When it comes to treating erectile dysfunction, there is one name we're all familiar with: Viagra. Viagra generated over $1.7 billion in sales in 2015 alone. That's a lot of people popping "the little blue pill" in order to have sex.
But what if there was a more effective way to deal with erectile dysfunction, or a cheaper one? According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine back in 2013, nitric oxide is a big factor to consider.
Nitric Oxide and Sexual Health
Do you know how Viagra works? Most people think that Viagra helps you to "pop a stiffy", but that's not entirely true. To understand why nitric oxide is a more effective solution, you need to understand Viagra.
Viagra cannot cause sexual stimulation or arousal. However, when a man is aroused, Viagra helps to relax the smooth muscles of the arterial walls inside the man's penis. This causes the blood vessels to dilate, allowing for the flow of blood to the penis, in turn leading to an erection.
Nitric oxide helps to improve both intracavernosal pressure and mean arterial pressure, promoting healthy blood pressure and flow throughout the body. It helps to combat the reduction in blood flow caused by obesity, diabetes, and other factors contributing to ED. By improving blood flow and relaxing the blood vessels, nitric oxide makes it possible for the penis to fill with blood--essentially, an erection.
The study mentioned above involved rats rather than humans. Tiny beads of nitric oxide were injected into the rats' penis, specifically the corpus cavernosa. This is the part of the penis that fills with blood, causing the erection. When the nitric oxide was injected into the rats' penises, the release of nitric oxide causes dilation in the blood vessels, allowing for better blood flow to the penises.
Now, it's vital to understand that the human body naturally produces nitric oxide on its own. It plays a number of roles in the human body (see the next section). However, people who are overweight, who suffer from diabetes, have high cholesterol levels, or erectile dysfunction do not produce "normal" amounts of nitric oxide. This leads to reduced dilation of the blood vessels in the penis, preventing erections. By providing more nitric oxide, it is possible to stimulate blood flow and thus increase erections.
What makes this discovery so awesome is that the nitric oxide proved MORE effective at stimulating erection than Viagra (sildenafil). Compared to Viagra, the nitric oxide had better effects, and they lasted for up to 3 weeks for each bead of nitric oxide injected.
The future of treating ED is definitely bright, thanks to this discovery! While nitric oxide has yet to be tested on humans (the next step), it shows amazing potential for treating erectile dysfunction. Who knows: in a few years, those with problems like ED may be able to receive simple, cheap nitric oxide treatments to combat their blood flow problems and achieve better erections!
Other Benefits of Nitric Oxide
Nitric oxide does so much more than just control your erections. The gas plays a number of very important roles in your body, health, and fitness, including:
Improves heart health -- Nitric oxide helps to relax your blood vessels, allowing them to dilate (expand) and increasing blood flow. It can reduce your risk of high blood pressure and improve your circulation, and can even help to reduce the oxidative stress placed on your heart. Nitroglycerin (used to treat atherosclerosis) increases nitric oxide production in your body, which improves blood flow and overall cardiovascular health.
Regulates gut health -- Just like nitric oxide helps your arteries and blood vessels to relax, it also plays a role in the smooth muscle cells in your GI tract. It helps to regulate the peristalsis (wave of muscle contractions) that pushes food through your intestines. It also plays a role in the secretion of both gastric acid and mucus. By increasing the production of mucus, you protect your digestive system. An increase in gastric acid speeds up digestion and facilitates the proper breakdown of foods.
Vital for muscle-building -- Nitric oxide is a popular supplement among bodybuilders, as it serves a number of roles. It increases blood flow throughout your body, ensuring that your muscles receive sufficient oxygen and nutrients to recover after an intense workout. It can also reduce fatigue, particularly during high-rep training. By improving circulation, nitric oxide provides the oxygen your muscles need and reduces lactic acid production. This leads to better endurance performance, both for strength training and long-distance running/cycling. It ensures that you have more energy available to burn during your workouts, and can even help your body to burn more glucose (energy) as you train. Finally, it will help to increase the "pump" that occurs when your training sends blood rushing to your muscles.
Boost immune health -- Nitric oxide plays a central role in your immune function. Not only does it help your body to fight off invading bacteria, but it can even counteract the production of cancer cells. It's produced in your white blood cells as one of your body's primary defenses against bacteria, parasites, and fungi.
Other functions -- Nitric oxide also:
- Plays a role in your body's insulin signaling
- Helps your bones to repair and remodel themselves
- Creates new cellular "energy factories"
- Makes it easier for your body to use ATP energy
- Protects your brain cells against neurodegenerative diseases
- Plays a vital role in the transmission of electrical signals in your brain
- Participates in the maintenance of healthy respiratory function
Want to increase nitric oxide production the natural way? Consume foods high in L-arginine, such as poultry and red meat. Beets, kale, spinach, arugula, and chard are all high in nitrates and nitrites that help your body to produce more nitric oxide.
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