Nitric Oxide and Nitrous Oxide Benefits and Side Effects

Nitric Oxide is the molecule with the chemical formula NO. This is also known as nitrogen monoxide and is a colorless gas. When exposed to air, it reacts with oxygen, to produce much more harmful nitrogen dioxide gas or NO2. Nitric oxide is an intermediate in some chemical reactions. It is produced as a by-product in fossil fuel burning in vehicle engines and machines. This nitric oxide can cause ozone depletion together with nitrogen dioxide. Naturally, nitric oxide is produced in the air when lightening occurs. In this process, atmospheric nitrogen and oxygen are mixed to produce nitric oxide; this is a major step in the nitrogen cycle, the nitrate source for providing nutrition for plants.

Nitric oxide, or NO is also an endogenous mediator of particularly important biochemical processes, such as vasodilation and transmission of nerve impulses.

In our body the synthesis of this compound is performed from a group of enzymes belonging to the nitric oxide synthetase family, NOS, which use arginine as a substrate, an essential amino acid in children and conditionally essential in adults.

Metabolic Pathway

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The synthesis of nitric oxide is regulated by varied factors such as the one called “shear stress”, a parameter that measures the force applied by the flow of blood on the walls of the vessels. When blood pressure rises excessively, the body defends itself by synthesizing nitric oxide which, by dilating the walls of the vessels, contributes to the lowering of pressure. In contrast, the inhibition of nitric oxide synthesis determines an increase in peripheral resistance and a consequent increase in blood pressure.

The synthesis of nitric oxide by endothelial walls can be also promoted by molecules like norepinephrine and cytokines.

The half-life of nitric oxide is markedly short, its rapid catabolism involves binding to the eme group of hemoglobin, this process leads to the consequent production of methemoglobin, a non-functioning form, then nitrites and nitrates, NO2 and NO3, which are eliminated by the kidney.


Nitric oxide modulates   nerve and neuromuscular transmission by acting as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system and in the peripheral non-adrenergic and non-cholinergic nerve plexuses of the bronchial tree, bronchodilator- anti-asthmatic effect, and gastro-intestinal tract.

It relaxes not voluntary smooth muscle, exercises vasodilator action on the systemic, coronary, and renal vascular endothelium.

It intervenes directly in the immune system; nitric oxide is produced by some cells of the immune system that use it to defend themselves from the aggressions of antigens. In this case it is utilized its oxidant action and consequent ability to release free radicals capable of destroying the plasma membrane of microbial agents.

Nitric oxide, in addition, appears to stimulate cell proliferation of T and B lymphocytes during the immune response.

In conclusion, nitric oxide has therapeutic potential for reducing blood pressure, strengthening the immune system, preventing angina, stroke, and heart attack, and for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

Side Effects

The cytotoxic effects of this molecule are mainly due to its strong oxidizing action which express with increase of the production of free radicals, the most dangerous cause of premature aging, degenerative diseases, and some forms of cancer.

The food supplementation sector is progressively expanding with products capable of increasing the endogenous synthesis of nitric oxide. In particular, the focus is on the administration of high doses of the precursor amino acid L-arginine orally. According to supporters of these supplements, regular intake of arginine would be able to increase the synthesis of nitric oxide.

In fact, the synthesis of nitric oxide is a complicated process, which responds to endocrine and mechanical factors. The stimulatory effect of arginine becomes appreciable only in case of increased need or in the presence of deficiencies induced by a diet low in this nutrient.

Recently instead of traditional arginine it has been proposed the integration of a precursor, the amino acid L-citrulline, in the form of citrulline malate with the purpose of increasing in way dose-dependent the quantity of arginine available for the synthesis of oxide nitric.

Nitric Oxide vs Nitrous Oxide

Nitric oxide and nitrous oxide are molecules of nitrogen (N) and oxygen (O2). Both are gases in the atmosphere. Today, they are emitted mostly by anthropogenic activities and affecting the environment in harmful ways.

Nitrous Oxide commonly known as laughing gas is an oxide of nitrogen with the formula N2O. At room temperature, it is a colorless non-inflammable gas. At elevated temperatures, nitrous oxide is a powerful oxidizer like molecular oxygen.

Nitrous oxide has significant medical uses, especially in surgery and dentistry, for its anesthetic and pain reducing effects. Its name as “laughing gas” is due to the euphoric effects following inhalation. It is also used as an oxidizer in rocket propellant, and in motor racing to increase the power output of engines.

Global reporting of N2O sources over the decade indicates that about 40% of the average of emissions originated from human activity and shows that emissions growth mainly come from expanding agriculture and industry sources within emerging economies. For these reasons, nitrous oxide also substantially contributes to global warming.

Additionally for Dr. Ben Lynch, molecular biologist, ND and epigenetics expert, nitrous oxide irreversibly inactivates cobalamin, the active form of vitamin B12, essential for methionine synthase activity in brain; practically inhibits cobalamin to function as a coenzyme in the methylation cycle.

Under his knowledge there have been reported exposures (~30,000) to N2O and neurological diseases among dental professionals manifesting with symptoms as numbing, tingling and muscle weakness; for those heavy exposed complications are even greater.

Still from his statement there are a wide range of people who may exhibit sensitivity to nitrous oxide, among the populations at risks there are: those with oxidative stress cause of glutathione deficiency and cellular membrane damage, inflammation and increase of TNFa factor (a tumoral factor).

Pathogens as candida, viral infections, and H. Pilory, heavy metals load, MTHFR SNPs, low or high homocysteine, methionine deficiency, SAMe, B-vitamins, selenium, glycine, and glutamine deficiency. Exposure to chemicals and post-operative dementia.

Verification of data by PubChem ( “Nitric Oxide”

Nitric oxide appears as a colorless gas. Non-combustible but accelerates the burning of combustible material. Vapors heavier than air. It is a nitrogen oxide which is a free radical. It has a role as a neurotransmitter, a signaling molecule, a vasodilator agent, a bronchodilator agent, a radical scavenger, a human metabolite, an Escherichia coli metabolite, and a mouse metabolite.

Nitric oxide or Nitrogen monoxide is a chemical compound with chemical formula NO. This gas is an important signaling molecule in the body of mammals including humans and is an extremely important intermediate in the chemical industry. It is also a toxic air pollutant produced by automobile engines and power plants. Nitric oxide (NO) should not be confused with nitrous oxide (N2O), a general anesthetic, or with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which is another poisonous air pollutant. Nitric Oxide as a free radical has high reactivity and reacts with NO2 in the air producing even more toxic gas.

Thanks for Reading

Mariarosaria M.

Are you interested to become a health coach? Check this out:


Ossido Nitrico, My

Nitrous Oxide, Wikipedia

Nitrous Oxide Vs Nitric Oxide,

Nitrous Oxide “A Toxic Gas Yet” Dr. Ben Lynch Educational Course

Nitric Oxide, PubChem/nih(gov)

4 thoughts on “Nitric Oxide and Nitrous Oxide Benefits and Side Effects”

    1. Always thanks to you very much for reading and liking my blogs. I catch the opportunity (since I do not know other ways) to let you know that I subscribed to your podcast on you tube, and, forgive if I am not always prone to go public for comments and appreciations, but, you are an artist other than a journalist, a writer and more. Compliments for all you do!

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