Many people die due to carbon monoxide inhalation. However, a research has found that carbon monoxide can have a beneficial effect on the digestive system. According to researchers from the Mayo Clinic, it is quite possible that carbon monoxide may work as a chemical messenger, just like nitric oxide.
In the late 1990s, researchers found out that nitric oxide functions like a chemical messenger. This won the researchers a Nobel Prize in 1998 in the field of medicine. Today, the knowledge of the way nitric oxide works has been put to use for treating impotency and treating diseases like asthma, memory issues, cancer, infections and arthrosclerosis. Researchers believe that carbon monoxide works similar to nitric oxide in the body.
This prompted the researchers to study this gas actually helps in the movement of muscles of the digestive system. The researchers found that carbon monoxide is produced in small amounts by the cells of the digestive system. This gas helps to control the contraction of the muscles in the system. The contractions ensure that the food is transported from the stomach into the intestine. Researchers also found that the contractions of the muscles are extremely synchronized. When one part of the intestine contracts, the food is pushed forward to the next part. This allows the newly vacated space to get more food. The contraction occurs in parts to facilitate passage of food from one part of the intestine to the other. The process of contraction continues until all the food reaches the colon. Researchers reckon that if carbon monoxide was not present in the gastrointestinal tract, then the entire tract would contract simultaneously.
Researchers also believe that carbon monoxide is produced in other parts of the body where it works like a biochemical messenger. It is believed that the gas works like a neurotransmitter, carrying signal from one nerve cell to another.
This research has proven to be of extreme importance. Previously, carbon monoxide was considered as a toxic and lethal gas that accounted for countless deaths. However, now it has been proven that carbon monoxide has an effect on the digestive system. Besides facilitating the contraction of the digestive system, it also helps in relaxing blood vessels.
Carbon monoxide’s effect on the digestive system can be used for treating patients who have recently had an abdominal surgery. In such patients, the intestine do not function right after the surgery, so carbon monoxide can be used to get the intestine working again.
For years, doctors have known that smokers are rarely affected by ulcerative colitis. This is primarily because of the presence of carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke. It is believed that the carbon monoxide prevents the intestine from getting inflamed, which is one of the major reasons for ulcerative colitis.
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