Nitric oxide is important in maintaining heart health. But nitric oxide’s benefits extend far beyond the heart, relaxing blood vessels throughout the entire body. This is particularly pertinent for men with erectile dysfunction.
An estimated 40 percent of men aged 40 and over have some degree of erectile dysfunction. About 80 percent of them can be helped with Viagra and Cialis, drugs whose primary function is to raise nitric oxide levels by blocking enzymes that destroy it.
Erectile dysfunction should be an early warning sign for more life-threatening circulatory problems like high blood pressure and heart disease. Next to maintaining healthy testosterone levels, ensuring adequate amounts of nitric oxide are available in the body is crucial to men’s health.
Niacinamide (vitamin B3) and the amino acid arginine, can be used to boost nitric oxide levels and help with erectile dysfunction. Both in their own way are vasodilators — substances that widen blood vessels and increase blood flow.
Gum Disease Affects Erections and Prostates
It’s also interesting that arginine stops the formation of dental plaque (a type of biofilm), which can help prevent cavities and gum disease.
It seems like many body functions begin to slow down around the age of 40, and our ability to naturally increase nitric oxide is one. Part of the reason is that certain bacteria in the mouth and gut are responsible for the conversion of nitrates found in food into nitric oxide. Foods don’t contain nitric oxide. They contain nitrates that have to be converted to nitric oxide.
As soon as nitrate-rich foods enter the mouth, beneficial bacteria that reside on the surface of your tongue reduce them to nitrites. These nitrites are swallowed and then either reduced to nitric oxide in the acidic environment of the stomach or converted by gut bacteria. Once transformed into nitric oxide, they are absorbed via the gastrointestinal tract and placed into the circulatory system. This describes the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway, one of the primary ways the body produces nitric oxide.
Roughly 30–50 percent of the population doesn’t have the proper bacteria necessary to generate nitric oxide. This can stem from poor oral hygiene, the constant “leakage” of mercury from amalgam tooth fillings, and the use of antibiotics and mouthwash.
Studies are just beginning to surface linking chronic periodontitis to erectile dysfunction. The problem is obviously more prevalent as men get older, but even men in their 30s who have inflamed gums due to periodontal disease are three times more likely to have problems with erections. (J Sex Med 2013 Mar;10(3):838– 43) (J Clin Periodontol 2013 Feb;40(2):148–54)
Researchers at China’s Luzhou Medical College found that when they induced periodontal disease in lab rats, their ability to produce nitric oxide was significantly impaired due to systemic inflammation. In other words, the researchers could actually cause these animals to have erectile dysfunction by giving them gum disease. (J Sex Med 2011 Sep;8(9):2598–605)
In addition to erectile dysfunction, you now hear a lot about prostate problems like benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) and prostate cancer. What you don’t hear about, however, is their connection to gum disease.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio treated 27 men who had undergone prostate biopsy because of abnormal findings on digital rectal examination or an elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. Twenty-one of the 27 men had no or mild prostate inflammation, but 15 had biopsy-confirmed malignancies. Two men had both inflammation and a malignancy.
In addition, all had moderate to severe gum disease, for which they received treatment. They were retested at four and eight weeks and showed significant improvement.
During their periodontal treatment period, the men received no treatment for their prostate conditions. Even with no prostate treatment, 21 of the 27 men showed decreased PSA levels. Their urination issues and other symptoms improved as well. Those with the highest PSA levels experienced the most benefit from the periodontal treatment. (Dentistry 2015;5:284)
Roughly 50 percent the population brushes their teeth only once a day, and just 25 percent floss. Surveys indicate that nearly 24 percent of adults in this country have untreated dental cavities and 39 percent have moderate-to-severe periodontitis, a number that rises to 64 percent for those over the age of 65. This explains why 25 percent of those over 60 years of age have lost all their teeth.
Good dental hygiene (brushing, flossing, professional cleanings, etc.) is imperative to good health, but wiping out the beneficial bacteria with mouthwash should not be part of that plan.
Mouthwash works like an antibiotic. It indiscriminately kills all bacteria in the mouth, even beneficial strains necessary for the production of nitric oxide. And research shows that arginine works more effectively than antimicrobials used in many popular mouthwashes, such as cetylpyridinium chloride. (PLoS One 2015 May 6;10(5):e0121835)
Don’t be surprised down the road when someone “discovers” that using mouthwash increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, arthritis, obesity, prostate problems, and erectile dysfunction. It’s coming.
It took decades for those in conventional medicine to finally accept the fact that the microflora in the bowel affects our immune system, psychological well-being, and practically every other aspect of our overall health. Hopefully, it won’t take that long to realize the importance of having a healthy, balanced oral microbiome.
By some estimates, there are more than 700 different bacterial species that inhabit our mouth. So far, only half of those have even been named. Like the bacteria in the gut, many in the mouth are beneficial, while others are pathogenic. But rather than sterilize our mouths, the key to optimal health is to maintain the right balance.
The findings I mentioned earlier are just some of the reasons I not only recommend and use probiotics for the intestinal tract, but also an oral probiotic supplement specifically designed to replenish the healthy strains of bacteria in the mouth and upper respiratory tract. Doing so can help keep pathogenic bacteria in check, just as nature intended.
See my blog articles on “Oral Probiotics” and also “Oral Probiotics And Their Relationship To Your Health”.
I also like the Ayurvedic technique of oil pulling, which I’ve discussed in the past. It’s another way you can improve gum health and help restore the balance of oral bacteria. See my blog article on “Oil Pulling”.
The PSA Test Scam
Research studies don’t support the PSA test as an accurate test to detect cancer. I think far too many men get surgery and treatment for cancer based on their PSA scores. It continues to be the gold standard when it comes to diagnosing prostate cancer. This is despite the fact that it is notoriously unreliable in that respect and more of an indicator of inflammation than cancer.
Some studies estimate that when it comes to diagnosing prostate cancer, PSA tests produce false positives in one out of three cases. While early screening tests have been associated with over diagnosis in a variety of cancers including neuroblastoma, melanoma, thyroid, breast, and lung, nowhere is over diagnosis more prevalent and clinically relevant than in prostate cancer. (J Natl Cancer Inst 2002 Jul 3;94(13):981–90)
One 2009 study found that using the most optimistic assumption about the benefits of early detection and treatment, at least 1 million men were over diagnosed and needlessly treated for prostate cancer in the previous 20-year period. (J Natl Cancer Inst 2009 Oct 7;101(19):1325–9)
Even the developer of the test, Dr. Thomas Stanley, now says a positive PSA test is an indication of inflammation, not cancer.
Canine Cancer Detectors
Fortunately, there is a less expensive, more accurate test to detect prostate cancer. But I don’t know if or when we’ll see it used in this country.
There are certain patients that emit a very distinct, peculiar odor. In almost every instance, those patients were later found to have cancer.
A human obviously couldn’t detect every case of cancer…far from it. But we quickly became strong believers in the diagnostic significance of various odors.
Researchers have tried to develop diagnostic tests based on the presence of various compounds when a person exhales, and a few have been successful. Dogs, with some of the keenest sense of smell on the planet, may turn out to be the diagnostic tools.
The Russians recently patented the Sulimov dog breed for use in airport security. The breed was developed by Klim Sulimov, the Russian airline Aeroflot’s chief dog breeder, over a period of 30-plus years. This dog is particularly suited for use in colder weather. Sub-zero temperatures can suppress smells. But this dog has been shown to still smell effectively at temperatures as low as -70 degrees C (-94 degrees F) and as high as 40 degrees C (104 degrees F).
It doesn’t appear that we need to wait 30 years to develop a distinct breed to diagnose prostate cancer. A new study shows we can use existing breeds to get the job done.
Researchers in Italy tested two 3-year-old German Shepherd explosive detection dogs that were trained to identify prostate specific volatile organic compounds in urine samples. They were tested on 362 patients with known prostate cancer and on 540 healthy controls with no prostate cancer and no non-cancerous prostate tumors.
Both the dogs were correct over 96 percent of the time in identifying patients with prostate cancer. Earlier research using similar testing showed dogs to be successful 91 percent of the time. (J Urol 2015 Apr;193(4):1382–7) (Eur Urol 2011 Feb;59(2):197–201)
It’s pretty amazing, especially when you compare the dogs’ 96 percent success rate to PSA screenings’ 20 percent.
It’s no surprise that most of these studies are taking place in Europe. With the way our medical system works (or doesn’t), regardless of how cost effective and accurate canines may be at diagnosing prostate and other cancers, I doubt we’ll see them being used here anytime soon. There’s too much money to be made in the treatment of prostate cancer, necessary or otherwise, based on PSA test results.
Active Surveillance and Natural Therapies
Most prostate cancer is slow growing and better left alone. Prostate cancer that starts out as low-grade and slow-growing almost always stays that way. Men are likely to die from some other cause before cancer ever spreads beyond the prostate gland.
On the flipside, most high-grade, aggressive cancers are “born” that way and behave aggressively from the beginning. By using what is called Gleason scores, where the prostate cancer cells are graded depending on how they compare to normal prostate cells, a prediction can be made as to the aggressiveness of the disease. Fortunately, this is why “active surveillance” is becoming more popular, rather than automatically resorting to surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.
One of the most useful substances you can take to prevent prostate cancer and/or stop it from progressing is the green tea extract epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).
Researchers reported this year at the American Society of Clinical Oncology that taking 200 mg of the extract twice daily could help prevent these problems. (J Clinical Oncology Vol 33, No 15_suppl (May 20 Supplement)2015:1572)
An earlier Japanese study followed 49,920 men aged 40–69 years for up to 14 years. There was a dose-dependent relationship between the number of cups of green tea they drank daily and the risk of developing advanced prostate cancer. Those who drank five or more cups a day had just half the risk compared to those who drank one cup or less. (Am J Epidemiol 2008 Jan 1;167(1):71–7)
This helps explains why prostate cancer deaths are the lowest in Asia, where 20 percent of the entire consumption of green tea takes place.
The other compound that I think is promising and effective to prevent prostate cancer and inhibit metastasis is modified citrus pectin.
There are some amazing benefits of PectaSol-C modified citrus pectin from EcoNugenics (econugenics.com). It is one of the few products shown to effectively lower levels of galectin-3, which has been linked to numerous diseases triggered by inflammation, including cancer, heart disease, arthritis, liver disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis. You should take modified citrus pectin on a daily basis.
Please share this important information with the men in your life. And if you’re a man reading this, please take to heart my advice about boosting nitric oxide levels and protecting your prostate. You don’t want to become one of the millions who fall into conventional medicine’s trap of pharmaceutical drugs, unnecessary surgeries, and expensive, harsh treatments.
Legal CMA Disclaimer:
Although this article may contain factual information, the information contained in this article has probably not been evaluated by the FDA nor is it in any way intended to be medical advice.
Unfortunately, I must recommend that for any change in medical or health behavior or for any change in the way you use prescribed drugs by your healthcare providers or before acting upon any of the advice given in this or any other article, that you consult with your licensed healthcare provider or physician.
Dr. Locker and his friendly, knowledgeable staff invite you to call Gentle Family Dentistry in Duncansville, PA for the greatest, most advanced, painless dental experience you have ever had.
And remember, You only have to floss daily the ones you want to keep.