Diaphragmatic breathing exercise as a therapeutic intervention for control of oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes mellitus - Hegde et al. (2012)

Key Points

  • Diaphragmatic breathing reduces oxidative stress by improving antioxidant status in patients with type 2 diabetes

  • Diaphragmatic breathing significantly improved HbA1c

The Breathing Diabetic Summary

As the title suggests, this paper is examining oxidative stress (OST) in diabetics.  They describe how high blood sugar leads to OST, and then go on to show that OST is one of the main causes of diabetic complications.  Thus, if diaphragmatic breathing can reduce OST, it will be very beneficial for us.

They had 123 type-2 diabetic participants in this study, 60 performed diaphragmatic breathing and 63 were controls.  Their protocol is essentially Principle 1 (but I’m the egg here, studies like this are the chicken!).  They had participants relax, breathe in through their nose, bring the air into their belly, and slowly exhale all of the air out. They had them place one hand on their chest, one on their belly, and use their hands to make sure their bellies were rising and not their chests.  This is almost identical to the Oxygen Advantage technique Breathe Light, except they were not instructed to experience air hunger. Patients needed to do this 4 days a week, for 3 months, to be included in the results.  They were asked to do the exercise 15-20 minutes in the morning and at night.  83% of the participants complied.

Now, getting into their results.  The most important results for us were that diaphragmatic breathing significantly improved HbA1c and MDA (which is a marker for oxidative stress).  Vitamin C levels were also significantly improved.  Their overall finding was that diaphragmatic breathing reduced oxidative stress by improving antioxidant levels in the patients.

In summary, breathing through the nose, using the diaphragm (e.g., Principle 1), significantly improved antioxidant status and significantly improved HbA1c in these diabetic patients.

Abstract from Paper

Present study aims to evaluate the effect of diaphragmatic breathing on anthropometry, blood pressure, glycemic control and oxidative stress in patients with type 2 diabetes on standard care in comparison with standard care alone. Study involved 123 patients who were assigned to receive either standard care or with additional diaphragmatic breathing for 3 months. In comparison with the control group, diaphragmatic breathing resulted in significant reduction in body mass index, waist-hip ratio, fasting and post prandial plasma glucose, glycated hemoglobin, malondialdehyde, superoxide dismutase and improvement in glutathione and vitamin C. There was no difference in waist circumference, blood pressure and vitamin E in intervention group at follow-up. It can be concluded that diaphragmatic breathing can be employed as an effective therapy in reducing the oxidative stress while it can be incorporated as an add-on therapy to standard care in improving the anthropometry and glycemic parameters in type 2 diabetes.

Journal Reference:

Shreelaxmi V. Hegde, Prabha Adhikari, N.K. Subbalakshmi, M. Nandini, Gayathri M. Rao, and Vivian D’Souza, (2012) Diaphragmatic breathing exercise as a therapeutic intervention for control of oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes mellitus, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 18, 151-153, doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2012.04.002.