Role of Nitric Oxide in Health (Buteyko Method and Breathing Retraiing)

- Updated on January 1, 2022

Role of Nitric Oxide in Health (Buteyko Method and Breathing Retraiing) 1By Dr. Artour Rakhimov, Alternative Health Educator and Author

nitric oxideThere are numerous studies published over the past 80 years regarding the negative effects of hypocapnia (low level of CO2). Hence, CO2 is the most known and investigated factor that relates to overbreathing. Which other parameters of the body become abnormal during and because of hyperventilation?

Normal nasal breathing helps the body to use its own nitric oxide. This substance is produced, among other places, in nasal passages. During normal breathing, we have quite prolonged exhalations (that do not prevent the accumulation of nitric oxide in some areas of nasal passages) and relatively quick inhalations (that allow inhalation of the accumulated nitric oxide). During hyperventilation, exhalations are forceful and quick (as one can observe in many sick people) and inhalations are slow. This reversal of the main stages of breathing decreases the utilization of nitric oxide.

The roles and some important effects of this hormone on the body have been discovered very recently and there are still many questions in relation to this substance. Nitric oxide is found and synthesized in endothelial cells that line the lumen of blood vessels, neurons, and macrophages. As a gas, it is routinely found in nasal passages and measured in exhaled air. The known functions of the NO include:

  1. Vasodilation of arteries and arterioles (and hence regulation of blood flow to tissues). In this respect, NO is similar to CO2 acting on the smooth muscles of blood vessels.
  2. Regulation of binding and release of O2 to hemoglobin. This NO function is again similar to the CO2 function known as the Bohr effect.
  3. Destruction of parasitic organisms, viruses, and malignant cells by inactivating their respiratory chain enzymes in mitochondria.
  4. Inhibition of inflammation in blood vessels.
  5. Neurotransmission. Learning, memory, sleeping, feeling pain, and some other processes require NO for the transmission of neuronal signals. On the other hand, brain cells can probably be killed during a stroke due to the excessive production of nitric oxide.
  6. Hormonal effects. NO influences secretion from several endocrine glands. It stimulates the release of adrenaline from the adrenal medulla, pancreatic enzymes from the exocrine portion of the pancreas, and Gonadotropin-releasing hormone from the hypothalamus.

Abnormal NO production and its availability are now associated with hypertension, heart failure, stroke, obesity, diabetes (both type I and II), atherosclerosis, rheumatism, aging, and dyslipidemias (particularly hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia).

Currently, there are numerous studies worldwide related to the role of NO in human health and diseased states. It is beyond the scope of this book to provide these studies.

Practice shows that possibly for some people some health improvements can be achieved mainly through the correction of one’s breathing pattern, which can normalize production and utilization of nitric oxide, while CO2 changes could be small. Hence, in these people nitric oxide can play, during some stages of breathing normalization, the leading role in health restoration.

Extract from Dr. Artour Rakhimov's Amazon book "Normal Breathing: The Key to Vital Health", also available in PDF.