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HOMEMEDICINERespiratory Disease

CO2 Deficiency and Symptoms in Humans

Published on February 28, 2010

One of Life’s most Essential Nutrients

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On Friday the 17th of February 2009 The Environmental Protection Agency formally declared carbon dioxide and five other heat-trapping gases to be pollutants that threaten public health and welfare, setting in motion a process that will regulate the gases blamed for global warming. The E.P.A. said the science supporting its so-called endangerment finding was “compelling and overwhelming.” The EPA believes that concentrations of these gases are very likely responsible for the increase in average temperatures even though global cooling is being reported as the sun cycles down for a period of minimum activity. (We will publish a greatly updated essay on global cooling after these two parts on carbon dioxide. After reading these essays you decide whether we can trust our governments’ positions on CO2 and weather you want to pay heavy taxes on it.)

The federal government is ready to use the Clean Air Act to
require power plants, cars and trucks to curtail their release
of climate-changing pollution, especially carbon dioxide.

The main issue with CO2 is not global warming its health and life itself. Carbon dioxide like air, water and oxygen is essential for life and health in general and specifically it holds the key to resolving asthma, cancer and many other chronic diseases. Carbon dioxide is an essential constituent of tissue fluids and as such should be maintained at an optimum level in the blood. The gas therefore is needed to supplement various anaesthetic and oxygenation mixtures for use under special conditions such as cardio-pulmonary by-pass surgery and the management of renal dialysis.

CO2 is not the beginning and end of climate change.
– Dr. Lowell Stott

Carbon dioxide is a nutrient as well as a product of respiration and energy production in the cells and its lack or deficiency is of itself a starting point for different disturbances in the body.It is very interesting to note that in comparison with most of the Earth’s geological history we live today in a world that is in a state of relative carbon dioxide starvation, especially for optimal plant growth; just ask the commercial tomato growers who use enhanced levels of carbon dioxide in their greenhouses to expedite crop growth.

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Dr. Gerald Marsh tells us that five hundred million years ago, carbon dioxide concentrations were over 13 times current levels; and not until about 20 million years ago did carbon dioxide levels drop to a little less than twice what they are today.[1] Since 1750 the concentration in the air has risen from of CO2 278 parts per million (ppm) to more than 380 ppm, making it easier for plants to acquire the CO2 needed for rapid growth. Scientists generally suggest that raised CO2 levels will boost the yields of mainstream crops, such as maize, rice and soy, by about 13 per cent.

A molecule of carbon dioxide (CO2) consists of one carbon and two oxygen atoms. Colorless and odorless, it is hard to detect. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been in flux throughout the Earth’s history and there was a point when there was a lot more. When one looks at carbon dioxide it is best to go back to basic biology to understand its central role in both plant and animal physiology.

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Plants survive by extracting CO2 from the air
using magnesium at the center of chlorophyll
and sunlight to convert it into proteins and sugars.

Public opinion tends to think of carbon dioxide as a waste product or even a poison. (It is sometimes confused with carbon monoxide, which is a poison). Way back in the 19th century, Zuntz, in Berlin, recognized that carbon dioxide, unlike oxygen, is not carried by haemoglobin. He showed that in the blood, carbon dioxide is combined with bases, chiefly as sodium bicarbonate, which plays a part in acid-alkaline balance. Most of the carbon dioxide is dissolved in the plasma, both in simple solution and that combined with alkali into the bicarbonates.

In medicine, up to 5% carbon dioxide is added to
pure oxygen for stimulation of breathing after
apnea and to stabilize the O2/CO2 balance in blood.

A study by the University of Leeds, published in the science journal Nature, measured the girth of 70,000 trees across 10 African countries and compared them with similar records made four decades ago. On average, the trees were getting bigger faster and researchers found that each hectare of African forest was trapping an extra 0.6 tons of CO2 a year compared with the 1960s.[2] Yes you are beginning to hear the real story about CO2, which has little or nothing to do with climate change and global warming. We are actually in a period of global cooling due to diminished solar activity combined with decreased industrial output of pollutants due to economic contraction. Plus the trees, if we don’t cut them all down, are sucking up more CO2 as CO2 levels rise.

One more time we are having the hood pulled over our eyes with terrible misinformation. Carbon is not an enemy or a terrorist organization and certainly it’s not a reason to break people’s backs with a new tax on it. We have so many examples lately of how wrong people can be and how our media just lies about reality. They keep kicking up the carbon story because they don’t want to say anything about the current disaster with mercury pollution coming out of the smoke stacks of coal burning electrical plants. Mercury, a deadly neuropoison is the enemy not carbon dioxide.

When we begin to understand the physiology of carbon dioxide and also the fact that the higher levels of anxiety, fear and outright panic people are feeling (which makes them over-breathe) is helped by higher concentrations of carbon dioxide we can start to comprehend the massive mistake being made. We have done this before and will continue to make dangerous things seem safe and safe things seem dangerous.[3]

People are having panic attacks over the state of the economy. With the
acknowledgment each month of increased economic destruction we are
seeing a plague hitting the emotional and mental framework of society.

According to the Verigo-Bohr effect (which we will look at below), we can state that a CO2 deficit caused by deep breathing leads to oxygen starvation in the cells of the body. This state is known as hypoxia and it badly affects the nervous system. Chronic hidden hyperventilation (over-breathing) is very common amongst western populations leading to impaired oxygenation of body tissues. But what is actually driving down the O2 levels is the hyperventilation, its getting rid of too much CO2. Meaning we need the CO2 almost as much as we need the O2 because, as we shall also see below, the two are married to each other in an eternal physiology dance.

With more layoffs expected, the threat of foreclosure
looming over so many and our savings disappearing, even
the best parents can feel stressed out and overwhelmed
leading to more anxiety and even increased violence in the home.
[4]

There are many reasons why people over-breath, including anxiety and pollution. Years of poor posture, anxious thinking, tension and pressure will usually result in breathing patterns which are less-than-ideal. Over breathing can be counted amongst panic attack symptoms, or amongst causes, as one ‘feeds’ off the other. About 60% of attacks are accompanied by hyperventilation and many panickers over breathe even whilst relaxed.

Most doctors have never heard of carbon dioxide
therapy. Yoga or deep breathing exercises
actually increase CO2 levels and this is good.

Most people have unhealthy breathing habits. They hold their breath or breathe high in the chest or in a shallow, irregular manner. These patterns have been unconsciously adopted, accidentally formed, or emotionally impressed. Certain “typical” breathing patterns actually trigger physiological and psychological stress and anxiety reactions. Babies know how to breathe and you can see their belly expand as the diaphragm moved down. Adults breathe more through expanding their chest cavity and it takes training and discipline to return to more natural breathing patterns.

Little does anyone know that a lack of carbon dioxide is
harmful and even less understand that carbon dioxide is
as fundamental a component of living matter as oxygen.

If a carbon dioxide deficiency continues for a long time then it can be responsible for diseases, ageing and even cancer. The ancient forms of medicine knew that for increased vitality and freedom from disease good habits of breathing must be formed. They knew that poor breathing reduces our vitality and opens the door to disease.

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The principle role of breathing is, of course, to stay alive! One of the ways in which breathing does this is through seeking to maintain an optimum internal oxygen-carbon dioxide balance. The important thing is not how much oxygen or how much carbon dioxide you have in your system but rather the relationship between the two gases – between carbon dioxide and oxygen. Too much oxygen (relative to the level of carbon dioxide) and we feel agitated and jumpy. Too much carbon dioxide (again, relative to the level of oxygen) and we feel sluggish and sleepy and tired.

Poor oxygenation or hypoxia appears to be a favorable environment
for cancer development whereas good oxygenation favors healthy
tissue growth. Increasing Co2 levels through the use of sodium
bicarbonate is good in cancer treatment because bicarbonate drives
up CO2 levels in the blood which increases oxygenation to the cells.

“Another natural misconception is that oxygen and carbon dioxide are so far antagonistic that a gain of one in the blood necessarily involves a corresponding loss of the other. On the contrary, although each tends to raise the pressure and thus promote the diffusion of the other, the two gases are held and transported in the blood by different means; oxygen is carried by the haemoglobin in the corpuscles, while carbon dioxide is combined with alkali in the plasma. A sample of blood may be high in both gases, or low in both gases. Under clinical conditions, low oxygen and low carbon dioxide generally occur together. Therapeutic increase of carbon dioxide, by inhalation of this gas diluted in air, is often an effective means of improving the oxygenation of the blood and tissues“.[5]

Few people know that a decreased level of carbon dioxide in the blood leads to decreased oxygen supply to the cells in the body including in the brain, heart, kidneys etc. Carbon dioxide (CO2) was found at the end of the 19th century by scientists Bohr and Verigo to be responsible for the bond between oxygen and haemoglobin. If the level of carbon dioxide in the blood is lower than normal, then this leads to difficulties in releasing oxygen from haemoglobin. Hence the Verigo-Bohr law:

According to the Verigo-Bohr effect, we can state
that a CO2 deficit caused by deep breathing
leads to oxygen starvation in the cells of the body.

What we are staring at here is the primordial yin and yang in human physiology. Oxygen the Yang fire cannot be separated from its Yin counterpart, where these is one there is the other. They cannot be separated from each other depending as they do on the others existence.  Pulmonary function measurement is an indicator of general health and vigor and literally the primary measure of potential life span. Our respiration is what balances oxygen with CO2.

You can see normal breathing in a healthy baby. Normal
breathing is invisible, through the nose, and is so quiet
that you can hardly hear it.
With normal breathing the
content of carbon dioxide in alveolar air should be 6.5%.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Solar Research in Germany report the sun has been burning more brightly over the last 60 years, accounting for the 1 degree Celsius increase in Earth’s temperature over the last 100 years. Dr. Timothy Patterson, professor of geology and director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Center of Canada’s Carleton University, says that “CO2 variations show little correlation with our planet’s climate on long, medium and even short time scales.

So it’s really not the carbon we have to worry about it’s the more deadly poisons that comes out of the smokestacks of industry, principally mercury which will deny us our future. Carbon dioxide we need and having more in the air is not threatening us in the present or foreseeable future. In fact most people, especially the chronically ill are deficient in carbon dioxide because of the acid conditions paralleled by anxious over-breathing coupled with the lack of exercise.

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A Russian doctor named Konstantin Buteyko is most responsible for drawing attention to the importance of carbon dioxide for body metabolism and how the lack of it can cause chronic diseases; this constitutes a major breakthrough in medical science. Yoga teachers the world over labor to help their students with their breathing knowing as they do that breathing is the key to health, relaxation and meditation.

Biologist Dr. Ray Peat tells us that “breathing pure oxygen lowers the oxygen content of tissues; breathing rarefied air, or air with carbon dioxide, oxygenates and energizes the tissues; if this seems upside down, it’s because medical physiology has been taught upside down. And respiratory physiology holds the key to the special functions of all the organs, and too many of their basic pathological changes.” [6]

People who live at very high altitudes live significantly longer;
they have a lower incidence of cancer (Weinberg, et al., 1987)
and heart disease (Mortimer, et al., 1977), and other
degenerative conditions, than people who live near sea level.

Dr. Peat continues saying that, “Breathing too much oxygen displaces too much carbon dioxide, provoking an increase in lactic acid; too much lactate displaces both oxygen and carbon dioxide. Lactate itself tends to suppress respiration. Oxygen toxicity and hyperventilation create a systemic deficiency of carbon dioxide. It is this carbon dioxide deficiency that makes breathing more difficult in pure oxygen, that impairs the heart’s ability to work, and that increases the resistance of blood vessels, impairing circulation and oxygen delivery to tissues. In conditions that permit greater carbon dioxide retention, circulation is improved and the heart works more effectively. Carbon dioxide inhibits the production of lactic acid, and lactic acid lowers carbon dioxide’s concentration in a variety of ways.”

The presence of lactic acid, which indicates stress or defective respiration, interferes with energy metabolism in ways that tend to be self-promoting. Harry Rubin’s experiments demonstrated that cells become cancerous before genetic changes appear. The mere presence of lactic acid can make cells more susceptible to the transformation into cancer cells. (Mothersill, et al., 1983.) The implications of this for the increased susceptibility to cancer during long term stress are obvious.

The lactic acid system is capable of releasing energy to resynthesise ATP without the involvement of oxygen and is called anaerobic glycolysis. Glycolysis (breakdown of carbohydrates) results in the formation of pyruvic acid and hydrogen ions (H+). A build up of H+ will make the muscle cells acidic.

“Otto Warburg established that lactic acid production is a fundamental property of cancer. It is, to a great degree, the lactic acid which triggers the defensive reactions of the organism, leading to tissue wasting from excessive glucocorticoid hormone,” says Dr. Peat. Tumors do tend to be efficient at exporting lactate which drops the pH in the milieu of the tumor. The breakdown of glucose or glycogen produces lactate and hydrogen ions – for each lactate molecule, one hydrogen ion is formed.

It is carbon dioxide deficiency that impairs circulation and oxygen
delivery to tissues.
Carbon dioxide inhibits the production of lactic acid,
and lactic acid lowers carbon dioxide’s concentration in a variety of ways.
– Dr. Ray Peat

Thus we can begin to see that it is the lack of carbon dioxide in the body which is a cause of many disturbances in the metabolism of cells and tissues, which, in turn, can lead to disease. Dr Buteyko said, “CO2 is the main source of nutrition for any living matter on Earth. Plants obtain CO2 from the air and provide the main source of nourishment for animals, while both plants and animals are nourishment for us. The great resource of CO2 in the air was formed in pre-historical times when the amount was about 10%.”

The best way to produce carbon dioxide is from physical activity but most people with chronic illness and cancer unfortunately do not exercise. Understanding how important sodium bicarbonate can be to the chronically ill person involves understanding the basic physiology of carbon dioxide. This leads us directly to our breath and we must understand and take conscious control of it so we optimize our breathing and CO2 and thus Oxygen levels. Over breathing really is a kind of self suffocation when taken to the extreme because we are driving down CO2 levels and that actually decreases oxygen to the cells.

There are different techniques designed for increasing carbon dioxide levels in the blood. Dr Buteyko developed a system where by breathing techniques controlled asthma. The ancient yogis with their yogic breathing and NASA controls spaceship climates with these issues in mind. Natural medicine makes proper breathing important because the central mechanism to maintain CO2 levels is correct breathing.[7] The clinical choice often is IV injection of bicarbonate in emergency situations but the rest of us can take the easy inexpensive way using oral sodium bicarbonate.

About 80% of the CO2 formed by metabolism is transported from tissues to lungs as bicarbonate ions dissolved in the water phases of red cells and plasma. The catalyzed hydration of CO2 to bicarbonate takes place in the erythrocytes but most of the bicarbonate thus formed must be exchanged with extracellular chloride to make full use of the carbon dioxide transporting capacity of the blood. This is an important reason why magnesium chloride is not only the ideal form of magnesium but also the reason to combine magnesium chloride with bicarbonate. Chloride is another basic substance that runs parallel biological processes.

The anion transport capacity of the red cell membrane is among the largest ionic transport capacities of any biological membrane. Exchange diffusion of chloride and bicarbonate is nevertheless a rate-limiting step for the transfer of CO2 from tissues to lungs.[8]

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) immediately reacts when it mixes with stomach acid. NaHCO(3) + HCl —> NaCl + H(2)0 + CO(2). That is: Sodium bicarbonate + stomach acid yields salt + water + carbon dioxide. This is the physiological reason why bicarbonate is such an effective medicine; it instantly offers a return to more normal CO2 levels which drives more Oxygen into the tissues. This is not something cancer cells enjoy.

CO2 is a gas at room temperature, and consists of a central carbon atom and two oxygen atoms arranged in a linear fashion. When dissolved into water, the CO2 becomes hydrated to form carbonic acid (H2CO3). This hydration step takes a few seconds, though that may seem fast, many organisms from bacteria to humans use an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase to greatly speed up the process.

Once carbonic acid forms, it very quickly equilibrates with the other acids and bases in solution. It can, for example, lose one or two protons (H+). The extent to which this happens depends upon the pH and a variety of other factors. In seawater at pH 8.1, most of it (87 percent) will lose one proton to form bicarbonate, a small amount will lose two protons to form carbonate (13 percent), and a very small amount will remain as H2CO3 (<>1 percent). All of these forms, however, interconvert faster than the blink of an eye, so one cannot identify one as carbonate and one as bicarbonate for more than a tiny fraction of a second. All one can really say is that on average X percent is in the form of bicarbonate, and Y percent in the form of carbonate.[9]

A bicarbonate anion is considered “labile” since at a proper concentration of hydrogen ion (H+) it may be converted to carbonic acid (H2CO3) and thence to its volatile form, carbon dioxide (CO2). Little did this clinician know that a lack of carbon dioxide is itself a starting point for different disturbances in the body. If a carbon dioxide deficiency continues for a long time then it can be responsible for diseases, ageing and even cancer.

Sodium (Na+) is the principal cation of the extracellular fluid
and bicarbonate (HC03 †) is a normal constituent of body
fluids and the normal plasma level ranges from 24 to 31 mEq/liter.

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This diagram shows the diffusion directions for H+, CO2, and O2 between the blood and the muscle cells during exercise. The resulting concentration changes affect the buffer equilibrium, shown in the upper right-hand corner of the diagram (yellow). If the amounts of H+ and CO2 exceed the capacity of hemoglobin, they affect the carbonic acid equilibrium, as predicted by Le Châtelier’s Principle or the quantitative treatment in terms of equilibrium constants. As a result, the pH of the blood is lowered, causing acidosis. The lungs and kidneys help regulate pH by removing CO2, HCO3-, and H+ from the blood.

So now that we know something about carbon dioxide its not something we need to be afraid of and certainly we don’t want anyone putting a tax on it for the trees, at least, are loving that there is more of it in the air. If there is any truth in the fact that more CO2 in the air has a warming affect then perhaps in the end we will be thankful when it gets really cold that it is not as cold as it might be if we had not filled the air with so much of it due to human activity.

That does not mean we do not have a huge pollution problem that is harming everyone especially in the northern hemisphere. People in cities everywhere are exposed to unacceptable levels of air pollution that are killing people. And again it is the mercury that is put out to the tune of about 20 tons a day that is the real threat to the future of humanity not the carbon dioxide. Remember it’s only about a gram of mercury that will pollute a lake so 20 tons a day is threatening and even causing neurological disorders like autism downwind of smokestacks. This is just one more lesson to teach us that we trust the wrong people to decide the future destiny of our lives. Parents especially need to be aware for their children’s lives are in the wrong hands.

[1] By Dr. Gerald Marsh: Five hundred million years ago, carbon dioxide concentrations were over 13 times current levels; and not until about 20 million years ago did carbon dioxide levels dropped to a little less than twice what they are today. It is possible that moderately increased carbon dioxide concentrations could extend the current interglacial period. But we have not reached the level required yet, nor do we know the optimum level to reach. So, rather than call for arbitrary limits on carbon dioxide emissions, perhaps the best thing the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the climatology community in general could do is spend their efforts on determining the optimal range of carbon dioxide needed to extend the current interglacial period indefinitely. We ought to carefully consider this possibility before we wipe out our current prosperity by spending trillions of dollars to combat a perceived global warming threat that may well prove to be only a will-o-the-wisp. Dr. Gerald Marsh is a retired physicist from the Argonne National Laboratory and a former consultant to the Department of Defense on strategic nuclear technology and policy in the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton Administration.

[2] If this is replicated across the world’s tropical rainforests they would be removing nearly 5 billion tons of CO2 a year from the atmosphere. Professor Martin Parry, head of plant science at Rothamsted Research, Britain’s leading crop institute, said: “There is no doubt that the enrichment of the air with CO2 is increasing plant growth rates in many areas. Humans are believed to generate about 50 billion tons of the gas each year. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/5109251/Trees-are-growing-faster-and-could-buy-time-to-halt-global-warming.html

[3] I once wrote an essay called medical insanity, which I defined as the making of dangerous pharmaceuticals (vaccines with mercury for instance) legal and reject marijuana, the safest drug in existence, making it a crime to use for suffering and pain.

[5] Henderson, Y. Carbon Dioxide. Article in Encyclopedia of Medicine. 1940.

[8] Chloride-Bicarbonate Exchange in Red Blood Cells: Physiology of Transport and Chemical Modification of Binding Site. Wieth, J. O.; Andersen, O. S.; Brahm, J.; Bjerrum, P. J.; Borders, C. L., Jr. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, Volume 299, Issue 1097, pp. 383-399

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