The amino acid L-arginine, found naturally in meats, nuts and some dairy products, is regarded as a semi-essential amino acid. According to the National Institutes of Health, the body generally produces sufficient levels of this compound, but supplementation may be necessary for people with certain medical conditions. Consult your health care provider before taking L-arginine supplements, particularly if you have health problems or take medication.
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Blood Pressure Reduction
Arginine may help to reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension. L-arginine is a natural precursor to the compound nitric oxide, which helps to dilate blood vessels and prevent narrowing of the arteries. This, in turn, may help to reduce blood pressure. However, there is insufficient evidence to prove this effect; L-arginine's benefits for hypertensive patients remain largely theoretical.
Coronary Artery Disease Treatment
The National Institutes of Health reports that there is "good scientific evidence" supporting the use of arginine as a treatment for coronary artery disease. According to MedlinePlus, arginine supplements appear to improve exercise tolerance and blood flow to the arteries in people with coronary artery disease. Arginine can also prevent episodes of chest pain, or angina, related to coronary artery disease.
Chronic Heart Failure Treatment
Arginine may help to ease the symptoms associated with chronic forms of heart failure, including congestive heart failure, according to MedlinePlus. Arginine may help to improve heart function and exercise tolerance among people coping with these life-threatening conditions. Although the organization grants arginine a "B" rating as a treatment for heart failure, MedlinePlus notes that there is not enough conclusive evidence to support its use.
Migraines, severe headaches often accompanied by nausea, light sensitivity and visual distortion, are often resistant to conventional treatment options. According to the MedlinePlus, L-arginine can help to relieve migraine headaches when they are used alongside ibuprofen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Consult your health care provider if you experience recurrent severe headaches, as they may be a sign of a serious medical condition.
Alternative health care practitioners widely recommend L-arginine supplements as alternative treatments for erectile dysfunction, or impotence, in men. In theory, L-arginine's hemodilating properties can enhance blood flow to the genitals, thereby improving sexual response. MedlinePlus notes that L-arginine effectively treats erectile dysfunction when it is combined with other products, including the amino acid glutamate, and the herbal compound yohimbine hydrochloride. However, more studies are needed to prove L-arginine's efficacy as a sole treatment for the condition.