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Everyone has to deal with difficult people, whether they are argumentative, abusive, stubborn, or combative. The question is: how can you assert your rights without creating an unnecessary incident?

In most cases, angry people are screaming to be heard. They want to be valued, loved, and listened to. They want to feel important, but aren't able to express themselves constructively. With the right attitude, it's possible to get past these insecurities and reach an understanding.

 Nitric Oxide, the Magic Puff

By Dr. Ashraf Girgis 

Zebra Comic

What would you say if I told you that there is a “magic puff” that can change your life and improve your overall wellbeing? And no, it is not drugs or anything from outside of your own body. This magic puff not only helps you relax, but provides many other health benefits as well every time you make this colorless, odorless substance go through your body. Yes, it’s true! It is called NO, Nitric Oxide. This magic gas is all around us and inside of us. It is produced naturally inside our body.

According to Doctor Herbert Benson, a Harvard cardiologist who has done extensive research in the area of mind body medicine, we need to meet certain favorable conditions to release NO in our body. These are:

 a) We need to be under stress

 b) We need to have reached the end of our stress threshold (the way to know this is when we exhibit stress symptoms: mood swings, sleeplessness, restlessness, etc.)

c) We attempt to do something to release our stress (examples include going for a walk, doing our favorite hobbies, praying, meditating, etc.). During this phase, NO is released.

Although most of us know the 90’s as being famous for making the Internet a household phenomenon, this decade was also referred to as the decade of the brain due to amazing breakthroughs in brain science. These can be attributed to our newfound ability to use Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) and look inside our brain. Scientists could actually find a window that allowed them to virtually pick inside our brain and see what is happening when we perform certain tasks, think about certain issues, or simply relax. Relaxation is thought to induce NO release in the brain, mediating a host of beneficial effects.

Research from the Medical Research Council at the University of Leicester demonstrated that nitric oxide could change the computational ability of the brain. This finding had huge implications for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and in general helped us better understanding brain function.

As we all know, when we are under stress our bodies respond with the release of various chemicals, from epinephrine to norepinephrine. One can call it a “dance of chemicals”, and it occurs at a very fast, frenzied pace. All of this is done in order to prepare us physically for what is known as the “fight or flight” response.

Men Talking to Each Other

The role of these chemicals is essential for us to fight the potential predators of humanity’s past. Muscle strength, a faster heartbeat, and a faster berating rate all are necessary to fight this perceived beast. At this first stage, therefore, we have all the beneficial impacts of stress. It keeps us alert and sharpens our focus. It gives our muscles strength. However, as stress continues to become chronic, and our bodies start to show symptoms, we reach a point where we no longer feel in control. 

People Praying and Holding Rosaries

We feel anxiety, anger, and all the symptoms that are associated with them. We then try achieving relaxation by using different approaches. Suddenly, there is a sudden appearance of NO that moves about our body. It can help many conditions, and clear our mind from the stress that we are under.

How can we relax or meditate to facilitate the release of NO?There are many ways we can unleash NO. One of the most common ways is by using what we believe: prayer. For example, if Christian, one can use words that have significance for the individual such as “Lord have mercy”, “Jesus loves me”, or many other common phrases used in different denominations. Rosaries are also an excellent tool, both in Islam and Christianity.

In Islamic traditions, after the daily prayers are performed many use a rosary and repeat sentences from the Quran. The most common is repeating the words, “God is great” and “In the name of God the Merciful”.

I remember growing up in Iran I was fascinated by the calmness of some individuals who always looked so serene. no matter what was happening around them. They seemed to always stay very calm and collected. There was even a name for these people: “ Norani”, meaning, “looking luminesce”. Years later, I can appreciate their serenity much more and now understand the science behind it. The individuals that were very much “Norani” were the religious types who always maintained their daily prayers and their repetitive use of the same words.

Kneeling in Prayer
People Praying and Holding Rosaries

We feel anxiety, anger, and all the symptoms that are associated with them. We then try achieving relaxation by using different approaches. Suddenly, there is a sudden appearance of NO that moves about our body. It can help many conditions, and clear our mind from the stress that we are under.

How can we relax or meditate to facilitate the release of NO?There are many ways we can unleash NO. One of the most common ways is by using what we believe: prayer. For example, if Christian, one can use words that have significance for the individual such as “Lord have mercy”, “Jesus loves me”, or many other common phrases used in different denominations. Rosaries are also an excellent tool, both in Islam and Christianity.

This is not just something exclusive to Christian, Muslim, or Jewish tradition. There are also many other well-known traditions around the world including Hinduism and Buddhism that share many similar concepts of repetition. Additionally, there are other types of spirituality that are not associated with religion.

Although spirituality does seem to be associated with religion, it does not necessarily have to have religious roots. For example, American Indian dances or ancient African traditional dances do not have any religious roots, but they have a lot of spiritual roots. They believe in a higher power of energy, be it nature or otherwise. So there are other ways to unleash our inner peace without going through religious routes. The important part is to whole-heartedly believe the sentences we want to use. 

Many of my clients use the word “peace”, and imagine themselves interconnected with others in the universe, as a peaceful being. Any of these actions can bring us to a completely relaxed state. When the Nitric Oxide that has so many benefits can get released and moves about our body, it contributes to our wellbeing.

Art
Traditional Dance

Diagram of Human Artery

But What Exactly Is Nitric Oxide Anyways?

Nitric Oxide is a soluble gas, with a half-life of 6-30 seconds. It is a colorless, odorless gas that acts as a signaling molecule—a chemical messenger that cannot be stored and can rapidly diffuse across cell membranes to act at remote sites (as opposed to conventional neuro transmitters that cannot pass across cell membranes). Nitric Oxide is product of almost all organisms, including bacteria, fungi, plant, and animal cells. Nitric oxide is a chemical compound, NO. Nitric Oxide is synthesized widely in the endothelium. It moves freely in the body and consists of message carrying “puffs”. NO carries messages between the cells, brain, and central nervous system.

Research from the Medical Research Council at the University of Leicester demonstrated that nitric oxide could change the computational ability of the brain. This finding had huge implications for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and in general helped us better understanding brain function.

NO got its fame during the 90’s, specifically. Nitric oxide was called “Molecule of the Year” in 1992 by the journal Science due to its important role as a biological regulator in neurological system, immune system and ourentire physiological system overall. In 1998 Three US scientists—Robert F. Furchgott, PhD, Louis J. Ignarro, PhD, and Ferid Murad, MD, PhD—received the 1998 Nobel Prize for the major discoveries that surround NO.

The NO phenomenon became so big in the 90’s that suddenly everything somehow was related to it. Scientists Dr. Phil Husbands and Professor Michael O'Shea of the UK started working to change the brain of robots by puffing some NO gas into them in the hope of making them act like humans.

The release of this magical molecule does wonders for our body and mind. In The Break-Out Principle by Dr. Herbert Benson, a pioneer in the discovery of what he calls the “relaxation response”, NO is shown to have numerous health benefits, including helping blood pressure and relieving pain. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning the wonderful skill of relaxing after a stressful event.

Below is a summary of the health benefits of relaxation that may be mediated by Nitric Oxide:

• Memory enhancement by functioning as a neuron transmitter; in other words, it moves messages from one cell to another. NO is known to be low in the brains of people who have Alzheimer's disease. 
• Improving the output of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and endorphins, both of which play a very important role in our state of wellbeing.
• Maximizing the impact of estrogen replacement therapy in the treatment of depression in post-menopausal women.
• Vasodilation and increase of blood flow to the heart.
• Helps people with Pulmonary Hypertension (PH). I have been very outspoken about using relaxation techniques in patients with Pulmonary Hypertension since the late 90’s with several PH scientists. However, so far I have not seen any studies to follow up my recommendation. I guess pharmaceutical companies always prefer something that requires a cost.
• Therapy after stroke to bring more oxygen to the brain.
• Provide chemistry needed for the relaxation response to take place.

All of these benefits can be achieved, and many more, by using proper stress relief techniques and regimens with the methods mentioned (prayer, meditation, etc.). Any technique that puts your body in a relaxed state and allows the “magic puff” of nitric oxide float into your body’s cells—specifically brain cells—gets the job done.

Thanks for visiting curenaturally.org. If you need guidance to help manage your stress, please feel free to call (616)-777-0608 and make an appointment with Dr. Ashraf Girgis.

Works Cited

Benson, Herbert, and William Proctor. The Break-out Principle: How to Activate the Natural Trigger That Maximizes Creativity, Athletic Performance, Productivity, and Personal Well-being. New York: Scribner, 2003. Print.

Cannon, Richard O., III. "Role of Nitric Oxide in Cardiovascular Disease: Focus on the Endothelium." Clinical Chemistry. American Association for Clinical Chemistry, 1998. Web. 14 Mar. 2015. <http://www.clinchem.org/content/44/8/1809>

"Cell Biology, Cell Signaling & Neuroscience Products." Sigma-Aldrich. Sigma-Aldrich Co. LLC, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2015.
<http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/life-science/cell-biology/cell-biology-products.html?TablePage=9552558>

Goleman, Daniel. Measuring the Immeasurable: The Scientific Case for Spirituality. Boulder, CO: Sounds True, 2008. Print.

"Nitric Oxide." Treatment for Newborns. Sutter Health, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2015. <http://www.checksutterfirst.org/children/services/nicu/nitric-oxide.php>

Sorelle, Ruth. "Nobel Prize Awarded to Scientists for Nitric Oxide Discoveries." Nobel Prize Awarded to Scientists for Nitric Oxide Discoveries. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2015. <http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/98/22/2365.ful>

"University of Sussex Media Release 21 December 1998 Sussex Scientists Use Toxic Gas To Give Robots New Powers." University of Sussex Media Release 21 December 1998 Sussex Scientists Use Toxic Gas To Give Robots New Powers. N.p., 21 Dec. 1998. Web. 14 Mar. 2015. <http://www.sussex.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressrelease/media/media42.html>


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