The efficacy of a 1500G magnetic breathing device in optimizing cardio-respiratory function in endurance athletes during maximal exercise breathing.
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Introduction: The O2 Gold magnetic device is a non-medicinal inhaler containing a magnetic coil that has been designed to improve cardio-respiratory function. Oxygen (O2) in the inhaled air passes through the magnetic coil in this breathing device and acquires a magnetic charge. Former studies (Ryan, 2007; Roberts, 2007) have reported improvements in peak power output and post-exercise recovery, supporting anecdotal reports of improved peak power output in world-class endurance athletes following regular use of this device. The mechanisms by which this improved peak power output may occur, are however unknown. Objectives: The primary objectives of this study were to determine the effects of 28 days of regular use of the magnetic breathing device on the cardio-respiratory function of well-trained endurance athletes during an incremental exercise test to exhaustion. Secondary objectives included the determination of lung function and red blood cell status at rest, and maximal exercise performance and O2 uptake (VO2) as well as heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) response to a maximal exercise test. Finally the possible role of systemic concentrations of erythropoietin (EPO) and interleukin-3 (IL-3) as mediators of the beneficial effects of the magnetic breathing device on red blood cell status, was investigated. Study design and methods: The study was designed as a double blind, placebo controlled, cross-over trial. 18 Healthy male participants volunteered from running and triathlon clubs in the greater Durban area. The participants were particularly suited to a set of inclusion criteria which included a specific age range (>18 and <45 years), were recreational or professional runners that were willing to maintain a training schedule of at least three times per week for the three months leading up to, and during the study period. The participants were required to use both the magnetic and placebo breathing devices, 30 times a day for 28 days each. Each participant acted as their own control and the sequence of the trials was determined by the manufacturers of the pre-coded devices. At baseline and after active/placebo intervention, anthropometric characteristics and lung function were assessed and venous blood samples were collected for later determination of full blood count (FBC), serum EPO and plasma IL-3 concentration. Metabolic and respiratory responses to an incremental exercise protocol were determined during an incremental maximal exercise test. Selected cardiovascular parameters including BP and HR were also measured before, during and for the first two minutes following the exercise test. Results: Ten participants, aged between 27 and 40 (mean: 32.3±4.9 yr) with a mean stature (cm) of 175.8±7.7 reported compliance with all aspects of the study. Analysis of the physical characteristics, including mass, % body fat, resting HR and blood pressure in this sample (n=10), revealed no significant difference (p>0.05) between mean (±SD) at baseline and after placebo or active trials. Six participants (60%) recorded a statistically significant (p<0.05) improvement (vs. baseline) in forced vital capacity following the active and placebo trials. Maximal exercise test duration ranged between 8 to 17 minutes. Five participants (50%) recorded a statistically significant improvement (vs. placebo, p=0.02) in maximum treadmill workload and running time following the active trial. Six of the sample presented with RBC count increases in (vs. placebo) and five with an increase in Hb concentration (vs. placebo) following the active trial. The mean (±SD) increases in this subsample of positive responders were both significant (p=0.02; 0.047) and corresponded with increases in VO2 maximum in each of these individuals. However no significant differences (p>0.05) were obtained in the means (±SD) of the circulating concentration of the hormone EPO and the haematopoietic growth factor, IL-3, between active and placebo trials. The association between pre-post change in serum EPO concentration and plasma IL-3 concentration and changes in RBC count were also not significant (p>0.05). Mean (±SD) and range of recovery HR, both 60 and 120 seconds post-test, showed no statistically significant improvement (n=10, p>0.05). Upon analysis of individual results, four of the participants showed an improvement in 120 second post maximal exercise test HR recovery when using the active device. The mean (±SD) of the improvement in this subsample was statistically significant (p=0.03). Although mean (± SD) post-test diastolic BP was not significantly lower in the full sample (n=10), there was a significant drop in this parameter in five individual participants following the active trial (p<0.03). Conclusion: Only 50% of this subsample presented with significantly improved performance during the treadmill running test and 40% with significantly improved Hb concentration, HR at 120 seconds post exercise and post exercise DBP. 60% of the sample presented with a significant improvement in RBC, but this was not related to an associated increase in VO2 maximum. Serum IL-3 and plasma EPO concentrations do not appear to be the mechanisms by which the beneficial effects on RBC count are mediated. The possibility of the existence of responders and non-responders to this intervention and factors which influence this potential response, require further examination. Further studies examining the benefits of the magnetic breathing device, also need to consider the possibility of under-acknowledged reduced compliance in the frequency of the device usage by human participants.