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DR. CHENEY: Increase Your Oxygen Intake





By Carol Sieverling

Source :
DFW CFS and FM Support group :

This issue's articles are based on tapes of Carol's October 2000 visit. Dr. Cheney gave permission to share this information, but has not reviewed or edited it.


A year ago Dr. Cheney was prescribing oxygen (with a partial rebreather mask) to increase oxygen transport from the blood into the cells. The benefits were many, but most people found it expensive and difficult to arrange. Dr. Cheney also discovered that the treatment had one flaw: it didn't address the underlying problem of low 2,3 DPG.

2,3 DPG triggers the release of oxygen from the hemoglobin and allows it to enter our tissues. Without enough 2,3 DPG the oxygen cannot release from the hemoglobin into the cells. This oxygen deprivation causes the body to switch over to anaerobic metabolism, which produces tissue acidosis, which is painful. If 2,3 DPG levels can be increased, then more oxygen is transported from the blood into the tissues.

What are the benefits of increased oxygen? They include more energy at the cellular level, suppression of yeast and other pathogens, and prevention of the swelling of the brain due to decreased oxygen.

Dr. Cheney says this swelling of the brain is somewhat common and is the connection between Chiari I and CFIDS. He stated, "Chiari I is a compression phenomenon due to lack of sufficient space at the base of the skull, while CFIDS is a compression phenomenon due to anoxic cerebral edema." (Brain swelling due to lack of oxygen.)

Dr. Cheney asked, "Do you know why Kenyans always win the Boston marathon? They live and train at a high altitude. They run like fiends at 12,000 feet. To compensate for the lack of oxygen at higher altitudes, their bodies make a physiological adjustment—raising 2,3 DPG levels so more oxygen is released. Then the Kenyans go to Boston, which is at sea level, and run their race. However, their bodies are still set for high altitude, so they end up with more oxygen transported into their tissues than other runners. They are super-oxygenated."

Dr. Cheney's goal is to trick our bodies into thinking that we live at a higher altitude, thus raising our 2,3 DPG levels, thereby transporting more oxygen. How? By Dr. Andrew Weil's favorite breathing technique—regulated breath holding.

  1. Inhale through your nose for four seconds
  2. Hold your breath for seven seconds
  3. Exhale through tightly pursed lips, creating "back pressure," for eight seconds.
  4. Do this eight times, twice a day, everyday.

That's all it takes to make your body think it lives in Denver instead of Dallas. You must do this regularly for it to work, and it takes weeks for the body to adjust the 2,3 DPG levels. But your oxygen transport will get better and better over time. This method is 3,000 years old, and has 30 years of clinical experience behind it. Dr. Weil believes it is the most powerful way to treat chronic illness. Compared to the rebreather, this is easier, cheaper, more effective, and you cannot overcorrect and get too much O2.

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People in this conversation

  • That's fantastic news Arlynn - I'm glad Dr. Weil's breathing technique as explained in Dr. Cheney's article here has helped you so much :)

  • Hi Tammy, it means you create a pressure in the air that is directed back into your lungs. It has nothing to do with your back ;)

  • Hi Pat,

    Apologies for the loss of your previous comment. The site had to be moved to a new web hosting system as it had outgrown the previous system - unfortunately there were some minor database losses in the process!

    This will not happen again and the site should now run faster and more reliably.

  • It seems we may have another case of contradictory data.....something which is frustratingly common with ME/CFS and environmental illness.

    I do know that Dr. Cheney has noted mild blood alkalosis in most of his chronic fatigue syndrome patients which he attributes to a compensatory mechanism for tissue acidosis (caused by oxygen deprivation/anaerobic respiration). He has said that when treated with oxygen or the breathing thechnique above the blood alkalosis disappears....suggesting improved oxygen delivery to cells and more normal aerobic/anaerobic respiration ratio.

  • Hi Pat,

    The truth is I am not sure. It may be that Cheney's theory is based on clinical observations of improvement using his and Dr. Weil's methods and inference from other data. What we do know is well established is that people with ME/CFS, FMS and MCS don't use oxygen efficiently so cells end up being oxygen deprived but there is also an increase in reactive oxygen species/free radicals. Glutathione (GSH) is also universally low in these conditions and in another article Cheney links this to low 2,3-DPG but I don't know what biochemical mechanism he is referring to here. Perhaps the increased oxidative stress due to low GSH contributes to the poor oxygen utilization and supposed low 2,3-DPG. I am just thinking out loud here so your guess is as good as mine.

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