The answers to some of the most common Conscious Breathing questions are listed below. In general, there is no guarantee that breathing retraining will help everyone, as we are all unique individuals with different conditions and needs. Because of that, it is important to point out that Conscious Breathing does not cure diseases, but instead, assists in bringing about a better state of balance in the body. The starting point is that, no matter what the symptoms or name of the disease, poor health is a signal from your body that something is out of balance.

Pain, stress, sleep problems, and so on, are signals that we need to make some kind of change to correct the imbalance or imbalances in our bodies. Conscious Breathing can then be seen as a tool to help your body and mind to become more balanced so that your body can heal and repair itself and function in the way it was always intended to.

On Facebook, there is an active discussion group. There, you can ask questions and search the history. Click here to apply for membership in the group. Below are some of the most common questions:

RELAXATOR

1. How do I use the Relaxator and how long shall I use it?

Question: How do I use the Relaxator and how long shall I use it?

Answer: Apart from making you breathing more rhythmic, slow and relaxed, using the Relaxator also stimulates your diaphragm so that the air ends up in the midriff, or in other words – in the lower part of your lungs.

  1. Set the resistance of your choice. Set the resistance of your choice by turning the Relaxator mouthpiece to adjust the vent. There are five levels of resistance: the smaller the opening, the greater the resistance. Five is the heaviest resistance and one is the lightest. Please note that there is no competition in having the smallest hole open. The aim is for you to achieve a low, relaxed and rhythmical breathing, while the breathing volume is reduced, so it is recommended that you increase the resistance slowly and gradually to make sure your breathing stays relaxed.
  2. Bring the Relaxator to your mouth. Bring the Relaxator to your mouth. Let it rest gently between the lips for greatest relaxation. If possible, refrain from biting it with your teeth as this will cause your jaw to tense up, increasing the amount of saliva produced.
  3. Exhale through the Relaxator. Exhale slowly and calmly through the mouth/Relaxator. At exhalation, your abdomen and the lower part of your chest should slowly contract while the upper part of your chest and shoulders remain more or less still. On exhalation think «air up, midriff contract». Note! The main focus when using the Relaxator is on the exhale, as the inhale will automatically be as it is supposed to (low, midriff) when the exhalation is extended.
  4. Inhale through your nose. Inhale calmly through your nose — just let the air in. At inhalation, the air passes into your abdominal area causing your abdomen to expand, while the upper part of your chest and shoulders remain more or less still. The lower part of your rib cage will expand a little in all directions. On inhalation think «air down, midriff expand to the sides».
  5. Use the Relaxator for fifteen minutes 1-2 times per day. Using the Relaxator for fifteen minutes once or twice a day gives good results. There is no limit to how long time it may be used at any time. Some people opt to use it for 1–2 hours a day. An optimal respiration of 6–12 breaths per minute with 0.5 liters of air per breath is achieved when the resistance is set to 3–4.
  6. Endeavor to maintain relaxed, non-strained breathing when you use the Relaxator. Endeavor to maintain relaxed, non-strained breathing when you use the Relaxator. There is no need to push yourself too hard in order to achieve results. Note how you breathe after having used the Relaxator. If your breathing is relaxed, rhythmic, low, slow and small, the Relaxator is set to a suitable resistance.

The above are general guidelines. It varies per individual how long you shall use the Relaxator and at what resistance level. Listen to your body, your thoughts, and your emotions and let them guide you. The key is relaxation. It is probably better to increase the time that you use the Relaxator over focusing on increasing the resistance.

2. The relaxator makes me drool

Question: I have tried using the Relaxator, but even though I try not to bite into it and just have it between my lips I get a lot of saliva in my mouth. That is why it is hard for me to use it.

Answer: The reasons for experiencing problems with saliva when using a Relaxator are often due to one of the following causes:

Tensed jaws. Your jaws may become tense when using a Relaxator, which will increase saliva production. If possible, it is optimal for you to hold the Relaxator between your lips, as this will provide increased relaxation compared to when you bite into it with your teeth.

Increased relaxation. If you are using a Relaxator, there will be increased activity in the parasympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system (the part of the nervous system that handles heartbeat, breathing, digestion, etc. without us having to think about it). In English, the parasympathetic system is called the rest and digest system. When we relax, the body may, thus, think it is time to eat and, as a result, secrete more saliva. And the fact that we put a Relaxator in our mouths can contribute even more to make the body think food will soon come.

Difficulty swallowing at the same time. The technique for swallowing while having a Relaxator in your mouth has to be learned, but you will usually figure it out after having used the Relaxator for a while.

Saliva is a way to get rid of waste products. One reason for more saliva is that your body becomes better balanced by the breathing training, and then the ability to rid yourself of waste products will increase. Normally, we have four ways to get rid of waste products: urine, feces, sweat and exhalation. When these are not enough, our bodies use saliva as a backup system.

Overuse at first. If we immediately start training with the Relaxator for several hours a day with a very small opening to create high resistance, and it is hard to exhale the air, it is conceivable that we may overuse the Relaxator and will need to both reduce the time we use it and open up the Relaxator a little more so that it is easier to exhale through it.

If the hole on the Relaxator is pointed downward. According to my experience, it is better if the breathing hole is pointing upwards in case of saliva problems.

My advice is to hang in and continue training with the Relaxator, as the problems usually are transient and the saliva will decrease after having used the Relaxator for a while. Another option is to take a break or work out with the Relaxator for a shorter time or with a lower resistance if you find the saliva to be a problem.

3. Since the carbon dioxide levels are high when you have COPD, why should you use the Relaxator?

Question: Can you explain how blowing in the Relaxator can, in some people, increase the level of carbon dioxide and in people with, for example, COPD or pulmonary emphysema, reduce the level of it, as these people retain too much carbon dioxide?

Answer: Many of us breathe in a way that exceeds the needs of our body, which is essentially a low-grade form of hyperventilation. The big problem with hyperventilation is that we get an imbalance between oxygen and carbon dioxide: we get too much oxygen and too little carbon dioxide. More information on the disadvantages of a low carbon dioxide pressure can be found in this article: “Carbon dioxide pressure more important than blood pressure”.

When we breathe in using the Relaxator, the purpose is, among others, to calm down our breathing and breathe more slowly. Slower breathing will reduce hyperventilation. In other words, the amount of air we breathe in and out per minute or hour will decrease. By slowing breathing, we will retain more carbon dioxide in our bodies, which will lead to increased carbon dioxide pressure.

If you have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or pulmonary emphysema, parts of your lungs are destroyed due to the collapse of alveoli (pulmonary vesicles responsible for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the bloodstream). It then becomes difficult to fully exhale air, and as a result, your lungs and air passages will retain some of the carbon dioxide.

If the person with COPD or pulmonary emphysema exhales through a Relaxator or some similar device which increases resistance upon exhalation, the pressure in the person’s lungs will increase. The increased pressure will cause the alveoli that have collapsed, to widen, which means that the carbon dioxide can be extracted from the blood so balance can be restored.

To sum it all up, Relaxator training will help in restoring an optimal carbon dioxide pressure both during over-breathing (where carbon dioxide pressure is too low) and COPD or pulmonary emphysema (where carbon dioxide pressure is too high).

4. Can the Relaxator repair the alveoli?

QUESTION: If a person with COPD uses the Relaxator regularly, can the lung sacs (the alveoli) be slowly repaired? Or are they destroyed forever?

ANSWER: This is undoubtedly an interesting question, and I do not actually know if it is possible to repair the damaged lung tissue or not. But several people with the diagnosis of COPD have, at least, received increased lung capacity after they started training with the Relaxator.

One example is Axel, 87 years old, who was diagnosed COPD. Axel has smoked since he was 17, and he improved his lung function even though he continued to smoke.

Another example is JD Dunphy whose lung function improved by 10% after three weeks of breathing retraining. JD has, however, not been diagnosed with COPD.

5. The Relaxator makes me start yawning

QUESTION: When I use the Relaxator, I start yawning. Why is that?

ANSWER: The three most common reasons for yawning when breathing retraining with the Relaxator are:

• Fatigue. That we are yawning may be a sign that we are tired. When we exercise with the Relaxator, the body becomes more in balance and then tells us what our natural state is. If it is true that we are actually tired and need to sleep, then the Relaxator training can make us start yawning.

• Shallow breathing. If we have a shallow breathing, it causes tense muscles in the neck, shoulders, back and neck. The shallow breathing causes these muscles to take on a greater share of the muscle work required to move the air in and out.

It is normally the main task of the diaphragm to move the air in and out as we breathe. Since the muscles of the neck, shoulders, back and neck are not designed to be constantly active, they become overworked, worn-out and tense. If the neck muscles, which continue up into the head, are tense, it may cause tension in the jaw. When we yawn, it is a way to try to reduce tension in the jaw.

General stress and pressure in everyday life may also cause us to clench out teeth and strain our jaws. Gritting your teeth at night is a sign of stress and tense jaws.

• Hyperventilation. Yawning can also indicate that the Relaxator is set to a resistance level that is too high. When we are all pumped up, it is common for us to increase our breathing more than is called for. We hyperventilate, which increases the outflow of carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide is constantly produced in the body and leaves the body upon exhalation. It is the carbon dioxide pressure that controls breathing. During stress or hyperventilation, the respiratory center is reset so that your body’s ability to tolerate carbon dioxide decreases, i.e. the carbon dioxide pressure drops. When you have the Relaxator set to a high number (high resistance), the carbon dioxide builds up too quickly, and you are forced to take big breaths after a while, for example by yawning, to extract the carbon dioxide so that the carbon dioxide pressure is kept at the level that the breathing center is set to.

It is roughly as if you were to start exercising at a very poor fitness level. You do not start by running ten kilometers but maybe by walking one kilometer, and then you must gradually work your way up to an even better fitness.

What the Relaxator helps you do is increase your ability to tolerate carbon dioxide and, thus, be able to breathe more slowly, but the key is to take it at a rate your body can handle. Here is an article that highlights how carbon dioxide pressure affects our health.

6. How should the Relaxator be placed in the mouth?

QUESTION: How should the Relaxator be placed in the mouth? I have it between the lips but feel that it is tough to tighten the jaws.

ANSWER: When we bite into the Relaxator with our teeth, we increase the risk of getting a tense jaw. So the absolutely best choice is to hold the Relaxator with your lips.

One reason why it may be perceived as difficult to hold it with our lips is if we have a habit keeping our mouths open, for example, if we talk a lot, stress a lot etc.

When our mouth is open often, our lip muscles may be weakened and need to be exercised. When we have our mouth closed, we activate our lip muscles. So if we have the bad habit of keeping our mouth open, our weakened lip muscles may make it seem difficult to hold the Relaxator with our lips, and we may experience tension in the lips and jaw as well as increased saliva production.

These problems are, however, usually transient and disappear as you practice with the Relaxator, train your lips and become more and more relaxed.

Maybe you need to practice with a lighter resistance. A common reason why we do not really become friends with the Relaxator is that we have the resistance set too high (the opening for air flow is too small). The fact is, the Relaxator produces an effect even if you have it set to a lower resistance. Start small and build up, just like you would with any exercise.

7. What is the best way to clean my Relaxator?

QUESTION: What is the best way to clean my Relaxator?

ANSWER: Here are some tips on how to clean the Relaxator:

  • Soak the Relaxator in lukewarm water with some detergent.
  • Flush the Relaxator below the water tap with some hot water.
  • Put on some colloidal silver or some other cleansing agent.
  • Place the Relaxator in a glass of lukewarm water with half a teaspoon of bicarbonate for 15 minutes. See the study below on pesticides, where bicarbonate was more effective than Clorox. After 15 minutes in bicarbonate, almost all the pesticide was neutralized.
  • Take the Relaxator apart from time to time and clean it with a cotton swab. To disassemble the Relaxator, remove the back cover from the nozzle. Remove the membrane and the holder (“the wagon wheel”) by inserting a standard food knife through the nozzle and poke out the membrane. NOTE! Usually, it is possible to keep the Relaxator clean without taking it apart.

Boiling the Relaxator is not a good idea as it contains a rubber membrane to prevent inhalation through the mouth. The membrane can withstand a maximum of 55° C (131° F). It is also possible to remove the membrane completely if you wish. I have never tried that, but it should be possible to clean the Relaxator in the dishwasher and set the maximum temperature to 131° F (55° C).

8. Can the Relaxator help me concentrate better?

QUESTION: Sometimes when I am completing a task, I am stressed by the pressure of time restrictions and find it difficult to concentrate. Can the Relaxator help me concentrate better?

ANSWER: When I have a lot to do at work, I usually use my Relaxator. I usually feel I’m becoming a bit like a machine when I put it in my mouth. It helps me to continue my task for a long time, and I feel present, focused and without stress.

But sometimes you need a reminder of how effective it is, which I got this morning when I began the process of counting my stock of Relaxators, about 6.000 in total. It is quite a lot of counting, so some stress may easily sneak in and make it difficult to maintain full concentration for all that time.

When I counted the last 1.500 Relaxators, I used my own Relaxator, and the difference was significant! I counted faster and was less stressed, more focused and more present. Overall, it was a much more pleasant experience. Really cool, actually!🙂

So if you have a job where you need to concentrate, or if you have children who study and want to increase their ability to learn, I can highly recommend the Relaxator.

Here are a couple of articles from Guteskolan (the Gute school) in Visby and Globenskolan (the Globen school) in Alingsås, where the students have been improving their breathing with the Relaxator for four weeks. Many students feel that it has helped them to concentrate better.

9. With the Relaxator, I, after all, breathe out through the mouth!

QUESTION: When I use the Relaxator, I breathe out through my mouth, but you say we should breathe through our nose.

ANSWER: It is true that good breathing goes in and out through the nose. The mouth is for eating and talking, while the nose is for breathing.

When we do breathing retraining with the Relaxator, however, the exhalation, obviously, goes through the mouth. We should view the Relaxator training as if we are at a training arena and aiming at creating better breathing habits both during the training itself and afterwards

The benefit of training with a Relaxator, which provides resistance when exhaling, is really great as it provides breathing that is rhythmic, relaxed, low, slow and reduced in volume, with increased pressure in the lungs and sinuses and an extended exhalation. We also exercise the breathing muscles, like the diaphragm and the muscles of the neck.

These benefits outweigh the disadvantages of exhaling through the mouth. When we stop exercising with the Relaxator, we step out of the training arena and breathe in and out through the nose again.

In the best of worlds, we would have had the Relaxator in our noses so that we could breathe in and out through the nose even during resistance breathing. Whether or not we would have wanted to wear something like that in our nose is another question… 🙂

10. I get dizzy when I use the Relaxator

QUESTION: When I use the Relaxator, I get dizzy.

ANSWER: If you get dizzy, it may indicate that you have the Relaxator set to at a resistance level that is too high. When we are all pumped up, it is common for us to increase our breathing more than is called for. We hyperventilate, which increases the outflow of carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide is constantly produced in the body and leaves the body upon exhalation. It is the carbon dioxide pressure that controls the breathing, and during stress or hyperventilation, the respiratory center is reset so that your body’s ability to tolerate carbon dioxide decreases, i.e. the carbon dioxide pressure drops. If you have the Relaxator set to a high number (high resistance), the carbon dioxide builds up too quickly, and you may get dizzy and feel faint. It is your body trying to make you stop doing what you are doing, i.e. it wants you to breathe in a way that causes the carbon dioxide pressure to be kept at the level your breathing center is set to.

It is not wrong to challenge ourselves as it makes us aware of where our limits are. Many of us are, however, very competitive, which may cause us to run over our bodies, which we may become aware of when breathing exercise. What the Relaxator helps you with do is increase your ability to tolerate carbon dioxide, and thus, be able to breathe more slowly. But the key is to take it at a rate you can handle. Here is an article that highlights how the carbon dioxide pressure affects our health.

11. What is the Relaxator made of?

QUESTION: I try to live and eat as non-toxic as possible. Because of that, I wonder what kind of plastic the Relaxator is made of.

ANSWER: The Relaxator is developed and manufactured in Sweden from recyclable ABS plastic and contains no phthalates or bisphenol A (BPAs). Both paint and plastic are food grade approved.

12. Headaches with the Relaxator resistance set to high

QUESTION: I get a headache when I do physical activity with my mouth closed and when I work out with the Relaxator set to a high resistance (hard to exhale).

ANSWER: This headache often occurs in the frontal lobe, and the main reason is likely due to increased pressure in the nasal cavities and sinuses. This kind of headache is usually transient and decreases and disappears as your body gets used to the Relaxator. It also usually disappears if you a) decrease the intensity during your workout, b) decrease the prolonged exhalation so that the pressure in the sinuses decreases, or c) decrease the resistance of the Relaxator so that it is easier to exhale through it.

13. Using the Relaxator for a cough

QUESTION: I wonder if the Relaxator can be helpful when I have a cough.

ANSWER: Yes, it is conceivable that the Relaxator may be helpful if you have a cough. If you have a cough, the respiratory passages are narrowed, thus, your breathing becomes shallower. Narrow respiratory passages make it more difficult for air to reach the lower parts of your lungs, causing residue, particles, and old air to become trapped. Then, you are forced to cough to get rid of the particles and residue.

To get the particles up, more mucus may also be formed and may cause your cough to become “gunky.” When you breathe low, with the diaphragm, the air reaches down to the lower parts of your lungs and brings up residue to be eliminated as you exhale.

If there is a lot of gunk in your lungs due to prolonged superficial breathing, you may start coughing as a way to help get the many particles out. It is much like a smoking cough, as smoking over time causes many particles to accumulate in the lungs and the smoker has to cough to try to get them out.

With the Relaxator, which provides a resistance when exhaling, the circulation in the lungs is improved, and the coughing can be reduced as particles and residue come out naturally with the exhalation air, so the backup function in the form of a cough is not needed. This is what one woman said: “The Relaxator is the best “cough drop” available! When you feel you are about to start coughing, break the reflex immediately by starting to use the Relaxator.”

Another woman said: “Now that I have been affected by a virus and have attacks of dry cough, I breathe with my Relaxator, and then the coughing stops immediately.”

14. The Relaxator when giving birth?

QUESTION: Do you know anyone who has given birth and used the Relaxator?

ANSWER: Yes, several women have used the Relaxator when giving birth and have reported being very happy with doing so! They have experienced the Relaxator as a “faithful friend” to lean on during the toughest moments when it has been difficult to maintain a good breath.

Especially between the contractions, good breathing allows for faster recovery. This article addresses the close relationship between breathing and pain: Your breathing – a powerful tool for pain relief.

From the article:

Fear causes us to feel tense and hold our breath, and we can all recognize ourselves in the reaction, “Phew, now the danger is over, now I can relax and exhale,” and then we let out the air with a sigh. One term used in conjunction with childbirth is the “fear-tension-pain” cycle. The woman who is about to give birth may have fears about the delivery as well as the discomfort she is experiencing, and she may become tense.

Tension in the body causes pain to increase, which causes even more fear and tension rises further. Thus, a vicious cycle is established. In the case of tension and fear, breathing changes as the inherited reaction are to hold the breath in order to wake up the body or to breathe higher up in the chest to “escape” from unpleasant emotions, often located in the stomach area.

With our breathing, we can either intensify or reduce pain. If we tense up, the pain increases. By applying Conscious Breathing, the body relaxes and the pain can decrease. Try it yourself. The next time you experience pain, start breathing slowly, rhythmically, low and small, and note how the pain subsides.


Sleep Tape

1. Difficulties with Sleep Tape removal

QUESTION: I sometimes find it difficult to remove the Sleep Tape in the morning. Do you have any tips?

ANSWER: Sleep Tape has been on the market since 2013. The material in Sleep Tape is non-woven rayon, which is allergy friendly and free of latex. We tried out several different types of tape before finally deciding on this particular material.

The adhesive in Sleep Tape is only available in one strength and is intended to work both for those with beards and mustaches and for those with sensitive skin. Some feel that the tape is too tight or that you get sore on the lips or a rash around the mouth. Here are some tips on what you can do:

  • Drink water. Dry lips may be an indication that you have too little water in your body. However, be careful not to drink too much water as it is not good either. An easy way to check if you are drinking enough water is to check the smell and color of your urine. Yellow to light yellow and very faint or no odor indicate that you are drinking enough water. In addition to drinking enough water, it is also important to not lose more water than necessary through the exhalation. A Swedish study showed that as much as 42 percent more water leaves the body during mouth breathing than during nose breathing. So, breathe in and out through your nose as much as possible to help maintain hydration.
  • Place the tape against the pillow. Place the tape against the pillow a few times to loosen the effectiveness of the adhesive.
  • Reuse the tape. Reuse the tape several nights in a row, so that the adhesive is removed gradually.
  • Tape the nose-chin. Tape from the nose down to the chin so that less skin comes into contact with the tape. This also leaves a slight opening on either side of the tape, which can be comforting to know is there if you feel the need to breathe through your mouth.
  • Fold in the lips. Fold your lips a little before putting on the tape.
  • Lubricate lips. Rub your lips with coconut oil, cerate or something similar.
  • Moisten lips. Moisten your lips with your tongue.
  • Fold in edges of the tape. Fold down a small bit at the ends of the tape and it will be easier to remove.
  • Before removal: Moisten lips. Before removing the tape, moisten it with your tongue and then push it out from the inside.
  • Before removal: Soak in water. Before removing the tape, soak it with regular drinking water from the tap.

2. Can children tape the mouth at night?

QUESTION: Can children tape their mouths at night? (I have a 6-year-old who is very curious.)

ANSWER: Yes, it usually works out fine for many 6-year-olds to tape their mouth, especially if they are curious and want to try it. It doesn’t work as well if parents try to convince a child. 🙂 There are even 5-year-olds who tape their mouth. Although it is individual and may work, I do not recommend that children younger than 5 years of age tape their mouth at night.

3. With the tape, I wake up as early as 4 o’clock

QUESTION: I usually sleep like a log and wake up rested. I started taping the mouth and did not sleep well at all any longer. I started to wake up rested at 4 o’clock. I fell asleep again but slept anxiously and woke up rested again. I tried several nights with the same result. Now, I have removed it and sleep “normal” again. Have you experienced this before? Could it be that I sleep so much deeper that I do not need more than 5 hours of sleep? No, it cannot be, can it? I am a bit afraid to ruin my comfortable, safe sleep and put it in imbalance.

ANSWER: Yes, my experience was similar at first: that I woke up early. Sometimes, I was very well rested, and I just chose to accept it, be grateful and leave the bed. 🙂 Over time, my sleep became more normal, and now I sleep about the same amount of time as before I started breathing training, maybe slightly less.

For some who start breathing training, some form of cleansing or initial change for the worse may occur before it gets better. The reaction (temporary change for the worse) may occur immediately or after a few weeks of breathing training. What happens during an initial change for the worse can be compared to when a person who quit smoking does not feel so good at first. Instead, the gains come after a while. Usually, the reaction occurs where we have had problems earlier. One way of looking at an initial change for the worse is, thus, that the body is healing. Here is an article that addresses this: “Can breathing retraining cause a cleansing reaction?“.

4. I have taped the mouth for two nights and wake up really tired. Should I continue?

QUESTION: I have tried taping my mouth for two nights and am very tired when I wake up. As far as I know, I have not woken up during the night. Do you think I should continue with the tape or not?

ANSWER: For some who start breathing training, some form of cleansing or initial change for the worse may sometimes occur before it gets better. The reaction (a temporary change for the worse) may occur immediately or after a few weeks of breathing training. What happens during an initial change for the worse can be compared to when a person who quit smoking does not feel so good at first. Instead, the gains come after a while. Usually, the reaction occurs where we have had problems earlier. One way of looking at an initial change for the worse is that the body is healing.

Being very tired when you wake up can be a form of initial change for the worse. So my advice is to hang in there and continue taping your mouth at night for at least one week and most preferably for four weeks. In this article, you can read about some experiences of people who have started breathing training and have experienced issues that got worse before they got better: “Can breathing retraining cause a cleansing reaction?“.

5. Is there a connection between sore throat and mouth taping?

QUESTION: After having used the tape, I suffer a slightly sore throat have a need to swallow and clear my throat and the need to harken myself as if there is some mucus. When I have the tape on and before I fall asleep, I also have a need to swallow. I am pretty sure it is not an infection or cold, but think it has to do with my changed breathing at night due to the tape. Might that be the case?

ANSWER: What you are experiencing can for sure have something to do with the fact that you have started taping your mouth at night. Exactly what happens is difficult to answer. We are, after all, quite complex beings. Some get reactions, such as initial deterioration when they start exercising breathing, but not all. Usually, the reaction occurs where we have had problems before. Could it be that you have experienced similar problems before? In general, you can say that as you improve your breathing habits your cells get more oxygen, and they can then produce more energy and start doing things they have not had the energy to do before.

QUESTIONER’s RESPONSE: Thank you for the answer. It is interesting that you can get reactions where you have had problems in the past, because my thyroid gland is not functioning optimally, and I have been taking medication for this since it was discovered three years ago. My thyroid gland was also, at least then, slightly enlarged, and during a biopsy av inflammation was detected. So now I understand better how it relates to the current reactions in my throat. Thank you!

6. Responding to criticism of mouth taping recommendations

QUESTION: Do you often receive criticism for suggesting mouth taping? And if you do, how do you respond to it? I have written an article about school age children and mouth taping, and people are going crazy and threaten to report me. Ha ha ha. I am thinking I will have time to practice my breathing if I get locked up because of this.

ANSWER: I received criticism, initially. Some complained that the Relaxator was too expensive, or that the tape might be fatal, or the breathing technique was fuzzy, and so on. Some criticism was justified and forced me to learn and develop new things. That criticism, I assimilated. Much of the criticism, however, was not justified. When I learned to ignore it and see it as if each person was actually curious, I came to conclude that:

  • I am not here to convince anyone.
  • I sow seeds with my breathing tips, and if I do it with love and warmth, these seeds will grow faster compared to sowing the seeds in a soil with a superior, judgmental, and self-important “I know best” attitude.
  • I share my knowledge with those who want to listen and do not focus very much on those who are skeptical and not curious.
  • All criticism is good as it means that the person or persons find it interesting and challenging enough to their own worldview that they have chosen to devote some of their precious power and energy to criticize it. In the criticism, there is also an opportunity to learn and sharpen my arguments and my presentation. The criticism also provides an excellent opportunity, a platform, to get a discussion started so that the topic becomes relevant for a longer period of time and offers an opportunity to give further arguments with new approaches.
  • Do not polarize and enter into a discussion about what is right or wrong but try to be humble and respect the fact that we are all different and have different backgrounds, experiences and desires.
  • Do not take criticism personally but see it as if those who criticize are your teachers who want to help you grow (at least on a subconscious level).
  • Criticism gives us the opportunity for a moment’s reflection and consideration. What is aroused in me? How do I react? What is behind the other person’s reaction? Most often, we do not need to be afraid when someone gives full rein to release their inherent anger on us. Behind the anger, there is often fear, much like “do not scare the dog, as it may get angry.” Maybe inside, there is a small child of five who thirsts for love and is afraid not to find it.

Here is an example of criticism and my response from November 2018—

Email from a potential customer – 125 USD for a basic course? You are really a humane, good person! Like asthmatics do not already have problems. Damn! Great to charge 125 USD for the basic course! People with breathing panic with asthma inhalers on installment can really afford and want this. Do you sell colloidal silver as well? 125 USD per milliliter in that case too? Fucking dabbler!

MY answer –

Hi xxxxx! Thanks for your email. No, we do not sell colloidal silver. And the fact is that the Basic Course in Conscious Breathing costs 100 USD. There was probably some error on the website, which caused the price to be shown without VAT.

If you want help with your asthma but cannot afford the course, then you can, after all, contact medical care. They get their business to break even thanks to you and me, through taxes. I, on the other hand, run a private company and have no such income, so in order to support myself, I have to charge this price. But it is, after all, entirely your choice to take our course to see if breathwork can help you with your asthma.

I see the course as a service intended primarily for those who want to get to the root of their problems and are prepared to put in the work required. At the same time, we are all unique individuals, so there is no guarantee that breathing training will help. However, many have positive experiences of improving their breathing. You can read about some of our customers experiences at the bottom of the article, “Improve your breathing – Improve your asthma”.

What is also pleasing is that you do not actually need to take any course to improve your breathing. Much of the information is already on the website, for example, the seven good habits of Conscious Breathing. The book I wrote also contains many tips, and it can be borrowed from a library.

It also happens that we help people who are disadvantaged financially, with discounts or free products. What inspires us a great deal to do so is kindness, curiosity and humility.

Warm greetings Anders Olsson, Conscious Breathing.


GENERAL QUESTIONS ABOUT BREATHING

1. Why do you sometimes inhale a lot of air?

QUESTION: A thought about breathing. Why do you sometimes inhale a lot of air, a deep breath, completely automatically? Does the body suddenly need more oxygen or what is the reason? I can wake up at night for this very reason.

ANSWER: The reason you need to take a big breath and breathe in a lot of air is probably because you have held your breath and, thus, increased the levels of carbon dioxide in your body.

When we breathe the intended way, that is breathing in way that corresponds to the body’s needs, we maintain a balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide.

We take in oxygen from the outside as we breathe in, while carbon dioxide is constantly produced in the body and leaves the body on exhalation.

When our breathing is impaired — shallow, rapid, large, arrhythmic, noisy, strained and through the mouth — there is an imbalance between oxygen and carbon dioxide. Shallow, fast, large (which some call deep) breathing provides too much oxygen and too little carbon dioxide, while holding the breath provides the reverse: too little oxygen and too much carbon dioxide. Arrhythmic breathing alternates between the two.

It is the level of carbon dioxide in the body (the carbon dioxide pressure) that controls the breathing. As carbon dioxide levels rise, the respiratory center is triggered, which stimulates the phrenic nerve, which, in turn, stimulates the diaphragm, which moves downward, and we inhale.

On the subsequent exhalation, we exhale carbon dioxide. When enough carbon dioxide has been built up in the body, the respiratory center is triggered once more, and a new breathing cycle begins.

When you need to take a big breath, you have probably held your breath, or breathed too little, so that too much carbon dioxide has been built up. The big breath is, after all, accompanied by an equally big exhalation, and then the body gets rid of the excess of carbon dioxide.

The need to take big breaths and to sigh also increases if you have the bad habit to breathe quickly, shallowly and/or big as this over time increases the outflow of carbon dioxide. This type of breathing reduces the carbon dioxide pressure in the body, which makes the breathing center more sensitive, i.e. we develop a lower tolerance for carbon dioxide, and the need to suck or take big breaths increases.

Conscious Breathing involves exercising and improving your breathing so that it more and more often becomes slower, lower, smaller and more rhythmic to ensure an optimal balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide and, thus, optimal oxygenation.

Here is an article that further explains the role of carbon dioxide in the body: “Carbon dioxide pressure more important than blood pressure“.

2. Why is nose breathing good when I am working out?

Question: I go to a gym regularly. I am riding at full speed and try keeping my mouth shut. It works out pretty well. BUT then I go into a leader-led group, and the instructor is constantly telling me that I have to exhale through my mouth. I ignore it. Is there any reason for thinking panting is good? The only advantage I see is that with open exhalation I do not have to blow my nose that often! After all, I manage it quite well, so why change a concept that works. However, I want to know why it is good to exhale through your mouth.

Answer: My view is that the knowledge of breathing inside the work out world often has room for improvement. I would start by asking your instructor what he or she thinks are the most important benefits of exhaling through your mouth.

The benefits of exhaling through your nose are, as I see it, the following ones:

• You will retain more water. A Swedish study shows that 42% more water will leave a body when you are exhaling through your mouth compared to through your nose.

• You will retain an optimal carbon dioxide pressure. The same study also shows that the breathing volume increased by 12% when you are exhaling through your mouth compared to through your nose, which means that the outflow of carbon dioxide also increased. A reduced carbon dioxide pressure in the blood results in a poorer oxygenation of your muscles (the Bohr effect). As carbon dioxide also has a widening and relaxing effect on the muscles in your blood vessels, it is more difficult for the blood to reach your muscles. A lower carbon dioxide pressure is probably a major reason why many people feel that conscious breathing during exercise gives a lower heart rate.

• Your nose will be reheated and moisturized. If you exhale through your nose, your nose is moisturized and reheated by exhalation air from your lungs, which is 100% saturated with water vapor and warmed to 37° C (98.6° F). If you exhale through your mouth, your nose will eventually work worse as it gets colder and drier.

• You will clean away bacteria. Particles and bacteria that are trapped in your nose when you inhale will disappear if your exhale through your nose. If you also breathe in through your mouth, you will skip your body’s first line of defense against external intruders (your nose), and more particles and bacteria will end up in your lungs. This will create inflammation, and your lungs will have to produce more mucus to get the particles out. Both of these things will contribute to narrower air passages.

• The oxygenation of your blood will be more efficient. As your nose has a narrower passage compared to your mouth, a higher pressure is maintained in your lungs if you exhale through your nose compared to if you exhale through your mouth. It will provide a more efficient transfer of oxygen from inhalation air to your blood and carbon dioxide from your blood to exhalation air.

3. How fast can you get results from breathing retraining?

Question: If you are actively practicing to improve your breathing, when can you expect an effect?

Answer: It differs a lot from person to person when an effect can be expected. Some people will notice improvements immediately, as soon as they start exercising with the Relaxator or after the first night with taped mouth, while it will take a little longer for others.

In general, as in most other cases, a tiny effort produces a tiny result. So I highly recommend that you do the entire training program for 28 days and use all four tools included in the conscious breathing training:

  • Become aware of your breathing. Awareness is often the first step to change. The first step in the 7 steps of the Conscious Breathing program is, therefore, to become more aware of your breathing by answering the 20 questions in the breathing index.
  • Tape your mouth at night. Many of us have our mouths open while we sleep. Mouth respiration while resting automatically means hyperventilation, in other words, creating an imbalance between oxygen and carbon dioxide. Taping your mouth at night with sleep tape is an extremely simple, yet very powerful tool. Since it is not easy to keep an eye on your breathing while sleeping, using sleep tape ensures that your mouth will stay closed during the night and that you will breathe only through your nose. Nasal breathing provides a calmer sleep and minimal energy leakage, which will increase the opportunity for your body to engage in healing, repair and recovery.
  • Workout with the relaxator. With the Relaxator breathing trainer, you can improve your breathing habits so that you will breathe more in a way that meets the needs of your body. The Relaxator will help you breathe slower and more rhythmically. It will also improve the muscle tone of your upper respiratory tract and strengthen your diaphragm, your most important breathing muscle.
  • Physical activity with your mouth closed. Good respiration begins in your nose. If your nose is tight and you have difficulty breathing through it, it is often a sign of your breathing not optimal. In your nose, under the turbinates, there are erectile tissues. They will puff up if your carbon dioxide pressure is too low, as a defense mechanism, a way to help prevent carbon dioxide outflow, since carbon dioxide leaves your body upon exhalation. Physical activity with your mouth closed will improve your ability to breathe through your nose. As you improve your breathing and restore your carbon dioxide pressure, the nasal erectile tissue will decrease in size, and your nose will then feel less narrow.

More information on the 28 days of conscious breathing training can be found here.

4. Is there a connection between impaired breathing and women who retract their belly?

QUESTION: Is there a connection between some women’s body issues regarding the belly, causing them to retract their belly and, thus, develop impaired breathing?

ANSWER: Yes, there is a connection between belly complexes and impaired breathing. Here is an article that, among other things, addresses this: “Women in the risk zone develop deteriorating breathing habits“.

Men, too, may have the same problem as many feel they must portray themselves as strong and masculine by pushing their chest forward and pulling their stomach in.

5. How would it be possible to breathe with my nose when cross country skiing since my nose is running all the time?

QUESTION: How would it be possible to breathe with my nose when cross-country skiing? My nose is running constantly and becomes clogged. I sleep with a taped mouth and breathe with my nose most of the time during daytime, but it just does not work when skiing because it is too cold. What to do?

ANSWER: Usually, it has to do with practice. The more we practice breathing through the nose when doing physical activities, the better we will become at it.

The most common mistake I come across is when you only have tried your activity once and that you have done it with the same speed you use when breathing through your mouth.

To succeed, you need to slow down and be patient. Ignore the performance and leave the watch at home.

We cannot expect to be able to cope with nasal breathing immediately, just as we cannot expect to do 50 pull-ups if we have never done a single one in our lives. We get to see ourselves as beginners in this “branch” and think that we are giving ourselves a new challenge — a breathing challenge that you can indeed manage to do.

The problem with a runny nose is usually transient. How long it will take to get up to the same intensity you have right now and just breathe through a nose that does not run all the time (but maybe a little) usually depends on what breathing habits you have in your everyday life.

Although nasal breathing is the most important first step on the road to good breathing, and you tape your mouth at night and breathe through your nose almost all day, there are more things that determine if the quality of your breathing. In Conscious Breathing, we work with seven good breathing habits: it should be in and out through the nose, and it should be far down in the stomach, slow, small, rhythmic and quiet while the posture is straight.

Here is an article that may give you some inspiration: “Conscious Breathing for optimum sport performance“.

6. Can nasal breathing give us too much carbon dioxide?

QUESTION: When breathing through the mouth, we exhale more carbon dioxide than the body produces, and your theory is that the respiratory tract in the nose is blocked to prevent excessive carbon dioxide outflow. I have previously read the book Relaxation and Mental Training — For a Richer Life by Eva Johansson, and it says this: “It is also important that you breathe out properly.”

Then, an increase in the level of carbon dioxide in the blood is prevented, which in itself can create anxiety. This makes me a bit confused. Have I misunderstood something? If we breathe through the nose, may we get too much carbon dioxide in the blood?

ANSWER: As with everything else, it is all about balance, so we may have too much carbon dioxide, and we may have too little. Excessive levels of carbon dioxide are especially common when you have damaged lung tissue and have been diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or pulmonary emphysema. For most other people, however, the opposite is true: that the level of carbon dioxide is too low.

However, many people seem to have misunderstood the importance of carbon dioxide for a body in balance and see it only as a residual product that is produced when nutrients are converted to energy in the cells and that it should leave the body as quickly as possible.

I think this common misconception is one reason why it says what it does in Eva Johansson’s book. My view is that carbon dioxide is as far from a simple residual product as it can possibly be. In a rather healthy person, it is the level of carbon dioxide that controls the rate and volume of the breathing. As you get worse, oxygen levels become more important in triggering the breathing reflex, but in most of us it is the carbon dioxide pressure that controls the breathing.

This fact alone, that carbon dioxide controls our breathing, which is the body’s most important function, should be more than enough to kill the myth that carbon dioxide is dangerous. When firefighters in the United States (I do not know about the situation in Sweden) check to see if a person is still alive, they check neither the pulse nor the oxygen saturation in the blood. They check to see if the exhaled air contains carbon dioxide. If it does, it means the person is still alive. One can, thus, have a non-existent pulse but still be alive.

Normal breathing at rest is 6-12 breaths per minute at about half a liter per breath, which gives a breathing volume of 3-6 liters of air per minute and a carbon dioxide pressure of about 40-45 mmHg.

In the case of impaired breathing, it is common for us to breathe more, 18-25 breaths per minute or more, with a larger volume for each breath that gives a breathing volume of 10-15 liters per minute. When we breathe in this way, we lose carbon dioxide and thereby lower the carbon dioxide pressure to below 40 mmHg. A carbon dioxide pressure of 35 mmHg or lower is considered hyperventilation.

Over time, a new normal state is, thus, established in the body, where the respiratory reflex is triggered by even lower carbon dioxide levels in the blood. When we practice breathing, we teach the body to tolerate a higher carbon dioxide pressure so that the breathing reflex is triggered less frequently.

In addition to controlling breathing, carbon dioxide has many other important functions, including:

  • Germicidal agent. It has been used in the food industry since the 1930s, and, for example, cheese and coffee are packed in 100% carbon dioxide.
  • Expanding smooth muscles. It has a widening and relaxing effect on smooth muscles, the muscles we cannot control with the will, which are found in respiratory passages, blood vessels, intestines, the uterus, etc.
  • Increasing oxygenation. It causes oxygen to be more easily released from blood into our cells to be used for cellular respiration (this is called the Bohr effect).

Here is an article I wrote in an attempt to clarify the topic: “Carbon dioxide pressure is more important than blood pressure“.

7. What are the major benefits from Conscious Breathing?

QUESTION: I want to ask you, Anders, what is your best health benefit from Conscious Breathing?

ANSWER: My improved breathing has mainly contributed to me learning to turn off the turbo and slow down so that I am more present and aware and less stressed. This, in turn, has opened up a window of opportunities to react differently to incoming stimuli. In other words, I am no longer a slave to my learned behaviors from childhood.

  • I stay healthier. I am very rarely sick nowadays. More of my resources can then be devoted to learning and development instead of trying to recover. And when I get sick, I have learned to appreciate the fact that my body is telling me to slow down. Being sick, even if it is only a mild cold, is also an opportunity to get a different perspective on life and gain new insights.
  • I am kinder to my body. In the past, my body was just a simple tool in the pursuit of the goals my brain had set. Reaching these goals was far more important than the well-being of my body. These days, my body is my best friend, and “we” only do things we think are fun and make us feel good!
  • I am less scared and more daring. Fear is an effective way to prevent us from living the lives we desire. By daring to be who I am, I have become the protagonist of my own life. I am no longer afraid of death, accidents, lack of money, giving speeches, embarrassments, failures or whatever others think of me. Breathing has become my faithful friend who is always with me and who I can safely lean on when I need support.
  • I feel an increased sense of freedom. Improved breathing habits have helped me find an inner strength. Nowadays, I am rarely guided by needs like cravings for sugar or feel that I must have the latest technological gadget. Nor does the clock, stress, anxiety or anger have any greater influence on my life. It has also become easier to cope with setbacks as I have realized that they help me develop and grow as a human being. There is a huge feeling of freedom to increasingly being able to choose my reaction to incoming stimuli and no longer being a “slave” to old habits and learned behaviors.
  • My relationships have improved. It has become easier to familiarize myself with other people’s situations and understand the reasons for their thoughts, opinions and actions. My critical and judgmental inner dialogue has been replaced with acceptance, humility and curiosity. By focusing on my breathing, I can more easily create a bit of distance between my thoughts and emotions and, to an increasing extent, keep calm in difficult situations. The result is that I feel an increased connection with everything living: animals, plants and people.
  • I am more in contact with my inner guide. When I hesitate before a decision, I am helped by breathing low, rhythmically and slowly by prolonging my exhalation. This helps me stay calm and focused so that I more easily can get in touch with my inner guidance. Rhythmic breathing helps me switch from intellect and logic to gut feeling and intuition. It has given me strong confidence in my inherent ability to make the right decisions, and I feel I make increasingly wiser decisions in my everyday life, in the small as well as the large perspective.

You can read more about my journey here: Meet Anders Olsson, founder of Conscious Breathing.

8. What is your opinion about EWOT (Exercise With Oxygen Therapy)?

QUESTION: Anders, what is your opinion on EWOT (Exercise with Oxygen Therapy)? After all, I use the Relaxator, which slows down my breathing when I drive a car etc., and nose breathing when I exercise. If I understand it correctly, the amount of oxygen I get when using Relaxator and nose breathing decreases. Is that true? And if it is, does your advice not directly contradict the information in this article “Why Your Body Begins to Slow Down With Age – And How to Put It Off as Long as Possible?“.

ANSWER: There is no doubt that oxygen is important. The reason why we die after only a few minutes if we stop breathing is because of lack of oxygen. The oxygen is crucial if our cells, muscles and organs are to be able to produce energy efficiently.

But even though it is oxygen our body is constantly craving, my view is that carbon dioxide paves the way for oxygen, all the way from the stimulation of the phrenic nerve — which signals the diaphragm to move downward so that an inhalation can begin — to forcing the oxygen out of the blood at a cellular level.

  • Inhalation: Carbon dioxide signals the brain stem that the body should start a breath by lowering the body’s pH value to a level where the brain’s respiratory center is activated.
  • The respiratory tracts: Carbon dioxide causes the smooth muscles of the respiratory tract to relax so that they dilate and let air into the lungs.
  • The blood: Carbon dioxide causes the smooth muscles in the blood vessels to relax so that they dilate and blood circulation is facilitated.
  • The cells: According to the Bohr effect, carbon dioxide lowers the pH level, which reduces the hemoglobin’s affinity for (or “attraction” to) oxygen, and oxygen is released from the blood to the cells.

An optimal carbon dioxide pressure is the foundation for optimal oxygenation. More information can be found in the article, “Carbon dioxide pressure more important than blood pressure“.

9. Can breathing through your stomach cause contact with “old feelings” in a negative way?

Question: If you avoid deep breathing or breathing down to your stomach, negative emotions are stored, often in the stomach area, which is confirmed by expressions like “butterflies in the stomach.” Moving your breath to your chest may be seen as an escape, as you do not want to come into contact with present time unpleasant negative emotions. Could there be negative effects if you start breathing down to your stomach and become  in touch with “old feelings” in a negative way that may make you feel bad at first? In other words, could there be other reactions besides the positive calming effect?

Answer: Yes, it is true that some form of emotional discomfort may occur when you start breathing training. Just like a person who quits smoking does not feel that good at first but will start enjoying positive results after a while, the discomfort from breathing training may lead to positive results in the end. Of course, some people may not experience any impairment at all. The response to breathing training is quite individual and varies a lot from person to person.

If you start to feel worse, my advice is to make one of the following four choices:

  1. Hang in like you have so far, and continue to do your breathing training.
  2. Continue your breathing training but not as much.
  3. Increase your breathing training more to get rid of the problems faster.
  4. Take a break from breathing training.

The last point applies especially if the impairment becomes too troublesome. Choose the option that suits you. There is no right or wrong.

More information about initial impairment during breathing training can be found in the article: “Can breathing retraining cause a cleansing reaction?“.

10. Can nasal breathing at night cause vivid dreams and intense mood swings?

Question: Hi, I have taped my mouth at night for three weeks, and I have had many vivid, different dreams during this period. They have not been intimidating but detailed, and I often remember them when I wake up. I wonder if it has to do with me taping my mouth. I have also experienced intense mood swings and wonder if it is part of having been breathing through my nose at night.

Answer: If taping your mouth at night is the only change you have made in your life, it is quite possible (probable) that your vivid dreams and intense mood swings are caused by you breathing through your nose when asleep. Although we usually want positive results, and preferably as quickly as possible, it is primarily change we should look for. Change gives you confirmation that taping your mouth has affected your breathing during sleep and, thus, indicates that you have the bad habit of breathing through your mouth when asleep.

Let us take a step back and ask ourselves why we sleep. During evolution, sleep has been one of the most dangerous things to do. Sleep is, after all, a kind of unconsciousness where we can neither control hungry beasts nor poisonous insects. Despite these drawbacks, our need to sleep has remained throughout our evolution, which indicates that something very important goes on during sleep.

And that is correct. When we are awake, the brain has more than a lot to do, processing incoming stimuli. But in order for us to develop, learn new things and gain new insights, all incoming stimuli need to be sorted and organized. This occurs during sleep, when information in the short-term memory is moved to the long-term memory, and events that we have been involved in during the day are sorted and grouped together with similar previous events, which gives us experience and a holistic perspective.

The rough sorting of the events we have been involved in during the day can be compared to when we clean the house and let all the cutlery, glasses, plates and saucepans end up piled in the kitchen while toothpaste and toilet paper rolls end up in the bathroom. This happens during our shallower sleep. The fine sorting, where the cutlery is sorted into the silverware box and the glasses and plates in their respective cabinets, takes place during our deep sleep. How we breathe is absolutely crucial to the quality of our deep sleep.

Several people have reported that they have fewer nightmares since they started taping their mouths at night. Mouth breathing when resting automatically means hyperventilation, i.e. the breathing exceeds the body’s needs. The logic then becomes that over-breathing or hyperventilation takes us into “fight or flight,” which leads to dreams that reflect this condition. And nose breathing, which takes us into rest, peace, and quiet, gives rise to more harmonious dreams. In this article, you can read more about sleep and breathing: “Breathe better – Get Quality Sleep“.

Regarding your intense mood swings during the day, there is a very interesting connection between how we breathe and past experiences of trauma and unpleasant, unprocessed feelings. Expressions like butterflies in the stomach and stress stomach indicate that painful feelings often come from the stomach region. The reason why many of us have a superficial chest breathing is simply to avoid coming into contact with grief, fear, anger and so on. We escape from the painful things stored in the stomach area by moving the breathing up to the chest. This happens during our shallower sleep. The fine sorting, where the cutlery is sorted into the silverware box and the glasses and plates in their respective cabinets, takes place during our deep sleep. How we breathe is absolutely crucial to the quality of our deep sleep.

Mouth breathing at rest automatically gives rise to a shallow breath, while nose breathing gives a lower breath and activates the diaphragm, our most important breathing muscle. So it is conceivable that your emotional roller coaster has to do with you increasingly coming into contact with various unprocessed emotions that are buried deep within you.

For some who start training their breathing, some form of cleansing or initial deterioration occurs before things get better. The reaction (temporary deterioration) may occur immediately or after a few weeks of breathing training. What happens at initial deterioration can be compared to when a person who quit smoking does not feel so good at first but the gains come after a while. Usually, the reaction occurs where we have had problems before. One way of looking at first deterioration is, thus, that the body is healing. You can read more in this article: “Can breathing retraining cause a cleansing reaction?“.