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Effects of samba?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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a dairy product
Nov 1, 2002
Hi everyone!

Is anyone aware of any reliable info on samba, and what kind of short-term or long-term effects it has on the "victim"?

As far as I know, it is caused by lack of oxygen in the muscles, not the brain/nervous system. That leads me to think that it shouldn't harm you in the long term. Unless you are diving without a buddy... Am I right?

This has probably been discussed before also, so if you know of a previous thread about this subject, a link would be nice :)

Is there a search feature for old threads, by the way?
No serious studies on the long/short term effects of samba, although many studies have been conducted on potential after effects of blacking out (not from freediving). The bottom line is that there are no known detrimental effects, but that does not mean that there aren't any.

It is a nervous sytem reaction - that is manifested as muscular spasms (myclonus).

There is evidence from numerous experiments on animals that exposure to hypoxia (sometimes extreme hypoxia) promotes micro-capillary growth and an increase in natural anti-oxidants.
So, there may be some benefits from hypoxic sambas.
Erik Y.
ps there's a "search" function at the top of the page that works within DBlue as well
Thanks for the replies mates!

If samba is a nervous system reaction, I would imagine that it would at least murder a bunch of braincells every time.
So does alcohol, though, so the real danger would depend on the extent of the damage.

The potential effects are probably similar to the effects of blackout, just milder.
The line between serious samba and BO is a pretty thin one, right?
Do you know the results of the blackout studies you mentioned, Ben?

Thanks Erik, I'll try that. I thought the search was just for DB articles, not the threads.
Erik, what benefit would one gain from "micro-capillary growth and an increase in natural anti-oxidants"?
I'm not too familiar with the science of freediving ;)
microcapilliary growth would increase tissue perfusion - allowing faster reoygenation of tissues. Antioxidants mop up free radicals (dangerous in too high concentrations, but necessary for cell function).

Umm - yes, blackout is just slightly further on the continuum of hypoxia from samba-ing.

The lack of proof for long term effects is probably due to;

Not looking for the right signs, and,

Natural variation masking the effects on the individual.
Big Cheese, first of all let me say that Eric Fattah knows more about this particular topic than anyone else on the planet.
More micro-capillaries in your body means a more efficient cardio vascular system....the changes observed in test subjects are permanent. So it's not just about freediving; it's about living well. There is no evidence that I know of that shows that sambas and BO's are dangerous...all the evidence I have found points to the opposite. You will find that most divers do not like to hear that. I do know that the body adapts by it's very nature, to stress. Lift heavy weights and muscles grow, in the right environment. Sit in the sun and your skin darkens. The question is one of degree....if you lift too much and do not allow recovery time and feed the body properly, you deteriorate or stagnate. If you sit in the sun too long, you burn. If you samba 5 times a day.....who knows? Nobody knows. It would be a hard thing to measure, given all the variables, and there may not be a lot of people lining up for "samba experiments". I would of course look at any evidence in any direction.
Oxidants are the natural by-product of living and breathing. They act like "rust" in your body, and are associated with disease and aging. Anti oxidants are avilable in a variety of foods, and are also generated naturally in our bodies. Very difficult breath holding can increase oxidants, but the bodies reaction is to create more anti-oxidants to fight them. If you train hard, you should supplement with the proper foods and vitamins to assist the recovery period immediately after hard breath-holding.
There are some very elaborate ways to train in hypoxic conditions which a few companies profit from greatly. Moving to altitude before an event is also expensive. The easiest way to reproduce those conditions is to hold your breath! Do 2 holds a day to a difficult goal (say 20 contractions) and you will probably do yourself a lot of good.
Cheers (or should I say cheese?),
Erik Y.
Big Cheese, first of all let me say that Eric Fattah knows more about this particular topic than anyone else on the planet.

Actually Eric wrote in some other thread that he has to samba first to perform well on subsequent attempts.
I guess he isn't too afraid of any serious effects ;)

It would be interesting to hear your take on this, Eric!

I would be able to relax even more when freediving if I could be sure I am not slowly killing off the precious little brainpower I have been given :D


I had a theory that having a few small sambas per week could have dramatic benefits, under the correct conditions (i.e. proper rest & nutrition & moderation). When I posted that idea on the apneadiver list, I was bombarded from criticism from 'armchair theorists' that simply said it couldn't be true--in fact, they didn't WANT IT to be true. After all, to them samba is BAD, and if you have a samba you should be ASHAMED!! Or so they say.

Anyway, I have abandoned any attempt to further these ideas in public; after all, I could be wrong, and I don't want anyone else damaging their body or brain because of my incorrect ideas.

Nevertheless, I personally have several sambas per week, but then I also take about 60 different nutritional supplements per day (vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, metavitamins etc..) And I am careful in supplying enough protein and healthy foods, and I watch how much rest I get.

If at any time I notice my concentration at work deteriorating, I *immediately* stop my training and rest for a week, concentrating on extra sleep.

A problem I face now is to convince AIDA judges to 'let' me have my samba in my warm up. Under current rules, if the AIDA judges see you samba in the warm up, they can remove you from the competition, by their 'authority.'

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
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Well said Eric. I love that term 'Armchair theorists'.

Eric & Erik - a lot of this talk of potential benefits is easily defended on a scientific level using the paradigm of Hormesis. The comparisons that Erik made with weight lifting etc. are all examples of hormetic effects. However, as you have both stated, moderation is the key. I think that using the comparisions of altitude hypoxia to breatholding may provide an adequate guage of what may be the upper limit of breathold hypoxia frequency.
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