The naturally produced amino acid Arginine is not discussed in this interesting article, even though it had been used by "alternative" cardiologists to increase levels of nitric oxide in the blood, as a way of dilating blood vessels and making them more flexible. Increasing NO levels has become more mainstream in the last 20 years. Three scientists won the Nobel Prize in 1998 for examining the role of Nitric Oxide (* see note about nitric oxide at end of my comments) in preventing coronary disease. (Hmmm, there's that word "corona" again!) A holistic approach would examine prior protocols that once were outside the mainstream, and also see them dialectically and in context of other interactions in the human body.

Arginine had been used, for example, by Dr. Patrick Fratellone in administering Enhanced External Counterpulsation (EECP) -- a pretty cool process of cuffing the lower legs and pulsating pressure, which over a few months causes the human body to -- to some extent -- bypass impaired blood vessels by creating new ones. The body can generate such "corollaries" on its own as well, if blockages to other vessels occur over extended periods of time. (My new corollary blood vessels created during years of partial blockages are what "saved" me during my heart attack in January, 2001.)

However, Fratellone found that Arginine turned out to be dangerous when used alone as a supplement for enabling the body to increase nitric oxide levels, as Arginine prompted viruses already in the body to become expressed, to the detriment of the patient. If one is taking Arginine, it needs to at least be coupled with with another amino acid, Lysine, which suppresses expression of viruses in the body. Holistic treatments for the Herpes virus or cold sores use Lysine along with Zinc and Vitamin C. (In my view, Lysine, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, and zinc should be part of a good holistic protocol for fighting COVID-19 and other viruses, although I haven't seen any studies on Lysine in specific.) I'm not sure what Fratellone ended up doing, with regard to Arginine, but it was a big deal in the alternative health universe 15 or so years ago when he stopped using it.

New studies suggest some detrimental effects of increasing levels of Nitric Oxide, so increasing the blood levels of NO needs to be weighed carefully and in context of other things happening in the body -- that is, it needs to be looked at holistically.

I've been taking another amino acid, Taurine, for many years now, which has similar dilating and flexibilizing effects on the circulatory system. I haven't heard of any drawbacks to it, nor do I know how its action within the body differs from Arginine, except that it seems to be a much safer supplement. But I don't know why.

* The biochemistry of NO, as with every function of the human body, depends upon enzymes that break down substances as a means to creating new substances. In this case, an enzyme known as nitric oxide synthases (NOS) breaks down the amino acid L-arginine to form another amino acid, L-citrulline, which then forms nitric oxide.

Perhaps you weren’t aware of this chemical reaction that takes place in your body. However, you have no doubt seen TV commercials that advertise pharmaceutical drugs to induce this type of reaction.
For example, let’s look at TV ads for erectile dysfunction (ED). Of course, the idea here is to increase the blood flow so that a male can achieve an erection. This same “blood flow concept” applies to the reaction of NO and the arteries that support the heart.
The conversion of L-arginine into NO occurs in the blood vessel lining, the endothelium. Once it becomes NO, it has the following effects:
Increases blood flow due to vasodilatation (widening of the vessels); prevents narrowing
Prevents fatty deposits (plaque) from sticking to the vessels walls
Keeps the endothelium elastic
If NO is produced at optimal levels -> then an optimal amount is released into the bloodstream -> and is then carried virtually everywhere in the body.

- Mitchel Cohen

Nitric oxide treatment can be pivotal in the fight against COVID-19

Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc.Jul 21 2020

Nitric oxide treatment can be pivotal in the world's fight against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, according to a review from the George Washington University (GW). The article is published in the journal Nitric Oxide.

Nitric oxide is an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory molecule with key roles in pulmonary vascular function in the context of viral infections and other pulmonary diseases. In SARS-CoV-1 infection, which led to the outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in 2003, nitric oxide inhibited viral replication by cytotoxic reactions through intermediates such as peroxynitrite. It is one of several potential COVID-19 treatments included in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's emergency expanded access program.

Nitric oxide plays key roles in maintaining normal vascular function and regulating inflammatory cascades that contribute to acute lung injury (ALI) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Interventions that are protective against ALI and ARDS can play a critical role for patients and health systems during the pandemic."

Adam Friedman, MD, interim chair and professor in the Department of Dermatology at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences and co-senior author of the review

Coronaviruses are RNA viruses that primarily infect birds or livestock, but can mutate to be highly infectious and lethal in humans. There is currently no registered treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. The absence of a specific treatment and the high mortality rate of the virus dictate an urgent need for therapeutics that may control the replication and rapid spread of the virus.

The team, led by first author Nagasai Adusumilli, MBA, a fourth-year medical student at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, reviewed data from between 1993 and 2020 on the pathogenesis of coronaviruses and the use of nitric oxide as a treatment for respiratory illness. The authors highlight the potential for inhaled nitric oxide contributing to better clinical outcomes and alleviating the rapidly rising strain on health care capacity due to COVID-19.

As groups continue to publish more results with their respective nitric oxide platforms, the team recommends that dosing and protocol variations should be examined in evaluating the studies.

"With the emergence of COVID-19 as a pandemic with the ability to overwhelm the body and our health care infrastructure, patients have a pressing need for effective agents that can slow the disease in their bodies and in their communities," Friedman said.

The authors suggest that if nitric oxide's efficacy is illustrated for COVID-19, its use as a treatment can be pivotal in the fight against the pandemic.

Friedman has been collaborating with co-senior author Joel Friedman, MD, PhD, professor of physiology and biophysics and of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, on research related to the use of nitric oxide in a broad range of medical indications for close to two decades, and together are developing nitric oxide-based therapeutics for COVID-19.


George Washington University
Journal reference:

Adusumilli, N.C., et al. (2020) Harnessing nitric oxide for preventing, limiting and treating the severe pulmonary consequences of COVID-19. Nitric Oxide.