We can take some lessons from our muscles when they are worked hard. When the body has plenty of oxygen, pyruvate is shuttled to an aerobic pathway to be further broken down for more energy. But when oxygen is limited, the body temporarily converts pyruvate into lactate, which allows glucose breakdown—and thus energy production—to continue. Even in healthy athletic individuals, when we put the muscles to great challenges oxygen levels fall temporarily showing us what happens in cells when they are oxygen starved.
In cancer the change becomes permanent. Cancer cells will continue with fermentation of glucose and the production of lactate even in the presence of oxygen though there is some evidence that some cancer cells, especially young cancer cells can be reverted back to normal cells if they can be provided enough oxygen.
Lactic acid in our tissues is a cause of biological problems for many reasons principle among them is the fact that lactic acid displaces carbon dioxide. The main features of stress metabolism include increases of stress hormones, lactate, ammonia, free fatty acids, and fat synthesis, and a decrease in carbon dioxide. Lactic acid in the blood can be taken as a sign of defective respiration, since the breakdown of glucose to lactic acid increases to make up for deficient oxidative energy production.
Glucose can be metabolized into pyruvic acid, which, in the presence of oxygen, can be metabolized into carbon dioxide. Without oxygen, pyruvic acid can be converted into lactic acid. The decrease of carbon dioxide generally accompanies increased lactic acid production.
The ability of lactic acid to displace carbon dioxide is involved in the blood clotting system. It contributes to disseminated intravascular coagulation and consumption coagulopathy, and increases the tendency of red cells to aggregate, forming "blood sludge," and makes red cells more rigid, increasing the viscosity of blood and impairing circulation in the small vessels. (Schmid-Schönbein, 1981; Kobayashi, et al., 2001; Martin, et al., 2002; Yamazaki, et al., 2006.) Lactate and inflammation promote each other in a vicious cycle (Kawauchi, et al., 2008 ).
Low thyroid leads to low production of
carbon dioxide and wastage of glucose.
Dr. Ray Peat
Carbon dioxide protects cells in many ways. By bonding to amino groups, it can inhibit the glycation of proteins during oxidative stress, and it can limit the formation of free radicals in the blood; inhibition of xanthine oxidase is one mechanism (Shibata, et al., 1998). It can reduce inflammation caused by endotoxin/LPS, by lowering the formation of tumor necrosis factor, IL-8 and other promoters of inflammation (Shimotakahara, et al., 2008). CO2 protects mitochondria (Lavani, et al., 2007), maintaining (or even increasing) their ability to respire during stress.”
Carbon dioxide has a stabilizing effect on cells, preserving stem cells, limiting stress and preventing loss of function. Carbon dioxide can be used to prevent adhesions during abdominal surgery, and to protect the lungs during mechanical ventilation.
Enough carbon dioxide is important in preventing an exaggerated and maladaptive stress response. A deficiency of carbon dioxide (such as can be produced by hyperventilation, or by the presence of lactic acid in the blood) decreases cellular energy (as ATP and creatine phosphate) and interferes with the synthesis of proteins (including antibodies) and other cellular materials.