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QUESTION: In your book you mentioned helping a person with hypertension by (1) having the individual follow the blood type diet and (2) recommending certain botanicals. I would like to know about these botanicals and any other recommendations on the topic of hypertension. Thanks.
ANSWER: Renewed interest in the neurotransmitter nitric oxide has researchers looking at its precursor, L-arginine, for treating certain kinds of heart disease. Once thought to be only a dangerous environmental pollutant and a poison, it is now known that nitric oxide is made in the body and plays numerous roles including brain activity regulation and circulation control.
Using nitric oxide for vasodilation, the widening of blood vessels, has been a common practice for a long time but has only recently been understood. In World War I, doctors noticed that workers in ammunition factories who were packing shells with nitroglycerin had very low blood pressures. The observation eventually led to the development of a nitroglycerin pill for the rapid relief of angina--that is, exercise-induced chest pain caused by oxygen deficiency in the heart. In 1987 nitric oxide was determined to be the relaxant factor released by endothelial cells, explaining how nitroglycerin tablets help angina sufferers.
Nitric oxide controls blood pressure and prevents formation of blood clots by signaling the muscles that control relaxation and expansion of blood vessels. There is some evidence that the night time urination many people find so disturbing to their sleep may be the result of nocturnal variations in blood pressure that are the result of the fluctuations in nitric oxide activity.
When arteries become clogged, they produce less nitric oxide than normal. Treatment with nitroglycerin can increase nitric oxide, widening blood vessels and increasing blood flow. Nitric oxide also interacts with blood platelets to decrease platelet aggregation, thus lowering the risk of blood clots.
Healthy cardiovascular function can be enhanced by nutritional supplementation such as NAPS Nitricycle (proper modulation of nitric oxide function) and Hawthorn Plus (anti-oxidant support).
1. Carillo C. Selective defect in nitric oxide synthesis may explain the impaired endothelium-dependent vasodilatation in patients with essential hypertension. Circulation 1998;97:851-6.
2. Weaver R. Atherosclerosis and the two faces of endothelial nitric oxide synthase. Circulation 1998;97:108-12.