Breathe Your Way to Healthy Sinuses
"Stress triggers allergies [which can cause and aggravate sinusitis,] and stress predisposes us to colds," agrees John Douillard, who practices Ayurvedic and Chiropractic Sports Medicine in Boulder, Co. A former professional triathlete, Douillard is the author of "Body, Mind, and Sport" (Crown, 1995) and "The Three-Season Diet"(Random House, 2000) both of which aim to teach people to heal themselves through regular healthy practices. These days, Douillard spends much of his time helping people learn to breathe fully, because he believes that "breathing correctly can change people's lives."
Getting air into the lower lobes of the lungs is the key, Douillard explains, because "the lower lobes are calming and repair; they have nerves in them that are the exact opposite of the upper lobes, which have stress receptors."
Unfortunately, most of us breathe shallowly though our mouths. "The rib cage has a natural squeezing effect to help get air out," notes Douillard. "Add emotions to that, and for most of us our rib cage has become a cage, squeezing on our heart and our lungs, forcing us to breathe like rabbits — little, shallow, upper-chest breaths, 28,000 times a day."
To measure whether you have sufficient respiratory capacity, try this exercise from Douillard: Go for a walk, breathe deeply in through your nose, count how many steps you take for one full inhalation and exhalation. "You need at least 21 steps per breath through your nose to have some sense of respiratory efficiency." Or, if you go for a moderate run, and you should not have to open your mouth to breathe, he adds.
Are Your Feelings a Sinusitis Trigger?
Of course, in addition to the mechanics of proper breathing, the intertwining of the physical with the mental components of sinusitis cannot be overlooked. "Think of the body in terms that everyone has a loose screw somewhere," says Dr. Schulz, the medical intuitive. "Illness is in part genetic; in part due to viruses, bacteria, or old injury; and in part due to emotional health." In other words, you may be predisposed toward sinus problems as a result of a deviated septum or a broken nose, but without unhealthy emotions, thoughts, and beliefs to drive the disease process, you might never experience infected sinuses.
So consider that to fully recover from any respiratory disease, you'll need to address all facets of the cause. Otherwise, you could end up treating symptoms, which will bring some relief but never get you to the pinnacle of vitality — where Dr. Ivker, a former sinusitis sufferer, says he is today, due to tackling his problem from all directions.