Nitric oxide (NO) is truly a miraculous compound that you need to know about since it plays a huge role in human health. I routinely recommend a product that increases NO, called N1O1 for help with blood pressure, artery health, and healthy aging in general – read on to understand why.
History of Nitric Oxide
Nitric oxide was first identified as a gas by Joseph Priestly in 1772 and is a simple molecule consisting of just one atom of oxygen and one atom of nitrogen. In 1977 Ferid Murad was investigating how nitroglycerin works and discovered that it can release nitric oxide which in turn was able to cause relaxation of smooth muscle cells. In 1980 Robert Furchgott discovered that arteries would not relax without the presence of a chemical produced by the endothelial cells that line our arteries. He dubbed this compound Endothelial Derived Relaxing Factor (EDRF).
I discovered NO upon reading the book “NO Heart Disease” by Louis Ignarro. Dr Ignarro finally connected the dots in 1986 by determining that EDRF was actually NO. In 1998 the Nobel Prize for Medicine was given to Fuchgott, Murad and Ignarro for their work in discovering NO.
Physiology of Nitric Oxide
NO has everything to do with artery health by relaxing the smooth muscle in blood vessel walls leading to lower blood pressure and improved blood flow to tissue. NO also helps hemoglobin delivery it’s oxygen to the tissues. It turns out NO is made by every cell in the body and plays important roles cellular function, especially in support of immune, neurologic, reproductive systems.
There are two pathways for NO production. The first involves conversion of the amino acid L-Arginine to NO. An enzyme called nitric oxide synthetase (NOS) promotes this conversion, but with aging this enzyme becomes less and less effective. For this reason L-Arginine based supplements don’t work very well with older patients.
The second pathway involves the conversion of dietary nitrates to NO. Foods such as beets and green leafy veggies such as spinach, kale, arugula and cabbage are rich in nitrates. So eating more of these, of course, will help in production of NO, but it is difficult to get enough of these foods and there are vast differences in the amount of nitrates found from different regions and soils, etc. So it’s hard to get enough nitrates on a consistent basis.
The process of nitrate conversion to NO is really interesting. First, it is absorbed by the gut then concentrated in the saliva glands. Then, beneficial bacteria that live in the mouth convert the nitrates to nitrites. Finally after nitrite rich saliva is swallowed the stomach acid makes the final conversion of nitrites to NO. For this process to be successful, one needs to avoid antibacterial mouthwashes and medications such as that lower stomach acid, such as antacids, proton pump inhibitors or H2 blockers.
Supplements that increase Nitric Oxide
For a decade or so I recommended L-Arginine complexes for help with blood pressure and blood flow. I had pretty good success with it, but it was hit or miss how consistent it produced good results. A few years ago I met Nathan Bryan, PhD, who has done research on NO for decades. Dr Bryan is credited with numerous discoveries in NO production and function and has published extensively in this field. He has more than a dozen U.S. and International patents related to his discoveries on NO and has authored or edited 6 books on NO.
One of Dr Bryan’s latest books, Functional Nitric Oxide Nutrition: Dietary Strategies to Prevent and Treat Chronic Disease and the landmark Second Edition (2017) of Nitrite and Nitrate in Human Health and Disease, opens with a Foreword by one of the 1998 NO Nobel Prize winners, Dr. Louis J. Ignarro, who writes “This body of work may have revolutionary implications in terms of developing strategies to combat heart disease and many other contemporary diseases associated with a NO deficiency.”
After meeting Dr Bryan and learning more about the production of NO I switched gears and began recommending nitrate based supplements as a means to increase NO. Specifically I suggest a product developed by Dr Bryan and his team, called N1O1. It is backed by eleven clinical trials to date, which have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals. One study showed a 12 point drop in systolic blood pressure and a 6 point drop in diastolic blood pressure after one month of taking N1O1. Many NO related products on the market don’t produce results. See Dr Byran’s article, What Products to Buy and What Products to Avoid.
Individuals treated with N1O1 also report improvement in general energy levels, energy while working out, and sexual response, as well as significant improvements in both physical and psychological categories, indicating that those individuals felt better mentally and physically. We recommend starting the N1O1 at 2 lozenges per day for the first month then 1 per day long term.
Scott Rollins, MD, is Board Certified with the American Board of Family Practice and the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. He specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement for men and women, thyroid and adrenal disorders, fibromyalgia and other complex medical conditions. He is founder and medical director of the Integrative Medicine Center of Western Colorado (www.imcwc.com) and Bellezza Laser Aesthetics (www.bellezzalaser.com). Call (970) 245-6911 for an appointment or more information.