PODCAST | Podcast Author
Mar 11, 2018 | Podcast Name
: Well, good evening. Actually, it’s going to be in the morning when we hear this. I'm speaking now to Dr. Ray Peat. And, Ray, could you sort of introduce yourself a bit please.
Dr. Ray Peat: Okay. I had been a student of several other subjects, such as linguistics, when I began studying biology in 1968. And I had begun in brain biology at the University of Oregon because of my years of interest in psychology and linguistics. But as I ran into dogmatism, I decided to shift to the biology of reproduction and ageing. Because it happened that, at the University of Oregon, these people were less dogmatic than the ones in nerve biology. And some of the most interesting work at the university was being done in biochemistry. And so, most of my course work was in biochemistry and endocrinology. And the biology of progesterone, estrogen and tissue respiration was the center of my thesis. And that led to an interest in organismic respiration as controlled by thyroid and its interactions with progesterone and estrogen. And by chance, before I had begun studying at the University in 1968, I had visited Russia to talk to a biologist there who was studying the interactions of magnetic fields and nervous system and the endocrine system. And because of my contact with the Russian literature, I ran into Buteyko’s work right around that same time. And I respected what he was doing because he was one of the few people in the world that really took the physiology of carbon dioxide seriously. So many American biologists and physicians, in particular, think of it as a waste material rather than as a crucial biochemical. In the early 1940s, someone demonstrated that many organisms can live and reproduce even without oxygen, but they can find no cell or organism that could live and reproduce in the absence of carbon dioxide. So, biologically, it’s, in a way, much more fundamental than oxygen. And I didn’t study much of Buteyko after that. I was just aware that he was one of the few people who had worked out the complex biochemical effects of carbon dioxide. But I would periodically check for what the Russians were doing in relation to carbon dioxide physiology. There were a few others besides Buteyko, but it was really central to many of the things that I worked on because progesterone and carbon dioxide, for example, both have an energizing and calming effect on all cells, everything from the brain to the secretory and hormonal tissues. The – my interest was not particularly in relation to asthma, but Buteyko noticed many other effects of carbon dioxide when he was working with people treating asthma as a focus. He noticed that some of the patients recovered from other degenerative terminal diseases. And those have been where I’ve spent most of my effort, thinking about the role of carbon dioxide in all of the inflammatory and degenerative diseases and how it works synergistically with progesterone and protectively against the toxic effects of estrogen and other excitatory molecules. And it turns out that all of the degenerative diseases are centered on an excess of inflammatory processes which de-energize the cells and shift the metabolism away from the production of carbon dioxide with a dominant tendency towards producing lactic acid in excess that can be consumed and converted to carbon dioxide.
Speaker 1: Well, that’s a great introduction, Ray. As usual, wonderfully complex. Now, as I said to you before, there are some question about the Buteyko method and why it works. Could you speak a little bit about that in terms of your thoughts about why reduced breathing would have a kind of profound effect that it is having?
Dr. Ray Peat: Okay. One of the effects of the thyroid hormone is to increase the consumption of oxygen, and that means to increase the production of carbon dioxide. And when the thyroid hormone is properly active, it increases the ratio of progesterone to estrogen and this shifts the balance in the body away from lactic acid towards carbon dioxide. and if you define hyperventilation as a tendency to blow off the carbon dioxide, anytime you produce too much lactic acid, it stimulates your respiratory center and it makes you lose carbon dioxide. And lactic acid itself excites the inflammatory process in all of the tissues where carbon dioxide inhibits it. And so, there are several things that will shift a person towards an excess ventilation or hyperventilation. And simply low thyroid function, which makes you unable to produce enough carbon dioxide, your cells produce too much lactic acid in compensation, and that drives the respiratory system inappropriately and make you lose a little bit of carbon dioxide that you are producing. So hypothyroidism is one of the basic things driving hyperventilation. There tends to be excess adrenaline in hypothyroidism compensating, keeping the organism running even though it might have run at a low temperature. Sometimes hypothyroid people have 40 times more adrenaline production in a day than a normal person. And adrenaline is another thing that can shift you towards hyperventilation. Endotoxins is always being absorbed from the intestine. And endotoxin stimulates hyperventilation and overproduction of lactic acid and the activation of inflammatory processes. In asthma, one of the driving forces behind asthma is the tendency to have too much endotoxin being absorbed, producing an inflammatory state of the respiratory system. And that can be detected as an exhalation of nitric oxide, the free radical that’s produced in the body. And patients with asthma exhale much more nitric oxide in their breadth. And most of it is produced in the bronchial system, although inflammation anywhere in the body can raise the production of nitric oxide. Carbon dioxide will antagonize that production of nitric oxide and lower the inflammation. So simply providing carbon dioxide works against some of the basic mechanisms involved in asthma. One of the interesting things about estrogen treatment of menopausal women is that it causes a shift towards alkalosis and increases the risk of asthma. And that’s partly because it increases endotoxin absorption from the intestine and circulation in the bloodstream and partly because estrogen lowers the thyroid function, all of which tend to lower the production of carbon dioxide, leading to a relative hyperventilation and alkalosis, which helps to excite the inflammation and contraction in the bronchial system.
Speaker 1: Now, by reducing the breathing – voluntarily working at reducing the breathing, you’re – does it make sense that you would then at that point be raising the CO2 levels?
Dr. Ray Peat: Yes. Yeah. If you breathe in a paper bag, it’s the same thing as voluntarily holding your breath. Swimming underwater will do the same thing. Anytime you hold your breath or breathe in a paper bag or force yourself to stay underwater for as long as you can stand, that is raising the carbon dioxide and that was sort of acting as a sedative on your nervous system, so you stop the excited adrenaline- driven over- ventilation and you can gradually train yourself with a paper bag or swimming underwater or just making the deliberate effort not to breathe so much.
Speaker 1: Yeah.
Dr. Ray Peat: And I think it’s good to do everything you can at the same time – for example, living at a high altitude, in Mexico City, despite the pollution, the incidence of asthma is drastically lower than it is in the lower altitude cities. And that’s undoubtedly because of the retention of carbon dioxide at high altitude where the oxygen pressure is lower.
Speaker 1: Ah-haan. I see. Now, one of the things that we’ve noticed and, well, as you say, when you learned about Buteyko, he was treating an awful lot of more things than asthma ultimately. One of the things that seems to respond very, very rapidly is panic attacks, probably exactly for the mechanism that you’re talking about, the excitotoxicity is really driven down by loading up carbon dioxide. We even have a number of small exercises that we do that are rather simple when somebody even has an attack at night to actually calm themselves down by using a series of shallow breathing exercises, all of which build up the CO2.
Dr. Ray Peat: Yeah. And there is a drug called acetazolamide. The brand name is Diamox. It used to be considered a diuretic, but it became popular to prevent altitude sickness because it causes you to retain carbon dioxide and hyperventilators are the people who are susceptible to altitude sickness. And so, taking this acetazolamide makes you retain your carbon dioxide by inhibiting the carbonic anhydrase enzyme and prevents altitude sickness. But it also prevents over-breathing and alkalosis at night. People who have sleep disordered breathing, it’s found that acetazolamide will usually cure that. And it’s very effective in treating asthma, which is one of the pretty direct ways to show that carbon dioxide deficiency is so closely related to asthma and other breathing disorders. Epilepsy is another thing that can be prevented with acetazolamide or anything that raises your carbon dioxide. And neurologists used to demonstrate an epileptic brainwave just by having a person hyperventilate.
Speaker 1: Yes. Well, we’ve been able to stop epileptic seizure – I mean, when someone knows they – generally, they know when their ORO starts. And so, if they practice reduced breathing when that comes up, they don’t have seizures.
Dr. Ray Peat: Yeah. The old- fashioned way to do that was just to give them a paper bag and make them breathe in the paper bag for seizures or migraine or panic attacks or whatever.
Speaker 1: Now, I remember you once telling me that, at one point, there was something called – I think it was called Fireman’s Oxygen where – in which they had about 6% to 8% carbon dioxide in the oxygen.
Dr. Ray Peat: You know, Yandell Henderson was the physiologist who got that popular to the point that fire departments all over the country started using it because the carbon dioxide at that very high concentration is extremely effective for restoring respiration to suffocated people and for babies too that don’t breathe properly.
Speaker 1: Ah-haan. Is anyone using – still using carbon dioxide – isn’t it used or was used at some points in operation rooms?
Dr. Ray Peat: Every now and then, there is some person who says that the hospitals are killing patients by giving them pure oxygen and saying that they would wish that hospitals would start using 5% to 8% carbon dioxide when they give oxygen because it’s basically stress-inducing and toxic to give people oxygen in excess. At sea level, we really have an excess of oxygen. Some biological examples, I think, help to reinforce the importance of carbon dioxide. Rats normally live a maximum of two or three years, but an animal called the naked mole rat lives in sealed burrows underground and they are about the same size as ordinary rats, but they live about 30 years. And in their burrows, they have an extremely high concentration of carbon dioxide and low concentration of oxygen. And bats, who are famous for living in caves where the CO2 is high with a million bats in the same cave, and someone was tapping the bats and trying to find out things about their life history, and no one really knows how long the average bat lives, but one dead bat was found that had been pegged 42 years previously.
Speaker 1: Wow! (Laughter)
Dr. Ray Peat: So comparing that to a mouse of the same body weight, I think that illustrates how important CO2 is.
Speaker 1: Yes. Well, anything further? I know there’s just – you have many papers that are written in regard to CO2. In fact, we have at least a couple or maybe more of the – two of your papers are up on the international site on Peter Kolb site. You were very generous to allow us to put those up. Any kind of closing remarks that you’d like to say. I know we could go on. You could go on for hours about this. But any particular closing remarks you’d like to say in regard to CO2 and its function in so many different ways in illness?
Dr. Ray Peat: Well, you have to be cautious around doctors because doctors still tend to think of carbon dioxide as a waste material and they tend to shut their ears if you mentioned the beneficial effects of carbon dioxide.
Speaker 1: It’s amazing when you think that it is in the primary physiology textbooks, the Bohr effect is primary physiology. So…
Dr. Ray Peat: You know, and there is much more basic physiology that’s even more interesting than that. For example, the focus of the eye, the thickness of the cornea, the transparency of the cornea and the lens and so on, carbon dioxide is essential for practically all biological processes. And it’s readily ignored even though the basic science is there.
Speaker 1: Hhm. Well, I want to thank you so much for being available for this brief interview. And I’m going to be putting out to everybody that they should definitely be visiting your website and to get your journals and to look into the previous journals that you’ve written in regard to carbon dioxide and, of course, anything else that they’re interested in.
Speaker 1: It’s a wide range of things...
Dr. Ray Peat: Okay.
Speaker 1: ...
that you have available Speaker 1: to people. So thank you so much, Ray, and appreciate your friendship and your collegial assistance and support through the years. Thank you so much.
Dr. Ray Peat: Okay.
Speaker 1: Bye now.
Dr. Ray Peat: Bye.