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Nitric Oxide -- Side Effects and Benefits

Nitric Oxide Side Effects

Nitric oxide side effects can be very dangerous. Nitric oxide is a compound that people use for various reasons, some of which might not necessarily be safe. Nitric oxide is a very small molecule, made simply of one oxygen atom and one nitrogen atom to form NO. If taken in small amounts, the effect on the body is relatively mild, but when taken in large amounts, nitric oxide can become toxic very quickly, and can even contribute to vascular collapse. Some general nitric oxide side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Blood Pressure Fluctuations

But it really depends on how you're taking the nitric oxide supplement. Nitric oxide supplements are very different. Some supplements, such as the popular NO Xplode, provides a big boost of nitric oxide over a short release period. NO Xplode is designed to give a person a big rush of energy for a workout, but because of that, generally comes with heightened side effects, especially headaches. If you're taking NO Xplode, then check out my other article specific to NO Xplode side effects and keep reading this article for how to take nitric oxide without headaches.

Nitric oxide is what's known as a vasolidator, meaning that it widens the arteries and veins and allows more blood flow. This effect can be great in certain circumstances, but can also be very dangerous. Overuse of the drug can cause fatal side effects. The more serious nitric oxide side effects that have been reported are:

  • Irregular Heart Beat, AKA Arrhythmia
  • Hypertension
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Severe Dips in Blood Pressure
Nitric Oxide side effects vary greatly with the type of use and for how long it's used for.  Bodybuilders seem to be the most common users of nitric oxide and experience the widest range of side effects.

Nitric Oxide side effects vary greatly with the type of use and for how long it's used for. Bodybuilders seem to be the most common users of nitric oxide and experience the widest range of side effects.

Nitric Oxide Benefits and Information

In order to understand some of the nitric oxide side effects out there, a person also needs to understand what nitric oxide is used for. I first came across nitric oxide while studying the compound Minoxidil, which is the active ingredient in hair regrowth products like Rogaine. Some of the reports on hair regrowth showed a correlation between nitric oxide and hair growth because nitric oxide increased blood flow to a certain part of the scalp that is generally lacking proper flow. In studies, persons with hair loss also seemed to experience a lack of blood flow to a certain part of the scalp. There was a correlation made, and so nitric oxide was considered as a good way to increase blood flow to those areas. Talk to a medical professional before using nitric oxide in this way. Nitric oxide side effects are more mild with this form of use than with the next form.

Others have reported using nitric oxide for bodybuilding purposes. Because nitric oxide widens the arteries and veins and allows for more blood flow, it helps bodybuilders gain muscle mass and strength, and also to recover more quickly after a workout. During exercise, blood flows very rapidly to the area being targeted in order to bring fresh oxygen and other things to the muscles being worked. After the workout, the blood brings nutrients that are vital to the repair process, helping muscles rejuvenate more quickly. In this way, nitric oxide is helpful to bodybuilders in that it supplies muscles with more blood by widening the veins and arteries.

Nitric oxide side effects can develop very quickly when nitric oxide is used for this purpose. The veins and arteries are somewhat fragile as it is. Widening them using nitric oxide and then working out is probably not the best idea. One of the major side effects is death, and it's pretty easy to see why. The heart needs a fairly careful balance of pressure in the veins and arteries in order to pump blood properly. Widening the vascular system and then doing exercise makes the heart pump more blood through a wider area. Side effects like arrhythmia, fatal dips in blood pressure, and extended hypotension can easily arise. If you're going to use a nitric oxide supplement for this purpose, do so at your own risk.


peggy stotz on May 01, 2016:

thanks for all the info on NO--I am going to try beet powder soon---74 yrs old-major heart-circulation problems so will be carefull.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on April 23, 2015:

Thanks so much guys for all the extra info.

Steven on March 12, 2014:

Spot reduction is a myth. The only way to recude belly fat is to recude total body fat.And the only way to recude body fat is a recuded calorie diet. Add 40minute cardio sessions to increase the caloric deficit.Look up a calorie requirement calculator. You enter sex, weight, height, age and activity level and it gives you an idea of how many calories you need a day to maintain, gain or lose weight.Despite the no carb myth, you can actually eat nothing but Twinkies and Snickers and still lose weight as long as you stay under your daily calorie loss number (look it up, some college professor did it recently and it made front page on Yahoo like it was magic, when it's simply: calories in < calories out). Of course you'll feel much better if you eat a healthy low cal diet- lean meats like chicken, turkey and fish, egg whites, natural yogurt (it's sour) and cottage cheese, a fruit or veggie at each meal/snack, healthy fats like almonds and walnuts, and healthy carbs like steel cut oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes and limited amounts of low-cal/low-carb breads/wraps/tortillas.

Thiago on March 11, 2014:

Abdominal strength-building is a big thing at our soohcl. Here are some exercises that may help:1. Reverse crunches: Lie on your back, arms crossed across your chest or flat on the ground at your side. Bend your knees and lift your legs so that your shins are parallel to the ground. Cross your ankles. From this position, lower your legs until your feet are about 3 inches off the ground, then hold for a count of four. Raise your legs back up. Repeat 8 times.2. V reaches: Lie on your back, arms flat at your sides. Lift your legs into the air, then split them into a large V. Reach your arms through your legs and hold for a count of 4, then relax. Repeat 8 times.3. Rope pulls: Lie on your back, knees bent but feet flat on the floor. Pretend that there is a rope going from your stomach up to the ceiling. For a count of eight, lift your back and abs off the floor and use your arms to climb the rope up. Relax, then repeat 8 times.4. Double extensions: Lie on the ground with knees bent and slightly raised, feet off the floor, arms crossed across your chest. Lift your head and upper back to focus on your knees. Simultaeneously, shoot your legs straight out to hover about 4 inches off the floor while you shoot your arms over your head. Return and repeat 8 times.5. Pushes: Lie on the ground with your knees bent, legs elevated off the floor. Raise your back and abs off the floor and extend your arms to either side of your knees, palms open and facing away from you. Sit up as high as you can, pushing away something in front of you. Pulse for a count of 8, rest, then repeat.These should get you started.

sda on September 12, 2012:

Thank you so much for all of this information about NO. I was going to order it but I've changed my mind, it sounds too risky for me. I have heart failure and I've read that it is good for the heart but now I'm not so sure.

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Antoni Bendi on July 22, 2012:

hehe... loweredmysugar... good idea.. hehe...

did you know our body makes our own NO even by breathing through the nose... 10% DIED? and...NO is only known the last 15 years... and not 25. do your homework... sucking the pipe of a car yes... thats not smart... have a nice day.. or so... anton

loweredmysugar from New Jersey on June 09, 2012:

It all depends on the Nitric Oxide is produced in the human body but after the age of 23 the production slows down along with HGH production. The main way to increase Nitric Oxide production as I know is usually in L-Arginine supplements. That is the major problem there. Awhile back John Hopkins did a study on L-Arginine supplements given to 100 people. This study is published in the Journal of American Medical science. and when I have more time I will post it. But the results was terrible. 10% of the people actually died. I am not a scientist so I will not try and explain what happened you can read the article if you wish. I am not trying to scare anyone out there but that facts as I know it is your supposed to cycle on and off of these sort of supplements. Unless your product has attached a blind amino acid rider to the L-Arginine. The product I use has over 250,000 thousands documented invivo human trial studies over the last 25 years with NO negative side effects. Please be careful what products you put in your body.

Gene on May 17, 2012:

I tried Force Factor fro 3 months and gained 34 pounds of muscle. The bottle said only take 2-4 capsuls twice a day, but i took 5. i worked very well for size and strength. Now i switched to Noxivol and found it to work better and after a hard work out i feel pumped and seem to recover faster.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on April 26, 2012:

Hmm, I'm not aware of a nitric oxide cream. The way a lot of nitric oxide supplements work is by using a few specific amino acids that the body breaks down into nitric oxide. So for a lot of them, the body has to do a bit of processing first. So for those, you definitely wouldn't be able to use it topically. But taking a slow release nitric oxide, like the product NOXide can help boost blood flow. There have been a lot of reports that taking nitric oxide helps the body grow stronger and thicker hair and slow the progression of hair loss.

Moseymann on April 25, 2012:

I am a firefighter [volunteer]. We all sustain frequent burns of various severity. I cannot use the hyperbaric chamber due to my POW experiences in vietnam . is there a topical cream that would increase blood flow locally-like hair?

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on April 10, 2012:

Sure man. You can also find coconut oil pretty cheap on Amazon. I like the brand Jarrow the best, if you want to check it out.

Philip on April 09, 2012:

I will see if i can find an unrefined coconut oil in other places, my mom told me nobody's selling in our home town anymore (we used to have dozens of bottles in our house, that was before I started working out). Thanks for your advices Benji!

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on April 06, 2012:

Yeah you're right. I wasn't thinking about the fact that you said you had had gout. I've seen that ad too on Yahoo. I think it's for Force Factor, which is one of the newer nitric oxide products. Nitric oxide definitely works well if you're looking to get a more intense workout. But you can't really take it for long periods of time without starting to experience side effects. I personally only use it to break through plateaus. You might try taking coconut oil too. It has tons of medium chain triglycerides, which are fats that the body prefers to burn immediately for energy rather than store. I eat a scoop of raw, unfiltered coconut oil before each workout, and it gives me a pretty great boost of energy that lasts about an hour and a half. It's great for us naturally skinny kids, because our bodies are already predisposed to burn fat rather than store it. Plus, raw unfiltered coconut oil is super cheap. You can get a small tub of it at your local health food store for $10-$15 and it'll last you a pretty long time.

Philip on April 06, 2012:

Thanks Benji! I would probably go for more eggs as red meat is bad for Uric Acid (Gout). Right now I am gaining about a pound a week.

Yahoo prompted an Ad about new ways to gain muscle and its about NO. I quickly searched for side effects and I ended up in your article. I was thinking of taking NO after work out (I workout one body part a week btw, heavy lift) plus my diet. Seeking your advice on this. Thx!

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on April 05, 2012:

That sounds like a good meal plan. Definitely healthy. But you might need to eat more red meat or more eggs to bulk up. Chicken is really healthy for you, but isn't always the best bulking up protein. When I want to gain solid muscle mass, I always eat tons of eggs (Both raw and cooked) and drink lots of whole milk. For breakfast, I'll mix 2 raw eggs into the green powder supplement I take and eat a 3 egg omelet, and then drink a glass of milk. That does it for me. Tons of protein and tons of healthy fats and calories to get a good workout in.

Philip on April 05, 2012:

I am avoiding deep fried as much as possible by the way.

Philip on April 05, 2012:

Cool article! I am a skinny person too (5'10", 135lbs, waist is 27-28") was back in the gym again 5 weeks ago (i started working out last 2007, stopped after 18months because of Gout) i did reach 140lbs with balanced 4000 calorie intake a day during those times.

Ever since i came back, i tried natural food about 3000 to 4000 calories every day. What i usually eat: whole chicken, veggie salad, 1kg fresh fruit salad, some whole eggs, green tea refreshments. My goal, 20 weeks with these foods, and hopefully i can gain muscle with minimal body fat.

Any suggestions or comments?

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on December 05, 2011:

Thanks for the tip. Hopefully that will help the people suffering from those side effects.

Chris H on December 05, 2011:

Hey guys,

I've noticed a few comments on here about people getting jittery etc. on the NO explode type products.

Try this: go to a vitamin shoppe or GNC (any place really) and get pure Arginine or Arginine AKG. The lack of caffeine helped me get rid of the jitters and you can take what you need (you really don't need more than 2-3 grams). The caffeine would keep me up at night too. Now, Pre (some) workouts, I'll take the pure form Arginine and a B complex vitamin.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on October 24, 2011:

It definitely works. I prefer Nitrix to it just because it's cheaper and cleaner, but I've heard that Force Factor is pretty effective for weight gain.

mvlee on October 24, 2011:

What do you think about Force Factor? The pre workout one?

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on October 15, 2011:

Hey Mohamad, sorry, your comment accidentally got deleted. To answer your question, if you're looking for a supplement that won't raise your blood pressure but will help you burn some fat, you might want to try coconut oil. You'll have to take it before a workout, but it'll kick start your fat burning process and give you a nice boost in energy.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on October 10, 2011:

Hey Tom. I agree with him about the multivitamin, except that I prefer green powder to multivitamins. I take a green powder called Green Vibrance everyday, and it helps to boost my metabolism and give me all of the trace vitamins and minerals I need. It's like a multivitamin on steroids. Really makes you feel healthy. Here's a link to a green powder site.

160g of protein sounds pretty high to me, but if you take that much, you need to make sure you have a pretty tough workout regime. As far as testosterone pills are concerned, I don't think they work. Testosterone is a complex molecule, and when it hits the stomach, it gets mostly broken down into its base components and never reaches the bloodstream intact.

Keratin is good for building muscle but you should probably already getting plenty of it in the other supplements you're taking. The 160g of protein should have lots of Keratin in it I would think. All in all, with a nitric oxide supplement 160g of protein and a mutlivitamin or green powder, your body is going to turn into a muscle building machine. It's really up to you how much money you want to spend, but those three things will really enhance your workouts. Oh yeah, did you check out the coconut oil I told you about?

Tom on October 09, 2011:

Hey its me again...

I went into my local GNC to talk to the guy about Nitric Oxide and stuff, and I was wondering if i could get your opinion... He said to take multi-vitamins, to make sure you're getting everything you need to build muscle; also told me to take testosterone pills in order for my body to build quicker; along with 160g of protein (75g is from supplements, other from foods); and also recommended keratin. So, yeah, what is your opinion on this regiment of... stuff?


Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on October 05, 2011:

Really, I had no idea it boosted the immune system. That makes sense though. That's awesome. I feel you on the post-workout negatives. Those happen to me at the end of a workout if I don't have good pre-workout protein.

SpartanWarrior on October 05, 2011:

I've been using & researching N.O. products for years. A massive benefit of using a good N.O. product is heightened immune system defense. I can personally vouch for this. The worst side effect of the use of N.O. is after I workout, I have to eat or I'll get the shakes & sick to my stomach. But the results of the use of the product are amazing.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on October 03, 2011:

Awesome. I hope you guys get a lot out of it. It's not a powder though Matt. It's an oil that's kind of the consistency of butter. You can find it at health food stores. Make sure you get the unrefined oil.

Matt on October 02, 2011:

Thx. also.

I started taking Napalm and noticed some nice results but I get way too jittery and cant sleep until 1-2 in the morning. the energy is good for the day but I crash pretty hard after 2-3 days of being on it. I will try the coconut powder this week. Where is a good place to get it? I want to stay healthy and detox off of this stuff.

Tom on October 02, 2011:

Alright thanks man, I think that this will really help me out.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on October 02, 2011:

Hey Tom, no worries. I was a skinny kid too :) I can only answer your questions from my own experience. I don't know if that'll be what's best for you.

1) When combined with protein and some pretty heavy lifting, I'm sure 14 lbs in 2 months is pretty attainable. Of course, if you're lifting hard, you'll probably burn some fat, so you might gain the muscle and not see a huge gain in weight, even if you're a skinny kid.

2) As for the cycle, I've only ever used it according to the directions, so I can't really help you with that one. As for protein, I like to take your standard whey directly after the workout, and a late night protein as well. Some people like to take a pre-workout protein with nitric oxide, but I find better gains from taking an after workout protein and then another shake before bed.

3) I'd only alter your diet if you feel really hungry or fatigued during your workout. Nitric oxide really lets you push, but it's easy to get burned out early and not be able to push hard through a whole workout. So if you're having that problem, you might want to try and eat a really healthy nutrient dense, complex carb meal about two hours before your workout.

4) I don't like mixing supplements like creatine and nitric oxide together because I don't like the type of muscle it builds. I hold onto water weight and don't build enough ligament and tendon strength. So I find that I become really unflexible and pull muscles super easily. It's up to you, but I think that with nitric oxide and a good protein source, you shouldn't need anything else.

5) Since I'm a skinny kid at heart, what works for me will probably be similar to what would work for you. I like to take unrefined coconut oil instead of nitric oxide. Coconut oil is full of medium chain triglycerides which are a type of fat that the body prefers to burn instead of store. So you get a big boost of energy through your workout, similar to what you would get with nitric oxide, but without the side effects. I take a scoop of unrefined, raw coconut oil 30 mins before a workout, and then a post workout protein shake and a before bed shake. It helps me put on some serious muscle and burn tons of fat at the same time.

Tom on October 02, 2011:

Hey, I'm a skinny kid and I want to make some muscle gains as quickly, and as safely as i can, I am currently 145lbs, and I've heard good things about this nitric oxide stuff, saying that they have made muscle gains as large as 14lbs of muscle in 2 months. So I have 5 questions: 1: Is it possible to gain 14lbs of muscle in 2 months using the nitric oxide supplement? 2: What type of cycle should I use, what type of protein should I use with it? 3: Should I alter my diet in any way? 4: Should I use creatin with it? 5: What is your suggestion to gain muscle the fastest, and safest way?

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on September 25, 2011:

Well, at 135 you probably don't need 2 scoops to still get a pretty big NO rush. If it were me, I'd experiment and see what gives me the biggest boost with the fewest side effects.

bri.r on September 25, 2011:

im 17 and im 135 lbs and my friend is 250? but we take 2 diff brands of N.O his is C4 n mines essential AMIN.O ENERGY i havnt tried it yet but 1 serving is 2 scoops and it has 50 mg of caffine shud i take 2 scoops, 1 n 1/2 or just simply 1 scoop? i wud rrly like to know if sum1 can answer this for me

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on September 16, 2011:

That's a good question. I've not heard of anyone with an immune disorder using it before. What's the nature of your immune disorder? Do you know where it comes from?

Kaye on September 15, 2011:

Does anyone or has anyone tried this that has an immune disorder and if it has any benefits for people with immune disorders as we tend to be so fatigued all the time. Would appreciate any input anyone might have to give.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on March 02, 2011:

Thanks for the input. It's good to have a testimonial from someone who has used NO products extensively.

Jbigby from Columbia on March 02, 2011:

It's relatively safe. Just like a drug, don't over dose. Know your tolerance level with the drug. Not only does it have lots of amino acids it also has a ton of caffeine in the product. This gives you that surge of energy. Drinking too much caffeine (coffee) can be problematic, but you don't see people wanting to stop drinking it. Moderation is key and cycle is a good way. I've taken NO products for 4 years now and I have noticed sizable gains. However, you need protein in the diet to keep the gains that you maintain. Definitely try it, it's worth it to see if you like it.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on October 29, 2010:

Haha, yeah it does sound like something a chemist would use in a lab. Thanks for stopping by!

Kim Harris on October 28, 2010:

nitric oxide sounds like something a chemist would order for the lab - not something you'd put in your body! At first I thought you were talking about nitrous oxide or laughing gas! There's so much to learn Benjimester. Thanks for the bite size morsel of knowledge for today.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on October 27, 2010:

That is a good rule of thumb. I'm on the fence like you. Since I only have time to get to the gym 2 times a week, I've been considering trying to maximize my workouts using supplements like this one too. But I think the side effects aren't worth it for me.

BenjaminB on October 27, 2010:

Benji just like with many supplements used to boost muscle growth they are best used in a cycle to lessen the effects.So a good rule of thumb would be 3 weeks on then 3 weeks off and discontinue the use all together when the desired gains have been met.

I've considered using some form of Nitric Oxide for some time now,but have just never pulled the trigger.If I do choose to use it in the future though I will definitely go with your recommendation as I have found that your opinions on such products are well researched and reliable. Thanks!

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