Every breath you take

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in stress | 0 comments

We know that deep, focused breathing is a great stress buster, easy to practice and even easier to learn. However, it looks as though the breath you exhale may also be a harbinger of the very stress that you are letting go of. In fact, UK researchers have discovered that the breath has certain markers that may allow it to become a stress detective, if you will.

These markers are a mouthful, literally! Known as 2-methylpentadecane and indole, these very compounds appeared to increase following a stress exercise in 22 young adults who offered their breath for science! Using a scientific technique to analyze breath samples when the volunteers were calm and then stressed, and also measuring heart rates and blood pressures, the researchers were able to identify six compounds in breath related to stress but only the two mentioned above increased. What’s more, the stress response — faster breath and increased heart rate — appeared to change the normal composition of the breath.

I never thought that I’d be writing about breath profiling on this blog but it fascinating. Clearly, changes in breathing patterns have effects — either positive or negative — in the body. But would it be possible to develop a simple test to help suss out underlying stress, the type that over time, can lead to burnout, depression and of course, illness?

Only time will tell and larger studies are needed. But the very breath you take might be equal to the stress you make.

Meanwhile? Inhale. Hold. Release. Every breath you take matters.

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