Type 3: Nitric Oxide Dysregulation
Nitric oxide dysregulation associated with hypercortisol is a fibromyalgia type that gets worse with stress and sitting. The gaseous signaling molecules are not flowing properly, and the liver is essentially “rusting,” impacting hormone levels, digestion, blood flow, and obviously pain. Often type 3 fibro warriors are the ones who need to move, and can be higher functioning. It is an eventual byproduct of other types of fibro as well, but if it is a root cause, there is often a period of great stress and not much movement at some point before the pain started.
This matters to you.
Until the early 90s, modern medical science assumed that many of the gases produced within the body were junk gases of no use to us. Then, around 1992, something happened. A team discovered that nitric oxide (not to be confused with nitrous oxide, which makes you giggle and the Fast and the Furious movies possible) is a signaling molecule. Instead of being just a waste product, it was a messenger in the body. Initially, it was discovered that it triggered vaso-dilation, meaning where the gas went, it stimulated the relaxation and dilation of blood vessels and increased blood flow. By the end of the 90s, many of the researchers that had studied it the most won Nobel Laureates in Medicine, the cardiology field was changing, and lines of penis enlargement pills were being produced because of this.
The term gaso-transmitter was coined. Like neurotransmitter, it reflects how gaseous signaling molecules transmit information throughout our body. Nitric oxide, along with carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, became recognized as having huge effects on many regulatory systems throughout the body.
Here are the rules of nitric oxide:
- You can have too much. Higher levels are linked to tension, activation of the fight-or-flight reflex, hyperactive conditions, depression, difficulty sleeping, and much more. Imagine having too many bosses at a company, each one saying what to do. So much confusion is caused that nothing is done right.
- You can have too little. Nitric oxide is a messenger. Below a certain threshold certain systems are not properly triggered. Cell mitochondria, for instance, are told by nitric oxide to create ATP (the basic unit of energy in the body). Without that, you have mitochondrial myopathy, chronic fatigue, etc. This is like having nobody managing a large business. All the employees start doing whatever they want, which is rarely good for the running of the business.
- It can be at proper levels, but improperly distributed. It can traffic jam, and it particularly does this at sites of injury and inflammation. This means that some areas of your body could be jamming up with ultra-high levels of nitric oxide, while past the blockage, there is little regulation going on at all. Think of construction on a freeway. All the traffic slows and gets stuck (and aggravated), and the businesses around there start suffering because nobody can get off or wants to go near. A physical example would be the constant feeling of being hot, but having cold hands and feet with burning pain. The nitric oxide is stuck and can’t flow into the extremities as well, leaving GABA receptors unregulated. A patient might be prescribed Gabapentin for this, which is about 10% effective. Really, the body can do that regulation better, but just needs some traffic jams un-stuck.
How is it produced anyways? Well, breathing has a significant effect on it. If you exhale more than you breathe in (like sighing), your levels will go down over time. If you inhale more than you breathe out (like yawning), your levels will gradually rise. Breathing also oscillates air over your paranasal sinuses, which are caves rich in nitric oxide synthase, the enzyme that farts out nitric oxide as a byproduct. If you find yourself sighing constantly throughout the day, you are probably high in it, and your body is trying to lower levels on its own. Same thing for yawning, just the opposite.
It is also produced as a byproduct of enzymatic activity. This is super important, because most of that activity is related to inflammation. When the body has an immune response of any kind, is stressed out, has gut dysbiosis, is injured, or even aligned improperly, inflammation always happens. It is designed as a short term solution- a nasty gut bacteria gets too strong and your immune system nukes it, and enzymes clean up the resultant collateral damage. They then spit out a puff of nitric oxide to help recovery. The problem becomes when you are in a constant or extreme state of inflammation, the nitric oxide keeps on coming, and then gets jammed up everywhere, and pretty soon your body is wracked in pain.
In higher levels nitric oxide will also change a hormone-like lipid that is produced in your body called prostaglandins. When that gas spikes, it changes the types of prostaglandins that are produced from ones that inhibit platelet adhesion to ones that encourage platelet adhesion. In short, it makes you blood very sticky and mucky and much more likely to clot and pool. The muscles will stop gliding smoothly over each other, getting grippy and bunching up.
So what is there to do?
First- move. Blood and nitric oxide flow together. Finding gentle movements that get the blood flowing are the best. Gentle shaking, massage, pool therapy, tai chi, qigong, all of it can be great.
Sighing is huge. Sigh your heart out. Take 10 minutes before bed and just sigh.
Remove yourself from stressors. Take a break from election footage. Don’t worry about whatever is going on in the world for a little while and let your nervous system calm down. Mindful meditation is outstanding.
Herbal formulas can help. Milk thistle is ok. Fibrokalm tea is great- assists the liver in doing what it needs to do, plus distributes nitric oxide.
Sleep. I know, I know. Yeah right, you say. Try to set up a sleep routine, especially between the hours of 1:00 and 3:00am when the capillaries of the liver open up. Use blue-light filtering glasses to make sure your melatonin and serotonin levels aren’t screwed up by electronic devices.
With that basic strategy, there are many tools. Thankfully, this is often the one type of fibromyalgia that can be resolved the fastest.