Nature holds both healing miracles and the seeds of destruction–sometimes in the same element

Just discovered this item that was first reported in the spring this year. Children with sickle cell disease experience pain when their veins begin to close up (an effect of the disease). I had some exposure to the potential effects–both positive and negative–of nitrix oxide when writing a white paper on asthma this year. So I was fascinated to hear about this study.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published results of a Preliminary Assessment of Inhaled Nitric Oxide for Acute Vaso-occlusive Crisis in Pediatric Patients With Sickle Cell Disease in which they gave kids hospitalized with pain from a vaso-occlusive event (veins closing up) and found that pain levels were lowered enough to warrant further investigation.

Nitric oxide is a strange substance. When it comes out of car exhausts, we think of it as bad. When it’s exhaled from our bodies, we think of eliminating waste. But it also helps dilate bronchial tubes–and now veins. And it plays as-yet unknown parts in inflammation that occurs in the body’s tissues.

Just as cancer cells are regular cells run amok, so many things that are natural to us can be both good and bad. What a conundrum for researchers.