If you have high blood pressure, you are not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 70 million adult Americans have this condition. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medication to get your hypertension under control. One commonly prescribed medication is Lisinopril. Other supplements such as L-arginine have shown some promise as well. Consult your doctor before taking dietary supplements, especially if you take prescription medication.
What Is Lisinopril?
Lisinopril is part of a class of drugs called angiotensin-converting enzyme, or ACE, inhibitors. This medication acts to block the production of a chemical in your body called angiotensin II. This substance is part of a series of chemical reactions that increase blood pressure by constricting blood vessels. A study by the University of British Columbia, published in the October 2008 issue of “Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews,” found that ACE inhibitors including lisinopril lowered blood pressure by -8/-5 mmHg, the top and bottom numbers of your blood pressure reading, respectively.
L-arginine can provide similar health benefits through a different type of chemical reaction. This dietary supplement also causes your blood vessels to dilate by supplying your body with the raw materials it needs to produce nitric oxide. When your blood vessels widen, blood flow improves and your blood pressure may go down. Unlike lisinopril, L-arginine is a naturally-occurring substance found in a variety of foods including red meat. L-arginine can be administered intravenously or taken in capsule form.
Combining Lisinopril and L-arginine
Taking these two together has been the subject of some research. A study by the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Italy, published in the September 2003 issue of “Kidney International,” found that taking L-arginine with lisinopril lowered systolic blood pressure more effectively than taking L-arginine alone in experiments done with rats. Systolic blood pressure is the top number of your reading. A study by Ninewells Hospital and Medical School in Scotland, published in the January 2001 issue of “Clinical Science,” explains that lisinopril may inhibit the activity of superoxide radicals that would inactivate nitric oxide.
Even if taking the two are effective, you must exercise caution when combining lisinopril and L-arginine. As a dietary supplement, L-arginine is not subject to the same pre-marketing screening by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that prescription medications must go through. Health claims for L-arginine, therefore are not endorsed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In addition, a risk exists that taking the two together may lower your blood pressure to unsafe levels. You should not take the two together without first consulting your doctor.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Vital Signs: Prevalence, Treatment, and Control of Hypertension --- United States, 1999--2002 and 2005--2008; February 4, 2011
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services;Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure; August 2004
- MayoClinic.com; Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors; December 16, 2010
- "Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews"; Blood Pressure Lowering Efficacy of Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors for Primary Hypertension; B. Heran, et al.; October 2008
- Medline Plus; L-Arginine; November 19, 2010
- "Kidney International"; Combining Lisinopril and L-Arginine Slows Disease Progression and Reduces Endothelin-1 in Passive Heymann Nephritis; C. Zoja, et al.; September 2003