I consider Nitric Oxide the great unifier. If you do research on just about any tonic or elixir, I bet you will find a nitric oxide connection. Korean Ginseng? Enhances Nitric Oxide. Jiaogulan Tea? Nitric Oxide. Honey? Yep, Nitric Oxide. Acupuncture? Nitric Oxide. Vitamin C? I could go on, but you get the point. There are a ton of books and internet articles on Nitric Oxide. I don’t want to repeat that information here or begin a biology/chemistry lesson.
We will be talking about it alot on this quest. This is a good book for information on nitric oxide:
I’ll mention a few things that I think are important. First, if anyone says they understand Nitric Oxide, I think they are lying. It’s been studied alot, however, it seems like people are still figuring this thing out. To get through alot of the information, you need a PhD in biochemistry. That’s why the book above is a good introduction. It was written by one of the guys who put alot of the pieces together and is viewed as one of the discoverers of it–and won a nobel prize for it.
What I do know about it, is that it is involved in helping arteries expand, which in turn improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure. However, that’s extremely simplistic. To make it more complicated there are several forms of it. Scientists are constantly finding new ways it is used in our bodies and the role it plays in disease and health. It has roles in inflammation modulation, blood flow, hair growth, diabetes, hormone release, brain health and even erectile function :O to name just a few things.
Alot of chronic diseases thought to be normal aging are probably caused by our inability to produce enough nitric oxide. Many prescription drugs, like viagra for example, increase nitric oxide by blocking the enzymes that help break it down in the body. There other techniques to increase nitric oxide production by ingesting the substances that produce it. For example, the amino acid arginine or nitrates from vegetables (yes, nitrates may not be so bad after all). You can teach your body to produce more by exercise.
Another interesting aspect of Nitric Oxide is that it is a toxic gas that kills viruses and bacteria. In fact, there were some studies that showed producing enough of it killed tuberculosis and scientists were recommending eating peanuts (high in arginine and probably nitrates) to help ward it off.
As with everything, too much is probably bad and there is some evidence that overproduction probably causes alot of damage in our bodies. That’s why you will see nitric oxide products with liberal doses of antioxidants included.
Bodybuilders have caught on to this and you will find a wealth of products claiming to boost nitric oxide. These products help the muscles swell up with blood. If you examine the ingredients, you will find a basic formula: amino acids that provide the ‘food’ for nitric oxide and herbs/chemicals that slow or prevent it’s breakdown or speed up it’s production. Read the labels on these products for clues on the next big elixir to try.
I’ll be writing more on this in future posts…