Did you ever wonder how it is that a drug or a treatment can produce a “placebo” effect? Or, how is it that you can get “sick,” or suffer symptoms and deficits (sometimes called a “nocebo” effect), when there’s “nothing wrong with you?” Maybe you think placebo is all about beliefs. If so, think again. Very often placebo is about “what you do” rather than what “you believe,” or “what you do” because of “what you believe.” And, “what you do,” as in the case of most behaviors, is usually learned and acted-out unconsciously. In essence you, nor the people around you, realize that your own unconsciously learned behaviors are significantly affecting you.
Overbreathing is behavior that may seriously disturb acid-base balance immediately and dramatically. Like any behavior, it can be learned, resulting in behavioral hypocapnia. Its effects on body chemistry may mediate “unexplained symptoms,” misunderstood performance deficits, and acute and chronic “effects of stress,” all of which may be falsely attributed to other causes. It is thus perhaps the best example of how a learned behavior regulates placebo (nocebo) effects, that is, how it can cause, trigger, exacerbate, and perpetuate symptoms and deficits of all kinds. These effects are real, not imagined, and may include:
● physical symptoms (e.g., asthma, fatigue, pain, hypertension),
● performance deficits (e.g., public speaking, test taking, carpal-tunnel),
● emotional reactivity (e.g., anger, anxiety, impatience),
● cognitive deficits (e.g.,
attention, learning, problem solving),
● psychological changes (e.g., personality shifts, self-esteem), and
● virtually every known symptom of stress, immediate and long-term.
Correcting this learned behavior can improve health and enhance human performance, as well as mediate “unexplained positive outcomes” (placebo effects) that may otherwise be falsely attributed to other “treatments” and/or “techniques” where changes in breathing chemistry have been unwittingly achieved. Educating people about breathing as learned behavior, personalizes these effects, the good ones, and the bad ones. In this context, the effects of breathing on health and performance become behavioral consequences, rather than unexplained clinical symptoms and deficits.
behavior is commonplace. Based on
surveys regarding ambulance calls, 60 percent of the ambulance runs in the
Half of the patients visiting outpatient clinics of the UK National Healthcare Services (NHS), receive a diagnosis of “functional disorder,” where no organic factor is identified. And, unfortunately, they go from practitioner to practitioner without resolution. Behavioral hypocapnia may play a significant role in many of these cases, where it may mediate homeostatic deregulation attributed to stress, or other causes.
Behavioral Physiology Institute,