Last week, I showed you how mouthwash might be increasing your risk for high blood pressure. The reason is because most mouthwashes are antibacterial. And the bacteria in your mouth help regulate your blood pressure. How is this possible?
Well, a group of researchers wanted to know the same thing. They suspected that killing off the bacteria would affect your body's ability to produce nitric oxide (NO). I've written about NO's ability to keep your blood pressure down. The researchers knew this too. So they wanted to know if the bacteria in your mouth are related to NO production.
Your body makes NO in two ways. One way is by converting the amino acid arginine to NO. This requires oxygen and a special enzyme called nitric oxide synthase. We have known about this for years. But more recently, scientists have discovered another way to make NO. And this is why the bacteria in your mouth are so important.
When we eat vegetables, especially beets and green leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, chard, etc. we are getting a lot of nitrate. A certain enzyme converts that nitrate into nitrite by the bacteria in our mouth. We don't have the enzyme needed to make the conversion. But the bacteria do. The nitrite formed by the bacteria then goes into the stomach where your body converts it into NO.
The scientists that conducted this study already knew that the actions of the oral bacteria formed NO. But what they didn't know is whether or not killing off these bacteria with antibacterial mouthwash would significantly decrease NO levels. And they also did not know if it would be enough to actually raise blood pressure. So they set out to find out.
For one week they measured the blood pressure in 19 healthy men and women. Their pressures were measured both in the clinic, at home, and by a 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitor. They also measured the ability of the bacteria in their mouths to produce nitrite from nitrate and their blood nitrite levels. The following week they had all of the subjects use an antibacterial mouthwash every day. What they found was truly amazing.
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The mouthwash reduced the ability of the bacteria to produce nitrite a full 90%! In addition, it also reduced the blood nitrite levels by 25%. But that's not all. As the blood nitrite levels went down, the blood pressure went up by 2-3.5 mmHg on average. And here's the really scary thing. The blood pressure rise started within one day of using the mouthwash and continued for the entire time the person used it. The words of the authors say it all. "These results suggest that the recycling of endogenous nitrate by oral bacteria plays an important role in determination of plasma nitrite levels and thereby in the physiological control of blood pressure."
So please put your antibacterial mouthwash in the trash can where it belongs. And while you're at it, throw away your antibacterial counter cleaners and swabs and soaps too. We need our bacteria to be healthy and to have strong immune systems. Every now and then it might be necessary to have an antibiotic to fight an infection. But only use them when absolutely needed. Don't use them in the casual way that so many are used to. And one other thing.
If you already have high blood pressure, a circulation disorder, cardiovascular disease, or sexual dysfunction, make sure you eat a lot of green leafy vegetables and beets. Most of us don't eat enough of these to keep our NO levels high. If that describes you, consider taking CircO2. These lozenges come with a test strip that will allow you to determine the amount of nitrite in your mouth. If it turns out that you aren't making enough from your diet, the lozenges will reverse that problem. CircO2 lozenges contain a patented balance of herbs and nutrients that can dramatically boost your nitrite and NO levels. And it can lower your blood pressure all by itself.
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