It appears it’s becoming an epidemic – Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, as well as Parkinson’s disease. Newest research shows that it might all come from a simple thing: the loss of nitric oxide being produced. Nitric oxide is a simple molecule made up of one oxygen atom bonded to one nitrogen atom. It is an intense bond in that oxygen is double-bonded to nitrogen, while nitrogen is triple-bonded to oxygen.
There is something about that arrangement making nitric oxide a powerful chemical, or “principle” for life. In 4 Element Medicine each of the major contributors to health (and life more broadly) represent a “principle”. The first four can be seen as the sun, air, water and rock, and even as sugar, starch, fat and protein.
The importance of nitric oxide – the way it dilates blood vessels of important organs like the heart, the sex organs, and the brain – tells us that it is the beholder of an important principle of life. In 4 Element Medicine we call it the Wood Principle. It is worth appreciating that it is best to see Wood not as a dead log but as those flexible branches of a willow tree. The power of Wood comes as it is able to bend with the stresses and other forces put upon it and still stay whole.
While Earth (the 4th principle) represents the power of a principle which permits hard, solid realness, Wood goes further. Earth comes at the expense of dynamics, it is inert and unmoving. Wood, the expression of the cosmos’ 5th principle builds upon the solidity of Earth to create flexible rounded shapes and dynamic interactions. Each cell is a kind of miniature Wood element.
But back to the subject at hand – how to help your brain stay healthy and potentially reverse any loss of brain health you might already have. Major studies point to the power of nitric oxide to relax the walls of blood vessels in the brain so as to permit greater nourishment to all those neurons within it. The amyloid plaques that define Alzheimer’s disease have been shown to be tied to problems with this normal brain physiology (blood vessel dilation).
It is worth noting that these amyloid plaques are the residues of structural proteins – the “cytoskeleton” – tubulins that give your brain cells their solid structure. Yes – even within each cell there is an Earth element – these tubulins, which break down in Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies show that when nitric oxide is unable to work on the local blood vessels of the brain, these amyloid plaques begin to accumulate and neuron cells become less functional. It is worth knowing that nitric oxide works only on the local region it is produced within.
Holistic Concept: The body has important mechanisms to keep itself healthy. Nitric oxide production within your brain is an important one. Its ability to help keep your brain’s capillaries more flexible and dilated permits your brain cells to get the nourishment they need – and to drain out waste products as well. Arginine is an amino acid directly related to the production of nitric oxide. Interestingly, studies show that the byproduct of arginine’s production of nitric oxide – citrulline – is easily recycled back to arginine for more nitric oxide production. As it turns out, citrulline is more easily absorbed and used by the brain for this important work.
Action Step: Consider taking our nutritional supports for the brain. They have citrulline and other valuable nutrients that have been shown to help this capillary dilation process.