veinsandarteries

Nitric Oxide

When a friend told me that her Lupus had gone into complete remission after taking a supplement called Kyani, I was eager to find out more. I have CREST syndrome, which is an autoimmune disease very similar to Lupus, and the cause of my Secondary Raynaud’s, so I thought whatever she took might help me too. On the labels, I saw some antioxidant, immune-boosting vitamins that were already familiar to me, but there was a mystery ingredient in a bottle labeled Kyani Nitro FX: “Concentrated Noni.”

Three questions came to mind: What was Noni? How could Noni help someone with lupus? Is it safe for someone like me to use?

It turns out that Noni has a medicinal history in Hawaii and parts of Asia. There is a lot to Noni, but the part that really captured my attention is that it increases the synthesis (production) of Nitric Oxide.

My first thought was, “Wait, isn’t that laughing gas?” Of course, Nitric Oxide (NO) is not laughing gas. That is Nitrous Oxide (N2O). Nitric Oxide only has one Nitrogen atom, and laughing gas is an inhaled anesthesia agent that’s very dangerous in untrained hands. Nitric Oxide is also not nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is a poisonous gas. Do not get these mixed up.


So what does nitric oxide do? A man named Dr. Furchgott received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1998 for his discovery of the role of nitric oxide as a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular system (http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1998/). Basically, nitric oxide causes vasodilation (opening and relaxation of blood vessels). Vasodilation results in increased blood flow and lower blood pressure.

For those who would like a detailed description of nitric oxide’s role in the physiology of the cardiovascular system, this website by Dr. Klabunde was helpful: http://www.cvphysiology.com/Blood%20Flow/BF011.htm.

For those who prefer Google, a quick search for nitric oxide will bring up many bodybuilding supplements. Bodybuilders and athletes take nitric oxide products because it may reduce recovery time. Basically, athletes report that they have more energy and less soreness because their circulation is better with this supplement, which has certainly been true for my husband.

I have tried many other products to increase vasodilation, which can relieve the vasoconstriction caused by Raynaud’s. Two of these were supplements that increased nitric oxide synthesis to improve circulation: L-Arginine and Kyani Nitro.

L-Arginine is an amino acid that interacts with an enzyme called Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS) to create nitric oxide in the body. It definitely increased my circulation, but it was not ideal for other reasons that I describe in another post. 

Noni is the active ingredient in Kyani Nitro FX, which I finally tried. I found that a double-dose (2 droppers three times a day) resulted in wound healing and brisk capillary refill (a measure of blood flow). Read more about my experience with Kyani Nitro FX here.

I see a need for more clinical research on the effects of nitric oxide. The long-term effects of nitric oxide products have not been studied. My own physicians have expressed a desire to study it further because the improvement in my health was so startling.

Given that there is limited research available on this emerging topic, I’m providing a few general cautions about nitric oxide products as stated from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and other repository sites such as WebMD.


Cautions:

 

  • Nitric oxide products can lower blood pressure due to vasodilation, which could make already low blood pressure worse.
  • Glaucoma can worsen with increased nitric oxide by increasing the pressure in the eye.
  • Interaction between nitric oxide products and other vascular medications is possible, so talking to your doctor and careful monitoring is wise.
  • The products I have reviewed are metabolized by the liver and should not be taken if you have liver disease.
  • L-Arginine may correlate with worsening heart failure in existing clinical studies.


Resources:

 

  1. Sharma JN1, Al-Omran A, Parvathy SS. Role of nitric oxide in inflammatory diseases. Inflammopharmacology. 2007 Dec;15(6):252-9. doi: 10.1007/s10787-007-0013-x. PubMed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18236016.
  2. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1998. From the Official Website of the Nobel Prize: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1998/.
  3. Klabunde, Richard E. Cardiovascular Physiology Concepts. 1998-2013. http://www.cvphysiology.com/Blood%20Flow/BF011.htm.
  4. Arginine Monograph. From Natural Standard Patient Monograph, Copyright 2015. (www.naturalstandard.com). Viewed under Mayo Clinic Drugs & Supplements website: http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/arginine/background/hrb-20058733.

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