiration, and without it which is called anaerobic respiration. Anaerobic energy is generated only with glucose, a simple sugar and it’s quicker and easier for bodies to access. It’s a kind of backup system and turbo boost when the body doesn’t have enough oxygen. But anaerobic energy is inefficient and can be toxic creating an excess of lactic acid. The nausea, muscle weakness and sweating experience after you push it too hard at the gym is the feeling of anaerobic overload. This process explains why the first few minutes of an intense workout are often so miserable. Our lungs and respiratory system haven’t caught up to supply the oxygen our bodies need and so the body has to use anaerobic respiration. This also explains why, after we’ve warmed up, exercise feels easier. The body has switched from anaerobic to aerobic respiration. These two energies are made in different muscle fibers throughout the body.. Anaerobic respiration is intended as a backup system. Our bodies are built with fewer anaerobic muscle fibers. If we rely on these less developed muscles too often they eventually break down. More injuries occur during the post New Year’s rush to the gym than at any other time of the year because too many people attempt to exercise far over their

thresholds. Essentially anaerobic energy is like a muscle car. It’s fast and responsive for quick trips, but polluting and impractical for the long hauls.


This is why aerobic respiration is so important. When we run ourselves aerobically with oxygen, we gain some 16 times more energy efficiency over anaerobic. The key for exercise, and for the rest of life is to stay in that energy efficient, clean burning, oxygen eating aerobic zone for the vast majority of time during exercise, and at all times during rest. Most standardized workouts could be more injurious than beneficial to athletes. It’s better to focus on your heart rate which ensures that you stay inside a defined aerobic zone. When you do that you burn more fat, recover faster and come back the next day to do it again. Finding the best heart rate for exercise is easy: subtract your age from 180. The result is the maximum your body can withstand to stay in the aerobic state, long bouts of training and exercise can happen below this rate, but if you go above it you will risk going too deep into the anaerobic zone for too long and instead of feeling invigorated and strong after workout, you’d feel tired, shaky and nauseated.

There was a study done in the 1970s and 80s which would not go over very well with anyone who has ever really cared for animals. This scientist working from a lab in San Francisco gathered a troop of Reesie’s monkeys and stuffed silicone deep into the nasal cavities of half of them, leaving the other half as they were. Over the next six months, he measured the animals' dental arches, the angles of their chin, the length of their faces, and more. The plugged up monkeys developed the same downward growth pattern, and the same narrowing of the Dental arch and gaping mouth. Over a few months, their faces grew long, slack jawed and glazed over. Mouth breathing It turns out changes the physical body and transforms airways, all for the worse, inhaling air through the mouth decreases pressure, which causes soft tissue in the back of the mouth to become loose and flex inward. Creating less space and making breathing more difficult. Mouth breathing begets, more mouth breathing. Inhaling from the nose has the opposite effect. It forces air against all those flabby tissues at the back of the throat, making the airways wider and breathing easier. After a while, these tissues and muscles get toned to stay in this open and wide position. Nasal breathing gets more nasal breathing

So here we are. 90% of children have acquired some degree of deformity in their mouth and noses. 45% of adults snore occasionally while sleeping and a quarter of the population snores constantly. 25% of American adults over 30 choke on themselves because of sleep apnea, and an estimated 80% of moderate or severe cases are undiagnosed. Meanwhile, the majority of the population suffers from some form of breathing difficulty or resistance. We found ways toclean up our cities and to kill off so many of the diseases that destroyed our ancestors. We’ve become more literate, taller and stronger on average. we live three times longer than people in the industrial age, and yet we’ve lost touch with our most most basic and important biological function

But we have hope. There are studies that show when people regained the ability to breathe properly, Their slack jaws and narrow faces morphed back into a more natural configuration. They saw their high blood pressure drop, depression abate, and headaches disappear. the Reesie’s monkeys recovered too after two years of forced mouth breathing, he removed the silicone plugs. slowly the animals learned how to breathe through their noses and slowly their faces and airways remodeled the face, jaws moved forward and facial structure and airways morphed back into their wide and natural state, six months after the experiment ended, the monkeys looked like monkeys again because they were breathing normally again.



The nose is crucial because it clears air, heats it and moistens it for easier absorption. Most of us know this, but what so many people never consider is the nose's unexpected role in problems like… Erectile dysfunction, or how it can trigger a cavalcade of hormones and chemicals that lower blood pressure and fuel digestion, how it responds to the stages of a woman’s menstrual cycle, how it regulates our heart rate, opens the vessels in our toes and stores memories, how the density of your nasal hairs help determine whether you’ll suffer from things like asthma. Few of us ever consider how the nostrils of every living person pulls to their own rhythm, opening and closing like a flower in response to our mood, mental states, and perhaps even the sun and the moon.

The phenomenon called nasal cycles was first described in 1895. This scientist noticed that the tissue lining one nostril in patients seemed to close quickly when congested while the other would mysteriously open. Then after about 3:30 hours the nostril switched or cycled. The shifting appeared to be influenced less by the moon’s mysterious pull, and more by sexual urges. The interior of the nose, it turns out, is blanketed with erectile tissue, the same flesh that covers the other sexual organs which I won’t name. the penis, clitoris and nipples. Noses get erections. Within seconds they too can become engorged with blood and become large and stiff. This happens because the nose is more intimately connected to the genitals than any other organ. What researchers eventually managed to confirm was that nasal erectile tissue mirrored the states of health. It would become inflamed during sickness or other states of imbalance. If the nose becomes infected, the nasal cycle becomes more pronounced and switches back-and-forth quickly. The right and left nasal cavities also work like an HVAC system, controlling temperature and blood pressure and feeding the brain chemicals to alter our moods, emotions and sleep states.


The right nostril is a gas pedal. When you’re inhaling primarily through this channel, circulation speeds up, your body gets hotter and cortisol levels, blood pressure and heart rate all increase. This happens because breathing through the right side of the nose activates the sympathetic nervous system, the fight or flight mechanism that puts the body in a more elevated state of alertness and readiness. Breathing through the right Nostril will also feed more blood to the opposite hemisphere of the brain specifically to the prefrontal cortex which has been associated with logical decisions, language and computing.


Inhaling through the left nostril has the opposite effect. It works as a kind of brake system to the right nostril accelerator. The left nostril is more deeply connected to the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and relaxer side that lowers blood pressure, cools the body and reduces anxiety. Left nostril, breathing shifts blood flow to the opposite side of the prefrontal cortex to the area that influences creative thought, and plays a role in the formation of mental obstructions and the production of negative emotions.

Our bodies operate, most efficiently, in a state of balance, pivoting between action and relaxation, daydreaming, and reasoned thought. This balance is influenced by the nasal cycle, and may even be controlled by it

Pulsing nasal cycles are only a small part of the nose's vital functions. In a single breath more molecules of air will pass through your nose than all the grains of sand on all the world's beaches, trillions and trillions of them. What directs this breath are six maze-like bones, three on each side that begin at the opening of your nostrils and end just below your eyes. the turbinates are coiled in such a way that if you split them apart, they look like a seashell, the turbinates, the opening of the nostrils are covered in that pulsing erectile tissue and that is covered in mucus membrane, this membrane warms the breath to your body temperature while simultaneously filtering out particles and pollutants. All of these invaders could cause infection and irritation if they got into the lungs, so the mucus is the body's first line of defense. Also, helping push along the breath or millions of tiny hair like structures called Celia. Working together the different areas of the turbinates will heat, clean, slow and pressurize air so the lungs can extract more oxygen with each breath. That is why nasal breathing is far more healthy and efficient than breathing through the mouth.

The greatest indicator of lifespan isn’t genetics, diet or the amount of daily exercise. It is lung capacity. The smaller and less efficient lungs become the quicker you get sick and die. The cause of deterioration didn’t matter. Smaller meant shorter, but larger lungs equal longer lives.

Our ability to breathe full breaths, according to researchers, appears to be literally a measure of living capacity. The most important aspect of breathing isn’t just to take in air through the nose. Inhaling is the easy part. The key to breathing, of lung expansion, and the long life that comes with it, is on the other end of respiration. It is in the transformative power of full exhalation. A typical adult engages as little as 10% of the range of the diaphragm when breathing, which overburdens the heart, elevates blood pressure and causes a rash of circulatory problems. Extending those breaths to 50 to 70% of the diaphragm's capacity will ease cardiovascular stress and allow the body to work more efficiently. For this reason, the diaphragm is sometimes referred to as the second heart Because it not only beats to its own rhythm, but also affects the rate and strength of the heartbeat.

Smell is Life‘s oldest sense. Breathing is so much more than just getting air into our bodies. It’s the most intimate connection to our surroundings. Everything you or I or any other breathing thing has ever put in its mouth, or in its nose, is hand me down space dust that’s been around for 13.8 billion years. This wayward matter has been split apart by sunlight spread through the universe and comes back together again to breathe this in and to absorb ourselves and what surrounds us, to take a little bit of life, understand them, and give pieces of ourselves back out. Respiration is at its core reciprocation respiration. I’m hoping this talk today can also lead to restoration. Starting today I hope that when you breathe you consciously close your mouth and nose breathe.

If you’d like to know more, there’s so many stories in this book about how expanding the lungs and breathing properly has effectively reversed disease or lengthened lives from emphysema to scoliosis to health and longevity. I’ll leave you with this thought:

The nose is the silent warrior, the gatekeeper of our bodies, pharmacist to our mind and weathervane to our emotions. Because it’s Halloween today I wanted to scare you into realizing how important the breath is. I didn’t get a chance to talk about how to breathe or the importance of Carbon dioxide and all the different ways you can breathe for health. If you want, I can come back on a different day to talk about that and do a breathing session with you. However, if you’d like to know more, I brought a copy of this book that I’d like to auction off today.