Importance of Oxygen

Man can live for weeks without food and for days without water. However, approximately 4-6 minutes without oxygen will often result in brain damage.

Oxygen produces energy in the body.  It is a source of chi.  It is truly the “elixir of life.”

Otto Warburg, a two time Nobel Prize winner discovered, that cancer cells are anaerobic – that is, they cannot exist in the presence of oxygen. While this does not mean Yoga or Tai Chi or Jogging will necessarily alleviate cancer problems, it does mean the extra oxygen in the body is “bad news” for many different kinds of the “bad” anaerobic cells (e.g., anaerobic bacteria) in the body. It is commonly believed, on the other hand, that extra oxygen is associated with a variety of health benefits.

Dr. Otto Warburg, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1931 for discovering the cause of cancer, has stated:

“The growth of cancer cells is initiated by a relative lack of oxygen.  Cancer can not live in an oxygen rich environment.”

Enemies of Oxygen

As much as we would like to be able to get large quantities of oxygen by breathing, there are many “enemies” in the body that love to grab the oxygen and bind to it so that it is not available for normal use. These “bad guys” are known as Free Radicals. Many doctors are touting the use of Anti-Oxidants which fight the Free Radicals to save oxygen. Some of these Anti-Oxidants are Vitamin K, Vitamin E, selenium, as well as many nutrients in our food, especially in fruits and vegetables and other natural foods. We are all being encouraged daily to eat plenty of vegetables containing Anti-Oxidants. Some few example of these Anti-Oxidants found in food are:

  • Vitamin C in oranges, lemons and tomatoes
  • Phytonutrients, such as lycopene in tomatoes and watermelon
  • Isoflavones in soy beans
  • Lutein in spinach and peas
  • Carotenes in carrots and apricots
  • Allyl sulfides in onion and garlic

Oxygen and Breathing

We all breathe, but that does not necessarily mean that we are getting enough oxygen.

Unfortunately, most people do not know how to breathe deeply and properly using the diaphragm (so called “belly breathing”) and inhaling slowly and deeply and exhaling in the same manner. Instead they breathe shallow breaths using the chest, and this results in little oxygen intake.

Oxygen and Aerobic Exercise

In the West, we have traditionally not thought much about the human body and health in terms of Chi, yin or yang. However, we do think a lot about getting extra oxygen. We are continually told to move the body (“use it or lose it”). Witness the popularity of “aerobic exercise.” Often, “aerobic exercise” is associated with vigorous exercise such sports as “Aerobics,” Jogging, Cross Country Skiing, and Fast Walking.

Most westerners do not know that the deceptively slow movements of Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Yoga, even though you are not sweating and huffing and puffing or heavily impacting the ground when engaged in them, are indeed real “aerobic” exercises. “Aerobic exercise” is actually any exercise that causes extra air, containing oxygen, to be taken into the body, then into the bloodstream, and finally to be made available to the individual cells of the body. This extra oxygen is highly beneficial to the body and this is one of the highly touted effects of “aerobic” exercise.

Dr. Ed McCabe, Author of best selling book “Oxygen Therapies” stated:
“A new way of approaching disease has linked many illnesses to a simple lack of oxygen, including arthritis, strep throat, AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes, allergies, yeast infections, heart disease, colds, etc.”

Hyperbaric Oxygen

Sometimes extra oxygen under pressure (“hyperbaric oxygen”) is used in a more intense manner for the healing of wounds, burns and many other conditions. This is done using a “hyperbaric chamber,” a tank which can be pressurized. This tank is often filled with pure oxygen and under pressure of several atmospheres, i.e., under 2-3 times as much pressure as in our normal atmosphere. The result is that the body can absorb significantly more oxygen through the lungs because the chamber is pressurized, and because it is also filled with pure, nearly 100% oxygen, compared to about 21% oxygen normally found in our air. Wounds and burns can also absorb oxygen through the skin.

Severe chemical, electrical and fire burns (second and third degree burns, for example) respond well to hyperbaric oxygen, as they cannot always easily be covered with bandages due to the condition of the burned skin. Hyperbaric chambers have been routinely used for years to treat divers with extra oxygen for a condition known as “the bends” in which too much nitrogen is absorbed by the body of a diver while underwater. In more recent years hyperbaric chambers have been used treat a wide variety of conditions using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). This therapy is not without some risk. Pure oxygen burns easily so there is some danger of fire or explosion.  Also, the pressure in the chamber can be a problem for some people, including pregnant women, who are advised not to undergo HBOT.

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