Dr. Harris joins Dr. Nathan Bryan, one of the preeminent researchers of nitric oxide and the CEO/Founder of Nitric Oxide Innovations, LLC and author of Functional Nitric Oxide Nutrition. Nitric oxide does not get the love it should in the media or by mainstream medicine. Dysfunction in nitric oxide is at the core of many chronic diseases that are so prevalent now. In this episode, Dr. Harris and Dr. Bryan discuss nitric oxide, a new study currently recruiting regarding nitric oxide and COVID, and how you can naturally boost your nitric oxide levels.
Lifestyle Medicine with Dr. Harris
Dr. Richard Harris: [00:00:00] Welcome to Strive for Great Health Podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Richard Harris. And today is a surprise episode because I did not know we were going to do this episode, but you know, we adapt on the fly. So I’m really proud to have the guest that I have. It’s one of the foremost experts in nitric oxide on the planet.
So you guys are in for a treat I’ve got with me, Dr. Nathan Bryan; how are you today? Dr. Bryan? It’s a pleasure. You know, we got to know each other through a mutual friend and doing some work on the study. We’ll talk about that at the end, but I usually start these podcasts off with a personal story because I found that a lot of us wellness-focused practitioners and researchers have a moment or a particular instance that shifted us into that more holistic mindset.
So why don’t you tell me a little bit about your wellness journey and how that shift occurred in into your life?
Dr. Nathan Bryan: [00:00:56] Sure. Well, I’ve always been interested in science and medicine. I was saying again, bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Texas at Austin. And then, from there went into the biomedical sciences as a student at LSU school of medicine in Shreveport.
And that’s when I was introduced to this molecule nitric oxide; of course, we learned a lot about anatomy and physiology and the basic sciences and then had to translate that into clinical medicine. And this was shortly after when the Nobel prize had been awarded for the discovery of nitric oxide.
This was in around the year 2000, 1998. The Nobel prize was awarded, and I had the opportunity to meet Lou Ignarro came to our school to give a lecture. And he was one of the recipients of the Nobel products, but the discovery of nitric oxide and what I learned from him was that this was an extremely important molecule, but there was still a lot that we didn’t know.
In terms of how the human body makes it, you know, what are the clinical consequences? And then, perhaps most importantly, how do you restore the production of this molecule? So for me, that really provided an interest [00:02:00] to where I had an opportunity. I think very few of us, I think, as you can appreciate this, have really a true opportunity to impact and change the world. I mean, physicians do it, typically do that one patient at a time through that patient patient interaction. We, as researchers, have the opportunity through making fundamental discoveries to change the whole landscape of science and medicine. And so that’s always been my guiding principle is, you know, what can we do to understand the extent of human disease that we can then develop safe and effective therapeutics to change the course of chronic disease and really focus on health and wellness rather than treating the sick. And it’s really, that’s what started this whole term. So for the past 20 years, I’ve done nothing but studying nitric oxide, and we’ve made some really simple discoveries in the field that have changed the way that we think and look about managing chronic disease in patients.
And so with that, You know, it means nothing until it’s integrated into clinical medicine. So my focus over the past 10 or 15 years is trying to not only educate physicians and healthcare practitioners but patients on the importance of this. And I think that’s why it’s so important for people like you, physicians who have the interaction with patients and managing their symptoms and management of the disease to understand how important nitric oxide is cause it’s clear to me in science corroborates, this, that your body cannot and will not heal until you correct the conditions of nitric oxide production.
So that’s been my journey. That’s kind of my focus, and I will not stop until every single person on this earth understands what nitric oxide is. How it’s impacting their health, whether they’re healthy and free from illness or disease, or whether they’re sick, been sick for many years, this may be the missing link.
Dr. Richard Harris: [00:04:01] That’s amazing. You know, there’s, there’s so many people out there that have so much passion for their fellow man. And we’re seeing a major shift in the collaboration between your researchers and clinicians because we both need each other. And I think before there was a, there was a disconnect, you know, the researchers would say all these dumb clinicians, they’re not doing what, you know, the latest research says they should do.
And then we practitioners will be like, well, these researchers; they’re not sitting in front of people, they’re not seeing patients. So what do they know? And it, it created a huge problem, but now. Especially from what I’ve seen in the holistic sphere, is there so much collaboration between the practitioners and the researchers really to help better everyone’s life.
And I think that is so profound. And, you know, we’ll talk about at the end about your study, but I think this is really important. Me as a practitioner of holistic medicine, I want holistic-minded researchers out there finding this information so I can take it and put it into clinical practice because that’s what I do.
I take what you do say, okay. Here’s how I can see this can help somebody. And then when I have that person, then I use that information to help them. And so that’s the flow. That’s the collaboration that we absolutely need. So we talked about how nitric oxide dysfunction is a root cause of chronic disease.
So a lot of people out there are probably hearing this for the first time, you know, about nitric oxide, bodybuilders, weightlifters, they know all about nitric oxide. You know, they’ve been optimizing nitric oxide for decades, right. In some of the products that they’ve been using, but most physicians will say, Oh, isn’t that the the thing that dilates the veins and arteries, and, you know, we use that for, you know, heart disease and things like that.
But that only tells a portion of the story about what nitric oxide does. So why don’t you enlighten my listeners about some of the biological functions that nitric oxide has in the body
Dr. Nathan Bryan: [00:06:06] Yeah, certainly. Well, let me let me take one step back because you bring up a very important point on the collaboration between clinicians and researchers.
And we know from historical data that it takes an average of 17 years for new discoveries to become standard of care. So we know it takes time. But I’ve spent 20 years in an academic medical environment and research environment. And so I understand the disconnect, and we’re taught as scientists to go from bench to bedside, meaning translate your discovery from what you do in the lab to bedside and patient care.
And I can tell you that model does not work. And that’s the reason for the disconnect. So what we’ve always tried to do was I want to understand your challenges with your patients. And then let’s take it from bedside. Let’s model it in the lab to the bench and then back to bedside. So the model that worked has bedside to bench back to bedside, we’ve been really, really successful, using that model.
And that’s, I think, why we have to engage clinicians, let me understand your complex patients. Cause I know enough about the science that I can have modeled that and then give you new treatment strategies, to, to, to accomplish what you hope to accomplish. So I think that’s, that’s a very important point. And so going back to the question of what nitric oxide is, it’s, it’s really a vasodilator, and that was when it was first discovered for it opens up blood vessels and improves oxygen and nutrient delivery to every cell in the body.
But it’s more than that. It’s part of our immune system. It’s how our immune system fights off bacteria, viruses, any invading pathogen, and it’s involved in our central nervous system. It’s a neurotransmitter. So when you lose the ability to produce nitric oxide, and you can now begin to appreciate the host of symptoms or diseases that may manifest from that.
So it’s not just high blood pressure. So it’s the main vasodilator that regulates blood pressure. When you lose nitric oxide, your blood pressure goes up, but it’s also perhaps, and most importantly, it’s in the regulation of blood flow. So, for instance, when we’re trying to recall memory, we have to increase perfusion to certain regions of the brain.
If we begin to exercise, we have to increase blood flow to the heart and the working skeletal muscle in that regulation is controlled by nitric oxide. And so when we lose the ability to make nitric oxide, we lose the regulation of blood flow. So what happens? People develop sexual dysfunction because you’ve lost the regulation of blood flow to the pelvic region. But you want to engage in sexual activity. You develop a mild cognitive disorder because you can perfuse certain regions of the brain to recall memory. Your blood pressure goes up; you develop uncontrolled inflammation. And then, so those are the hallmark signs and symptoms of nitric oxide deficiency. You develop insulin resistance and then, so when you employ safe and effective strategies to restore nitric oxide, Basically, reverse all those conditions because nitric oxide is a signaling molecule. That’s involved in every biological function in the body. So when we’re young and healthy, it makes efficient nitric oxide. The older we get, the less nitric oxide we make.
And that is the cause for the onset of progression of not just cardiovascular disease, the number one killer of men and women worldwide, but really any age-related chronic disease.
Dr. Richard Harris: [00:09:25] Yeah, there’s really a lot to unpack there. So listeners, you may have to go listen to this again. All right, it’s so important.
I like to distill it down into two basic functions. We have a function to get nutrients to the cells and get toxins out. Right? If you look at bio cell biology, that’s the basic level of function of the cell that we need to maintain. And so if you talk to about getting nutrients in. you need blood flow.
And if you talk about blood flow, you need nitric oxide. And then another thing that we also focus on a lot in functional medicine, holistic medicine is glutathione, and that’s getting toxins out. Right? And so you will see a key deficiency in both with chronic disease. And I think it’s so important to bring this up to people because there’s a lot of conditions out there that are caused by a lack of blood flow.
And there’s a lot of things that can impact that, you know, your hydration status. Right. If you decrease your hydration by 3%, you decrease cardiac output by 20%. Well, guess what? If you’re dehydrated now, you’re not getting nutrients to your brain. You’re not getting blood to your brain. You’re going to be, have brain fog and confusion and all these other things.
So we have to optimize getting the right nutrients to the cells. And nitric oxide is one of the ways that we do that. Now we’re here to talk about nitric oxide and COVID. Because that’s the focus of your clinical study and people are wondering, okay, we talked about blood flow with nitric oxide. We talked about immunity.
Is that how nitric oxide correlates with what we’re seeing with COVID?
Dr. Nathan Bryan: [00:11:00] Yeah, absolutely. Everything we’ve known or learned about COVID in the past 10 to 12 months all point to a lack of nitric oxide production, then we’ll explain the increased risk of infection of certain patients. Increased risk of hospitalization, ventilation, and death.
So here’s what we’ve learned. Most people recover from COVID they get sick, but they’re susceptible populations and specifically the African-American population, that don’t recover as well. So the statistics are very clear, gross, increased risk of infection, like a three to 4% or three to four times risk of hospitalization.
And depending on which report you read in certain areas of the country, either two to six times higher death rate in the African-American population from COVID. So what does this look like on a broad scale older African-Americans with an underlying conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smokers, underlying heart disease.
Those are the patients that do very poorly. So we’ve recently gotten an FDA cleared study to look at restoration of nitric oxide-based therapy in the African-American population. Because as I mentioned, everything we’ve learned about COVID all points to decrease in nitric oxide production that not only explains the increased risk of infection hospitalization and ventilation and death, but also these longer-lasting symptoms such as an increase in blood clotting, these collateral symptoms that last many, much longer than the active infection. And so we’re very excited about this study because it’s the first we have two firsts here, number one. It’s the first study addressing the health disparities of African-Americans in COVID, and number two, most of these therapies that are being tested in clinical trials are inpatient studies. So meaning that the patient is sick, they’re hospitalized. Many of them are on [00:13:00] ventilation. The prognosis is very poor once that happens. And so then you introduce these studies really in a period that may be too late for recovery. So what we’re doing is we’re taking a more proactive approach.
So if you’re African-American between the ages of 50 and 85 with at least one comorbidity, Whether it’s high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, or underlying heart disease. And within 72 hours of a positive COVID test, whether you have symptoms or not, you can enroll in the study. You’ll be given a nitric oxide, drug, or a placebo.
You won’t know which, then we’re going to follow you for 30 days. So we think that we have sufficient evidence to support this, that if we catch the disease early in the process, even in at-risk, very susceptible patients, That we can reverse that decrease the burden of disease, decrease hospitalization, the need for ventilation, and decreased death.
So that’s really what we’re excited about, but you know, our objective is to educate and inform the African-American population to take part in this study to help us learn and eradicate the increased burden of. You know, not just COVID but really many health disparities and conditions in the African-American community.
Dr. Richard Harris: [00:14:16] Yeah. There’s, there’s a lot to unpack here as well. You know, let’s first start off with the impact of COVID. Cause we did a podcast where we talked about midway through my experience, treating COVID patients. And now the thing that scares me the most is these COVID long haulers, people who are experiencing neurological problems, you know, increased stroke, a brain fog confusion. months after COVID has resolved. You know, one study showed that 80% of healthy athletes got like left ventricular dysfunction. Meaning part of their heart was not beating in pumping correctly after COVID. So I was 50% sorry in that study. And it was 80%, showed that there was another one that, that people had developed, acute plaque development in their heart after COVID, you know, we’re seeing people with kidney dysfunction, people with liver dysfunction after COVID people with long-term respiratory problems. And that’s because of the inflammation that we talked about, that it causes so much inflammation. And I’ve read a couple, you know, op-eds that we’re going to see a lot of early heart attacks, a lot of early strokes, a lot of early liver disease, kidney disease, a lot of early Alzheimer’s.
Because of the impact that COVID had, it, it’s literally like you put your cells in a time machine and sent them years into the future. And then they come back with damage and dysfunction, and I think catching it early, getting treatment early to the actual root dysfunction in the immune system and inflammation is important.
You know, another aspect here is specifically the African-American community. And, you know, my listeners, y’all know me. I’m blunt, African-Americans are the sickest population in the us, and that is mentally and physically. And a lot of the reason for that is complex. It’s socioeconomic factors, you know, it’s poverty, it’s food deserts, it’s all of these things, but it results in the fact that our obesity rate is 10% higher.
You know, our hypertension rate, depending on the age bracket, that can be 10% higher, diabetes, same thing. You’ll see more obesity, more diabetes, more hypertension, more strokes, more Alzheimer’s like everything cancer, same thing. You know, the, the rates of cancer survival and the survival time period is, is a lot shorter and a lot less survival for African-Americans for most cancers.
No, we have three X, the amount of kidney disease. You know, so, these disparities are real. They’re very complex. And in order to solve them, we need to get to the root cause. And part of that is inflammation. Like we talked about in dysregulation and nitric oxide. So if you’re African-American and you meet those qualifications, please, please seriously consider enrolling in this, in this clinical trial.
If you know, someone who is meets those qualifications, share this information with them, how do they find information about the clinical trial? Where do people go?
Dr. Nathan Bryan: [00:17:27] Well, thanks, Dr. Harris, and so, you can find more information at www.aacovidstudy.com for African-American COVID study.com. We have four sites currently set up around the US; we have it here in Houston, Texas, south side of Chicago, Jackson, Mississippi, and I guess to Georgia, really hot spots. And so we’ll provide you all the information on the website on, really give you all the information about the study if you qualify what to expect when you enroll. The important thing I think about this study is that you’re not left alone.
When you get the information, and you consent to be in this study, we’re going to provide you the tools you need to monitor. Your own health status. So you’re going to be sent home with a pulse oximeter, so you can monitor your oxygen levels and really understand the product or the acute respiratory distress syndrome that results from, from COVID.
So if your oxygen levels are dropping and sometimes that occurs before you even develop symptoms. So again, we’re going to arm you with the information you need. We’re going to give you a blood pressure cuff, so you can monitor your blood pressure. And then you’re going to have somebody that’s going to call you.
Every day or every other day, just to check on you to make sure you’re taking your study medication. If you’re ill, you know, directs you into the right direction to get care, and then we’re going to follow you for 30 days. And at the end of the 30 days, we’re going to look at the rate of hospitalization need for ventilation and death versus those getting the active drug and those getting the placebo.
And then, so your participation in this is very important. Not only is it going to give us a critical information for the African-Americans with COVID, which historically African-Americans are underrepresented grossly in all clinical drug studies. But number two, we’re going to compensate you a hundred dollars cash for helping us in this study.
So there are enormous benefits of one you’re going to get compensated. Number two, perhaps most importantly as you’re going to help us understand the extent and mechanism of disease, specifically in the African-American community. And then your participation has the potential to change and save millions of lives, not just African-American life with COVID, but more broadly.
And so I encourage you to get all the information that you need to fully understand and comprehend the importance of this study, and then take the next steps, join us and help us understand and begin to employ new, safe, and effective therapeutics, not just for the African-American community, but for the, for the world in general.
Dr. Richard Harris: [00:20:05] Yeah. So when we said that we’re underrepresented, we’re you know, for my listeners who don’t know, I’m, African-American surprise, we’re underrepresented in studies. That means that basically, a lot of the things we’re using in African-American patients, we don’t really know if they work or not. Because there’s not enough statistical power, meaning we’re not really sure if there was a difference between placebo and the active medication, that’s what underrepresented means. And that’s why you can have a problem in certain populations. You know, you see this with minorities, you see this with the elderly where there’s just not enough statistical power. There’s not enough people to really know that there’s a difference between placebo and the active ingredient.
Now one final question. And since this is a holistic podcast, of course, we need a holistic strategy. So what are some things that people can do as on the lifestyle and maybe with nutrition that can impact their ability to make nitric oxide?
Dr. Nathan Bryan: [00:21:01] It’s a very good question because you know, we’ve always applied what we call principles of applied physiology historically.
That’s how medicine was based. Right. We basically, from my perspective, chronic diseases comes from two things and two things only. You’re body is missing something that it needs or it’s exposed to something it doesn’t need. So going back to what your, your simple analogy of getting the good stuff in the bad stuff out, that’s the basis for chronic disease.
So as it relates to nitric oxide, I tell people you have to do there’s two components here. You have to stop doing the things that are shutting down your body’s nitric oxide production. And then you got to start doing the things that have been clinically proven to promote and stimulate it. So, number one, we published studies in a number of published studies have been published, showing the effects of mouthwash.
So if you’re using mouthwash, which 200 million Americans every day, wake up and use mouthwash; it destroys the microbiome, the bacteria in the mouth that are responsible for generating nitric oxide. So studies have shown that if you use mouthwash, your blood pressure goes up. You actually lose the protective benefits of exercise.
So stop using mouthwash. Stop using antacids, antacids completely shut down nitric oxide production. Stop smoking again. It’s completely shuts down, nitric oxide. Those are the three things that I say you should stop doing. And then what you can do to promote nitric oxide, production is it’s pretty simple.
It’s principles we’ve employed for many, many centuries it’s diet and lifestyle. So eat more green leafy vegetables, and then get moderate physical exercise. And then sunlight. Now certain wavelengths of light can stimulate and promote nitric oxide production. And I think that those simple tools and strategies can give us kind of a basis for restoring nitric oxide production.
And so that’s for everybody, all of your listeners that, whether you’re health and healthy and doing well and trying to prevent getting sick, that’s a great strategy. And when you’ve lived with chronic disease for decades, these are very simple strategies you can employ, and I’m confident you’ll see an effect, but for those of you that don’t. Work like that, or want to change your diet and lifestyle. Then that’s the reason that we develop safe and effective drugs. So, and that’s the basis for our technology. It’s very safe. It’s a nitric oxide generating tablet actually will let dissolve in your mouth, take five to six minutes.
So if your body can’t make nitric oxide or you’re doing the things that don’t allow your body to make nitric oxide, then we do it for you. But perhaps most importantly is we employ the technology that restores the function. Of the enzyme that makes nitric oxide through this technology. So it’s really a very simple again, we are excited for this particular age that we live in.
In COVID that, you know, we’ll provide a very safe and effective therapy, not a vaccine that a therapy for COVID, that I think we’ll be well, in my opinion, it will change the landscape of humanity and not just COVID coronavirus infection. Then any virus or bacteria that our body encounters on a daily basis.
Dr. Richard Harris: [00:24:09] Yeah. There’s so much that’s important there. I’ve never spoken about mouthwash on this program. It’s something I had in mind when I was going to bring on a functional dentist. If I can find one. Yes, the microbiome is so important. We’ve talked about that in our dysbiosis episode and how we are so microbacterial, fearful.
In this country, when there’s a distinct lack of soil bacteria, and it, and you know, we used to eat food directly from the ground. There’s beneficial bacteria in the soil. That’s part of our microbiome. We’re using all these anti-microbial products that don’t kill the bacteria; they just select resistant bacteria.
And so now you’re shifting to nasty resistant bacteria instead of good, helpful bacteria. You know, there’s data that shows our microbiome helps us fight off infections. It alerts the immune system. It says, Hey, there’s a virus over here. Go get it. So if you’re killing your microbiome, you’re losing that signal for part of our immune system.
And, you know, I stopped using mouthwash a couple years ago and I noticed a huge improvement in my oral health. I used to get those little canker sores all the time. And I was like, I don’t understand why I’m doing getting canker sores. You don’t come out of med school. My mouth is clean. And then I learned about the microbiome, and I was like, Oh my God, I’ve been killing my microbiome for years, and I stopped doing it. I haven’t had another canker sore. Yeah. Not a single one. And it was almost immediate. It was in like within the first couple of days and the acid blockers; we talked about that in our functional treatment of dyspepsia or heartburn. These medications are probably one of the most toxic medications that people use.
And they’re used by so many people, you know, the proton pump inhibitors. These proton pumps are all throughout our body. They’re not just in the stomach. And they involved with so many different aspects of our normal maintenance, and that’s why these medications have an increased risk of infection with them, increased risk of kidney disease, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and they were never approved to be used for more than two weeks. Never approved to be used for more than two weeks. And people are on them for years. Years and they actually worsened the problem. If you haven’t listened to the functional treatment of acid reflux, go listen to that.
You’re taking those medications outside of the two week period. I understand if you have an ulcer and things like that or something like that. Yes, that’s. Okay. They’re meant to be a stop-gap until we put in the holistic strategies to actually heal the gut. So. I really love the message. I really love what you’re doing.
I really love how you’re trying to leave a generational impact to help. Not only the people here now, but the people who come after us with this burden of chronic disease, it’s not sustainable. The path that we’re on and we need better treatment, safe treatment, things that are actually effective, and that are boosting our body’s normal processes.
Whether you believe in evolution, we have been evolving for thousands of years. Our bodies are smart. They know what they’re doing to heal themselves. If you believe in God, then we are perfectly and wonderfully and fearfully made. That means our bodies are able to do what it needs to do to heal itself.
But, you know, we were talking offline about it’s so hard to be healthy now because there’s a vested interest in keeping people sick. The number two driver of our GDP is healthcare. Number two behind energy. 18% of all the money generated in the US is in healthcare. And we have terrible outcomes. If it worked 60% of the population, the adult population would not have a chronic disease. If the current medical paradigm work. And so I’m so grateful for, for forward-thinking researchers like Dr. Bryan, who are really trying to make a generational impact and to actually treat and cure, not just band-aid with medication chronic disease. So thank you, Dr. Bryan, For coming on the show. I really appreciate it.
All the information, you know, about your commercial product and the study will be in the show notes if people are interested. So I’ll tell you where you can find these things. again, you know, we’re all about taking control of our health at the Strive for Great Health Podcast. So thank you for listening, and have a blessed day.