Why Breathe Into a Paper Bag?

Have you ever seen someone breathing into those paper bags on a plane? Can you guess why in the world breathing into a bag would help a panicking person?

If you have read our other emails the answer should come to you. Of course it all has to do with Carbon Dioxide.

When you hyperventilate you breathe too much, hence the term hyper (more) ventilate (breathe). As you do this you breath out way more Carbon Dioxide than normal. You begin to dump out all of the CO2 that helps create the energy your body needs to live. I’m skipping a few steps, but without CO2 your body and brain don’t get the Oxygen they need.

Well your brain is smart. It knows unless you stop freaking out and hyperventilating it is not going to get the Oxygen it needs. So what does it decide to do?

Simple, it just pulls the fail safe and….

You pass out!

When you pass out your breathing returns to normal and the brain gets the energy it wants.

Well, if you don’t want to pass out you can stop yourself in the middle of panicking and hold your breath. That will boost the CO2 back into your system. Or you can just grab a paper bag and hyperventilate into it instead! The bag keeps the CO2 inside and forces you to breathe it back in so you don’t lose too much.

So next time you begin to panic. Instead of grabbing a bag simply add some small breath holds or attempt to slow down your exhales. This will create the same calming affect and keep your brain from pulling that fail safe.

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