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You may have heard the slightest blip in the news a couple of months back that hospitals in New York were using nitric oxide gas — successfully — to treat patients infected with COVID-19…
You may have also read the very informative post by my colleague Virginia Tims-Lawson, someone I consider the closest thing to an “outside of the research lab” expert on nitric oxide, explaining that nitric oxide could be the key to recovery from COVID-19. (She should have more than an inkling — she and her family survived the infection!)
Well, put your seat belt on and buckle up because the news about this powerful natural substance is only getting better by providing the most immediate promise of relief to patients infected right now… and has the blessing of the Food and Drug Administration.
Nitric oxide sounds like a chemical you might see on the back of a bottle of heavy-duty cleaner. But it’s found in your own body, produced by your own body and, to be frank, your body cannot function well, if at all, without it.
For starters, nitric oxide keeps your mitochondria running. Your cells’ mitochondria are the “powerhouse” of the body. It’s here that many major energy-producing functions take place.
Perhaps even more importantly, nitric oxide keeps blood vessels relaxed and pliable to control healthy blood flow and the supply of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in your blood.
And now nitric oxide has a bigger claim to fame: It’s like kryptonite to coronavirus.
Time jump back to the 2003 SARS outbreak (remember, it’s the “other” coronavirus)…
Those on the front lines treating patients found that inhalation of nitric oxide improved lung oxygenation and shortened the length of ventilatory support. And this is the very reason that those doctors in New York began treating COVID-19 patients with nitric oxide gas.
But it gets even better. Aside from improving lung function, nitric oxide also showed direct antiviral activity — and exposed “druggable targets.”
In other words, according to Shawn J. Green, Ph.D., a leading scientist who published some of the earliest observations on how the immune system makes nitric oxide to combat intracellular pathogens such as tularemia, leishmania and malaria while serving at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, “Inhaled nitric oxide provided to COVID-19 infected patients will likely prove to be lifesaving through both a pulmonary vasodilator effect and a direct antiviral effect.”
To that end, several device companies have recently received the FDA’s blessing for emergency expanded access to offer inhaled nitric oxide gas for treating COVID-19.
Looking into other Nitric Oxide delivery methods
For a few years, immunotherapy has been the new cancer treatment buzzword. And it turns out that the immune system could be revved up to produce nitric oxide, similarly to the way science has manipulated it for that purpose — using a tuberculosis vaccine.
The Bacillus Calmette–Guérin vaccine (BCG) is administered to about 100 million newborns yearly in many countries, not including the U.S., to fight tuberculosis. Results are mixed on its effectiveness, but what’s interesting is that in countries where it’s used, there was significantly slower growth of both cases and deaths resulting from COVID-19 as compared to countries that do not vaccinate with BCG.
Some history from Dr. Green: Since the 1990s, BCG was the first FDA-approved immunotherapy to reduce the risk of bladder cancer recurrence by stimulating a non-specific immune response that targets bladder cancer cells where cells within the bladder are immune stimulated to produce nitric oxide gas within a few days after inoculation.
See the connection?
According to Dr. Green, based on the capacity of BCG to also reduce the incidence of respiratory tract infections in children and to exert antimicrobial effects — not to mention how it boosts nitric oxide — it may prove to be as effective as a prophylactic against the novel coronavirus.
But what about dietary nitric oxide?
I mentioned earlier that your own body produces nitric oxide. It happens through a process known as the dietary nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway. Because nitric oxide has been heavily studied in regard to benefits for people experiencing high blood pressure, we’ve written plenty about it on Easy Health Options.
But I’ll briefly explain how it works…
When we eat foods containing dietary nitrate, like beets or beetroot juice, in conjunction with good bacteria or microflora on the tongue, and as Dr. Green confirms in MEDPAGE TODAY, the nitrate is converted to nitric oxide in the gut, bloodstream and various organs, including the lungs.
There are so many health benefits… and no downsides I’ve ever come across in research… that it just makes sense.
In addition to beets being the supreme source of dietary nitrate to get your nitric oxide production revved up, be careful not to use mouthwash often. Mouthwash kills the microflora that helps convert the nitrate.
I’d like to share one last quote from Dr. Green…
“If nitric oxide emerges as the linchpin in the BCG trials, such results, together with clinical studies of inhaled nitric oxide, these outcomes would usher in new drug design and disease targeting based on nitric oxide through inhalation, immune adjuvants, and dietary approaches.”
Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!
- Nitric Oxide, BCG, and COVID-19’s Weakness — MEDPAGE TODAY