What is the Role of Nitric Oxide in Overall Health?

What is the Role of Nitric Oxide in Overall Health?

Nitric oxide has been used in medical applications since the 1800s, but it wasn’t until fairly recently that scientist confirmed its presence in the body. In fact, its discovery by three pharmacologists in the 1990s won them the Nobel Prize. The compound was proclaimed molecule of the year in 1992, and for good reason: as a chemical messenger, its presence is essential in all living mammals. Discover what it is that makes this gas so important to our health below.

What is Nitric Oxide?

Nitric oxide is a colorless gas byproduct of reactions in which nitric acid is reduced. It’s long been known that miniscule amounts of the compound are released with exhalations. Yet, scientists originally didn’t think nitric oxide contributed much to bodily functions because its molecules are so small and have a lifespan of just a few seconds. Nonetheless, it was subsequently discovered that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

What Does It Do?

A key finding occurred in the 1990s when the American pharmacologists mentioned above discovered the compound’s role in the cardiovascular system. Specifically, the compound is produced by cells that line the artery walls. It then acts as a vasodilator that relaxes the arteries, thereby aiding in blood pressure regulation and overall circulation. Nitric acid also controls inflammation and oxidative stress.

In individuals with atherosclerosis, the root cause of heart disease and other vascular issues, the artery walls have a limited ability to produce nitric oxide. This spurs a dangerous cycle in which low nitric oxide levels further damage already compromised arteries, thereby increasing the likelihood of a cardiac event. With sufficient nitric oxide, however, artery walls stay healthy and blood circulation is optimized.

Beyond promoting cardiovascular health, nitric oxide also contributes to overall wellness in other ways. It supports white blood cell health and is used to fight serious illness, and it is also produced and used by the brain. As a signaling compound, nitric oxide is used for neurotransmission, which is why nitric oxide is touted for its potential to help minimize the risk of neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Nitric oxide can support digestion by relaxing muscles in the gastrointestinal tract. It also plays a role in energy utilization, respiratory function, and a host of other important bodily functions. For these reasons, making sure your body has plenty of nitric oxide can help support overall wellness.

How to Optimize Your Nitric Oxide Levels

One way to increase nitric oxide is through your diet. While protein-rich sources such as meat may spur the synthesization of nitric oxide through the amino acid arginine, a better alternative may be to eat more leafy greens. While rich in nitrates and nitrites, which stimulate the body’s natural ability to produce nitric oxide, these plant sources are also low in calories. Beet juice is also rich in nitrates, so if you’re looking to increase nitric oxide through dietary measures, consider sipping two cups per day.

Because nitric oxide production is inhibited by free radicals, antioxidants could also deliver added health benefits. Green tea, onions, and other foods rich in flavonoids can prevent free radical damage, thereby protecting nitric oxide. Because exercised muscles demand additional nutrients and oxygen, physical activity can also spur the natural release of nitric oxide to support cardiovascular health.

Depending on your doctor’s recommendations, you may also consider taking a supplement to boost nitric oxide synthesis. Stemedix offers a nitric oxide supplement, Neo40 Professional. This supplement helps open up the blood vessels in the body to stimulate healthy circulation. Neo40 Professional achieves this task by activating the immediate production of nitric oxide gas as it is dissolving.  Neo40 also fixes the enzyme responsible for the conversion of the amino acid named L-Arginine to nitric oxide thereby improving the body’s own ability to produce NO.  This leads to an improvement in endothelial function and activity. Always check with your physician prior to starting any supplements.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Moves Stem Cells from Bone Marrow to Bloodstream

Hyperbaric Oxygen Moves Stem Cells from Bone Marrow to Bloodstream

Stem cells are generating so much excitement in research and clinical circles because they have the capacity to become many other types of cells. They also release a number of important molecules such as hormones, cytokines, and genetic material that can potentially be helpful for patients. Researchers have found that not only does hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) help in the circulation of stem cells but it also will help to mobilize stem cells from the bone marrow to the bloodstream further preparing the patient for stem cell therapy.

Bone marrow is a rich source of stem cells, but getting them usually requires an invasive procedure, i.e., placing a large bore needle into the middle of bone(s). Researchers have discovered, however, that hyperbaric oxygen treatment causes stem cells from the bone marrow to move into the bloodstream by specifically stimulating the body’s nitric oxide synthesis. Thus, instead of using a needle to extract stem cells from the bone marrow, patients can potentially increase their own bone marrow stem cells by undergoing hyperbaric oxygen treatment.

Stephen Thom, MD, Ph.D. and co-researchers at the University of Pennsylvania showed that a single hyperbaric oxygen treatment could double the number of bone marrow stem cells in the blood. This means that the hyperbaric oxygen was “mobilizing” the stem cells to move from the bone marrow into the bloodstream to allow them to move into areas of the body that benefit from them. Moreover, when study subjects underwent 20 treatments of hyperbaric oxygen therapy over a few weeks, the number of bone marrow stem cells in the blood increased significantly by eightfold. This astonishing finding has been confirmed in subsequent experiments.

The most important conclusion from this research is that hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments can unlock the potential of a person’s own bone marrow stem cells without an invasive procedure. While many scientists assumed that the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy were due to the high concentrations of oxygen infusing the blood, tissues, and cells, they now have research to support that these benefits may also be due to stem cell mobilization.

Nitric Oxide Helping Patients with Hypertension & Pre-Hypertension

Nitric Oxide Helping Patients with Hypertension & Pre-Hypertension

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.

References

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