What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Arginine?

Arginine is an amino acid found in many foods, including dairy products, meat, poultry, and fish. It plays a role in several important mechanisms in the body, including cell division, wound healing, removal of ammonia from the body, immunity to illness, and the secretion of important hormones.

The body also uses arginine to make nitric oxide (NO), a substance that relaxes blood vessels and also exerts numerous other effects in the body. Based on this, arginine has been proposed as a treatment for various cardiovascular diseases, including congestive heart failure and intermittent claudication, as well as impotence, female sexual dysfunction, interstitial cystitis, and many other conditions. Arginine's potential effects on immunity have also created an interest in using it as part of an...

Small double-blind, placebo-controlled studies suggest that arginine might be helpful for the treatment of several seemingly unrelated conditions that are, in fact, all linked by arginine's effects on nitric oxide: congestive heart failure , intermittent claudication , angina , impotence , and sexual dysfunction in women . 1

Note: The first three conditions in this list are life-threatening. If you have angina, congestive heart failure, or intermittent claudication, do not attempt to treat yourself with arginine except under physician's supervision.

Arginine has been proposed for use after a heart attack to aid recovery. In one study, arginine did not cause harm and showed potential modest benefit. 2 However, in another study, arginine failed to prove...

Safety Issues

There is good evidence that arginine is safe and well tolerated at levels up to 20 g per day, 3 although minor gastrointestinal upset can occur. However, there are some potential safety issues regarding high-dose arginine. These cautions are based on findings from animal studies and hospital experiences of intravenous administration.

For example, arginine may stimulate the body's production of gastrin, a hormone that increases stomach acid. 4 For this reason, there are concerns that arginine could be harmful for people with ulcers or who take drugs that are hard on the stomach. In addition, a double-blind trial found that arginine (30 g/day) may increase the risk of esophageal reflux (heartburn) by relaxing the sphincter at the bottom of the esophagus. 5...