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***Breathe Well, Be Well

by Robert Fried, PhD

Reviewed December 20, 2003.
John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1999.  210 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (615.8 FRI).

This fascinating book was hidden away deep in our nonfiction shelves.  I discovered it when I was back there doing inventory.  It caught my eye because my husband has long believed that hyperventilation can be a problem for musicians who play wind instruments.  It further caught my eye with its claim on the cover:  “A Program to Relieve Stress, Anxiety, Asthma, Hypertension, Migraine, and Other Disorders for Better Health.”

This book first presents the long-established effects of hyperventilation, mostly resulting from lowered carbon dioxide levels in the blood, since the patient has breathed more out than is normal.  Then he explains how he has verified this effect in many patients and has taught them simple breathing exercises to stop the hyperventilation and relieve the symptoms.  He outlines the exercises for the reader.

The beauty of this book is that it simply can’t hurt to try it.  It’s a natural, non-drug approach.  The idea of stopping and taking deep diaphragmatic breaths is similar to the biofeedback training I once went through to fight migraines by learning to relax and increase my hand temperature.

It’s only been a week since I started reading the book.  I think it might have stopped a few headaches from coming on fully, though it would take a much longer trial to be sure that it was effective.  Again, the beauty of the approach is that there are absolutely no negative side effects.  It may help, and it won’t hurt, so I urge any fellow migraineurs to give it a try.

There are also useful tips for sufferers of asthma, panic attacks, hypertension, and fear of flying, among other things.  It’s an interesting and informative book.

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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