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Glossary Blood Pressure GI-Digestive Heart Health

Nitric Oxide (NO) – Yes, We Want It

3 years, 4 months ago

12318  0
Posted on Feb 03, 2021, 8 a.m.

In 1998, the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology acknowledged the work of Furchgott, Murad, and Ignarro characterizing this simple molecule containing 1 oxygen atom and 1 nitrogen atom. (1)  This molecule appears everywhere in the plant and animal kingdoms. Called a neurotransmitter, the activity of NO is diverse and complicated.

The discovery of NO relied on its activity in the cells lining the blood vessels. NO relaxed the blood vessels. NO deficiency could account for elevated blood pressure and supporting NO production can decrease blood pressure.  Recall that the drug nitroglycerin was used to treat angina (a constricting pain in the heart area.)  Research has revealed that nitroglycerin increased NO and thus served to relax the blood vessels serving the heart and relieved the pain. With increased blood flow, oxygen delivery to tissues improved. (2)

A key component of healthy sexual function depends on the relaxation of blood vessels. Drugs developed to improve erectile function rely on the increased activity of NO. (3) This relaxation of blood vessels is critical to both male and female orgasm. NO impacts the endocrine system in significant ways.  eth Shirley documents the relationship between hormones and NO. (4)

NO activity is critical to the function of immune system cells. In that capacity, NO improves the body’s ability to fight infections. (5)

There are many nutritional products that provide the starting materials for NO production. The amino acid arginine is a key starting material. The plant world provides a food-based opportunity to increase NO. Beet root is a rich source.

Since 1998, the research on NO burgeoned. We now know that NO has impacts on blood pressure, heart function, inflammation, motility of the gut, the health of the neurons including seizure activity and even memory. NO is key to immune cell function. Best of all, we all can access natural means to increase NO.

Article Author Bio: Carol Petersen is an accomplished compounding pharmacist with decades of experience helping patients improve their quality of life through bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy and is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner. Her passion to optimize health and commitment to compounding is evident in her involvement with organizations including the International College of Integrated Medicine and the American College of Apothecaries, American Pharmacists Association, and the Alliance for Pharmacy Compounding. She was also the founder and first chair for the Compounding Special Interest Group with the American Pharmacists Association. She serves as chair for the Integrated Medicine Consortium. She co-hosts a radio program “Take Charge of Your Health” in the greater New York area. She is on the Medical Advisory Board for the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research ( To contact Carol click here. 

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before making any changes to your wellness routine.

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