We all know that exercise releases endorphins to help elevate mood, what you may not know is that those sore muscles after a big exercise routine can indirectly contribute to panic attacks and anxiety.

The Amygdala, an almond shaped mass in your limbic system is the controller of how we perceive emotions, particularly fear, both instinctive and learned. Two particular ways the amygdala receives signals to induce a response of fear is through detection of carbon dioxide and acidosis.

The amygdala has chemo-sensors or acid sensing ion channels (ASIC) that will detect changes in synaptic pH in the amygdala. This change in pH can be triggered by an increase in carbon dioxide. Those of you that have experienced shortness of breath, or have experienced a stressful event, one of the first physiological changes are changes in the breath. The shallow breathing that accompanies such events contributes to a deeper fear response from the brain feeding the already state of anxiety and panic one may experience.

Studies have shown that individuals that have suffered from panic disorders and anxiety have a hypersensitivity to acid in their brain and a 35% increase in carbon dioxide. These individuals also have an increase in lactic acid in the same area of the brain.

There are 2 forms of lactic acid, L- Lactic acid which is predominately produced in the skeletal muscles post exercise and D- Lactic acid that is produced by certain bacteria in the gut. An abnormal cell metabolism of lactic acid creates a build up causing an acidic environment which in turn turns on the ASICs and elicits a fear response. Those with panic disorders are shown to create a build up of this lactic acid even in normal scenerios that someone else wouldn’t necessarily perceive to be stressful.

There are a few ways we can accumulate or produce too much of this lactic acid. An overactive central nervous system, defects in lactic acid metabolism, too much adrenaline, and dysbiosis (imbalance in the microbiome), and high carbohydrate/sugar diets. Too much of the lactic acid begins to couple calcium, decreasing the amount of calcium available to bind onto cell receptors for normal nerve conduction and activity causing miscommunication between the brain and the rest of the body.

This lactic acid isn’t all bad. Certain amounts are necessary as an energy source in the brain. It is the accumulation that begins to create issues in our nervous system and emotional regulation.

3 Ways to decrease lactic acid

1. Yoga and Meditation

The use of conscious and mindful breathing will increase oxygen while decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide, this will decrease the level of overall acidity and increase the pH in the brain.

2. Eliminate process foods and lower your carbohydrate intake

Disruption in the microbiome along with an increase in glucose levels will result in higher lactic acid levels. By increasing the amount of good quality fats and eliminating processed foods, you can directly influence your responses to stress.

3. Cell Detox

Integrity of the cell membrane has a direct relationship with communication and signaling between the brain and the body, specifically the gut. Feed the right kind of bacteria, use the right types of oils, and work on eliminating the stresses, such as heavy metals, infections, and emotional triggers that cause dysfunction in the integrity of our cells. These actions combined will lower the lactic acid in your brain allowing your amygdala to perform normal behavioral responses, so you don’t have to live in a state of fear and anxiety but can begin to access the joy and abundance available to you.