Nitric Oxide (NO) might seem like something that you haven’t given any thought to since high school biology class, but it’s an important part of being healthy says Nitric Oxide expert Nathan S. Bryan, Ph.D.
Dr. Bryan works at the Texas Therapeutics Institute in the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and he has been fervently telling anyone interested in health about how this mineral is a miraculous little helper for the body.
Nitric oxide maintains normal blood pressure and prevents plaque from building on artery walls, Dr. Bryan explains, it acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and most studies have proven NO has proven benefits for people with cardiovascular disease.
“Loss of nitric oxide is the earliest sign of onset and progression of cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Bryan says. “Restoring it early on can delay or even prevent manifestation of disease.
And the most important thing that nitric oxide does for the body? It’s actually responsible for penile and clitoral erection in men and women. That should get most people to pay attention to its importance for humans.
Even though it is clearly an important little piece of the human puzzle, it doesn’t get much attention in the media and Dr. Bryan has a theory about that. “I believe the lack of awareness stems partly from the fact that it is not part of the standard blood labs performed by physicians such as triglycerides or C-reactive protein,” he says. “Aand that there have been no nitric oxide based drugs developed in the past 15 years.”
Slow development in these areas means the media has been unaware of what progressions there have been on the NO front, the doctor says. But he’s aiming to change that.
Dr. Bryan, along with Janet Zand, a doctor of oriental medicine and a pioneer in the development of nutritional and herbal supplements, and natural health author Bill Gottlieb, has written a book called The Nitric Oxide (NO) Solution.
The bad news is that many people are NO-deficient, but the good news is that it’s easy to increase your nitric oxide levels.
Some of the easiest tips from The Nitric Oxide (NO) Solution include: eating carrots, spinach and pomegranate, drinking red wine in moderation, deep breathing exercises, sitting in saunas and even just listening to joyful music.
“The easiest tips to follow are what we have been told for decades: eat a healthy diet and get moderate physical exercise,” Dr. Bryan says. “Both of these promote nitric oxide production. The fact is that most Americans do not eat the right foods and most do not get enough exercise.”
As a result of the couch potato epidemic, people are becoming grossly NO-deficient, Dr. Bryan warns. This is partly to blame for the pandemic of chronic disease sweeping America.
Of course, like everything, too much nitric oxide is also bad for the body so it’s important to maintain a proper level. “Too much NO produced by our immune system during an active infection or sepsis can cause harm,” he says. “We know how much a normal healthy 150 lb person makes in a 24-hour period and can then begin to tailor products that can generate those physiological levels of NO.”
If it seems like Dr. Bryan has a ton of knowledge about nitric oxide, that’s because it’s his life’s work. He started in 2000 while a student at Louisiana State University (LSU) where he began to develop analytical methods to detect and quantify nitric oxide in biological tissues and compartments.
After LSU, Dr. Bryan trained at Boston University Medical School within the Whitacker Cardiovascular Institute as a Kirschstein Cardiology Fellow where he was focused on diagnostics for insufficient production and development of therapies to restore production. After three-and-a-half years at Boston, he was recruited by Doctor Ferid Murad Ph.D., one of the three Nobel Laureates who shared in the Nobel Prize in 1998 for discovering NO, to join the Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center where he has been now for over six years.
“We have been fortunate to make a number of seminal discoveries that have changed the way we think about NO production and regulation,” he says.