Carbon dioxide and Health

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STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • CO2 is typically thought of as nothing more than a harmful waste product of respiration, but it’s actually a driver of mitochondrial energy production, and it improves the delivery of oxygen into your cells
  • One of the simplest ways to optimize your CO2 is by breathing properly. Most people tend to over-breathe, which causes you to expel too much CO2. Proper breathing involves breathing less and breathing slower. Both of these allow CO2 to build up, and that appears to be part of why breathwork has such wide-ranging benefits
  • To have sufficient CO2 production, you need healthy mitochondria because CO2 is produced exclusively in the Krebs cycle in the mitochondria. If you have mitochondrial dysfunction, if you’re hypothyroid or have high levels of inflammation, then you will not be producing enough CO2
  • When your CO2 is too low, your body reverts to an “emergency” vasodilator, nitric oxide (NO). Drawbacks of elevated NO include peroxynitrite species formation and pseudohypoxia. NO also damages the polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) in your cells, and inhibits energy production
  • CO2 combats cancer development by lowering the pH of the cell, thereby allowing extra water to be excreted. This is the opposite of linoleic acid (LA) and estrogen, both of which suck water in and cause the cell to swell. Cellular swelling is a feature of cancer cells

In this interview, repeat guest Georgi Dinkov reviews the role of carbon dioxide (CO2) in health. CO2 is typically thought of as nothing more than a harmful waste product of respiration, but it’s actually a driver of mitochondrial energy production, and it improves the delivery of oxygen into your cells.

While this may come as a shock to most people, of all the strategies I know of to increase life extension, CO2 is one of the most effective longevity interventions available. There really isn’t anything that comes close, other than a low linoleic acid diet and reducing estrogen dominance.

Unfortunately, virtually no doctors understand this. The now deceased Ray Peat, a biologist and physiologist who developed the bioenergetic theory of health,1 was one of the few who understood it inside and out, and actually recommended its clinical use.

I wrote an article about this that featured his lecture on CO2, which I watched six times as it catalyzed my interest in the topic. At the time I found his video there were fewer than 2,000 views on YouTube. You can find it by going to YouTube and typing in Ray Peat CO2.

Proper Breathing Is Important for Optimal CO2 Levels

One of the simplest ways to optimize your CO2 is by breathing properly. Unfortunately, bad advice is rampant in the breathing arena as well. The problem is that most people tend to over-breathe, which causes them to expel (breathe out) too much CO2, resulting in respiratory alkalosis. Chronic CO2 deficiency will also contribute to premature death.

In a nutshell, “proper” or life-extending breathing involves breathing less and breathing slower. Both of these allow CO2 to build up, and that appears to be part of why breathwork has such wide-ranging benefits.

“As it turns out, carbon dioxide, even though medically it’s mostly viewed as a waste product of respiration, is actually the thing that protects us from oxygen’s well-known toxicity,” Dinkov explains.

“In fact, if you speak to people who work in trauma or in the intensive care unit, when they have to revive people that are in shock or have suffered some kind of ischemic attack, they will tell you that the premature delivery of oxygen, or delivering too much oxygen … is actually what kills most patients after they come out of the initial shock stage.

The introduction of too much oxygen too quickly creates this massive cytokine storm and inflammatory reaction, and one of the reasons [for that] is that the cells are hypermetabolic — they’re not producing sufficient carbon dioxide, so they’re not able to utilize the oxygen properly.”

Forgotten Truths

It’s rather surprising that the benefits of CO2 have become forgotten considering its historical use. Asian cultures, for example, have a long history of using carbonated water for its health benefits.

The Romans recommended taking baths in naturally carbonated water for all kinds of ailments but especially arthritis, infertility and psychiatric ailments, and this practice extended well into the Middle Ages when monks prescribed it. To this day many visit natural hot springs, and the likely benefit in many of these springs is the CO2 content of the water.

In the 20th century, Russian scientists did loads of research on CO2, and to this day, many Russian clinics offer CO2 baths and other CO2 treatments. There’s even a suit that can be filled up with CO2, which then diffuses into your tissues. You’ll start feeling hot very rapidly and this is a sign of vasodilation, which is one of the cardiovascular effects of CO2.

It’s been shown that CO2 can, over the long term, even reverse arterial calcification. It can also reverse many other signs of and damage caused by the aging process.

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Mitochondrial Dysfunction Inhibits CO2 Production

The key, though, is that in order to have sufficient CO2 production, you need healthy mitochondria, because CO2 is produced exclusively in the Krebs cycle in the mitochondria. If you have mitochondrial dysfunction, if you’re hypothyroid or have high levels of inflammation, then you will not be producing enough CO2.

When your CO2 is too low, your body reverts to an “emergency” vasodilator, nitric oxide (NO). There are three types of nitric oxide:2 neuronal nitric oxide synthases (nNOS); endothelial NOS (eNOS); and inducible NOS (iNOS). Low CO2 triggers iNOS. The problem with that is that now you’re overproducing NO, which is not ideal. Dinkov explains:

“Most of the eNOS … stays in the actual blood vessel. iNOS also spills into the blood. That’s kind of the purpose of iNOS because the primary purpose of nitric oxide in the body is to fight pathogens. It’s a reactive nitrogen species.

It’s produced for only two reasons, either as an emergency vasodilator, or if the immune system senses an invasion from pathogens, specifically bacteria and viruses, in which case iNOS is activated.

The reason iNOS is bad is because the nitric oxide does not stay localized. It’s made available systemically because you want to affect all blood vessels, and that’s what happens when you don’t have sufficient amounts of carbon dioxide production. So, if you don’t have [enough] CO2, you will have elevated NO.

But with NO, nitric oxide, you have a lot of other bad things happening. It’s a highly reactive molecule. It can form peroxynitrite species. It can damage the polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) in the cells, no matter where they are.

Nitric oxide itself can form a covalent bond with something called cytochrome c oxidase [Complex 4 in the electron transport chain], which is the rate limiting step of the oxidative phosphorylation …

You want to break that bond because otherwise your oxidative phosphorylation is inhibited. Methylene blue can do it, magnesium can do it, carbon dioxide can do it, near-infrared light and some quinols.”

Another significant problem associated with elevated NO is pseudohypoxia, because you have oxygen in the cells but it cannot be utilized because No impairs Complex IV in the electron transport chain.

CO2 prevents this by dissociating the covalent bond between NO and Complex IV. Hence, oxygenation is optimized when sufficient CO2 is present. So, to summarize, CO2 keeps your blood vessels supple without the drawback of blocking Complex IV.

The Bohr Effect

Needless to say, optimal delivery of oxygen is crucial for good health. Oxygen from the air binds to hemoglobin when you inhale and enter your blood circulation. This bond is relatively strong. To break that bond and deliver the oxygen where it’s needed, you need CO2. This is known as the Bohr Effect.

Basically, the Bohr Effect describes the process in which CO2 weakens the bond between oxygen and hemoglobin so that the oxygen can separate and enter into the tissues.

As the hemoglobin releases the oxygen, it binds to the CO2 instead. The CO2 is then expelled through your outbreath. Without enough CO2, you will not be able to liberate sufficient amounts of oxygen from hemoglobin.

A Note on Oxygen Saturation

On a side note, a pulse oximeter measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. However, if your CO2 is extremely low, it could still read 100% saturation because you’re not dissociating the oxygen. It’s circulating in your bloodstream but cannot be used.

The major factor that determines your tissue oxygenation is how much CO2 you’re producing. If you’re hypermetabolic, if your mitochondria are not working, then you’re oxidizing mostly fats, which produces less CO2 per molecule, so you’ll be deficient in CO2.

In the past (going back 100 years ago or so), the test for seizure susceptibility was hyperventilating. The doctor would instruct you to breathe through your mouth very quickly for 30 seconds, and if seizure symptoms emerged, it was a sign that you have insufficient CO2, as that’s what’s causes the seizure activity.

How CO2 Can Combat Cancer

Another important aspect of CO2 is that it lowers the pH of your cells, thereby allowing extra water to be excreted. This is the exact opposite of linoleic acid (LA) and estrogen, both of which suck water into your cells which causes the cells to swell. Cellular swelling, aside from being the cause of edema, is also a feature of cancer cells. So, you don’t want your cells to retain excess fluids. Dinkov explains:

“Because carbon dioxide is a Lewis acid, it’s an electron withdrawing agent, even though it doesn’t directly bind them like a quinol. If you look at the structure, it’s very similar to a quinol. It’s a carbon atom with two carbonyl groups, and the quinol is very similar. They usually have a ring and two or more carbonyl groups.

Lewis acids drop the pH of the cell, which automatically decreases the cell’s affinity for water. Which means you’re going to be excreting some of that extra water of the cell.

It’s not a coincidence that linoleic acid has multiple double bonds. It’s much more hydrophilic than the saturated fats, which lack the double bonds. Any time you have an increase of intracellular pH, you have increased affinity for water. The moment water streams in, that’s a signal for de-differentiation and metosis (division). If this process continues uncontrollably, we basically get cancer.

Conversely, when you excrete water, the cell becomes acidified and a little bit dehydrated, so to speak. Then you’re getting high amounts of differentiation. You’re also increasing the affinity of the intracellular proteins for potassium and magnesium, while decreasing their affinity for sodium and calcium. In fact, when carbon dioxide is produced and streams out of the cell, it draws calcium and sodium with it.

If you’re not producing sufficient amounts of carbon dioxide, you’re also probably not producing sufficient amounts of ATP, because carbon dioxide and ATP go hand in hand; they’re signs of good mitochondrial function. ATP has affinity for magnesium, but if you don’t have sufficient amounts of ATP, you’ll have more ADP, which is the degraded version.

ADP has an affinity for calcium. So low metabolic rate, by definition, means cellular excitotoxicity, cellular alkalinity and cellular division, because of the lack of carbon dioxide and the lack of the ATP. ATP always exists in the body in a complex with magnesium. So, if you’re taking magnesium but not producing sufficient amounts of ATP, it will not become bioavailable. But the production of ATP is tied to the production of carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide also increases the uptake of serotonin into the platelets, so producing sufficient amounts of carbon dioxide will lower your extracellular levels of serotonin.

It also increases the uptake of histamine, a very highly inflammatory mediator. Its transport also depends on carbon dioxide and on sodium as well, just like the serotonin … So, almost everything that you do metabolically, in terms of health, depends on the production of CO2. It’s not a waste product.”

Respiratory Alkalosis and Cancer

Cells can only produce a certain amount of CO2 per unit of time, so when you breathe too fast, you overwhelm your cells’ ability to maintain an appropriate level of CO2. As a result, you’ll have excess oxygen circulating in your blood stream, but because the CO2 production cannot keep up with the amount of CO2 you exhale, you end up with respiratory alkalosis.

Respiratory alkalosis also increases intracellular water uptake, as just described, and as the pH of the cell increases, it causes overproduction of several inflammatory mediators, including lactate, which is another hallmark of cancer cells.

“Cancer cells are highly alkaline, they’re overproducing a lot of lactate and they have a very high uptake of water,” Dinkov says. “In fact, I think the word tumor is a Latin word which meant swelling.

You can reduce the swelling of the tumor to a tremendous degree simply by either increasing delivery of CO2 around the tumor, if it’s on the surface, or increasing uptake of CO2 through a CO2 bath or drugs that increase the levels of CO2 in the blood.”

Drugs that increase CO2 include carbonic and hydrate inhibitors such as acetazolamide, which decrease the degradation of CO2, allowing more CO2 to build up in your blood.

CO2 Benefits Your Entire Body

A nearly 150-year-old medical book describes the many uses and health benefits of CO2 that were known at the time. It basically included the entire body, and an extensive list of ailments of the day, including:

DementiaPsychiatric disorders like mania
DysenteryFistulas
Fibrotic conditionsWhooping cough
TuberculosisRhinitis

“Really, every condition you can think of, both physiological and mental, can be remediated, and in many cases cured, by increasing endogenous CO2 production and decreasing degradation,” Dinkov says. Migraines, are another common ailment that can be addressed with CO2. In many cases migraines are due to overbreathing causing a lack of CO2 that constricts the blood vessels in your brain.

Exogenous CO2 Delivery Methods

While it’s obviously important to optimize your endogenous (internal) production of CO2, exogenous delivery or supplementation will definitely produce the greatest benefits, as you can deliver far greater amounts than your body can produce. Such strategies include:

Breathing into a paper bagDrinking carbonated water and other carbonated beverages
CO2 bathsA special suit into which CO2 is pumped
Hyperbaric administrationTaking small amounts of baking soda in your drinking water

One of our readers, LSquare, shared their experience with bag breathing in treating their hypertension a few days ago and I thought you would enjoy their story in case you did not see it in the comment section.

Exercise, regular walking, and upping my potassium helped to lower my hypertension to the 120-130’s. However, I started doing the paper bag breathing when Dr M first mentioned it last month, and the results could not be more amazing. My systolic readings now are regularly now less than 110, and my diastolic ones are in the 50s.

I just had my annual physical 2 weeks ago, and my Dr. REMOVED hypertension from my records. Bad things are almost never removed from your ‘permanent record’. And I’d only done the CO2 breathing for several days before that appt. I implore you to try it if you suffer from High BP. It’s free, and it only costs you 4-6 minutes a day..

A book written in 1905 by Achilles Rose, M.D. discusses delivery by rectal insufflation. It contains dozens of case reports of it being used for asthma, whooping cough, dysentery, colitis, rectal fistulas, rhinitis and ear infections. It is a fascinating read. There are three grades of CO2 gas:

  • Industrial-grade, used for cryo chambers, welding and a variety of other typically commercial applications
  • Food grade
  • Beverage grade, which is 10 times cleaner and purer than food grade, and it’s the kind used in restaurants

If you are going to use CO2 therapeutically, the grade you will want to use is the beverage grade. Commercially, it’s typically sold or rented in 20-pound cylinders. There’s enough CO2 gas in one cylinder that if you’re using 1 liter a day therapeutically, it will last you 250 years.

However, there are smaller units like SodaStream that can provide CO2 gas. The problem is that you need to use those CO2 cylinders with SodaStream equipment and there is no easy way to put the gas into a container or bag.

I hope to go into greater detail of how you can use CO2 therapeutically when I interview Anders Olsson, breathing instructor and the founder of Conscious Breathing, soon.

– Sources and References

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 GuillermouJoined On 4/7/2015 8:47:48 AMAdd as Friend Send MessageSuper SavvyWe need to increase CO2 to reduce lactate and promote mitochondrial function. The presence of lactic acid in our tissues is very significant because it is a cause of biological diseases. Its presence is manifested in arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, neurological diseases and cancer. Lactate increases blood viscosity, mimics stress and causes inflammation. Lactate contributes to diabetes by inhibiting the ability to oxidize glucose. It promotes the migration of endothelial cells, with an increase in vascular permeability factor (VPF or vascular endothelial growth factor, VEGF) and can lead to the breakdown of the “blood-brain barrier”.If there is too much lactate, glycolytic ATP production slows down. The cell with defective respiration will die. The ability of lactic acid to displace carbon dioxide. in its effects on the blood coagulation system. Lactate contributes to intravascular coagulation and increases the tendency of red blood cells to clump together, forming a “blood sludge,” and makes red blood cells more rigid, increasing blood viscosity and impairing circulation in small vessels. . Factors that reduce stress hormones increase. carbon dioxide and helps reduce circulating free fatty acids, lactate and ammonia, include vitamin B1 (to increase CO2 and reduce lactate), niacinamide (to reduce free fatty acids), sugar (to reduce cortisol, adrenaline and fatty acids free), salt (to reduce adrenaline), thyroid hormone (to increase CO2).Vitamins D, K, B6 and biotin are also closely involved with carbon dioxide metabolism. Biotin deficiency can cause aerobic glycolysis with increased fat synthesis. Dietary protein should not provide excess tryptophan, due to tryptophan’s role as a serotonin precursor that increases inflammation and glycolysis.Reply Mark as Spam Posted On 12/17/2023 1:41:40 AM Like  Dislike GuillermouJoined On 4/7/2015 8:47:48 AMAdd as Friend Send MessageSuper SavvyThe brain has a high rate of metabolism and governs the metabolism of other tissues, including their oxygen consumption and production of carbon dioxide or lactic acid. Within a particular species, the rate of oxygen consumption increases. in proportion to brain size, rather than body weight. Among very different species, the role of the brain in metabolism is even more obvious, since the resting metabolic rate corresponds to the size of the brain. Strenuous exercise combined with fasting not only directly triggers the production of lactate and ammonia, it is also likely to increase the absorption of bacterial endotoxin from the intestine, which is a chronic stressor.With the increase in lactate and nitric oxide, mitochondrial respiration is weakened, precipitating the secretion of adaptive stress hormones. Prolonged stress also decreases carbon dioxide and increases lactate, while increasing fat utilization. Methionine restriction has many protective effects, including increasing average (42%) and maximum (44%) longevity. The age-accelerating effect of methionine could be related to the alteration of methylation balance, inappropriately suppressing cellular activity. In addition to its effect on methyl stores, methionine inhibits thyroid function and damages mitochondria.The local concentration of carbon dioxide in specific tissues and organs can be adjusted by nervous and hormonal activation or inhibition of carbonic anhydrase enzymes, which accelerate the conversion of CO2 to carbonic acid, H2CO3. Carbonic anhydrase activity can determine skeletal density and strength, nerve excitability, water accumulation, and can regulate the structure and function of tissues and organs. There are several specific signals produced by lactate that can promote growth. and other characteristics of cancer, and it happens that aspirin antagonizes those: HIF, NF-kappaB, the kinase cascades, cyclin D1 and heme oxygenase.Mark as Spam Posted On 12/17/2023 1:44:28 AM Like  Dislike GuillermouJoined On 4/7/2015 8:47:48 AMAdd as Friend Send MessageSuper SavvyNorwegian researchers discovered the process by which cancer cells produce lactic acid to survive. The University of Colorado-Boulder also highlights the very important role of lactate in the different phases of cancer, such as angiogenesis; the resistance of tumor cells to the immune system, metastasis and metabolic self-sufficiency of the tumor. Excessive consumption of sugar in our diet also helps trigger oncogenesis. After training, you pant and the body can thus eliminate lactic acid with the help of oxygen. Tumors manage to escape immune destruction by regulating lactic acid secretion through modification of glucose/glutamine metabolisms.Cancer-generated lactic acid could be viewed as a critical immunosuppressive metabolite in the tumor microenvironment rather than a “waste product.” Warburg, Koch, and Szent-Gyorgyi had a comprehensive view of biology, in which aerobic lactate production, resulting from a respiratory defect, was itself functionally related to the nature of cancer. A focus on correcting the respiratory defect would be relevant to all of the diseases and conditions (including heart disease, diabetes, dementia) that involve inflammation and inappropriate arousal, not just cancer.raypeat.com/…/lactate.shtml  .—— raypeat.com/…/tryptophan-serotonin-aging.shtml  .—- raypeat.com/…/co2.shtml  ,…. raypeat.com/…/protective-co2-aging.shtml  .—- faseb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/…/fj.202001920RR  (2021).— febs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/…/febs.16058  (2021).— www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/…/PMC9207018  (2022).— www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1535610823000090  (2023).–Mark as Spam Posted On 12/17/2023 1:45:12 AM Like  Dislike
 goranoJoined On 11/29/2009 2:55:55 PMAdd as Friend Send MessageCO2 and sunlight. When the “health” authorities and political leaders want to reduce our access to something, we can be sure on that this “something” is extremely good for us.Reply Mark as Spam Posted On 12/17/2023 1:09:48 AM Like  Dislike BigfletchJoined On 1/5/2010 7:46:30 AMAdd as Friend Send MessageHi Gorano, Same applies in reverse of course..lolMark as Spam Posted On 12/17/2023 1:16:16 AM Like  Dislike
 BigfletchJoined On 1/5/2010 7:46:30 AMAdd as Friend Send MessageOne fatal consequence of this lack of knowledge is the introduction of an oxygen mask to distance athletes, such as marathoners, when they ” hit the wall “.  Interesting how instinct kicks in when you get sufficient things right (like a saturated mass of beneficial activities ) In my case, I have drank only carbonated water for decades… I used to provide it for free on tap in one of my gyms. Interestingly, in a hot climate like Perth, Aus. I really enjoy the ” sensation “…although sodastream is a bit of a rip off, it is very convenient. The supermarkets provide it for about the same price per litre for petrol… Cant let this go by without mentioning The Mighty Hof.lol. Wim has popullarised a yogic style breathing which also produces all the co2 benefits. Its cured me of all allergens..had asthmatic symptoms as a reaction and also both daughters, one who had severe panic attacks.Reply Mark as Spam Posted On 12/17/2023 1:29:04 AM

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