Like a lot of these self-help books, the “science” is probably
completely bogus, but the anecdotal evidence that the advice
helps is interesting if it’s advice about a problem you really
need to solve.
I had independently figured out that breathing through the nose
actually helped during an asthma attack. So I believe some of
the rest of the stuff about practicing breathing through the
nose and I have been doing some of the recommendations. I’m not
going as far as figuring out how to laugh with my mouth closed,
but I did order some surgical tape to try taping my mouth shut
while I’m sleeping. Instead of his nose unblocking exercise for
nasal congestion, which sounds uncomfortable, I’m continuing to
do the alternate nostril breathing I learned in Yoga class.
The advice about diet and exercise is fairly standard, and not
particularly well-written. For example, here’s the paragraph
Fruit and vegetables are of primary importance. A
little meat is essential for good health, but for some people in
the Western world it has become an obsession.
I don’t know how many vegetarians the author would have known
in Ireland in 2008, but you certainly can’t talk to the population
of Cambridge, Massachusetts that way.
I have completely stopped taking my steroid inhaler, and am
controlling attacks by a combination of breathing exercises and
the albuterol (rescue) inhaler. I’m not saying it’s a complete
solution, and when I get over the undesirable side effects of
taking the maximum dose of steroid inhaler for so long after
that cold in October, I may well go back to using it a bit. But
it’s possible that these exercises will help reduce the need for
So I’m making a qualified recommendation of this book. I don’t
really believe the thesis that asthma is a result of a shortage of
CO2, or that asthmatics take in 4-6 times as much air
as normal breathers. But some of the recommendations probably
help some people, and if you’re having trouble with your asthma,
it’s worth thinking about.