Wild Rice and Nitric Oxide

I had a reader write in and ask if wild rice was as good for erectile strength as brown rice.  This is an interesting question, because these two grains are pretty close cousin in the botanical world and you would expect them to have similar properties.

Brown rice is an excellent food for increasing erectile strength as it has been shown in several studies to increase nitric oxide, the stuff of erections and Viagra and smiling happy males the world over. [1]  Brown rice works its magic, among other things, by having a relatively high L-Arginine to L-Lysine ratio.  Arginine is an amino acid that is used as a substrate for nitric oxde.  Lysine actually puts the brakes on nitric oxide.

One way this is evidenced is by the fact that foods with a high enough lysine to arginine ratio are actually recommended to those struggling with herpes viruses.  Conversely, the herpes virus can be awakened, or activated by foods with a higher L-Arginine to L-Lysine ratio. And brown rice is one of the foods that herpes sufferers are told to avoid for just this reason.

So what about wild rice and nitric oxide?  Wild rice, although botanically similar, actually is the opposite of brown rice in this critical way:  it has a much higher ratio of lysine to arginine and, therefore, likely is not a strong erection promoter.  Of course, as far as I know, there is no direct study of wild rice on erections or nitric oxide.  However, it is a safe assumption that this may be a net negative for those seeking to optimize their endothelial output.  Of course, those concerned about herpes-related issues may need to be cautious.

NOTE:  Wild rice and rye have historically sometimes been contaminated with the the fungus ergot.  Ergot has some nasty side effects such as mania, seizures and dilation of blood vessels that leads to massive fluid buildup in the extremeties.  The good news is that you'll probably be hallucinating by then as it is a precursor to LSD and has been suspected as a root cause in some early cases of demon possession. Modern agriculutural practices have all but eliminated this as a concern. 



1) Brit J of Nutr,July 2003,90(1):13-20

2) Brit J of Nutr,2007, 97(1):67-76