Nitric oxide is a natural part of the body’s immune defense. Linköping University researcher Thomas Schön has studied this compound in connection with the skin disease leprosy and the lung disease tuberculosis. The Swedish researcher has found that nitric oxide probably contributes to the disease in the case of leprosy but, on the other hand, plays a positive role in protecting against tuberculosis. This role can be reinforced by adding a supplement of arginine, which is found in peanuts, for example.
“The production of nitric oxide is high in both leprosy and tuberculosis patients. As regards leprosy, this nitric oxide can have a certain effect of killing off germs in the initial stages of the disease. But it does not always impede the development of the sickness, and in later stages it can even be seen as aggravating skin lesions,” says Thomas Schön.
He has run field studies in Ethiopia, a country where leprosy and tuberculosis often occur. In Ethiopia he studied the results of a synthetic dietary supplement of the amino acid arginine in tuberculosis patients. Arginine is needed to maintain the body’s production of nitric acid, and the supplemental arginine did in fact lead to a reduction of symptoms and a shorter contagious period among the Ethiopian patients.
Ingela Björck | alfa
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