September 14, 2023

Breathwork: A Bunch of Hot Air?

by Science Vs

Background show artwork for Science Vs

The latest hot new trend is: breathing. Yeah, that’s right — there are claims that so-called breathwork can cure depression and supercharge your brain. Breathfluencers reckon that we're breathing all wrong but that with the right kind of breathing, you could be living a happier, healthier life. So what's the deal here? Are you really breathing badly? And if you learned the right way to breathe, could you become a better you? To find out, we talk to psychiatrists Professor David Spiegel and Dr. Patricia Gerbarg, memory researcher Dr. Artin Arshamian, and speech pathologist Ann Kearney. 

Find our transcript here:

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Meet the Breathfluencers

(05:27) Can breathwork reduce stress?

(10:18) Can breathwork help with depression and PTSD? 

(14:48) How does breathing work? 

(21:04) Are you a mouth breather?

(23:58) Can mouth-breathing ruin your memory? 

(31:05) Benefits of nose breathing

(33:41) Should you use mouth tape? 

(35:47) Are the Breathfluencers right?

This episode was produced by Wendy Zukerman, with help from Joel Werner, Rose Rimler, Nick DelRose and Michelle Dang. We’re edited by Blythe Terrell. Fact checking by Erica Akiko Howard. Mix and sound design by Bumi Hidaka. Music written by Bobby Lord, Emma Munger, Peter Leonard, and Bumi Hidaka. Thanks to all the researchers we spoke to including Professor George Dallum, Dr Theresa Larkin, Dr Justin Feinstein, Dr Daillin Tavoian, Professor Margaret Chesney, Dr Anthony Bain, Dr Jayakar Nayak, Professor Leslie Kay, Professor John Hanrahan, Professor Andrew Allen, Dr Shirley Telles, Guy Fincham, and Shikha Malviya. And a big thank you to Jill Harris, the Zukerman Family and Joseph Lavelle Wilson.

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