Sedative (adjective), means “having an uplifting or calming effect; reducing anxiety stress, excitement, or irritability”. The term sedative is a noun that refers to an agent or drug that has a relaxing, tranquilizing, or soothing effect.
When it comes to mental health, CO2 is the most important missing chemical in our brains (see below). Oxygen is another necessary sedative. The powerful natural tranquilizer and sedative CO2 is available. Additionally, CO2 provides oxygen to the body cells (brain cells included).
Research has shown that modern humans inhale 2x more air at rest than the medical norm (see historical chart below).
Hypoxia in cells can lead to anaerobic breathing and the accumulation of toxic substances in the brain tissues. Another natural agent with sedative brain effect is oxygen.
It was 100 years ago that the physiological norm for minute ventilation was established. This was also the norm at that time for everyday people.
Modern people have a greater amount of CO2 in their brains than ever before. However, both carbon dioxide and oxygen are crucial for nerve stability and normal function. Normal CO2 levels create the conditions necessary for normal nervous system function. Hypocapnia (low levels of CO2) is a common condition in sick patients. It naturally causes anxiety.
Physiological Reviews published a research article titled “Physiological effects of Hyperventilation” more than 50 years ago. It was based on nearly 300 medical and professional studies. Brown, 1953, stated that studies examining the effects of carbon dioxide shortage on nerve cells had shown an increase in irritability. A lack of this natural sedative can cause nerve cells and muscles to become hypersensitive or irritated.
The article “Cortical CO2 tension, neuronal excitability” was published in the Journal of Physiology, a leading journal on physiological issues. It was found that CO2 has a powerful calming effect on excessive excitability in brain areas responsible to thinking (Krnjevic and al., 1965).
Duke University (Durham) physiologists suggested that the brain regulates its excitability by regulating breathing in 1988 (Balestrino & Somjen 1988).
Are modern physiologists coming to different conclusions? A recent study by Finnish scientists at the Laboratory of Neurology of Joensuu found that hyperventilation leads to spontaneous and asynchronous firing of cortical neuron (Huttunen, et al. 1999). The Experimental Brain Research published the study. You will see links to dozens more studies below.
Instead of normal perception and stability that is characterized by objective reflection and analysis, the brain begins to generate its own “spontaneous” ideas, projects and explanations. A brain that is excited can cause problems that in reality do not exist. People with breathing problems (or difficulties) naturally experience anxiety, fear, panic attacks, as well as many other negative emotions. CO2 is a natural tranquilizer and sedative . It is essential for normal nerve function and stability.
These calmative effects of CO2 were also known by dozens of medical practitioners who used it to treat and prevent epilepsy seizures and other sleep disorders.
The natural sedative that is the most effective and best way to perceive the outside world.
Normal perception depends on a calm brain in order for our senses to communicate the correct information. We need to have minimal interference (self-generated signals or abnormal interference) in order to communicate and analyze.
Hyperventilation on the other side plays an important role in our immediate response to stress or in emergency situations when our life or well-being is at risk. In such situations, we don’t need the objective world. We must save/fight to protect our lives. Our minds require threats, enemies, stress sources or other problems outside of our control.
Sometimes, a threat that is tangible or palpable does not exist (no enemies or threats are visible). This is when the brain’s “spontaneous firing of cortical neuron” can create threats out of nothing (see above). Therefore, when we breathe in more, we are more likely to feel anxious and look for enemies, threats, or problems.
Medical references (Effects of hypocapnia on neurological symptoms and mental states)
Allen TE, Agus B. (1968) Hyperventilation leading to hallucinations. Am J Psychiatry 1968;125:632-7.
Bonn JA, Readhead CP, Timmons BH. Enhanced adaptive behavioral response in agoraphobic patients pretreated with breathing retraining. Lancet 1982;ii: 665-9.
Garssen B, Van Veenendaal W, Bloemink R. Agoraphobia and the hyperventilation syndrome. Behav Res Ther 1983;21:643-9.
Hibbert GA, Hyperventilation as a cause of panic attacks, Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984 January 28; 288(6413): 263–264.
Ker WJ, Dalton JW, Gliebe PA. Some physical phenomena associated with the anxiety states and their relation to hyperventilation. Ann Intern Med 1937; 2: 962.
Ley R. Agoraphobia, the panic attack and the hyperventilation syndrome. Behav Res Ther 1985; 23: 79-81.
Lum LC. Hyperventilation and anxiety states. JR Soc Med 1981; 74: 1-4.
Magarian G. Hyperventilation syndromes: infrequently recognized common expressions of anxiety and stress. Medicine 1982; 61: 219-336.
Salkovskis PM, Warwick HMC, Clark DM, Wessells DJ. A demonstration of acute hyperventilation during naturally occurring panic attacks. Behav Res Ther 1986; 34: 91-4.