L-arginine, one of the amino acids that make up proteins, has been investigated for its role in the treatment and prevention of a number of diseases, such as congestive heart failure, the common cold, kidney failure and erectile dysfunction. Once in the body, L-arginine is converted into another chemical substance, known as nitric oxide, which can improve blood flow and stimulate the release of certain hormones, such as insulin and growth hormone.
L-arginine in the body
Nitric oxide produced from L-arginine helps relax blood vessels, and as a result improves blood circulation. This improvement is the mechanism that makes L-arginine an effective treatment to fight a series of conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases and erectile dysfunction. L-arginine is also used along with other treatments to stimulate immune function in hospitalized patients, reports the Langone Medical Center at NYU.
Uses of L-arginine
L-arginine is qualified as a "possibly effective" amino acid to contribute to surgical recovery, to improve kidney function in kidney transplant patients, improves bladder inflammation, weight loss in people with HIV / AIDS; and congestive heart failure, reports the MedlinePlus website. This site also notes that L-arginine is "possibly effective" for treating chest pain associated with coronary artery disease, although it does not result as a treatment for heart disease, to treat erectile dysfunction, Leg cramps associated with atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction and increased blood pressure during pregnancy.
Many over-the-counter and prescription medicines are used together with L-arginine, such as ibuprofen to treat migraines and fish oil to reduce infections, according to the MedlinePlus website. This amino acid was proposed for other uses, such as altitude sickness, high blood pressure, sexual dysfunction and the common cold in women, says the NYU Langone Medical Center. Some people use L-arginine topically on the skin to improve blood flow to the extremities or reduce the healing time of injuries.
Safety of L-arginine
L-arginine is considered safe and tolerable at doses of up to 20 grams per day, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center. Patients with low blood pressure should not consume L-arginine, as it can further reduce the pressure. It can also worsen herpes because it allows the virus to multiply.For safety, pregnant or lactating women, young children and patients with liver or kidney disease should avoid L-arginine. Neither should be consumed along with medications for high blood pressure or medications that increase blood flow to the heart.