” The Breath of Life ” and Mind.

Mind and Life is related to Breath. This is what I now think.

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” {Genesis 2:7].

Breath is the air inhaled and exhaled in respiration. Breath is necessary for life and vitality. Vitality is the state of being strong and active, mentally and physically..

We breathe in a mixture of gases on earth, of which oxygen is key. And we breathe out most of the carbon dioxide that is produced by the  metabolism of our bodies. Carbon dioxide is also key in this process. The brain subconsciously monitors the carbon dioxide in our bodies very closely. The brain stem adjusts our breathing rate and depth in order to to manage the carbon dioxide ratio in the blood. Our resting breathing rate, depth and pattern during wakefulness and sleep is involuntary and depends on conditions in the blood and in the body. The brain stem also manages our heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. These, together,  indicate the state of a person’s essential body functions. It is so very cool.

Our vital signs keep air and blood and other fluids circulating, from the tip of our toes to the hair on our head. Under all circumstances, in all environments- hot or cold, humid or dry, when fed or when starving, after injury or blood loss, during infections, from birth to near death.  A very complex task.

 Checking the vital signs when the mind is not functioning properly has the advantage of taking very little time and requiring very little communication. This is key since communication is often impaired when the mind is not working properly.   

Recreational drugs are known to change vital signs and the patterns of these changes are known as toxicodromes.  A systemic infection may also lead to a toxidodrome.  I think that neurological injuries can also cause toxicodromes; especially under the stress of combinations of minor illness.

Below are the Classic toxicodromes but they are, in practice, often variable due to complex combinations of chemicals [exogenous and endogenous.]

SymptomsBPHRRRTempPupil sizeBowel soundsDiaphoresis
anticholinergic~up~upupdowndown
cholinergic~~~~downupup
hallucinogenicupupup~upup~
sympathomimeticupupupupupupup
sedative-hypnoticdowndowndowndown~downdown
 Goldfrank, Flomenbaum, Lewin, Weisman, Howland, Hoffman (1998). Goldfrank’s Toxicologic Emergencies (6th ed.). Stamford, Connecticut: Appleton & Lange. ISBN 0-8385-3148-2.

Poisoning from any cause, endogenous or exogenous,  will  show up as abnormal vital signs and at the same time will often cause abnormal mental status. [dysphoria, euphoria, paranoia, hallucinations, hypo-motor activity, hyper-motor activity, etc..].

[eg. poisoning caused by from taking drugs, taking medicines that are not right, from hidden injuries affecting metabolism, or from organ failure].

Mind and Vital Signs.  It seems rather basic to me that they must be linked. All the vital signs; including breathing rate and depth and rhythm at rest and during illness, especially if altered mental status is present.

I don’t understand why neuroscientists do not seem to be interested in the connection between the complex motor act of breathing and the production of mind. 

The air we breathe is is a mixture of gaseous chemical elements and compounds. Oxygen is the essential component, The oxygen is a key  metabolically active component, although carbon dioxide is an important cerebral vasodilator. Too much carbon dioxide, however, is toxic or poisonous. And people with abnormal breathing may be especially vulnerable.

Research shows that too much carbon dioxide in the blood [hypercapnia] reduces metabolic activity in the brain, inhibiting brain activity and [I suspect] – mind.

Blood Flow Metab. 2011 Jan; 31(1): 58–67. Published online 2010 Sep 15. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2010.153,  The influence of carbon dioxide on brain activity and metabolism in conscious humans

Hypercapnia can lead to respiratory acidosis type 2.  Only an arterial blood gas can evaluate the level of carbon dioxide in the blood. An ABG is an invasive and painful test but measuring breathing rate takes only one minute and a stop watch and can suggest if and when an ABG is worth the pain and risk.  If I became crazy I would want someone to measure my breathing rate and other vital signs. If an ABG was necessary to figure out my treatment I would gladly undertake this test in order to get the correct treatment to bring my mind back.  

Paula agrees wholeheartedly! She wishes that she had been given proper treatment.

It seems so obvious. Vital signs tell us about the physiological status of the person. Why are they not taken seriously?

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