It is really fascinating and hard to believe that external counter pulsation (ECP) was being performed as early as the 12th Century in Ancient India, and nowadays with high technology equipment. The only difference was that in fact it was an early form of Yogi, which was actioned by mire contraction of the abdominal muscles and nowadays is known as Kapalbhati.
We will try and find out more about Kapalbhati and what the claims are?
- Kapalbhati is one of the most beneficial pranayama and has been proven to be effective in several disorders, that includes helping to control diabetes mellitus by stimulating the pancreases thus increasing the release of insulin.
- Kapalbhati has been effective with various liver disorders and there have been various cases, where in the case of chronic liver diseases there have been significant improvements. In addition to that it has increased the survival rate of blood cancers and other tumours.
- Kapalbhati has been seen to give improvements in sexual function and has been beneficial for infertility too. The two most common and important causes of infertility is blockage of fallopian tube in females and oligospermia in males, Kapalbhati is helpful with both.
- Kapalbhati is beneficial in common abdominal problems and controls indigestion, constipation and has also been shown to be effective in helping with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, (IBS).
- Kapalbhati purifies blood circulation by aerating it and has been extremely beneficial in helping with several chronic skin disorders like psoriasis, eczema, allergies, leucoderma, vitiligo and even acne.
- Several mental disorders including anxiety, depression and even schizophrenia had been cured by this asana.
Effects of Kapalbhati are considered investigational for the treatment of all conditions, including but not limited to diabetes mellitus and erectile dysfunction.
The evidence is not sufficient to permit conclusions about the benefits of Kapalbhati as a treatment for any condition.
It is uncertain whether true Kapalbhati offers any additional effectiveness as the standard treatment options in yoga currently available to patients with diabetes mellitus and erectile dysfunction.
No definite clinical findings are available about the above benefits and no trials were ever carried out in the world to justify the above claims. Today though millions of people are doing just this and claiming benefits. In 2006 we started studying the benefits of this Yoga exercise and how it could have possible benefits with diabetes mellitus.
The technic of Kapalbhati is to contract the abdominal muscles in quick succession typically between 60 to 80 times in a minute. The sudden contraction of the abdominal muscle, the rectus abdominus momentarily compressed the renal veins, inferior vena cava, abdominal aorta artery, posterior vena cava and iliac vein.
We started studying randomly the effectiveness of this exercise on patients with type-1 and type-2 diabetes. The exercise was carried out 2 times every morning and evening on an empty stomach. The blood sugar levels of all the patients came down by an average of 40 points in 10 days.
At the end of three months trial period it was found that the sugar levels remained controlled but this was due to the exercise associated with the process and most of the patients had lost between 3 to 5 kgs in weight. This was not a cure to diabetes mellitus as was claimed, but the patients claimed of being much more active and energetic.
Subsequent analysis of the participants demonstrated statistically significant changes of both their exercise duration and peak oxygen consumption. Could this have some effect on the cardiac insufficiency patients? So with this in mind a group of five patients were taken who were aged between 50 and 60 years old with the same exercise protocol. The EF of patients that was initially 35 to 40 rose by 40 to 50 in three months, and the patients were far more active. The study, which was initially meant to study diabetes mellitus was slowly drifting towards cardiac insufficiency benefits, so therefore we decided to move our work further.
The normal time to be taken by the abdominal muscle rectus abdominus to contract was between 200 to 250 milliseconds, which of course was dependent on the physical condition of every individual. This resulted in mild abstraction during systole when the abdominal muscle rectus abdominus contracted, but as the contraction and release of rectus abdominus was rhythmic, it was noticed that when the rectus abdominus contracted during the diastole the amplitude of the SpO2 rose to that of systolic.
To decrease the obstruction patients were attached to the cardiac monitor and were asked to contract during the beep of the monitor, this gave a perfect waveform but it was very difficult maintaining the rhythm. We were advised of a similar study for refractory angina, which was called the ECP or the External Counter Pulsation. This did not meet our requirements, as unlike the contraction of the abdominal muscle rectus abdominus, which took 200 to 250 milliseconds, we found the ECP took almost 500 milliseconds in the diastolic phase. This was way beyond the requirement of our study and also no randomised controlled trials examined the effects of ECP in the treatment of refractory angina.
Only one randomised controlled trial examined the effects of ECP in the treatment of CHF. The Prospective Evaluation of External Counterpulsation in Congestive Heart Failure (PEECH) study randomised 187 patients with mild or moderate heart failure to receive either ECP treatment in addition to optimal pharmacotherapy, or pharmacotherapy alone.
The situation wanted something that could complete the contraction in a minimum of 200 to 250 milliseconds. The search for this need began and we took it upon ourselves to design such a piece of equipment that met these needs.
The IECP was born.
If you are a cardiac insufficiency patient we would advice you not to do Kapalbhati without a doctors presence or advise. The above may not be considered as a medical advise. Your doctor is the best judge of your condition.Consult your doctor.