Respiratory health is of major concern for many given the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of the California wildfires on air quality. Luckily, there is much we can do to improve our respiratory health and lower our anxiety in a holistic manner. Examples include massage therapy, osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), acupuncture, and the VASPER (Vascular Performance) System.
Massage is well known for its calming effect on the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system (ANS). This is significant because it is the ANS is responsible for maintaining the stress response and many of its adverse symptoms such as hyperventilation and tachycardia. Anxiety and stress itself can lead to the perception of respiratory symptoms that can be misinterpreted for symptoms of COVID-19 and wildfire smoke inhalation.
Massage therapy is known to help the body relax by helping deactivate the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), the subset of the ANS associated with the stress response. It even goes a step further and activates the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) which is associated with rest and digestion. A study by Lee Et al. (2011) showed that receiving massage 5 out of 7 days a week also reduces serum levels of stress hormones (cortisol and noradrenaline) significantly after just 2 few weeks.
Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT)
Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) proved its value in helping fight upper respiratory tract infections during the influenza pandemic of 1918-1920 (Martinez and Redding, 2020). During this time, patients treated by Osteopathic physicians who received OMT showed higher survival rates and shorter hospital stays. There are many reasons for this, for one OMT is known to help the movement of lymph the body, thereby boosting the immune response and preventing the accumulation of fluid. OMT also improves circulation in the lungs and removes mechanical restrictions that may impede normal neural and vascular function. In a time in which there is no specific medication to treat a viral respiratory infection, the drugless approach of OMT certainly shows its value.
Acupuncture offers a wide range of benefits when it comes to respiratory health. It is known to help reduce stress and anxiety which we know can lead to respiratory symptoms such as hyperventilation.
The benefits of acupuncture on lung health and functions are well-known. A 2016 study by Feng Et al., for example, showed that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) benefited from receiving acupuncture as far as their ability to walk and their quality of life. Our own Acupuncturist Debra Maya at Santa Cruz CORE explains that “Acupuncture strengthens the lungs to help them function at their fullest.” She also emphasizes the stimulating effect acupuncture can have on the immune system and how this helps keep the lungs healthy during a time in which there are many pollutants in the air and in the midst of a pandemic.
Vasper (Vascular Performance) System
The Vasper exercise machine is specially designed to yield the vascular and muscular results of an intense bout of exercise within just 20 minutes of interval training. This unique system combines muscle compression and cooling to improve the oxygen levels in the blood, reducing vascular inflammation, and causing a buildup of lactic acid (Vasper, n.d).
The lactic acid build up in turn triggers a recovery response by the brain, this promotes the release of human growth hormone and testosterone while opposing the effect of stress hormones like cortisol. In the long run, this leads to improved vascular function, lowers stress levels, and improved sleep. These three benefits are ideal for overall wellness and for keeping a healthy cardiovascular system.
At Santa Cruz CORE we take a holistic approach and offer ALL of the afford-mentioned modalities to promote respiratory health and wellbeing. If you are stressed, experiencing minor symptoms as a result of wildfire smoke, or want to take preemptive action, call us at 831.425.9500 or make an appointment online today!
- Lee, Y., Park, B. N., & Kim, S. H. (2011). The Effects of Heat and Massage Application on Autonomic Nervous System. Yonsei Medical Journal, 52(6), 982. doi:10.3349/ymj.2011.52.6.982
- Martinez, E., & Redding, D. (2020, August 01). Osteopathic Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Retrieved from https://jaoa.org/article.aspx?articleid=2765189
- Feng, J., Wang, X., Li, X., Zhao, D., & Xu, J. (2016, October). Acupuncture for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): A multicenter, randomized, sham-controlled trial. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27749542
- Vasper – Research. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.vasper.com/research