ARCHIVE | Roger Price on Breathing Well

This episode with Roger Price concludes our week of diving into the archives and exploring the breath. As Roger puts it, "if you don't take the next breath, nothing else matters". In this episode, Roger joins me to talk about breathing well, the importance of nose breathing, carbon dioxide levels, and the role of nitric oxide.

Roger Price on Breathing Well Introduction

We’ve talked about breathing over the last couple of years, but I would have been the subject worth revisiting, and breathing is something that we take for granted. And yet he is so fundamental to everyday life. I mean, we can go without food for three weeks and go without water for three days or more, but can without breathing for three minutes, and there isn’t much left after that.

So breathing is fundamental. And as you will hear it, although it’s something we don’t give a lot of thought to, breathing well can have a significant impact on your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. My guest today is Roger Price. Now, Roger has over 60 years of experience in healthcare and a great deal of that time has been spent focussed on breathing. So I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Roger Price.

Podcast Transcript

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:00:07] Hello and welcome to Unstress. I am Dr Ron Ehrlich. Well, we’ve talked about breathing over the last couple of years, but I would have been the subject worth revisiting, and breathing is something that we take for granted. And yet he is so fundamental to everyday life.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:00:26] I mean, we can go without food for three weeks and go without water for three days or more, but can without breathing for three minutes, and there isn’t much left after that. So breathing is fundamental. And as you will hear it, although it’s something we don’t give a lot of thought to, breathing well can have a significant impact on your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. My guest today is Roger Price. Now, Roger has over 60 years of experience in healthcare and a great deal of that time has been spent focussed on breathing. So I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Roger Price.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:01:09] Welcome to the show, Roger.

Roger Price [00:01:11] Thank you, Ron. It’s been a long time.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:01:13] It has been a long time. And welcome back to Australia. When I heard you were back, I had to have you on and reconnect. We’ve known each other for many years. I wondered if you were going to talk about breathing. Of course, in a way and a whole range of other things that, of course, leads to. And I know you’ve had a long career, Roger, but I wondered if you could just give us a sort of a brief history of where Roger Price has come from.

Roger Price’s Journey

Roger Price [00:01:41] Okay, we’ll do a quick thumbnail. It’s got to cover 63 years, so it’ll be a huge thumb. I started as a pharmacist in the mid-50s, back in South Africa. And got pretty, well, disenchanted with the concept of big pharma because it’s a case of symptomatic treatment. It’s not a case of finding out what’s wrong. It’s like orthodontics. The teeth are crooked. Make them straight. It’s like ENT surgeons the nose is blocked. Cut something out. It’s all looking after. It’s disease management. It’s not healthy.

So I went on a journey starting when I was 22 years old, and I have my 80th birthday next week. So it’s been a very long journey. And during that time, I’ve dabbled in a lot of things in the science world. Human nutrition and bodywork and human movement and behavioral physiology and dentistry and orthodontics and sleep and sleep apnoea and asthma and COPD. I mean, the list just goes on and on because each one is related in one way, shape or form to the other.

Roger Price [00:02:53] So it helps to boil everything down. And to boil it down to the fact that life is all about survival and survival is all about taking the next breath. Because if you don’t take the next breath. Nothing else matters. So I’ve come at it from so many, many, many different aspects.

In fact, in 2017, I started doing a Masters when I was in the US in Applied Breathing Sciences. And that took me into the world of behavior into the world of cognitive-behavioral therapy into all of these esoterica, which are very exciting and interesting in their own right. But when you step back, you see they’re all bits and pieces of the same puzzle. And of course, the puzzle starts with the first breath. And if the first breath is easy and is natural and is functional, life is good.

Roger Price [00:03:57] But if the first breath is a struggle, if the baby is born prematurely, if the baby is born under stress, under duress. Suppose the baby is oxytocin provoked if the baby is born in any form of way, any shape or form, which is beyond nature. That infant might have trouble taking the first breath of what people forget or maybe never knew, that from birth to age six, babies breathe between 60 and 80000 breaths a day. That’s huge.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:04:37] Yes, I mean, just telling them had a newborn grandson and I can attest to the fact that the breathing rate is significant.

Roger Price [00:04:44] Is swift. So if that baby has to create a compensation or a power function because it’s having trouble breathing and it’s going to repeat, that’s tens of thousands of times a day. Why should that not be the base cause for major problems down the line?

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:05:07] Yeah, Well now, Roger, we are going to get into that. And it is interesting that given all of your experience over all of those years that, you know, there’s a common theme that runs through this all. And as far as the fact that we have a chronic disease management system rather than a really true health system, you are preaching to the converted here. And I’m sure many of my listeners would totally agree with you.

I wonder if we might before we dive too deeply into it. And I’ve often said the secret to living a long life is to keep breathing for as long as you can. But the secret to living a life well is to breathe well. And there’s a significant difference between just breathing and breathing well. I wonder if we might take a few steps back and just remind our listener about why we breathe, what breathing is about and what we use to breathe.

Two stages of Breathing

Roger Price [00:06:00] OK, we’ve got two phases or two stages of breathing. One is breathing without load. That is breathing at rest when we’re relaxed, and the other is breathing under load. So we have two breathing systems. We have the nasal diaphragmatic system, one for when things are quiet, and when we start to exert ourselves, we then default or add in the mouth chest. Now, I’m going to sound heretical, but I’m not. There is no such thing as normal breathing. Breathing has to be adapted to what we’re doing.

Roger Price [00:06:41] So nose breathing is not good or bad. Mouth breathing is not good or bad; chest diaphragm breathing is not good or bad. Breathing fast is not bad. Breathing slowly is not good. What we have to do is we have to get that breathing pattern structured in such a way that it adapts to what we’re doing and keeps our basic biochemistry in balance by adjusting its rate and depth and dynamics and mechanics and behavior to cope with what is going on in our lives. And that is why I’m very anti these cookie-cutter breathing exercises, these breathing retraining programs because no two people are the same.

And I could have you breathing at six breaths per minute. With a ratio of 40 percent in and 60 percent out, and you could be fantastic, and I could do that to somebody else, and they would go into a panic. They would go into hyperventilation syndrome because that did not match. What they do and how they do it. So it really is a particular thing that has to be teased out. And we have to find out why do people adopt these patterns? The answer is survival. That is how they have learned to take the next breath. Good, bad, or indifferent?

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:08:13] Well, this is getting a step. You know, we talk about the problem with our health care system. And you mentioned cookie cutter. And this is, I think, where we are heading in the future. And this is to a very personalized approach. And I would assume even if one were doing breathing retraining, an essential part of that would be to do a cautious and thorough assessment of the person sitting in front of you.

Roger Price [00:08:38] Well, absolutely. And if you talk about personalized medicine, when I started as a pharmacist, every prescription was handwritten by the doctor in copperplate, eight, nine, 10 ingredients, two grains of this and three grains of that, and four drops of this. It used to be the script was personalized for your particular condition. No more. No more. It’s not. I mean, look at the scientific nonsense: one or two tablets, three or four times a day as required. Come on that is scientific?

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:09:20] Well, you know, it’s great. Well, I think I’ve said this many times, and our current health care system is a terrific economic model. It is fed by the chemical and food industry literally, and it is managed by the pharmaceutical and then inevitably the medical industry. And it’s a great economic model. It’s just not a very good health model, which is precisely what the Unstrress podcast is all about. All right. So but there are some good things one does with breathing. I mean, the aim of breathing is survival, but much more than that.

The difference between survival and optimal health lies, along with many issues. Let’s talk about the role of the airway in that and how that develops and what that what how that can go wrong. I mean, you mentioned the newborn child, and I’m very in tune with that. I have three very young grandchildren, and I’m watching them develop and watching their arches, their upper and lower jaws develop. And whether they have good lip seal or not, whether they’re breathing through their nose or their mouth. But, you know, I’ve often said noses are for breathing. I think you may have even taught me that, Roger. I’m not sure.

Roger Price [00:10:36] If you get to breathe through your mouth, your mouth will learn to eat through your nose.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:10:39] That’s it. That’s it. And that’s no fun. But no, you know, this is I mean, we laugh about it. You and I, we can because we’re very focused on this. But people don’t give a lot of thought to how they breathe. And clearly, they should. You mentioned you touched on a few things. Let’s dive into that a little bit more. I mean, what are we trying to do when we breathe? Why do we breathe apart from surviving?

Roger Price [00:11:04] The reason for breathing is to take the oxygen from the atmosphere to bond it onto the blood. So that blood goes through 150,000 kilometers of vessels that we have and to release that oxygen appropriately to the brain and the rest of the cells of the body and on the return trip to bring the waste products back through the lungs into the atmosphere. That is why we breathe. But this is where the issues start getting confused.

Breathings all about oxygen, right? Wrong. It’s not. Oxygen is only part of breathing because we don’t have to make it and we don’t have to store it, all we have to do is breathe. The air has 21 percent oxygen, and you can saturate the blood with oxygen at 5 percent. So we are never, ever, ever short of oxygen. So I want you to look at the oxygen-carbon dioxide balance system, the way one would look at a bank account. Your oxygen is your bank balance, and that’s what that thing on your finger tells you. It tells you you’re sitting at 98, 99 percent saturation of oxygen on arterial blood.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:12:35] Well, now, Roger, let’s just remind our listeners that thing on your fingers, talking about a pulse oximeter.

Pulse Oximeter

Roger Price [00:12:42] It’s a pulse oximeter.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:12:43] That measures heart rate and oxygen saturation in your blood.

Roger Price [00:12:48] Absolutely. So that’s giving you a printout of how much money is in your bank account, your blood bank account. How do you get that money out of an account? You normally use it, you write a cheque, or you use your A.T.M. card. Well, if your chequebook is empty and the dog ate your A.T.M. card, how much value is that money to you? You can’t get to it, even though it’s in your bank balance.

This is what goes wrong with breathing. To release the oxygen from the blood bank to the brain of the rest of the cells, you have to have a particular pressure of carbon dioxide. That is your A.T.M. card. And if your level of carbon dioxide is too low. The pulse oximeter is still going to read 98, 99 percent, but that oxygen is not available to the body, and that is why those of your listeners who sleep eight or nine hours and still wake up exhausted. Can’t understand why they say, I slept the whole night through and I’m still tired.

They probably slept the night through with their mouth open, snoring or gasping, dumping the CO2 levels, which meant that the oxygen never had a chance to be released from the blood to get to the brain and the cells to regenerate and to nourish during the sleep process. So we have to focus on carbon dioxide. And of course, the other myth is that carbon dioxide is a toxic waste gas. No, it’s not toxic waste gas. It is plant food. There would be no food. There would be no life. There would be nothing on this planet if we didn’t have CO2.

So we have to keep that delicate balance between the oxygen and the carbon dioxide to ensure that the oxygen that we have bonded onto the blood gets to the rest of the body, but that’s only part of it. The other misconception is of the human body. Everybody talks about an acid diet and then alkaline diet and alkaline water, is this and alkaline water cures cancer, and alkaline water fixes this, that and the other… Poppycock!

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:15:22] Yes, I agree. I mean, as soon as I hear someone talk about alkaline water, I don’t want to put too fine a point on it. But I’m less than impressed.

Roger Price [00:15:31] I mean, the pH of the stomach is two. So you drink a glass of alkaline water at pH eight. What’s going to happen to it when it hits the stomach? The benefit of alkaline water is not the PH it’s the minerals that are dissolved in the water to create that pH, so it’s not what we eat or drink that controls the pH of our body, our body, pH is controlled by our breathing.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:16:03] Yes, I guess that is good. Yeah, that is a critical point, which I would really I mean, that flows off the tongue very easily, Roger. But I think people are aware of the importance or they hear about things being too acidic. They need to be more alkaline. And one could argue about whether there are aspects of diet affects that water. I don’t believe I believe the alkaline water is a whole story. But the key to balancing body chemistry, pH, in particular, is breathing.

Roger Price [00:16:39] Absolutely.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:16:39] And that is such an important point that I think people this is an important takeaway.

Roger Price [00:16:47] So you can breathe yourself sick, and you can breathe yourself well again. I mean, there was a guy called what his name was? 1935. He breathed a whole sleigh full of dogs to death. He put them onto a treadmill. And he wouldn’t let them off. And he showed that the minute the pH starts moving past the seven-point four-five alkaline marks towards extreme alkalinity, the body dies, the cells die.

It wasn’t a very nice thing, but it shows that and you can just try it yourself. I mean, anybody could just sit there, open your mouth, breathe hard and fast, way down from the base of your lungs. And within four or five breaths, your light-headed, you’ll feel discombobulated. You don’t know what you’re doing. You feel all sweaty and all kinds of things. You’ve done that yourself by shifting your chemistry through your breathing.

So having said, there’s no such thing as normal breathing. What do we use as a baseline? We can use functional breathing at rest. We can define that. And functional breathing at rest has certain parameters. It is in and out through the nose. Driven by the diaphragm. Lips together. Silent. Between eight, 10, maybe 12 breaths per minute.

Approximately 500 milliliters per male breath and about 380 to 420 milliliters per female breath. No chest, no shoulder movement. And if you sit breathing like that in a chair, you feel good because your body is in balance. And that type of breathing with the mouth closed using the nose keeps your carbon dioxide pressures at the correct pressure to release the oxygen from your blood to your body.

For those who know anything about heart rate variability, that is called coherent breathing. So there’s another fascinating part about breathing. Everybody knows we have this fight or flight. We have the sympathetic, parasympathetic branches to the autonomic nervous system. Well, very few people understand that the sympathetic drive is initiated through the inhalation, predominantly the right nostril.

Roger Price [00:19:40] That is the driver of your sympathetic response and you’re parasympathetic is engaged on exhalation. Predominantly through the left nostril. Well, parasympathetic and sympathetic, why do we use these terms? Because sympathetic means your body is in sympathy with what’s going on in your life. And if you’re being chased by a tiger or by an angry husband or whatever happens to come your way. The body says, look, I’m in sympathy with you, mate. Let’s fix you so that you can escape this thing. Well, where do we want to spend more time? Sympathetic or parasympathetic? We want to be in parasympathetic, so I’m going to ask your audience now. Do any of you ever sigh?

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:20:36] I’m sure they do.

Roger Price [00:20:39] How do you feel at the end of a sigh? Relaxed. What have you done? You’ve extended your exhalation. You’ve breathed out for longer on the sigh, which means you’re spending more time in parasympathetic rest digest and recovery. Then you were spending in sympathetic, and that is the secret to meditated breathing. That is the secret to good health. It’s to keep that sympathetic moment for when you really need it. And spend as much time as you can in parasympathetic recovery. Lows and the stress and the sympathetic parasympathetic all tied into one with the breathing.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:21:29] Yes, I remember one of the most interesting, liberating, exciting things and so simple was when I had heard that you literally could switch on your parasympathetic nervous system, you know, within a breath or two or a couple of one or two breaths. Absolutely. And, you know, this exhaled breath and the holding of the exhaled breath. So in out hold, you know, within two or three breaths, you’ve switched it on. And what a great thing to do, at least well throughout the day. But certainly, before you’re about to eat or before you to go to sleep. I mean, what a powerful tool and cost-effective too.

Roger Price [00:22:09] What are you doing with that breath-hold? You’re increasing your carbon dioxide levels. So you’re restoring balance to that that chemical axis, which is so critical for being well, feeling well, eating well, sleeping well. And it’s just that our triggers today are basically unrealistic. Our bodies think we’re being chased by a sabre tooth tiger.

When we’re waiting for the results of something or when somebody is being called into the boss’s office or, you know, the body doesn’t differentiate. The body is this. I’m in trouble. I’ve got to get out of this. Meanwhile, most of those troubles are anticipatory. They are not real-life threats. And that’s why life in the 21st century is so tough because we were faced with these myriad choices. I mean, I didn’t have choices when I was a kid. I rode a bike or I didn’t. I went to the Saturday afternoon movies, or I didn’t get one. Twenty-seven movies showing seven days a week.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:23:24] Yes. I mean, just trying to navigate through all the wonderful TV programs is stressful enough. Now, let’s talk a bit. Break it down a little bit here, because, you know, we talked about noses. Well, no, let’s go back up because you’ve mentioned carbon dioxide level a few times. And I think we just need to clarify that we’re talking about the carbon dioxide level in your lungs.

Roger Price [00:23:49] Yes. Yes.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:23:51] And it’s that carbon dioxide level which, if I’m not mistaken, is referred to as end-tidal?

Roger Price [00:23:56] End Tidal ETCO2.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:23:59] And so this is what when you were encouraged, well, you were suggesting that by breathing out quickly, you know, without taking a pause, what you’re actually doing is pumping out the carbon dioxide level before it has a chance to build up because that’s what’s building up every time we use our muscles in our body. That’s a waste product. And by breathing out or hyperventilating, we eventually will pass out if we let it go. And if we wanted to stop it by putting that paper bag over your face, you are only breathing in carbon dioxide as well.

Roger Price [00:24:38] But there’s something else that happens when you do that. You’re changing your breathing behavior. You’re so conscious of breathing in and out of that bag that you’re shifting the inhalation exhalation, which is a behavioral change from the way you are normally.

I’ve had this working with asthma patients. I’ve had chronic asthmatics 20, 30 years sucking on puffers for five, six times a day. And I’ve said to them for the next week. All I want you to do four times a day is sit quietly, close your mouth and breathe gently through your nose. Can you picture ever having an asthma attack, sitting quietly, breathing gently through your nose? And they say no.

So after four weeks of doing this, they are asthma-free, symptom-free, and medication-free. What did they do? They changed their breathing pattern, but also four times a day. They took time out, which is a behavioral change. It forced them to change the patterning that resulted in that shortness of breath, which in so many cases, these misdiagnosed as asthma. It’s a breathing issue. It’s a defense mechanism against over-breathing.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:26:12] Well, this leads us to now we’ve kind of covered all touched on at least the importance of pH balance, breathing is an essential part of that. And that is about carbon dioxide level in the lungs balancing out pH. And you mentioned it in passing. And I think our listeners may have missed it, but you mentioned to pH of seven point four and, you know, the oxygen being delivered and carbon dioxide being put back on the train if you like. I know you’ve used that analogy and I like it. There’s a very narrow range of pH where this functions well, isn’t it?

Roger Price [00:26:52] It certainly is. You heard me mention the word chemical axis. The chemical axis means the shift of pH in arterial blood between 7.35. and 7.45. 7.45 is the pH at which the bond between oxygen and the blood and the hemoglobin in the blood is forming in the lungs. 7.35 is the pH, which that bond dissolves. Now to move from 7.45 to 7.35 is actually a much bigger jump than you’d think because pH is logarithmic. It’s not arithmetic. So it might be 10 points, but 10 points on a log scale are very different from 10 points on an arithmetic scale. So we have to be. We have to be sure that we make enough of the particular asset buffer that the body needs to shift that pH. And by the way, many people make the mistake of thinking the blood becomes acidic.

Now it doesn’t. It’s still this side of seven. So it’s alkaline, and it’s less alkaline. And this was all proved by a Danish physiologist, by the name of Christian Bohr, Bohr. He was, in fact, the father of Neils Bohr, who was the physicist back in 1904. Christian Bohr came out with his Bohr effect for which he was nominated for a Nobel prize. And he distilled this whole thing down into one sentence. And Bohr effect in a sentence says, as the pressure of carbon dioxide in blood drops, so does the strength of the bond between the oxygen and the blood increase. So the lower the CO2 goes, it doesn’t mean you have less oxygen. It means you have less oxygen available. And people look at the pulse oximeter and say, fine. 97, 98, 99 percent. Meanwhile, the person’s death.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:29:19] Because it’s actually not just about having the oxygen attached to the hemoglobin molecule as it floats around your body. You’ve actually got to get it into the cell where the energy is required.

Roger Price [00:29:31] This is having money in your bank account to be able to withdraw it. It doesn’t do any good if it’s sitting there.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:29:39] OK, so carbon dioxide level in lungs important in balancing out pH. Another thing that’s important in breathing is noses. And you mentioned that you know, the nose is not going to eat through your nose, but you are, noses are for breathing, and people kind of again don’t give much thought to this. Tell us a little bit about why nasal breathing is important.

Nasal Breathing is Important

Roger Price [00:30:03] OK, particularly now in the COVID environment. The nose is a six-stage filtration air conditioning plant. If you have a small nose, it’s a domestic air conditioner. If you’ve got a big nose, it’s a commercial air conditioner. But every stage of that filtration process is there for a reason. So you start with the hairs and the hairs are there to trap the stuff that you see floating around in a shaft of sunlight, the floaty stuff in the air.

The next stage is the mucus, the mucus. Then attacks a few other little bits and pieces. But in the mucus, because there’s an enzyme called lysozyme and lysozyme, kills viruses and bacteria. And in fact, I believe that the word Lysol actually came from the enzyme lysozyme when they were looking for a name for a disinfectant.

Okay, so the lungs are susceptible. They are sensitive to humidity. They are sensitive to temperature. They are sensitive to airborne allergens. The next stage is the turbinates, which are those little spirally things that are here in the nose, the air swirls around the turbinates to bring it to body temperature. If it’s too hot or, it’s too cold. If you breathe through your nose, you start to temper that air to get to body temperature.

From the turbinates, the air drifts into the sinuses. And we have sinuses for two reasons. The one is to lighten the structure of the skull. So it’s rigid. But it’s not solid. Those sinuses also give us resonance. So when the voice comes up through the sinuses, and your project, you get a really nice resident projected voice rather than (inaudible voice) in your throat.

Okay, but the sinuses also do another two things. They produce one and a half liters of fluid a day because the air traveling through the sinuses has to be humidified. Because if you don’t send moist air into your lungs, you’re not going to get the exchange of gases across the dry membrane. But sitting in the paranasal sinuses, you have two beds of creation of a gas called nitric oxide and nitric oxide has been around. I mean, since Puncher was a pupil pilot, it’s been around forever. Why the air we inhaled is 78 percent nitrogen and 21 percent oxygen.

Nitrogen and oxygen will give you nitric or nitrous oxide. OK, so the nitric oxide is produced, sits in the paranasal sinuses. And if you breathe gently through your nose, the passage of air across those sinuses releases bursts of the nitric oxide gas. And nitric oxide is a very, very powerful anti-microbial, and it’s also a potent anti-spasmodical and anticonvulsant or evasive dilator.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:33:52] Yes, very famously. I mean.

Roger Price [00:33:55] Famously.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:33:56] Isn’t it? Isn’t that weird? Viagra, you know, Viagra and nitric oxide have an interesting relationship.

Roger Price [00:34:00] Absolutely. I mean, as a young pharmacist in the 50s, we used to dispense pills called glycerol. Trinitrate. And they were given to people with angina. So the moment the nitric oxide hit, those occluded, those spasms, the blood vessels to the heart, causing the pain relaxed and the pain to the heart disappeared. So now going over your adenoids, you have really nice moist temperature-controlled, twice filtered, and twice sterilized air.

The adenoids love it; they don’t become inflamed or congested. And then finally, the tonsils are your end microfilter. For the absolutely microscopically tiny particles that have missed the first stages. Well, can you imagine when you breathe through your mouth, you make those micro-fine tonsils your first filter? And then you wonder why the child or the adult gets inflamed infective tonsils. Ron, it’s crazy stuff.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:35:16] Well, it goes back to the beginning of our conversation about a very symptom-based approach. Chronic disease management approach to health care. And I think I’ve actually drawn the analogy of taking out tonsils and adenoids, which occasionally are necessary to come out. There’s no question about that.

But as a first and they don’t do this anymore. They used to a lot take out adenoids and tonsils at the drop of a hat. And that’s a little bit like driving along in a car, and a hazard warning sign comes on, and you decide to solve the problem by removing the little globe in the dashboard and going, well, I’ve solved that problem. Well, in fact, you haven’t. But so these six levels of filtration occur when we breathe through our nose.

Roger Price [00:36:03] Yes.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:36:03] Only one, the tonsils when we breathe through our mouth. So recurring respiratory infections in children is a very, very common occurrence, isn’t it?

Roger Price [00:36:13] It is because we’re taking raw air with all the rubbish, with all the bits and pieces of nonsense flying around and the sprays and the bathroom sprays and the kitchen sprays and the antibacterial floor, wipe and antibacterial sink wipe. I mean, come on. Well, it has a material that kills living organisms.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:36:41] Yeah. Yeah. Well, we’ve become. And you know, during this time obsessive about the whole thing. It’s interesting going back to nitric oxide because, you know, breathing is an essential part of our practice. And I’ve been talking about it for years on the podcast and in my own book.

But there was an interesting article I came up with recently that was in 2005 about nitric oxide, its role in the SARS coronavirus. I’m sure. Yes, you’re familiar with that, you know. Tell us a bit about the role of nitric oxide. A little bit more. Because that’s an important one, isn’t it?

What is Nitric Oxide?

Roger Price [00:37:21] All right. Nitric oxide is terribly toxic. To viruses and bacteria, it kills them. So everybody’s now talking about the aerosol effect. Close your mouth when you sneeze into the crook of your arm etc… That’s what an aerosol effect is, that’s what affects dentistry, is the aerosol effect while you’re working. Well, if you breathe in and out through your mouth. Not only are you not disinfecting the air coming in.

You’re breathing out droplets of heavily infected—water molecules. Suppose you breathe out through your nose. The exhaled air is getting the same nitric oxide and the same mucus and the same lysozyme on the outward trip as it got on the entry trip. So you’re doing the world a much greater favor. In these COVID days by keeping your mouth shut. Not only commentary and politically, but also, frankly, from the exhaled air point of view.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:38:33] Right, Roger, I also heard and correct me if I’m wrong, that when you don’t breathe through your nose, you’re actually reducing nitric oxide is an important body regulator per se. But if you do not breathe through your nose, you’re missing out on a lot of that nitric oxide production. I’ve had a figure of 50 or 60 percent. Well, you know, what do you think?

Roger Price [00:39:00] Remember, nitric oxide just made basically everywhere. The moment you start breaking down that oxyhemoglobin bond and releasing the oxygen. There’s a nitric oxide component to that as well. And the beautiful thing about science is we don’t know. We just think we know. So there’s always something new to learn, and there’s nothing like a good old pandemic to knock a lot of the nonsense out and to bring more nonsense in before we eventually find some sanity in what’s going on.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:39:35] But Roger, breathing through the mouth. There are I mean, there’s a habit, you’re talking about the newborn child going through trauma and that a lot of that. And so these patterns of breathing set up very early. What are some of the factors that would cause people to be mouth breathers when noses are for breathing? Why would people do that?

Roger Price [00:40:00] They would do it for what I call or in the world of psychology, a secondary gain. People create a habit. To satisfy a problem, you don’t create a habit for no reason. There is always a payoff, and there is always a secondary gain for any habit. So the first mouth breath is taken because it’s easier than the nose breath. That’s the only reason. Now, it could be a tongue tie. Could have been a lip tie.

It could have been any one of a hundred thousand things that can go wrong in the 38-day gestation, 38 week gestation period: the birth issue, the induction baby, the forceps, the vacuum, the epidural. I mean, all of these things have to affect that infant as it enters the world. So that is when it starts to create its compensations. And then it just becomes easier. And the malfunction or the dysfunction or the parafunction then becomes the new normal for that body. Well, if you do something repetitively. Particularly with your mouth open. You start training the muscles of the face, that open mouth is normal. So that is what you will default to, even if you don’t need to, because you’ve created that as a muscle memory pattern. Those can be retrained.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:41:43] Well, I know that you know, this is how you and I met 15 years ago, I think it was, and because you do work very closely with dentists. So we’re going to get onto that in a moment. But the diaphragm is also an essential part of this breathing process. Talk to us a little bit about that.


Roger Price [00:42:03] OK. The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle. That kind of separates the upper half from the lower half. It runs around the body. It’s got a hole in the middle through which the esophagus and the stomach goes, and the diaphragm moves like this and like this and like this. That’s all it does. And what it does is it changes the pressures in the chest cavity.

When it rises, the pressures rise, the pressure inside the chest cavity then becomes higher than the atmospheric pressure, and the air goes from a lower pressure to a higher pressure when the diaphragm returns. The pressure in the lungs drops, and the air flows in from the higher atmospheric pressure into the lower lung pressure. That is the mechanics of breathing.

However, the diaphragm has many other roles in the body. It massages the liver, massages the heart; it drives lymph. It is the main pump that drives lymph around the body. And lymph is the flush truck that goes around to clear the garbage cans, which are the lymph nodes. And, of course, in lay terms, the four largest lymph nodes are the two adenoids and the two tonsils. So this is where you get your double whammy with mouth breathing, with children and tonsils and adenoids, the mouth breathing affects the tonsils and adenoids.

But when you breathe through your mouth and your chest, you hardly use your diaphragm. So you’re limiting the movement of lymph, which is meant to go and clear those trashcans, which it doesn’t do. So that is the role of the diaphragm interlinked with the mouth breathing in the nose and the upper respiratory tract infection.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:44:16] We even had a guest on to a men’s health specialist, Dr Rob King. We had a session with him, and he mentioned to me as well that the diaphragm improved pelvic floor muscle tone, which I just thought the more I learn about breathing, the more I learn about these components, how interconnected we are. It’s even more amazing.

Roger Price [00:44:39] Well, it’s a rugby ball with a bladder.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:44:42] Yes.

Roger Price [00:44:43] This is the top of the rugby ball. The pelvic shelf is the bottom of the rugby ball. Yes. And if you’ve got air in there and you squeeze, the pelvic floor is going to drop.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:44:55] Oh, yes. Look, it’s just it’s. And the pelvic floor, of course. Gosh, who doesn’t need a good, strong pelvic floor? Particularly if you’ve had a child or if you had as we as we get older, let’s put it that way—a good strong core.

Roger Price [00:45:09] We are not designed to sit.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:45:12] To sit? No.

Roger Price [00:45:14] We are designed to squat. Or to stand or to lie down. Sitting never, ever was part of how our anatomy was designed. There were no chairs and tables.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:45:29] Yes. Well, you’ve just come back from America. Roger. So you’re using the term designed. We can. In Australia, we can say evolved without any fear of retribution.

Roger Price [00:45:40] Oh, OK.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:45:41] But I know that. I know that you. I know this has us into the whole posture. The connection between breathing and posture. And.

Roger Price [00:45:51] Yes.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:45:51] You know, you’ve mentioned that we really haven’t evolved to sit, but there’s far more to it than that, isn’t it, when when we’re talking about the effect of breathing on posture?

Roger Price [00:46:01] Well, you know, the essential part of all my initial consultations is a full postural evaluation because posture is controlled primarily by your fascia. And the fascia you’re running a band from the head right the way down to your toes. And the fascia surrounds the muscles, so you get the combination here of the dysfunctional mutton muscle position with the fascia on the outside of the muscle, compounding the issue even further.

Now you have the text neck, and you have the rounded shoulders. Why? It’s easier to breathe through your chest with your shoulders forward using your mouth than it is with your shoulders back, with your mouth closed using your nose. If you are compromised, and this is where we come back to the creation of the habit. It was easier. So they just did it. And that became the way they function. So the dentist who doesn’t look at feet doesn’t understand jaws.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:47:19] Interesting. Yes. No, well, now there you are, you saw now over 30 years ago, I researched at New South University of New South Wales with a podiatrist. So I’ve been looking at feet for quite some time. But that you’ll work with dentists is an interesting one. Tell us a little bit about the connection between the dental world and people’s mouths and breathing.

Roger Price [00:47:44] It started well over 20 years ago. I met a dentist out from Gladstone up in Queensland. I called John Flutter, and we were having dinner. And he said to me, you know, I believe that there is a connection somehow between the way people sit and stand and walk and talk and breathe and eat and the jaws. And we spent 10 years together. Developing this breathing well program.

So John taught me dentistry. And I taught him bodywork and physiology and posture and those kinds of things because one of my qualifications is I’m a fully qualified manual therapist, a remedial massage therapist, a body function therapist. So, everything is linked. Everything grows according to a plan. That’s in our DNA. That is our genetic programming. We have so many things interfering with the expression of those genes. Today. That even though the body has that genetic potential.

There are too many obstacles in the way for that genetic potential to be fully, fully realized. And this is the science of epigenetics.EPI is the Greek word for on top of or above. So this brings us to the nurturing nature. On the nature side, we have our DNA, which carries coding. But on the nurture side. Are we able to express that DNA completely? So that we become the best us that we can be. And that is sadly where modern life is causing problems because technologically the world has evolved to a very much faster rate than we as human beings can adapt to so we become maladaptive. We adapt, and we think we’re OK, but we’re not.

Roger Price [00:50:02] And that is a whole other podcast in its own right. I mean, this whole question of epigenetics and the tensegrity and the apoptosis in the the the gestational time. That’s another whole lecture in its own right.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:50:18] Yes. Well, look, we’ve covered we’ve touched on some critical points here. And I think we’ve kind of highlighted to our listener to stop and think about every breath they take. I just wanted to take a step back now as we’re just finishing up. But I just wanted you to take a step back from all of your roles, from your pharmacy, bodywork, respiratory physiologist, and all that, because we’re all on a health journey through life in this modern world. What do you think the biggest challenge is for individuals on our journey through life?

The Biggest Health Challenge

Roger Price [00:50:52] Peer pressure, the Internet. Smartphones. This mad, crazy having to keep up with the latest everything. No time out. In fact, I was having this discussion with one of my sons, my youngest son, Rob. And we were talking about what’s been going on worldwide with Black Lives Matter, etc… Ron, 20 years ago. Which is not a long time. You did not have the ability to see these demonstrations in your face, in your ears 24/7.

We perhaps had the news on the hour. We perhaps had a newsreel, perhaps we had you know, we’ve been given some time. To rest and digest and adjust now, everything seems ten times worse than it is because it’s. Go, go, go, go, go, go, go—Bang, bang. Everywhere you turn, you see riots and flames and people screaming and politicians howling and all of these things. Life is really very difficult. People have to learn. To take time out for themselves. The best way to do that is to learn how to meditate.

I’ll be doing it for 30 years, 20 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes before dinner. And I am medication-free; I’m sitting here 80 years of age, I don’t have a thing wrong with me. I take no medications whatsoever. I sleep well; I eat well. I have a lot of fun in my life.

I’m driven by this intense passion for getting to the cause of things rather than to continue looking at the symptom. We just have too many choices. We don’t take out enough time. To literally sit down and smell the roses. And that could be a closing point in this discussion, take some time out. You are the only you have. And that is why I have a goal in life, and my goal is to die as young as possible, as late as possible.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:53:22] Well, what a great note to finish on. And Roger, you are an inspiration. You look fantastic. And thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your wisdom with us. And we’re going to have links, of course, too. I know you’ve got a lot of stuff on there and we’ll have links to your website. So thank you so much for today.

Roger Price [00:53:39] That’s my pleasure, Ron. Always lovely chatting to you. Thank you.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:53:44] Well, as we said, breathing is something that we give very little thought to. But I think you’ve got a sense of how important it actually is to breathe well, and we didn’t even get to touch on the fact that when we’re asleep, it’s a function of not only quantity getting enough, but quality breathing. And we’ve touched on that in various other podcasts that I’ve done. I will have links to Roger and his website. He has some great resources or breathing retraining assessment, which is very well worth looking at.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:54:17] Don’t forget to go on to iTunes, a review, or download The Unstress with Dr Ron Ehrlich podcast or the app. We’ve got some exciting things planned in the months ahead and hope this finds you well. So until then, this is Dr Ron Ehrlich. Be well.


This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.