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Nitric Oxide – The Body’s Miracle Molecule

Nitric Oxide

The difference between health and illness is often a function of the level of Nitric Oxide activity in your body. Nitric Oxide can literally be a matter of life and death, according to Dr. Louis Ignarro, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1998, for his work on the role of nitric oxide in the body.

Nitric oxide is considered a ‘miracle molecule’ and is essential to combat many conditions, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Cancer
  • Drug addiction
  • Stroke
  • Intestinal problems
  • Memory and learning disorders
  • Septic shock
  • Anorexia
  • Impotence and low sex drive
  • Tuberculosis

…and many more.

Nitric oxide can have a positive impact on almost all physical pathologies. Unfortunately, as we grow older, our bodies have more trouble making nitric oxide. In fact, Japanese researchers have found that by the time we reach our 70s, we produce a staggering 75% less nitric oxide than we did when we were in our 20s. This means that the very years when you need nitric oxide are the years when you’re most likely to be deficient.

Without sufficient nitric oxide, we can feel fatigued and worn down. It has the ability to expand blood vessels for better blood flow, which means more oxygen can reach the brain, heart, and other vital organs. Supplements are available, but there are natural ways to boost the amount of nitric oxide in the body.

Men’s fitness magazines tout nitric oxide supplements to lift heavier weights and even prevent erectile dysfunction. While clinical results prove that nitric oxide is beneficial, many commercially supplements aren’t backed up by rigorous testing. Thankfully, there are far safer natural ways to boost nitric oxide for a better workout, sex life, and heart health.



1. Eat more Beets, and Beetroot – You can juice beets, but for the best results, throw in the roots, fruit, and even the leaves. Always buy organic when you can. Beets naturally boost the production of nitric oxide in the body and help support energy levels, primarily due to the large amount of nitrates found within the root vegetables.

In fact, Wake Forest University scientists not only proved that beets boosted nitric oxide, they actually saw positive effects in the brains of people who drank beet juice. 

nitric oxide and beet juiceHow did that happen? First, scientists had people drink beet juice in the morning. Then they took blood samples and MRIs of their brains. They compared the samples and MRIs to those they received when the same people didn’t drink beet juice. When they compared the results, the blood samples proved that beet juice increased nitric oxide levels. And the MRIs showed that, just hours after drinking the beet juice, the brain was flooded with a steady flow of blood.

Beetroot juice also supports immunity and helps to protect against cancer. However, beetroot and beetroot juice production is greatly enhanced when you add hawthorn extract, an herbal plant from the rose family, cherished for centuries, and mentioned in many of the old European herbals.

2. Consume Hawthorn Extract – Hawthorn is often used to prevent heart disease because:

  • It prevents arterial walls from becoming coated with plaque.
  • Acts as a calcium-channel blocker 
  • It helps the endothelial cells that line our blood vessels to secrete nitric oxide. 

HawthornHawthorn improves the integrity of veins and arteries, enhancing circulation to the heart, thus improving the heart muscle function. This action makes it useful for cases of angina (chest pain), atherosclerosis (a build-up of fat on the inside of artery walls), weakness and enlargement of the heart, high and low blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol levels. Hawthorn also may help control arrhythmias and palpitations.

You will need to consume one glass (250ml) of fresh beetroot juice, and 15 drops of liquid Hawthorn extract daily to activate the Nitric Oxide. Or, if you choose to take it in supplement form, be sure to select an activated beetroot extract containing no less than 2500mg of fresh Beetroot powder.

Open two capsules into water or juice and add 15 drops (1/2 dropper) of liquid Hawthorn. Do not drink it down quickly, instead hold the mixture in your mouth and swish it around to allow your body to best extract the nitric oxide.

3. Eat more Nuts and Fruits – These are the best vegetarian sources of L-Arginine and L-Citrulline amino acids, which contain essential antioxidants to protect nitric oxide resources in the body.

4. Take Regular Far Infrared (FIR) Saunas – FIR radiation activates enzymes that stimulate the production of nitric oxide. The blanket-type FIR saunas cost approximately $250, are compact, and easy to use. F saunas heat the body from the core, allowing you to sweat out up to 7 times more toxins than traditional saunas. Daily sweating can help detox the body as it rids itself from accumulated heavy metals and alcohol, nicotine, sodium, and sulfuric acid. 

FIR saunas are more accessible to people who cannot tolerate the excessive heat and humidity seen in traditional steam saunas. In 1982, researchers noted that a moderately conditioned person could easily sweat off 500 grams in a sauna, consuming nearly 300 kcal, equivalent to running 2-3 miles. Combined with regular exercises such as walking, cycling, swimming, elliptical, rowing, or treadmill, a heat-conditioned person can easily sweat off 600-800 kcal with no adverse effects.

5. Exercise – When you work harder physically, the heart has to pump more vigorously to supply oxygen to the body. The additional pressure against the arterial walls from more blood passing through causes more nitric oxide to be released. There is a lot of buzz about the discovery of the most effective way to exercise, known as ‘peak fitness exercise,’ that will do you the most good and produce ample amounts of nitric oxide. Here is how it works:

First Choose a form of exercise such as walking, cycling, swimming, elliptical, rowing or treadmill, etc.

exerciseSecond: Plan a total of 20 minutes with a 3-minute warm-up. Then, try between 30 seconds at a very intense pace – within your limits. After the 30 seconds, go back down to a regular, brisk walk for 90 seconds and then alternate again with another 30-second intensive session. Keep alternating like that – 30 seconds of intense and 90 seconds of average intensity up to 8 times and then a 4-minute cooldown.

Whatever type of exercise you decide on, the 30 / 90 back and forth applies. Do this 20-minute workout at least twice a week, or better still every other day. As always, however, listen to your own body, and don’t exercise when you feel unwell. Always check with your healthcare professional before embarking on any exercise program.



Erectile Dysfunction

Following the five natural ways to increase Nitric Oxide production in your body should have a positive effect on your sexual activity. Erectile dysfunction and low sex drive can be significantly improved by increasing the production of Nitric Oxide. Viagra and other impotence medications work due to their action on the nitric oxide pathway. One of the leading causes of erectile dysfunction is the narrowing of the arteries that feed blood to the sexual organs.

Viagra works by influencing enzymes in the nitric oxide pathway, causing a cascade of enzymatic reactions that release and take up nitric oxide, meaning better blood flow and better erections. However, Viagra causes many nasty side effects. These include headaches, stomach upsets, flushing (a warmth and redness of the face, neck and upper chest), nasal congestion, changes in vision, and even death.

There are hundreds of Viagra-related deaths on record, many of which occurred in men with no other health conditions. In 2000, researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles analyzed 1,473 major adverse medical events involving the use of Viagra. There were 522 deaths, most involving cardiovascular causes developing within 4-5 hours of taking a standard Viagra dose. The majority of deaths occurred in patients who were less than 65 years old and had no reported cardiac risk factors. 

Strengthens Your Bones from the Inside Out

skeletal muscleMost of the press that nitric oxide receives is about improving heart health, so you may be surprised to hear that it’s good for your bones. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that proved nitric oxide helps build strong bones. In the study, one group of women used a supplement to boost nitric oxide, and another group took a placebo.

At the end of the study, researchers compared before and after scans to measure bone density change. They found that women who boosted their nitric oxide increased their bone density significantly. In comparison, the women who took the placebo actually lost bone density in their hips, considerably increasing their risk of fractures and other serious complications.

Athletes and Bodybuilders

Nitric oxide has become the new secret weapon for athletes and bodybuilders. Athletes are now taking supplements with L-arginine and L-citrulline to increase blood and oxygen flow to the skeletal muscle, which can augment strength and endurance. However, L-Arginine is nearly useless for people over 40, because it’s hard for your body to turn l-arginine into nitric oxide. Beetroot Extract, combined with Hawthorn is a better option.

Brain Function

Do you ever forget where you parked your car? Walk into a room and suddenly draw a blank as to why you’re there? Forget someone’s name right after you meet them? Or worse, run into an old friend and stammer as you try to remember their name? Well, there’s good news! Studies show that nitric oxide improves memory, response time, and confusion in three ways:

  1. It helps store memories as they are created
  2. It helps retrieve memories later on; and
  3. It helps brain cells send and receive signals more quickly.

Your skin contains large stores of nitrite and nitrate, but only the nitrite is biologically active. Sunlight appears to prompt the conversion of nitrate to nitrite and nitric oxide. Regular, safe exposure to the sun is highly recommended. 

The BUDWIG CENTER Would Like To Hear From You


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Note: This post was originally published in January 2014 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and clarity.

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