They really are the fruit of my heart

In a paper behind the firewall at Science, Johns Hopkins researchers reveal that hydrogen sulfide, the stink you just supplied, is actually a regulator of blood pressure. It's a chemical signal that tells blood vessels to relax.

BeansEvery 7-year old, and alumnus of being 7, knows the old rhyme. The one that starts, "Beans, beans the fruit of my heart, the more you eat..."

Well turns out that's right. Not about the beans, about the punch line. (This is as work friendly a picture I could find. From the Coronation Street blog.)

In a paper behind the firewall at Science, Johns Hopkins researchers reveal that hydrogen sulfide, the stink you just supplied, is actually a regulator of blood pressure. It's a chemical signal that tells blood vessels to relax.

The gas in question is produced inside the blood stream, and is separate from the gas produced in your colon that made everyone avoid you on the playground.

The scientists who wrote the paper note that an earlier finding about how nitric oxide controls blood pressure led to a Nobel Prize.

The researchers feel that drugs which raise the level of hydrogen sulfide in the blood could help reduce blood pressure.

Given the relative simplicity of the chemical link, it's also possible that such a general therapy would not have the same problem of side effects we find with biologicals and other more-specific medications.

The last few decades have resulted in a host of drugs to treat hypertension, which I happen to have, and they are often used in combination. It will be good to have another weapon in the arsenal.

Even if it comes from a plate of beans.