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Arginine

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • 2-Amino-5-guanidinopentanoic acid, agmatine, Arg, arginine, arginine hydrochloride (intravenous formulation), Ark 1, decarboxylated arginine, dipeptide arginyl aspartate, HeartBars, L-arg, L-arginine, L-arginine aspartate, NG-monomethyl-L-arginine, Sargenor, Spedifen®.
  • Dietary sources of arginine: Almonds, barley, Brazil nuts, brown rice, buckwheat, cashews, cereals, chicken, chocolate, coconut, corn, dairy products, filberts, gelatin, meats, oats, peanuts, pecans, raisins, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts.
  • Note: Arginine analogs (N(omega)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester, N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester, N-monomethyl-L-arginine, dimethylarginine), and ibuprofen arginate are not specifically discussed in this monograph.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • L-arginine was first isolated in 1886, reportedly from the extract of a lupin (Lupinus spp.) seedling. Lupinus is a genus in the legume (Fabaceae) family. Arginine is considered a semiessential amino acid, because although the body normally makes enough of it, supplementation is sometimes needed. For example, people with protein malnutrition, excessive ammonia production, excessive lysine intake, burns, infections, peritoneal dialysis, rapid growth (e.g., infancy), urea synthesis disorders, or sepsis may not have enough arginine. Symptoms of arginine deficiency include poor wound healing, hair loss, skin rash, constipation, and fatty liver. As an amino acid, arginine is found in foods containing protein.
  • In the body, arginine is metabolized via inducible nitric oxide synthase to L-citrulline plus nitric oxide. The natural metabolism of arginine to nitric oxide in the body causes blood vessel relaxation (vasodilation). L-citrulline can also regenerate L-arginine levels with the enzymes arginosuccinate synthetase (ASS) and arginosuccinate lyase. Early evidence suggests that arginine may help to treat medical conditions that improve with vasodilation, such as chest pain, atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), coronary artery disease, erectile dysfunction, heart failure, intermittent claudication/peripheral vascular disease, and vascular headaches (blood vessel swelling that causes headaches). Arginine also triggers the body to make protein and has been studied for wound healing, bodybuilding, enhancement of spermatogenesis (sperm production), and prevention of wasting in people with critical illnesses. However, caution is warranted. In postinfarction patients, six deaths resulted in the L-arginine group vs. none in the placebo group (1). In patients undergoing bypass grafting, there were six myocardial infarctions in the L-arginine group and four in the control group (2). Although arginine has been effective in the treatment of pre-eclampsia, caution is also warranted in this population.
  • Arginine hydrochloride has a high chloride content and has been used to treat metabolic alkalosis. This use should be under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.
  • In general, most people do not need to take arginine supplements, because the body usually produces or consumes enough.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.