Commonly called the ‘miracle molecule’, Nitric Oxide (NO) is a major signaling compound made by the body. As its production plays a key role in major cellular processes, regulating NO levels in the body could be the key to addressing various pathologies.

The discoveries surrounding the importance of NO resulted in a Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine for three US scientists—which led the medical community to recognize the compound for its various medical benefits.[1] This article discusses the significance of NO in the human body and how can photobiomodulation through LEDs help increase NO levels. 

What is Nitric Oxide?

Nitric Oxide (NO) is an important compound in the human body that performs various physiological processes: It acts as a neurotransmitter, helps with cellular respiration, and adjusts cellular defenses (cell survival or death).[2] Depleted or reduced NO levels can lead to various complications, such as hypertension.

Where is it Produced?

Most of the cells in the body produce NO, but it is largely produced by the endothelial cells, which line the blood vessels, and red blood cells, particularly from the mitochondria, as a result of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) synthesis.[3] NO is a short-lived compound, which means that almost immediately after its production, it oxidizes to a stable form. 

Since NO is produced in the blood vessel lining, the endothelium, it helps to expand the vessels and regulates blood circulation. It is continuously produced in the endothelium and regulates blood pressure and normal blood homeostasis.

Why do We Need Nitric Oxide?

Our body needs NO to perform a variety of functions in the immune system, cardiovascular system, and nervous system. Here are some physiological actions of NO.

Effects on the Cardiovascular Health

Produced by the endothelial cells, NO can help mediate vasodilation of the blood vessels, preventing the blood cells from sticking to the endothelium, inhibiting the buildup of plaque, and increasing blood flow. Thus, optimal levels of NO improve heart health, regulate blood pressure and carotid artery blood flow, and prevent the stiffness of the arteries.[4]

Induces Vasodilation

Since NO stimulates relaxation, it mediates the vasodilatory action by increasing blood flow and maintenance of blood pressure. Vasodilation also results in reduced inflammation and pain, so NO has anti-inflammatory and anti-pain effects too.[5]

Regulates the Immune System

Since NO helps in cell signaling, it can prepare the body to react to foreign invaders. NO induces an effective response to infection, as it is produced by the macrophages to obliterate harmful bacteria. It acts as a vasodilator, cytotoxic mediator, and myocardial depressant.[6]

Why do we Need to Monitor NO Levels?

The production of Nitric Oxide starts to drop by 20% every 10 years starting in your 30s. There are various factors (except age) that influence the decline of NO production, such as poor nutrition, oxidative stress, diabetes, and smoking. Anyone who is trying to maintain heart health and normal blood pressure has low energy, diabetes, or vascular dysfunction needs to monitor their NO levels. You might start looking for ways to optimize NO production if you are over 30.

How to Increase Nitric Oxide Levels

Reduced NO levels are often understood as related to vascular diseases. You can increase NO levels by consuming specific food groups or supplements. However, the most effective and risk-free method is LED Light Therapy.[7]

LED Light Therapy for Nitric Oxide Production

Photobiomodulation or light therapy is a process where exposure to LED lights results in initiating several cellular processes that lead to enhanced ATP production, cellular regeneration, and tissue growth.[8] Here is the mechanism of light therapy:

The effects can last well after the therapy session is completed due to the continuous blood flow to the area, resulting in an uninterrupted incursion of red blood cells and the production of NO. You can use FDA cleared LED light pads that are proven to improve blood circulation and relieve pain.

Light Therapy can be used to increase blood circulation, relax muscles, and manage pain and stiffness due to arthritis.

You or your patients can benefit from increased NO production in several ways. Check out Energia Medical’s collection of LED pads. These come in a variety of sizes and can be used on any part of the body. These are FDA cleared and have no known side effects.


[1] Smith, O. Nobel Prize for NO research. Nat Med 4, 1215 (1998).

[2] Moncada S, Higgs EA. The discovery of nitric oxide and its role in vascular biology. Br J Pharmacol. 2006 Jan;147 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S193-201. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjp.0706458. PMID: 16402104; PMCID: PMC1760731.

[3] Luiking, Y. C., Engelen, M. P., & Deutz, N. E. (2010). Regulation of nitric oxide production in health and disease. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care13(1), 97–104.

[4] Bauer V, Sotníková R. Nitric oxide–the endothelium-derived relaxing factor and its role in endothelial functions. Gen Physiol Biophys. 2010 Dec;29(4):319-40. PMID: 21156995.

[5] Tschudi MR, Lüscher TF. Stickstoffmonoxid: Das endogene Nitrat im Kreislauf [Nitric oxide: the endogenous nitrate in the cardiovascular system]. Herz. 1996 Jun;21 Suppl 1:50-60. German. PMID: 8767925.

[6] Akanji, M. A., Adeyanju, A. A., Rotimi, D., & Adeyemi, O. S. (2020, June 24). Nitric oxide balance in health and diseases: Implications for new treatment strategies. The Open Biochemistry Journal.

[7] Keszler, A., Lindemer, B., Weihrauch, D., Jones, D., Hogg, N., & Lohr, N. L. (2017). Red/near infrared light stimulates release of an endothelium dependent vasodilator and rescues vascular dysfunction in a diabetes model. Free radical biology & medicine113, 157–164.

[8] Karu TI, Pyatibrat LV, Afanasyeva NI. Cellular effects of low power laser therapy can be mediated by nitric oxide. Lasers Surg Med. 2005 Apr;36(4):307-14. doi: 10.1002/lsm.20148. PMID: 15739174.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *