The Nitrate–Nitrite–Nitric Oxide Pathway in Traditional Herbal Medicine and Dietary Supplements with Potential Benefits for Cardiovascular Diseases

Part of the Nutrition and Health book series (NH)


For thousands of years, herbal medicine has been serving as a major health care tool for disease prevention and treatment. Many of the traditional medicines with cardiovascular benefits exert nitric oxide (NO)-related effects on tissues and organs with diseases. The herbals containing nitrogen-metabolizing enzymes that convert inorganic nitrite and nitrate into NO have been reported widely as alternative sources of NO production independent of the enzymatic synthesis of NO from l-arginine. The nitrate–nitrite–NO pathway in plants and animals offers a new avenue which may define the biological action as well as assess the safety of certain herbal medicines commonly used for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. In this chapter, the production of nitrate, nitrite, and NO, and molecular basis of their biological action will be discussed. Evidence will be presented to support the notion that the nitrite, nitrate, and reductase activity ingested in herbal medicines constitute a robust and natural system for NO generation to overcome pathological conditions associated with NO insufficiency and combat cardiovascular disease.


Nitrate Nitrite Nitric oxide Alternative Medicine Dietary supplements Herb Heart diseases 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Center for Cardiovascular Biology and Atherosclerosis ResearchUniversity of Texas McGovern School of Medicine at HoustonHoustonUSA

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