Research has long shown that nitric oxide regulates the cardiovascular system. The molecule naturally occurs within cells and organs of the body but quickly degrades. Physicians and scientists have therefore suggested that supplementing patients with cardiovascular issues with nitric oxide could be beneficial. Recently, studies have shown that this type of nitric oxide supplementation does indeed improve blood pressure and other cardiovascular functions.
Two recent studies specifically employed an orally disintegrating lozenge that supplements the body with nitric oxide through the oral cavity. One of these studies was performed on 30 patients with clinical hypertension, and the other was performed on 30 patients with pre-hypertension. Whereas hypertension refers to chronically high blood pressure, prehypertension is a clinical stage that leads to this condition. Previously, the only treatment options for prehypertension were changes to diet and lifestyle.
The impact of the nitric oxide supplementation was seen with a single dose for hypertensive patients and observed after a 30-day period of supplementation in the pre-hypertensive patients. In both groups, the oral supplements reduced blood pressure. In the hypertensive patients, the lozenges also improved endothelial function and vascular compliance in patients who were not otherwise treated for hypertension. Endothelial function refers to the functioning of the inner lining of the blood vessels, whereas vascular compliance refers to how well the arteries and veins stretch when exposed to pressure. In the pre-hypertensive patients, functional capacity was also improved, as was quality of life. The quality life measure was not assessed in the hypertensive patients but may too have been improved.
Unlike many medical interventions, nitric oxide supplementation has counterparts that naturally occur in the human body. Given that it is already present in the body, it is reasonable to assume that nitric oxide, at least at certain doses, is safe. This new literature that demonstrates the beneficial cardiovascular effects of nitric oxide supplementation suggests that nitric oxide supplements may represent a promising new therapeutic intervention in cardiovascular medicine.
- Biswas, O.S., Gonzalez, V.R., & Schwarz, E.R. (2014). Effects of an oral nitric oxide supplement on functional capacity and blood pressure in adults with prehypertension. Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1-7.
- Houston, M, & Hays, L. (2014). Acute effects of an oral nitric oxide supplement on blood pressure, endothelial function, and vascular compliance in hypertensive patients. Journal of Clinical Hypertension, 1-6.