How can breathwork help with the treatment of eczema?

In our last article we covered the science behind breathwork (LINK)  to give you an introduction about the different states of your nervous system.  People with chronic inflamed skin are often constantly in a state of fight or flight. How can we expect the body to be calm if the mind is “inflamed” by constant worries, fears or anger?

This is where breathwork comes into play. Breathwork is a wonderful way to down regulate from e.g. a fight or flight state back into a flow, calm state. The breathwork allows you to instantly move from a sympathetic nervous system to a parasympathetic state which also is related to feelings of feeling calm, safe, and settled. 

How to use breathwork to treat symptoms of eczema

Try these breathwork techniques the next time you feel a flare coming up or when you are feeling stressed out. They will all help you to get back into a Rest & Digest mode which allows you to calm down and better manage your flare up. It will also allow you to think about your next step and e.g. apply ice onto the flare up or take a cold shower to reduce the itch. 

The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise (Dr Weil) 

“Practicing a regular, mindful breathing exercise can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.” Andrew Weil, M.D.

To do this breathwork exercise, breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts, and breathe out for 8 counts. Repeat this for 4 rounds.

Downregulation Protocol (Ben Pelton)

  1. Breathe in for 4 counts and breathe out for 4 counts. Repeat this exercise 3 times. 
  2. Now, breathe in for 4 counts, and breathe out for 8 counts. Repeat this exercise 3 times.
  3. Then, breathe in again for 4 counts, and breathe out for 12 counts. Repeat this exercise 3 times.
  4. Lastly, breathe in for 4 counts, and breathe out for 16 counts. Repeat this exercise 3 times. 
  5. Breathe in for 4 counts and breathe out for 20 counts. Repeat this 3 times. 

Breathwork for children

To make it easier for my daughter to calm down and fall asleep at night we like to use a technique I call “Sleepy Breath” which activates the parasympathetic nervous system and this way helps kids and teenagers to relax. 

To get started, get comfortable and start breathing slowly. 

Notice how your belly and chest rise with every inhalation and sinking down with exhalation. 

Inhale to the count of 3. 

Exhale to the count of 4. 

Inhale to the count of 3. 

Exhale to the count of 4. 

Repeat up to 10 times. 

If 3in/4out breath is too hard, you can also inhale to the count of 1 and exhale to the count of 2. It’s important to make the exhale longer than the inhale. 

Lion breath (another great way for children to let go of tension)  

Use this breathing exercise to release tension and get your blood flowing.

To get started, sit comfortably on a cross seat or on a chair with a nice long spine.

Take a deep breath in through your nose.

Open your eyes and mouth wide while sticking your tongue out and exhale through the open mouth.

Make a wild lion exhalation sound.

We know there is a connection between breathwork and eczema, so practicing these breathing exercises can help relieve tension, and help manage the symptoms of eczema in children.

Breathwork became a huge and daily ritual of staying eczema-free and I combined it with clean eating (few histamines), lots of high-quality sleep and time spent outdoors or doing yoga.

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