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CONTINUED: Sunlight, Oxygen, and Pain Management (PART 2)

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Oxygen is known as the breath of life. Some people fail to recognize that it’s the most important nutrient on earth—an oversight due to the fact that it isn’t consumed via the digestive tract. However, an oxygen deficiency becomes fatal the fastest. We can go days without water and weeks without food, but cellular death begins after only three minutes without air. Yet, despite its vitality to our very lives, a vast majority of us don’t breathe properly. Additionally, a surprising development in conjunction with our sedentary lifestyles is a condition called “email apnea:” a subconscious response to hours spent working at a computer, which causes us to momentarily stop breathing regularly, and possibly becoming light-headed.[i] This may seem ridiculous, but it impacts 80 percent of our population.[ii] Shallow breathing can pose a risk to our health as well.

When breath is intermittent, shallow, or takes place mostly through the mouth, it stays mostly within the upper lungs. This area is prone to hyperventilation and can prompt the sympathetic nervous system (more on this in a minute). Deeper, intentional breathing brings the lower lungs into the equation, and they’re more accommodating toward oxygenating the entire body and calming the mind.[iii]

When breath is shallow or intermittent, or if we momentarily stop breathing, the body senses threat and triggers the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), prompting an instinctive reaction, as though there is reason to fear. The chemical fight-or-flight response kicks in, dispatching survival hormones and adrenal resources throughout the body (recall our description of the physiological response to stress in an earlier chapter), accompanied by increase of blood flow and in the heart rate. Feelings of anxiety swell, perpetuating the chemical cycle we’re experiencing and interrupting the overall well-being of the body’s systems. All of this can be touched off by a momentary pause in regular breathing.

Breathing is our first and most essential connection to life itself. When we don’t breathe at full capacity, the body is unable to properly oxygenate all systems, which limits proper function. The immune system, circulatory system, and brain cells become deprived of oxygen while toxins in the body linger, which brings up the point that exhalation is vital to the detox process, because it’s how we expel carbon dioxide from the body. Some studies have even shown that “oxygen-starved cells will mutate and become cancerous,” suggesting that improper breathing could increase the risk for cancer.[iv] Yet, many experts assert that most people only “breathe at 10–20 percent of their full capacity,” causing the lower lungs to neglect proper disbursement of oxygen to the body.[v] Since “the brain demands at least 20% of the body’s oxygen supply,” little is left for the rest of the body’s functions.[vi]

The key to good breathing is in slow, deep, nasal breathing that reaches past the lungs and fills the diaphragm. When the body takes in oxygen nasally, the air is screened through a series of filters known as cilia. Not only do these tiny cleaners protect our systems from as many as “20 billion particles of foreign matter every day,” but they also modify the temperature and humidity levels of incoming air so that its introduction to the lungs is less of a shock than air taken in through the mouth.[vii] Slow release of breath through the nose is preferable because oxygen absorption surprisingly takes place during exhalation as well as inhalation. Further, the outflow of carbon dioxide through the nose has a steadier pace, which alleviates feelings of lightheadedness.[viii] (Have you ever felt lightheaded after sneezing? This is why.) Since the nostrils are so much smaller than the mouth, breathing in this way forces us to keep a slow and steady pace, which fosters a balanced, regular supply of oxygen to the entire body. We encourage you to break the habit of shallow and intermittent breathing and retrain the body to do deep nasal breathing. Additionally, do everything you can to eliminate anything that might hinder proper breathing, such as stress, poor diet, bad posture, air pollution, lack of exercise, and not having enough exposure to plants (bring them into your home or spend more time outside).

The nasal system communicates with the hypothalamus, which directly connects its signals to the cardiovascular system, circadian cycles (such as eating and sleeping), and storage of memory and emotion (this is why a smell is sometimes the most sudden and effective trigger for a forgotten memory). When nasal breathing is enacted in conjunction with the diaphragm, it stimulates the digestive system, promoting healthier metabolism and immunity. It also signals the vagus nerve, which plays a role in motor skills and coordination and communicates with the central nervous system.[ix] When you steps back and look at the grander picture of breathing and how it affects the entire body’s responses, you’ll begin to see how food smells trigger your appetite, how scents such as lavender can soothe you to sleep, and even how invigorating fragrances can motivate you to engage in activity. We can’t overstate proper breathing’s value for all biochemical exchanges within the body.

Hypoxia and Hypoxemia

Hypoxia and hypoxemia are products of oxygen deprivation. Hypoxia is the state of deprivation to the point that essential functions are impeded, and hypoxemia refers to a compromised arterial supply.[x] Each of these conditions can range in severity from nearly undetectable to life-threatening. Less severe episodes, sparked by a number of causes, can produce damage that is subtle and ongoing. We’ve already mentioned posture, which lends to the concept of email apnea, since being hunched over a computer screen compresses the ability to breathe correctly. Other triggers can be less obvious, such as spending large quantities of time at high altitudes, where the air is thinner.

Some studies have explored the impact of hypoxia and hypoxemia on cellular health, which speaks to everything from circulation to cardiovascular elements and the immune system. One study found that tumors create a tightly sealed, hypoxic environment wherein cells are deprived of oxygen and mutations are difficult for the body to repair or correct.[xi] While vascular restoration involves other factors, many of which are also addressed in this book, oxygen by itself isn’t believe to cause cancerous tumors. This isn’t what we’re saying. However, we can feasibly argue that deep, diaphragm breathing will arm our bodies with every potential weapon against cancers and other such illnesses.

How Breathing Affects the Immune System

When we confine air intake to the top of our lungs, we allow our immune response to be depleted throughout the entire body. This is because our lungs, which are vulnerable because they directly take in air and whatever that air contains, are one of our weakest points of defense. By not using the deeper capacity for oxygenation, our immune responses can be stunted. For example, a 2016 study using mice showed that cancer-inhibiting T cells (agents dispatched by the thymus gland to aid the immune system) were suppressed within the lungs due to oxygen deprivation, potentially giving cancer cells an advantage.[xii] In the study, metastasis (the spread of cancer cells) is cited as the predominant way by which cancer deaths occur. Additionally, the localized immune response to the new arrival of these cells defines whether the body will sustain itself against the influx of the disease.[xiii] Researchers established that T cells “contain a group of oxygen-sensing proteins which act to limit inflammation within the lungs…[and] also suppresses the anticancer activity of T cells, thereby permitting cancer cells…[to] escape immune attack and establish metastatic colonies.”

At this point, you may be thinking, “Wait a minute, I thought oxygen exposure was a good thing. Why would it suppress the immune response to T cells and allow the cancer to spread?”

The results of the study show an “immunologic” element of the lung that causes the immune system to be slightly subdued within this setting. Why? Because the lungs take in air directly from the outside world, thus must tolerate and flush out thousands of harmless particles each day. As a result, the immune system, via something called prolyl hydroxylase domain (PHD), signals T cells to remain relatively docile in their response to foreign articles in the lungs.[xiv] If this weren’t so, the body’s immune system would continually trigger adrenal responses to every piece of dust that finds its way into our respiratory system. However, this exchange comes at a great price. The body allows particulates to escape the lungs and enter the body, believing that the local immune response will govern intruders and expel those that don’t belong. For this particular study, tumor tissue was removed from the mice and fashioned into a serum of anti-tumor T cells, then re-administered intravenously, blocking the inhibiting T cells. The mice subsequently were more successful in battling the cancerous cells.

This study shows just how vital it is to keep oxygen intake at a level that circulates throughout the body and oxygenates all regions. The immune system is at its weakest in the lungs, and if this is the only area receiving the vital nutrients that oxygen provides, we leave our most vulnerable gateway wide open, and the rest of our bodies become sitting ducks—with no line of defense.

On the matter of oxygen’s ability to affect the immune system, Dr. Parris Kidd of BrainMD states, “Oxygen plays a pivotal role in the proper functioning of the immune system. We can look at oxygen deficiency as the single greatest cause of all diseases.”[xv]

Pain Management

Since the previous chapter and this one have been dedicated to the importance of keeping the body moving, many of you have, by now, likely asked: What if this movement brings pain? This becomes, for some, a bondage that impedes our ability to exercise, which in turn encumbers our ability to achieve wellness. Thus, the cycle of aching and illness continues. It is a valid question, and the struggle is real.

I (Daniel) faced challenges for years after my injury in training, and in all honesty, I still manage some degree of pain. Ways I handle it range from simple to continual and complicated, depending on my degree of discomfort. For some, living entirely free of physical hurt may be out of the question, while others find a liberating freedom from pain. It truly depends on the source and the duration of pain’s presence. Options for dealing with it range from pharmaceutical remedies to natural and therapeutic solutions. At an extreme level, options include surgery and steroid injections. But we suggest you consider these, along with pharmaceuticals, as an absolute last resort.

Danger of Pharmaceuticals

We won’t spend much time on the topic of prescription medications and their dangers. The fact that you’ve selected our book tells us that you’ve likely already decided to pursue natural health rather than mask symptoms with dangerous drugs. However, we’re equally aware that you may have chosen this book as a tool for pursuing healing from an ailment that is accompanied by physical pain, and thus the topic warrants addressing here. Each illness brings along a unique form of physical discomfort and thus necessitates its own type of management. We’ll briefly cover a few strategies for managing pain, and, as always, we recommend that you follow up with a natural healthcare practitioner who can assess your specific circumstances.

In our opinion, prescription pain medications are usually a bad idea for a variety of reasons. First, rather than address the core health issue, they simply conceal symptoms, preventing us from finding a true diagnosis of the deeper problem. Pain is the body’s way of signaling a problem, so silencing that message allows deeper issues to form. Chronic pain (that which lasts more than about three months), however, sometimes accompanies an ailment that cannot be cured, but rather managed, and the discomfort remains. When facing this scenario, you may think that pharmaceuticals are a good way to get relief, but you may not be making this decision with the full array of information.


When we feel pain, it is because receptors are sending signals to the brain. Many opioid meds block these signals, providing temporary relief. However, the body detects the handicap of these receptors, and after a time, its response is to dispatch additional receptors, resulting in a lower pain threshold than we had in the first place. This means in the long term, we suffer more discomfort.[xvi] Further, because the body’s endorphins are similar to opioids, the body believes it no longer needs to supply its own endorphins, and may slow production. This not only impedes the body’s ability to diminish its own hurt, but it can lead to depression by the inability to create its own “feel-good” chemicals.[xvii]

These meds are often addictive; prescription pain medication addiction has become an epidemic is recent decades. Addition to prescribed pain relievers often can transfer to the use of illegal drugs when prescriptions expire,[xviii] a devastating turn of events in the life of someone who, initially, is only looking for relief.

The side effects of opioids can be damaging as well, because they are harsh substances the body isn’t meant to process. Side effects can be but certainly are not limited to nausea, vomiting, chills, constipation, infection (such as urinary tract infections), sleepiness or insomnia, respiratory malfunction, depression, hallucination, and suicidal thoughts.

Another reason to use opioids as a very last resort is because storing them often leaves them dangerous proximity to our families and others, which can have devastating results. Teenagers looking for a thrill, relatives who might steal and use or sell these medications, and young children getting into them by accident or curiosity are only some reasons that these medications (if they absolutely must be in your home) need to be kept under lock and key. We recently learned of a family whose youngest child died after innocently adhering one of his grandpa’s “pain patches” to his skin. His desire to mimic his role model caused an unsuspecting family to suffer a disastrous tragedy.


Acupuncture is used for more than pain management, as many professionals utilize it to clear methylation pathways, treat illness, combat depression, and boost immunity. This may seem odd, since most people picture acupuncture as multiple needles “stabbing” them at once. Many have no interest in trying it because they’re afraid of needles; others are suspect of its Eastern religious roots. Each of us must assess this method with our own discernment, careful evaluation of professionals, and a careful look at the atmosphere of the clinic. With all that said, a little information about acupuncture before we move on.

Skin is our largest organ, acting as the protective barrier between the body and the outside world. Each part of the body has neural connections with the skin. Thus, this organ can often be the least intrusive way of communicating with the interior of the body without having to invade via pharmaceuticals or surgery. Acupuncture works by stimulating certain areas of the skin thatare dense with nerve endings. Based on where the issue is, nerves are followed to their strongest concentration in the skin, and acupuncture is applied in those areas.

Acupuncture needles are usually very small, the puncture is often barely felt, and the pricks stimulate the areas of the skin that communicate with troubled areas in the body.[xix] Since, as stated previously, the body responds to injury by initiating inflammation, these tiny stabs alert the brain to the need for help along the coordinating neural routes, resulting in the body’s dispatch of healing resources such as circulation, immune responses, and pain-relieving agents to the area pinpointed.[xx] This method allows external impressions to influence the well-being of “tissues, gland[s], organs, and various functions of the body.”[xxi]

The concept can be very simple, although its many applications entail a much deeper study. Each acupuncturist (similar to Western medical doctors) has a different bedside manner. You may be more comfortable with some than with others. Ideally, they’ll discuss your health concerns and create a treatment plan with you, outlining the costs and the amount of time and discomfort/relief you may expect during each session. Especially for those entertaining thoughts of an intrusive treatment such as surgery, acupuncture may be a good alternative to explore.

Cannabidiol Oil

CBD (Cannabidiol) oil is a way of managing pain as well as anxiety and other ailments. The endocannabinoid system is the part of the body that facilitates “a variety of functions including sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response.”[xxii] This system produces neurotransmitters that work with the body’s receptors to accept cannabinoid properties and help the body positively respond. In particular, it’s compatible with the brain’s serotonin receptors, which foster elevated moods, positive social behavior, and a general sense of well-being.[xxiii] By interacting with these neurotransmitters, CBD helps reduce inflammation by diminishing pain signals. Likewise, it has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety while improving quality and quantity of sleep. In fact, unlike its counterpart, THC, which is a psychoactive, CBD is believed to be an antipsychotic, relieving patients who suffer from schizophrenia and similar symptoms.[xxiv] Recalling our previous explanation of the cyclical relationship between depression, anxiety, insomnia, and physical pain, it becomes clear that this intervention has benefits that can work in multiple directions at once. The pain-relieving advantages of CBD are so strong that even many cancer patients whose discomfort isn’t alleviated by pharmaceuticals find relief from the nausea and vomiting that accompanies chemotherapy, along with their cancer-related pain.[xxv]

Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD has been linked to lowered blood pressure, and thus to a healthier heart.[xxvi] Diminished hypertension is another way CBD can indirectly reduce stress and anxiety. Because, again, CBD works within the brain for positive neural communication, it has even thought to alleviate neurological disorders. Some with epilepsy have used it and experienced relief from seizures.[xxvii]

Other uses for this amazing compound are still emerging, but include the surprising fact that neuron circuits are positively modified, which help addicts find relief from the compulsion to use drugs![xxviii] Some studies have even alluded to the concept that the presence of CBD reduces the odds of diabetes in some cases,[xxix] and causes a decline in the count of cancer cells[xxx] and the elimination of cancerous tumors.[xxxi]

With so many of the benefits of CBD asserted here, we must now state that a small fraction of those who use it experience such side effects as diarrhea, fatigue, and weight fluctuation. While this is relatively uncommon, it bears mentioning. More pressing is the need to ensure that you consult a doctor regarding any medications you may be taking that could interact with it before beginning its use.

Physical Therapy

For those whose chronic pain is caused by an injury, illness, or stroke, physical therapy may be a good alternative to pain medication or surgery. Since we’ve already covered at length the general benefits of exercise, we’ll keep information here related specifically to therapeutic motion. However, by now we’ve established that movement is what causes the body to secrete the fluids that replenish our muscles and lubricate joints, thus decreasing overall pain and elevating those “feel-good” chemicals within our bodies.[xxxii]

Physical therapy can be a proactive way to combat physical pain in several ways. The first seems obvious: It can bring physical relief. In addition, it allows us to improve our lifestyle and empowers us to take victory over the injury. Further, strengthening the area that’s in pain preserves the future health of that region while improving communication between the impacted area and the brain. In this way, coordination is improved to an area we want to treat with special care. Additionally, the risk of falling is often assessed by a physical therapist before beginning exercise, and if it is a concern, the therapist knows how to appropriately address the issue. This not only helps during the time of therapy exercise, but also assists in increased mobile coordination as we age and can act to prevent falls during our later years.

Some may think physical therapy is the same as going to the gym. This is untrue. Physical therapists are specifically trained to deal with injury, and they understand how to break recovery into baby steps. Whereas general, unsupervised exercise may compound pain or reaggravate an injury, a physical therapist outlines specifically what we should do and how much we should do at once. Further a professional knows when it’s time to increase the level of therapy to maximize the benefit of our efforts.

Other forms of therapy involve ultrasound treatments, a method in which a machine powering sound waves is applied to an area of the body to treat injury or reduce inflammation. These often have positive, pain-reducing results and are nonintrusive, as it’s carried out via a machine that is merely brushed across the skin by a professional.

Manual massage and adjustments are another type of physical therapy. Massage therapy is different than recreational or relaxational massage in that it is not done for pleasure. It often involves deep-tissue pressure or kneading, which can be painful, but this approach can provide relief to the nerves and injury deep within tissues. This type of therapy sometimes involves manipulation, manually moving and stretching parts of the body to relieve musculoskeletal pain, realign joints, and realign tissues and joints.

Physical bracing or reinforcement are types of therapy that involve bracing or taping parts of the body to stabilize muscles and bones. This is a very common treatment for athletes. Sometimes it’s done to immobilize a body part and at other times to train soft tissue to realign to a new position.

Electrical stimulation is a type of physical therapy that comes in the form of small electrical pads that adhere to the skin and dispense minute charges of electricity in concentrated areas. These electrical signals mimic communication sent from the nervous system to an area, drawing a response from the directed muscles or nerves.[xxxiii] This can be to contract muscles that have atrophied or are unresponsive, or it can be done to relieve muscle cramps or spasms. In some cases, it acts as a type of internal massage to relieve pain or restore blood flow. By using electricity, therapists can interfere with negative communication in the body and reinsert healthy messaging between the musculoskeletal and nervous systems.

Chiropractic Care

Since, as we’ve well established, the health of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems affect the whole body, chiropractic care can benefit for our overall well-being. Chiropractic medicine has gotten a controversial reputation that, in most cases, is undeserved. Many chiropractors are capable, careful, and well-versed in the ways of natural healing. However, this type of care is not for everyone. If you’re considering this type of treatment, look for a well-respected professional with a good bedside manner who looks thoroughly at each patient’s entire health situation before beginning a personalized treatment plan.

Many people carry stress in or around the shoulder b. This can impact posture and trigger headaches. Chiropractic treatment can help alleviate this, causing us to feel more alert and energetic, along with being able to engage in healthier breathing that comes with good posture. Additionally, when the spine is out of alignment, miscommunications between the nervous and musculoskeletal systems are more likely to occur, causing potential interruptions to functions relating to the immune system, digestive tract, cardiovascular system, signaling to vital organs, and the body’s perception of stress and pain, which impacts adrenal resources and hormonal balance. Chiropractic care, many have found, can help with all of these issues.

Additionally, sometimes back pain is subtle enough that we don’t consciously perceive it, yet the muscular system becomes tense. This can lend to overall inflammation, and, by this point in the book, you know fully well many ways this can be problematic. Aligning the spine can relieve or even reverse this cycle, which then lowers blood pressure as pain is alleviated. Likewise, the lack of inflammation will help prevent arthritis. The result will likely be better sleep due to diminished blood pressure and inflammation, which furthers the cycle of health.

[i] Zolfagharifard, Ellie. “Do You Have EMAIL APNOEA? 80% of People Stop Breathing Properly When Typing——And It Could Be Damaging Our Health.” Daily Mail Online. November 18, 2013. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Lawrence, Gwen. “Breathing Is Believing: The Importance of Nasal Breathing.” GAIAM Online. 2020. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] “Benefits of Oxygen.” Valeo Wellness Center Online. 2020. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[vii] Lawrence, Gwen. “Breathing Is Believing,” Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Davis, Charles. “Hypoxia and Hypoxemia.” Medicine Net. 2020. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[xi] Norman, Muhammad; Hasmim, Meriem; & Messai, Yosra; et. al. American Journal Physiol Cell Physiol. Vol. 309, Issue 9, C 569–579. As cited by US National Library of Medicine. November 1, 2015. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[xii] “Oxygen Can Impair Cancer Immunotherapy in Mice.” National Institutes of Health Online. August 25, 2016. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[xiii] Ibid.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] “Oxygen plays a pivotal role in the proper functioning of the immune e system. We can look at oxygen deficiency as the single greatest cause of all diseases.” Quotefancy Online. 2020. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[xvi] Clavel, Alfred. “Why Opioids Make Pain Worse.” Health Partners Online. 2020. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[xvii] Ibid.

[xviii] “Caution: These Are the Most Addictive Pain Meds.” Harvard Health Publishing Online. November, 2013. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[xix] Sinay, Danielle. “Is Acupuncture the Miracle Remedy for Everything?” Healthline Online. November 30, 2017. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[xx] Sinay, Danielle. “Is Acupuncture the Miracle Remedy for Everything?” Healthline Online. November 30, 2017. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[xxi] Ibid.

[xxii] Kubala, Jillian. “7 Benefits and Uses of CBD Oil (Plus Side Effects).” Healthline Online. February 26, 2018. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[xxiii] Ibid.

[xxiv] Iseger, T. A. & Bossong, M. G. “A Systematic Review of the Antipsychotic Properties of Cannabidiol in Humans.” Schizophr Res. Vol. 162, Issue 1–3, Epub. As cited by US National Library of Medicine. February 2015. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[xxv] Kubala, Jillian. “7 Benefits,” Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[xxvi] Jadoon, Khalid; Tan, Garry; & O’Sullivan, Saoirse. “A Single Dose of Cannabidiol Reduces Blood Pressure in Healthy Volunteers in a Randomized Study.” JCI Insight, as cited by US National Library of Medicine. June 15, 2017. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[xxvii] Devinsky, O.; Cross, J. H.; & Laux, L. et. al. “Trial of Cannabidiol for Drug-Resistant Seizures in the Dravet Syndrome.” New England Journal of Medicine, as cited by US National Library of Medicine. May 25, 2017. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[xxviii] Prud’homme, Melissa; Cata, Romulus; & Jutras-Aswad, Didier. “Cannabidiol as an Intervention for Addictive Behaviors: A Systematic Review of the Evidence.” Subst. Abuse, as cited by US National Library of Medicine. May 21, 2015. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[xxix] Weiss, L.; Zeira, M. & Reich, S. et. al. “Cannabidiol Lowers Incidence of Diabetes in Non-obese Diabetic Mice.” Autoimmunity, as cited by US National Library of Medicine. March, 2006. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[xxx] Shrivastava, A.; Kuzontkoski, P.M.; & Groopman, J.E. et. al. “Cannabidiol Induces Programmed Cell Death in Breast Cancer Cells by Coordinating the Cross-talk Between Apoptosis and Autophagy.” Mol Cancer Ther. Vol. 10, Issue 7, pg. 11611172, as cited by US National Library of Medicine. July, 2011. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[xxxi] McAllister, S.D.; Soroceanu, L.; & Desprez, P.Y. “The Antitumor Activity of Plant-Derived Non-Psychoactive Cannabinoids.” J Neuroimmune Pharmacol., Epub. As cited by US National Library of Medicine. June 2015. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[xxxii] Clavel, Alfred. “Why Opioids Make Pain Worse.” Health Partners Online. 2020. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

[xxxiii] Roland, James. “Is E-Stim the Answer to Your Pain?” Healthline Online. July 29, 2019. Retrieved March 11, 2020.

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