Bring Back Brown Bag Breathing
Even though in recent times it has been given a bad name, carbon dioxide production and retention in the body is part of a process which directly protects against stress and disease.
Put another way, stress – or anything that interferes with thyroid function – hinders the ability of the body to produce carbon dioxide (CO2), lowering overall metabolic performance.
“…there is growing evidence regarding an association between subclinical hypothyroidism and atherosclerosis, coronary heart diseases, and hypertension…Hypothyroidism, particularly at the subclinical stage, results in hyperventilation as demonstrated by a low Et-CO2.”
Stress and the suppression of thyroid energy metabolism has been shown to promote many kinds of disease, and this can be directly connected to hyperventilation and low CO2 levels in the body. As CO2 decreases, lactate production tends to increase, and excess lactic acid is another factor increasing disease.
“Sustained or spontaneous hyperventilation has been associated with a variety of physical symptoms and has been linked to a number of organic illnesses and mental disorders…Raising CO2 levels by means of therapeutic capnometry has proven beneficial…and the reversing of hyperventilation has emerged as a potent mediator for reductions in panic symptom severity and treatment success.”
“Severe sepsis and septic shock are responsible for significant morbidity and mortality among patients admitted to the emergency department…We…demonstrate an inverse relationship between exhaled Etco2 levels and serum lactate levels, and lower mean Etco2 levels in nonsurviving patients.”
“Compared with otherwise similar patients residing at or near sea level, patients living at ≥ 6000 ft had 31%…lower rates of myocardial infarction, 27%…lower rates of stroke and 19%…lower rates of cardiovascular death.”
A well functioning metabolism uses sugar in the presence of oxygen to efficiently produce energy and carbon dioxide. In fact, the presence of carbon dioxide alone is an indicator of effective mitochondrial energy production.
Whenever the by-products of stress interfere with this process, cells begin to produce energy far less fruitfully, shifting towards a less efficient state converting glucose to lactic acid (rather than carbon dioxide) and an increase in the oxidation of fat, more of which today tends to be polyunsaturated.
Thyroid hormone is necessary for the production of carbon dioxide, and the polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) have been shown to interfere with thyroid function on many physiological levels.
The hypothyroid hyperventilation state, promotes the release of the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol, which further interfere with mitochondrial respiration, inhibiting thyroid function, shifting towards the oxidation of fat, decreasing CO2 and increasing lactic acid. Lactic acid itself interferes with metabolism and causes stress.
“…baseline fear scores correlated inversely with PCO2 levels and positively with cortisol levels while PCO2 levels correlated negatively with cortisol levels. Significant predictors of lactate-induced panic were prelactate infusion fear and the interaction of high cortisol levels and low PCO2 levels…synchronized elevations of HPA axis activity, self-reported fear, and hyperventilation…predisposes to lactate-induced panic.”
“Several lines of evidence suggest that lactate metabolism may be altered in panic disorder… patients who panicked during hyperventilation exhibited larger increases in serum lactate levels than nonpanicking patients…Hyperventilation-induced panic appears to be associated with metabolic changes leading to elevated serum lactate…”
So although the production of lactate (an important factor involved in cancer growth and spread) can become chronically increased due to continuous metabolic interference, it is also something which can end up making a return to more optimal function – with effective glucose oxidation and carbon dioxide production – more difficult. Metabolic suppression, hyperventilation and low CO2 promotes hypoxia, which is central to cancer progression.
Stress – combined with inefficient metabolic function – promotes the absorption of bacterial endotoxin, damaging respiration and increasing the release of many stress related substances (such as serotonin, estrogen and nitric oxide), which can then further promote stress, inflammation and interference with energy metabolism.
Hyperventilation, low Co2, and rising levels of serotonin and nitric oxide have been shown to be factors involved in the worsening of asthma severity, and there is a relationship between asthma and mood disorders like depression or anxiety, also known to be conditions of stress and hypometabolism.
It’s probably no great surprise that it has also been shown that there is an increased risk of cancer amongst patients with severe asthma, not to mention the metabolic stress related connection between cancer, anxiety and depression. Increased CO2 (and decreased lactate) production is likely to be protective.
“Patients with multiple hospital admissions showed a high risk, particularly for stomach and colon cancers…The relatively stable temporal trends suggest that the asthmatic condition rather than its medication is responsible for the observed associations.”
“Anxiety activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathetic-adrenal-medullary axis, elevating corticosterone and other stress hormones, such as catecholamines. These hormones could modulate the activity of the tumor microenvironment.”
The stress substances directly interfere with the oxidation of glucose, increasing lactic acid and helping to feed what can become a vicious cycle of degeneration and disease. The production of lactate increases in response to endotoxin, and lactate itself increases the inflammatory anti-metabolic effects of endotoxin.
“…bacterial infection and LPS increase lactate production, and lactate boosted LPS signaling-mediated inflammatory gene expression as shown by the present study…therefore…the actions of LPS and lactate lead to a vicious cycle that promotes TLR4-mediated inflammation and contributes to a number of diseases, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
“…LPS [endotoxin] does enter the circulation after ultra-endurance exercise and may, together with muscle damage, be responsible for the increased cytokine response and hence GI complaints in these athletes.”
So from a slightly different view, it can be understood that increasing carbon dioxide levels lowers lactic acid, leading to a reduction in stress hormone release, lower levels of polyunsaturated free fatty acids, less exposure to bacterial endotoxin, and an improvement in thyroid energy production. This then further increases the production of carbon dioxide, lowering stress even more.
Endotoxin exposure increases as a result of the things that promote stress, and when circulation of endotoxin rises, this directly causes inflammation and greater interference with metabolism, potentially resulting in life threatening sepsis.
“Low ETCO2 levels were the strongest predictor of sepsis, severe sepsis, and mortality among all prehospital variables…There were significant associations between prehospital ETCO2 and serum bicarbonate levels…and lactate…”
Hypoventilation leading to increased CO2, has been shown to be an effective method of treatment for panic disorders as well as asthma, and it makes sense that it is a good approach to improving any condition which relates to stress and inflammation, which is basically every condition.
“Hyperventilation-induced hypocapnia is common among asthma patients…capnometry-assisted respiratory training…aimed at normalizing basal and acute levels of end-tidal carbon dioxide (PCO2)…basal levels of PCO2 increased from hypocapnic to normocapnic range over the course of treatment. Improvements were accompanied by improvements in lung function and reductions in diurnal lung function variability. Improvements remained stable throughout follow-up.”
“…the induction of therapeutic hypercapnia by continual inhalation of carbon dioxide…improves respiratory function and mitigates…lung and systemic inflammation…the statistically significant reduction in the levels of local and systemic inflammation by therapeutic hypercapnia may benefit patients by speeding recovery and reducing potential complications in the clinic…”
Insufficient intake of sugar and protein (and some other nutrients) interferes with the production of thyroid hormone, reducing CO2, moving things in the direction of stress and inflammation, and away from efficient oxidative energy production.
It seems as though the things that get a bad name today, including sugar, salt, CO2, saturated fats, cholesterol, testosterone and progesterone, are protective, and the things that can be the most harmful, like estrogen, serotonin, nitric oxide, lactic acid, PUFA and iron, get a free pass. I wonder why?
High lactic acid in the blood is a basic sign of stress and chronic inflammation, and an indication that thyroid metabolism has been suppressed. Anything that helps to promote oxidative metabolism and reduce lactate levels, can be seen as being protective against stress and disease, and CO2 is a pro-metabolism, anti-stress, anti-inflammatory substance.
Chronic metabolic stress, thyroid dysfunction and inflammation have all been shown to be related to the development of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, as well as conditions such as asthma, depression and anxiety. Improving metabolism and CO2 production, helps to lower lactic acid, estrogen, serotonin, nitric oxide, free fatty acids, and other inflammatory disease promoting things.
Stress and the release of the polyunsaturated free fatty acids promotes hyperglycemia, and hyperglycemia increases lactic acid production. Lactic acid is an independent predictor of insulin resistance and diabetes. Measuring CO2 exhalation is powerfully diagnostic. Sugar helps to lower free fatty acids and lactate, increasing CO2, and as such is an anti-diabetes substance.
“Acute complications of diabetes include severe hyperglycaemia, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state (HHS)…ETCO2 [end tidal CO2] had a uniquely high diagnostic accuracy overall, and at ETCO2 cut-off of 24.5 mmHg; it was highly sensitive (90 %) and specific (90 %)…”
Some of the dietary measures which can be explored in an attempt to achieve a pro-metabolic state, include the provision of sufficient protein and other nutrients (from milk and cheese and gelatinous meats) the limiting of difficult to digest starches and fibers (from grains, beans, nuts and under cooked vegetables) and plenty of carbohydrate from sources such as sweet ripe fruits and juices, honey and white sugar.
Chronic endurance exercise has been shown to interfere with active thyroid hormone (T3) function (as well as reducing Co2 levels) most likely at least partially as a result of excessive intake of oxygen or hyperventilation.
Both salt and sugar can help to suppress the stress hormones and promote the production of carbon dioxide, increasing thyroid energy production in general, and they can be used as part of an approach helping to protect against some of the damaging effects of excessive exercise or training and other forms of stress.
Some other pro-metabolism, pro-CO2 anti-stress things include thiamine (B1), acetazolamide, methylene blue, aspirin, niacinamide, vitamin D, K, biotin and B6, coconut oil, red light, and cyproheptadine.
A couple of teaspoons of sodium bicarb spread over a day, can have many metabolically beneficial effects.
“…these data demonstrate that the ingestion of sodium bicarbonate in youth athletes is an effective buffer during high intensity interval swimming and suggest that such a procedure can be used in youth athletes to increase training intensity as well as swimming performance in competition…“
Regular daily bag breathing is a cheap and easy method which can help to increase carbon dioxide levels, lower lactic acid production, improve thyroid energy metabolism, and generally protect against stress, inflammation and disease. Adaptation to a high altitude promotes CO2 and lowers lactic acid, and has been shown to be highly disease protective.
See more here