CNS/Brain Diseases Are Caused by Low Brain O2/CO2 Levels
Numerous medical studies have discovered that brain diseases (or disorders of the central nervous system - CNS) are possible only in conditions of chronic hyperventilation (the most likely scenario) or chest breathing and mouth breathing. All these respiratory deviations result in decreased levels of oxygen in the brain.
It is beyond doubt that low oxygen levels in brain cells have a profound negative effects on function of nerve cells of the CNS. Brain hypoxia leads to anaerobic cellular respiration, generation of lactic acid and free radicals, acidic pH cellular environment, chronic inflammation, inability of the immune system to heal injuries and many other negative effects (see the links to medical research below), that include possible formation of tumors.
Well over 90% of modern people have abnormally low brain O2 and CO2 levels 24/7 due to chronic overbreathing. Here are historical changes related to a large increase in breathing.
Furthermore, since most brain diseases are characterized by chronic hyperventilation, there are additional effects due to low CO2 levels in the CNS. For example, hypocapnia is devastating since CO2 is a powerful relaxant or stabilizer of the nerve cells. Hyperventilation leads to "spontaneous and asynchronous firing of neurons", as we learned in the section devoted to CO2 effects related to the nerve cells.
People with panic attacks, seizures, sleeping problems, anxiety breathing disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, senile dementia, Parkinson, Alzheimer disease, and many other chronic and degenerative health conditions (see this link for other brain disorders) have ineffective, or heavy or irregular breathing patterns often accompanied by habitual thoracic and mouth breathing.
Brain-CNS disorders and minute ventilation studies
*One row corresponds to one medical study/publication
All references or
click below for abstracts
|Healthy Subjects||6-7 l/min||>400||Results of 14 studies|
|Normal breathing||6 l/min||-||Medical textbooks|
|Epilepsy||13 l/min||12||Esquivel et al, 1991|
|Panic disorder||12 (±5) l/min||12||Pain et al, 1991|
|Bipolar disorder||11 (±2) l/min||16||MacKinnon et al, 2007|
All these and many other studies testify about classical chronic hyperventilation syndrome. For example, in 1990, American psychiatrists from Hunter College (City University of New York) reported results from several groups of subjects with anxiety, panic phobia, depression, migraine, and idiopathic seizures. The abstract states “virtually all the non-control subjects were found to show moderate to severe hyperventilation and accompanying EEG dysrhythmia”. In addition, it notes that hyperventilation and abnormal electrical signals in the brain took place simultaneously.
The parameters in the sick are usually much worse during early morning hours due to sleep heavy breathing effects (often caused by mouth breathing and supine sleep), after meals, during and after exercise with mouth breathing, during and after stress, and in many other situations.
Diseases of the CNS and brain disorders and CO2 levels
In 1976 the British Journal of Psychiatry published a study of CO2 measurements in 60 patients with neurotic depression and non-retarded endogenous depression (Mora et al, 1976). All patients had abnormally low carbon dioxide values.
Canadian scientists from the Department of Psychiatry (University of Manitoba, Winnipeg) measured carbon dioxide concentrations in over 20 patients with panic disorder. Their average CO2 was also below the medical norm (Stein & Asmundson, 1994). There are many other studies that report abnormally low CO2 values for people with various psychological and neurological problems.
Chest and mouth breathing as causes of brain diseases and disorders
While these Western studies suggest the possible role of over breathing in the appearance and development of various neurological and psychological diseases, it is also known that low oxygen levels in the brain and body tissues can occur due to habitual chest and/or mouth breathing. Chest breathing results in drastic reduction of blood oxygenation since lower parts of the lungs get 6-7 times richer blood supply, while adverse biochemical and immune effects of mouth breathing are too numerous to mention here (see Mouth Breathing web page for details).
Successful treatment of brain/CNS diseases
At the same time, there is no any evidence showing that people with normal breathing parameters can suffer from neurological or psychological problems. Furthermore, clinical experience of more than 170 Russian and Soviet MDs practicing the Buteyko breathing technique indicates that people with brain diseases and CNS disorders always have less than 30 s for the body-oxygen test. Therefore, breathing normalization should always be a key element (if not the key element) in the treatment of brain diseases.
Reference pages: Breathing norms and medical facts:
- Breathing norms: Parameters, graph, and description of the normal breathing pattern
- 6 breathing myths: Myths and superstitions about breathing and body oxygenation (prevalence: over 90%)
- Hyperventilation: Definitions of hyperventilation: their advantages and weak points
- Hyperventilation syndrome: Western scientific evidence about prevalence of chronic hyperventilation in patients with chronic conditions (37 medical studies)
- Normal minute ventilation: Small and slow breathing at rest is enjoyed by healthy subjects (14 studies)
- Hyperventilation prevalence: Present in over 90% of normal people (24 medical studies)
- HV and hypoxia: How and why deep breathing reduces oxygenation of cells and tissues of all vital organs
- Body-oxygen test (CP test) : How to measure your own breathing and body oxygenation (two in one) using a simple DIY test
- Body oxygen in healthy: Results for the body-oxygen test for healthy people (27 medical studies)
- Body oxygen in sick : Results for the body-oxygen test for sick people (14 medical studies)
- Buteyko Table of Health Zones: Clinical description and ranges for breathing zones: from the critically ill (severely sick) up to super healthy people with maximum possible body oxygenation
- Morning hyperventilation: Why people feel worse and critically ill people are most likely to die during early morning hours
References: pages about CO2 effect:
- Vasodilation: CO2 expands arteries and arterioles facilitating perfusion (or blood supply) to all vital organs
- The Bohr effect: How and why oxygen is released by red blood cells in tissues
- Cell oxygen levels: How alveolar CO2 influences oxygen transport
- Oxygen transport: O2 transport is controlled by vasoconstriction-vasodilation and the Bohr effects, both of which rely on CO2
- Free radical generation: Reactive oxygen species are produced within cells due to anaerobic cell respiration caused by cell hypoxia
- Inflammatory response: Chronic inflammation in fueled by the hypoxia-inducible factor 1, while normal breathing reduces and eliminates inflammation
- Nerve stabilization: People remain calm due to calmative or sedative effects of carbon dioxide in neurons or nerve cells
- Muscle relaxation: Relaxation of muscle cells is normal at high CO2, while hypocapnia causes muscular tension, poor posture and, sometimes, aggression and violence
- Bronchodilation: Dilation of airways (bronchi and bronchioles) is caused by carbon dioxide, and their constriction by hypocapnia (low CO2)
- Blood pH: Regulation of blood pH due to breathing and regulation of other bodily fluids
- CO2: lung damage: Elevated carbon dioxide prevents lung injury and promotes healing of lung tissues
- CO2: Topical carbon dioxide can heal skin and tissues
- Synthesis of glutamine in the brain, CO2 fixation, and other chemical reactions
- Deep breathing myth: Ignorant and naive people promote the idea that deep breathing and breathing more air at rest is beneficial for health
- Breathing control: How is our breathing regulated? Why hypocapnia makes breathing uneven, irregular and erratic.
Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1990;602:67-96.
Effect of diaphragmatic respiration with end-tidal CO2 biofeedback on respiration, EEG, and seizure frequency in idiopathic epilepsy.
Fried R, Fox MC, Carlton RM.
Hunter College, City University of New York, New York 10021.
Breathing rate (RR), end-tidal percent CO2, and EEG were obtained in three groups: psychiatric referral subjects presenting with anxiety, panic phobia, depression and migraine; a group of idiopathic seizure sufferers; and a group of asymptomatic controls. Virtually all the noncontrol subjects were found to show moderate to severe hyperventilation and the accompanying EEG dysrhythmia. The seizure group subjects were taught diaphragmatic respiration with end-tidal percent CO2 biofeedback. The training normalized their respiration and altered their EEGs and seizure frequency.
Biol Psychiatry. 1994 Oct 15;36(8):548-58.
Autonomic function in panic disorder: cardiorespiratory and plasma catecholamine responsivity to multiple challenges of the autonomic nervous system.
Stein MB, Asmundson GJ.
The British Journal of Psychiatry 129: 457-464 (1976)
Respiratory ventilation and carbon dioxide levels in syndromes of depression
JD Mora, L Grant, P Kenyon, MK Patel and FA Jenner
The breathing rate and PCO2 in end-tidal air have been studied in controls and in patients with endogenous depression (retarded and non- retarded), with neurotic depression, and with schizophrenia. It has been shown that breathing rate goes up and PCO2 down in non-retarded and neurotic depression. Schizophrenia gives more anomalous results. The fact is emphasized that such changes must lead to alterations in pH and other variables. Studies showing some small chemical differences between these clinical entities and control subjects might therefore be explained by these findings.
Europsychopharmacol Hung. 2009 Sep;11(3):161-73.
The role of carbon dioxide (and intracellular pH) in the pathomechanism of several mental disorders. Are the diseases of civilization caused by learnt behaviour, not the stress itself?
Sikter A, Faludi G, Rihmer Z.
Municipal Clinic of Szentendre, Section of Internal Medicine, Hungary.
The role of carbon dioxide (CO2) is underestimated in the pathomechanism of neuropsychiatric disorders, though it is an important link between psyche and corpus. The actual spiritual status also influences respiration (we start breathing rarely, frequently, irregularly, etc.) causing pH alteration in the organism...
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