I have a confession. I like to THINK of myself as the Queen of Multitasking.
Most days, I swear I can juggle multiple tasks at once and master all of them. When the truth is, I’m probably nowhere near as good at it as I think I am.
But nature proves effective multitasking IS possible. And the compound nitric oxide is a good example.
If you’re a regular Healthier Talk reader, you might be familiar with the hormone-like substance. I’ve written about this blood-flow buddy many times before.
Nitric oxide, or NO for short, is responsible for the tension in your blood vessels. It also acts like a hormone controlling various organs. And it helps regulate blood flow between and within your organs.
Guys, if you’re thinking this all sounds a bit familiar, there’s a reason for that. NO is the key to firmness below the belt too. When things get romantic, it’s what allows blood to go rushing to all the pieces and parts we want it to.
But today, I want to talk about ANOTHER task this potent compound may have mastered. And this one has the potential to literally help save the lives of victims of COVID-19.
In fact, short of the vaccine, we’re all waiting on, nitric oxide MAY turn out to be the coronavirus’s worst nightmare.
More research is needed. But experts ALREADY believe the compound could help shorten hospital stays and reduce the risk of dying for folks battling the novel coronavirus.
Nitric oxide has a direct effect on SARS-CoV-2
It turns out this isn’t nitric oxide’s first rodeo when it comes to battling a virus. When the 2003 SARS epidemic hit, NO was found to be an effective treatment.
And now, the researchers behind a new study published in the journal Redux Biology say the compound appears to also be effective against SARS-COV2, the coronavirus behind the current pandemic.
In fact, they gave as close to a ringing endorsement as you can get out of a group of pressed and starched scientists.
The lead researcher behind the study, Uppsala University professor Åke Lundkvist, said, “To our knowledge, nitric oxide is the only substance shown so far to have a direct effect on SARS-CoV-2.”
NO is a natural antiviral
Nitric oxide can be used in cases of acute lung failure. When it’s given as a gas in low concentrations, something incredible happens. It drives up sagging blood-oxygen saturation levels. Which, of course, could be critical in certain cases of COVID-19 when those levels drop dangerously low.
During the 2003 SARS epidemic, doctors used this technique successfully. Experts say NO has a clear antiviral effect. And one of the main reasons it worked to raise oxygen saturation levels in SARS patients is that it targeted and reduced the inflammation in their lungs.
When the researchers tested the nitric oxide on the current SARS-CoV-2 in the lab, it once again had a clear antiviral effect. And its effects grew stronger as the dose was increased. Next, they plan on testing NO in its gas form on the new novel coronavirus.
Success in the lab is one thing. But what about in the real world?
Well, good news, there’s been some really positive results in real life too. In fact, nitric oxide has been used successfully as an add on therapy in some of the most vulnerable folks you can imagine, pregnant women.
Easier breathing and better oxygenation with NO
Six pregnant ladies with severe or critical COVID-19 who were admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital received the nitric oxide gas therapy as part of their treatment.
According to the study, published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, the delivery of the gas “resulted in a rapid and sustained improvement in cardiopulmonary function and decreased inflammation.”
In fact, according to the doctors, a high dose of the nitric oxide led to…
- rapid relief from breathlessness
- a lower respiratory rate
- better oxygenation
In other words, it worked and worked quickly. And the virus had resolved in five of the six patients with 22 days.
Obviously, it was a small study, so we need more research. But the signs are incredibly promising. If someone you care about ends up battling a severe case of the coronavirus, don’t hesitate to ask their doctors about trying nitric oxide therapy, in addition to their other treatments.
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