Three weeks and counting since the first symptoms hit me like a Mack truck and I (and then my family) was eventually diagnosed with “The COVID.”
And thankfully, each day gets a little better.
We were lucky… blessed, in so very many ways that despite the absolutely horrific power of the virus that left us all feeling like garbage, all four of us had the “mild version.”
Our lives will go on after COVID-19.
For far too many others, this hasn’t been the case. As I write this, the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. alone has topped 26,000 and the world is fast closing toward a loss of 127,000 lives.
But, there is light in the darkness…
Families are drawing closer together than ever before, something I experienced first-hand as my daughter and son worked to keep each other’s spirits up through the worst of their illness.
Neighbors are ensuring no one goes hungry even when they can’t step foot out of their homes. I will be forever grateful to those who left casseroles, homemade soups, and treats on our doorstep to ensure we had something to eat when cooking seemed an impossible task.
And, medical researchers, doctors, and nurses are working tirelessly to not only care for those affected but to find a way to put an end to the virus.
In fact, researchers at one Massachusetts hospital may be on to something big, a treatment that could have the power to cure or even prevent COVID-19.
Not to be confused with laughing gas
Inhaling a gas called nitric oxide — not nitrous oxide which is the “laughing gas” you’re given to make you comfortable during a dental procedure.
The team of researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is now studying whether or not inhaling the gas could treat or possibly even ward off the virus due to its ability to dilate blood vessels, increase blood flow, and open airways.
MGH doctors first used the gas as far back as 1990 to treat a baby born with persistent pulmonary hypertension that resulted in “blue baby” syndrome. And since then, it’s become part of their standard of care for it and other respiratory and heart problems.
Now, it could help against COVID-19.
The MGH team says nitric oxide even demonstrates some antiviral effects — destroying or inactivating viruses — and there’s anecdotal evidence that it was used during the 2003 epidemic to help patients suffering from SARS (“The Covid’s cousin”).
According to Robert Kacmarek, director of respiratory care at MGH and one of the leaders of the nitric oxide trials there, “That’s the reason we’re doing these studies, because we believe that the combined effect of improving oxygenation — because all of these patients have oxygenation problems — and the potential antiviral effect of the drug may change the course of the disease in an individual.”
The researchers plan to test the power of nitric oxide to hopefully:
- Help get patients with severe COVID-19 off ventilators;
- Stop the progression of the disease in those with the “mild to moderate” version, like my family has experienced, as well as those in the ER;
- Prevent the virus from taking hold in healthcare workers who are exposed to it on an almost constant basis
And, while the results are not yet in, the possibility of success does shine a light in a sea of darkness (especially since at this time, there are no proven drugs to prevent or treat COVID-19).
Nitric oxide and health
Of course, inhaling nitric oxide at home in the hopes that it will prevent the virus isn’t possible or safe — if you do it wrong, you can cause a dangerous dip in your blood oxygenation, as well as a buildup of nitric acid that can damage your lungs.
But, increasing nitric oxide naturally, could that be helpful?
You see, because of my family’s history of heart and blood pressure problems, I take a daily supplement that helps to naturally promote nitric oxide levels in my blood.
One of its main ingredients — grape seed extract — is packed with polyphenols that provide powerful nitric oxide support to promote healthy blood flow so that oxygen can flow to every part of the body, just like it’s supposed to.
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A few other natural food sources can boost your body’s ability to produce healthy levels of nitric oxide, including beets and leafy greens. And a few things can work against it — age (production decreases) and using mouthwash (because it interferes with nitric oxide production that starts in the mouth).
I’ve felt strongly about nitric oxide to help promote my heart and blood pressure health for years.
And, whether or not it played a role in my own COVID-19 battle isn’t something I’ll probably never be able to answer but I’m glad that I had it on my side.
I’m still recovering three weeks out, but I am recovering.
I get a chance to see our nation and our world recover stronger and closer than ever. I get a chance to help others around me. I get a chance to see the battle against COVID-19 won.
Stay strong, stay safe, and do everything you can for your health each and every day.