CO2: The Best Natural Muscle Relaxant
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is most likely the best
natural muscle relaxant
since it also provides O2 for the muscles and other body cells. I have seen the powerful effects of breathing exercises on hundreds of my students. They posture, gait, and many other lifestyle factors change.
When people have normal breathing parameters during their basal or automatic
breathing, they effortlessly maintain correct posture with a straight spine. It is
easy for them to have diaphragmatic (vs. chest) breathing 24/7. There are no
signs of stress in their gait.
What happens with muscles and posture in modern people?
Since ordinary modern people, breathe about twice
more than the medical norm, they suffer from the effects of chronic
hyperventilation. One of them is cellular CO2 deficiency (hypocapnia), which makes
muscle cells tense and irritable since CO2 is a muscle relaxant.
Physiological science accumulated evidence of the adverse effects of low
carbon dioxide levels on muscle cells. In his research review paper, "Physiological
effects of hyperventilation" Dr. Brown from the Department of Physiology at
the University of Kansas Medical Center (USA) analyzed almost 300 professional
studies. He stated, “Studies designed to determine the effects produced by
hyperventilation on nerve and muscle have been consistent in their
finding on increased irritability” (Brown, 1953). Muscles cells become
irritated or abnormally sensitive and predisposed to spasms and twitching.
That was also an experimental observation of Dr. Hurlock from the Department
of Physiology (University of Birmingham Medical School, UK) in his book
Muscle blood flow (Hurlock, 1973). Many other published research studies
found that CO2 is a natural muscle relaxant (Lamont , 1987; Gencarelli, 1983;
This fact, together with the properties of CO2 mentioned previously, will
help us to understand the mechanism by which normal carbon dioxide
concentrations can restore the harmonious work of different muscular groups
(such as all smooth muscles of arteries and arterioles, the heart, respiratory
muscles, muscles of the digestive tract, etc.) in order to eliminate muscular
spasms (e.g., heart attacks, asthma attacks, constipation, etc.). In fact, there
are separate web pages that consider how CO2 deficiency contributes or even
creates chest breathing, vasoconstriction,
Moreover, since skeletal muscles also get irritated it is normal to expect
that when people breathe too much, they are more likely to be tense, anxious,
stressed, aggressive, and violent. Together with the abnormally excited state of
the nervous system, this muscular effect can create conditions of tension and
irritability. A slight provocation can create various problems for a
hyperventilating person (and for those who are around!) since the muscles are
irritated and the brain cells are abnormally excited.
Vice versa, normal carbon dioxide concentrations would result in muscular
relaxation. Hence, the relief or treatment of chronic problems with muscular
tension should be based on breathing exercises or breathing retraining
The best muscle relaxant influences feelings and emotions
Studies have found that people become duller and less able to concentrate
because of chronic overbreathing. In addition, because of “spontaneous and
asynchronous firing of cortical neurons”, people can become impulsive, moody,
inconsistent, anxious, irritated, intolerant, disrespectful, depressed,
hyperactive, verbally abusive, jealous, envious, greedy, and addicted to various
unnatural substances and activities due to abnormal effects of CO2 deficiency on
the human nerve cells. During overbreathing, it becomes more and more difficult
to control irrational emotions. Confusion is another common result of
(Note that normal breathing does not guarantee a complete absence of
irrational emotions. Upbringing and environmental factors are also important.
However, for most people, destructive or self-defeating behavior is possible or
more likely in conditions of hyperventilation.)
Due to tense muscles, CO2-deficient people can easily become poorly
coordinated, over-active, aggressive, or even violent (see right). This often
leads to destructive behavior, which requires self-justification on the part of
the perpetrators. How is that possible? Physiology has proved that the nerve
cells become irritable during hyperventilation or cell hypocapnia. As a result,
the brain, instead of being a tool for the exploration of the world and the
analysis of one’s own behavior, often becomes a tool for the invention of
In other situations hyperventilating people can suffer themselves.
CO2-related physiological mechanisms (muscular spasms and abnormally excited
states of the nerve cells) help us to understand and prevent (treat) epilepsy and
other types of seizures; many, but not all black-outs; febrile seizures; cases
of eclampsia; and twitches. In many life-threatening situations, when breathing
is very heavy and people can have heart attacks, strokes, or epilepsy attacks,
their body can become very stiff with decisive or significant contribution due
to CO2 deficiency.
There are three additional tools in order to make musclular cells relaxed. These methods are provided right below here as your bonus content.
For clinical studies with abstracts related to CO2 effects, visit this page: muscle relaxers.
Brown E, Physiological effects of hyperventilation, Physiological Reviews 1953
Oct; 33 (4): p. 445-471.
Hurlock OT, Muscle blood flow, 1973; Swets&Zeitlinger, Amsterdam.
Lamont A, Roberts M, McLeod L, Hypocarbia [CO2 deficiency] and muscle relaxant plasma
levels, Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, 1987 Aug; 15(3): p. 354-355.
* Illustrations by Victor Lunn-Rockliffe
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* Illustrations by Victor Lunn-Rockliffe