L-Arginine

Supplements

18/Description

About

L-arginine is a chemical building block called "an amino acid." It is obtained from the diet and is necessary for the body to make proteins. L-arginine is found in red meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. It can also be made in a laboratory and used as medicine.

L-arginine is used for heart and blood vessel conditions including congestive heart failure (CHF), chest pain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart surgery, recovery after heart transplant, heart attack, and coronary artery disease. L-arginine is also used for recurrent pain in the legs due to blocked arteries (intermittent claudication), decreased mental capacity in the elderly (senile dementia), erectile dysfunction (ED), altitude sickness, nitrate tolerance, diabetes, diabetic nerve pain, kidney toxicity from cyclosporine, kidney disease, tuberculosis, critical illness, head and neck cancer, obesity, ovary disease (polycystic ovary syndrome), pressure ulcers, respiratory infections, sickle cell disease, stress, and male infertility.

Some people use L-arginine for preventing the common cold, improving kidney function after a kidney transplant, high blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia), improving athletic performance, boosting the immune system, and preventing inflammation and tissue death of the digestive tract in premature infants (necrotizing enterocolitis) and preventing slowing of growth of the baby within the uterus.

L-arginine is used in combination with a number of over-the-counter and prescription medications for various conditions. For example, L-arginine is used along with ibuprofen for migraine headaches; with conventional chemotherapy drugs for treating breast cancer; with other amino acids for treating weight loss in people with AIDS; and with fish oil and other supplements for reducing infections, improving wound healing, and shortening recovery time after surgery.

Some people apply L-arginine to the skin to speed wound healing, healing of small rips of the anus, and for increasing blood flow to cold hands and feet, especially in people with diabetes. It is also used as a cream for sexual problems in both men and women. Arginine has also been used for dental caries and dental hypersensitivity.

Finally, arginine has been injected into the vein for recurrent pain in the legs due to blocked arteries (intermittent claudication), reduced blood flow to the limbs (peripheral artery disease), for detecting growth hormone deficiency, disease due to defective mitochondria (mitochondrial encephalomyopathies), chest pain due to gastric problems, restenosis, kidney transplant, nutrition for the critically ill, metabolic acidosis, and increased blood pressure in the artery of the lungs (pulmonary hypertension) in newborns.

How it works

L-arginine is converted in the body into a chemical called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to open wider for improved blood flow. L-arginine also stimulates the release of growth hormone, insulin, and other substances in the body.

Effectiveness

Possibly Effective
Chest pain (angina)

Taking L-arginine seems to decrease symptoms and improve exercise tolerance and quality of life in people with angina. However, L-arginine does not seem to help widen the blood vessels that are narrowed in angina.

Erectile dysfunction (ED)

Taking 5 grams of L-arginine by mouth daily seems to improve sexual function in men with ED. Taking lower doses might not be effective. However, there is some early evidence that taking L-arginine with maritime pine bark extract and other ingredients, might improve the effectiveness of low-dose L-arginine for ED.

High blood pressure

There is early evidence that taking L-arginine by mouth can reduce blood pressure in healthy people, people with high blood pressure, and people with slightly high blood pressure with or without diabetes.

Inflammation and tissue death in the digestive tract in premature infants (necrotizing enterocolitis)

Adding L-arginine to formula seems to prevent inflammation of the digestive tract in premature infants. A total of 5 premature infants need to receive arginine to prevent one instance of digestive tract inflammation.

Nitrate tolerance

Taking L-arginine by mouth seems to prevent nitrate tolerance in people taking nitroglycerin for chest pain (angina pectoris).

Leg pain associated with poor blood flow (peripheral arterial disease)

Research suggests that taking L-arginine by mouth or intravenously (by IV) for up to 8 weeks increases blood flow in people with peripheral arterial disease. However, long-term use (up to 6 months) does not improve walking speed or distance in people with peripheral arterial disease.

Improving recovery after surgery

Taking L-arginine with ribonucleic acid (RNA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) before surgery or afterwards seems to help reduce the recovery time, reduce the number of infections, and improve wound healing after surgery.

High blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia)

Most research shows that L-arginine can reduce blood pressure in women with this condition. L-arginine might also prevent this condition in pregnant women.

Concerns

Possibly safe

L-arginine is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken appropriately by mouth, administered as a shot, or applied to the skin, short-term. It can cause some side effects such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, gout, blood abnormalities, allergies, airway inflammation, worsening of asthma, and low blood pressure.

18/Warnings

Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: L-arginine isPOSSIBLY SAFEwhen taken by mouth appropriately for a short-term during pregnancy. Not enough is known about using L-arginine long-term in pregnancy or during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: L-arginine is POSSIBLY SAFE when used by mouth in premature infants in appropriate doses. However, L-arginine is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when used in high doses. Doses that are too high can cause serious side effects including death in children.

Allergies or asthma: L-arginine can cause an allergic response or make swelling in the airways worse. If you are prone to allergies or asthma and decide to take L-arginine, use it with caution.

Cirrhosis: L-arginine should be used with caution in people with cirrhosis.

Guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency: People with this inherited condition are unable to convert arginine and other similar chemicals into creatine. To prevent complications associated with this condition, these people should not take arginine.

Herpes: There is a concern that L-arginine might make herpes worse. There is some evidence that L-arginine is needed for the herpes virus to multiply.

Low blood pressure: L-arginine might lower blood pressure. This could be a problem if you already have low blood pressure.

Recent heart attack: There is a concern that L-arginine might increase the risk of death after a heart attack, especially in older people. If you have had a heart attack recently, don't take L-arginine.

Kidney disease: L-arginine has caused high potassium levels when used by people with kidney disease. In some cases, this has resulted in a potentially life-threatening irregular heartbeat.

Surgery: L-arginine might affect blood pressure. There is a concern that it might interfere with blood pressure control during and after surgery. Stop taking L-arginine at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Interactions

Always consult with your doctor.
Moderate
Medications for high blood pressure (Isoproterenol)

L-arginine seems to decrease blood pressure. Taking L-arginine along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.L-arginine seems to decrease blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking L-arginine along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.L-arginine seems to decrease blood pressure. Taking L-arginine along with certain medications for high blood pressure, called ACE inhibitors might cause your blood pressure to go too low. Also, ACE inhibitors can increase potassium levels. L-arginine may also increase potassium levels. Taking L-arginine with ACE inhibitors might cause potassium levels to become too high.Some ACE inhibitors include benazepril (Lotensin), captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), fosinopril (Monopril), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), moexipril (Univasc), perindopril (Aceon), quinapril (Accupril), ramipril (Altace), and trandolapril (Mavik).L-arginine seems to decrease blood pressure. Taking L-arginine along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.The ARBs include losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), irbesartan (Avapro), candesartan (Atacand), telmisartan (Micardis), and eprosartan (Teveten).L-arginine seems to decrease blood pressure. Isoproterenol is a drug that is used to lower blood pressure. Taking L-arginine along with isoproterenol might cause your blood pressure to go too low.

Sildenafil (Viagra)

L-arginine increases blood flow. Taking L-arginine with medications that increase blood flow to the heart might increase the chance of dizziness and lightheadedness.Some of these medications that increase blood flow to the heart include nitroglycerin (Nitro-Bid, Nitro-Dur, Nitrostat), and isosorbide (Imdur, Isordil, Sorbitrate).L-arginine seems to slow blood clotting. Taking L-arginine along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, ticlopidine (Ticlid), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.Sildenafil (Viagra) can lower blood pressure. L-arginine can also lower blood pressure. Taking sildenafil (Viagra) and L-arginine together might cause the blood pressure to go too low. Blood pressure that is too low can cause dizziness and other side effects.

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