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L-Arginine

L-Arginine

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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 does it work?

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.

Traditionally used for

Chest pain (angina).
Erectile dysfunction (ED).
High blood pressure.
Inflammation and tissue death in the digestive tract in premature infants (necrotizing enterocolitis).
Nitrate tolerance.
Leg pain associated with poor blood flow (peripheral arterial disease).
Improving recovery after surgery.
High blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia).

Dosage

By Mouth:

For chest pain associated with coronary artery disease (angina pectoris): 3-6 grams three times per day for up to one month.

For preventing the loss of the effectiveness of nitroglycerin in relieving pain in people with chest pain due to coronary artery disease (angina pectoris): 700 mg four times daily.

For organic erectile dysfunction (ED): 5 grams per day. Taking lower doses might not be effective.
For high blood pressure: 4-24 grams per day for 2-24 weeks.

For preventing inflammation of the digestive tract in premature infants: 261 mg/kg added to oral feedings daily for the first 28 days of life.

For reducing pain when walking in people with a disease called peripheral arterial disease: 6 grams for up to 8 weeks.

For preventing high blood pressure during pregnancy: 3 grams daily for 3 weeks. Two bars of a medical food (Heart Bars) with arginine 6.6 grams and antioxidant vitamins daily starting at 14-32 weeks gestation and continuing until delivery. 4 grams arginine (Bioarginina, Damor, Italy) daily for 10-12 weeks.

By IV:

For reducing pain when walking in people with a disease called peripheral arterial disease: 6 grams for up to 8 weeks.

Possible Side Effects

L-arginine is 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.

Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: L-arginine is SAFE when 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 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.

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