Citrulline is a non-essential amino acid with the chemical name is 2-amino-5 pentanoic acid. It is a phytonutrient, capable of interacting with the body to improve health, says Dr. Bhimu Patil of Texas A&M’s Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center. Citrulline’s properties can help erectile dysfunction when it is caused by circulatory problems.
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An enzymatic process in the body forms nitric oxide simultaneously with citrulline. Citrulline recycles into another phytonutrient, arginine, and arginine can convert back to nitric oxide. Combined with a chemical called cyclic GMP, nitric oxide can lead to erection. GMP relaxes the smooth muscles of the penis. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels. Together, this allows for the blood flow that is necessary to achieve an erection. Shanghai Join-Ray cites experiments conducted by Complutense University School of Medicine in Spain that showed that citrulline can also double a man’s GMP levels.
Protein-rich foods such as meat, milk, fish and legumes are sources of citrulline, according to HealthVitaminsGuide.com. It is readily absorbed into your blood stream from your stomach. Research by Patil and his team at Texas A&M, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture Research Service, shows that watermelon is also very rich in citrulline. Supplements are also available.
Texas A&M began working toward breeding new varieties of watermelon with increased edible citrulline content in 2008, according to Patil. The rind contains the majority of watermelon’s citrulline. Patil and his team are working to develop a breed of watermelon with more citrulline in the flesh as a more plentiful source for those who suffer from erectile dysfunction.
Nitric oxide provides the basis by which Viagra, produced by Pfizer, works for erectile dysfunction, according to both Shanghai Join-Ray and Pfizer. But Patil says eating foods with high citrulline content, and watermelon in particular, is a good way to supplement your citrulline levels and relax your blood vessels without the side effects that drugs can cause.
A number of psychological issues, as well as physiological problems, can cause erectile dysfunction, according to ScienceDaily. Nitric oxide can help increase blood flow, but it might not benefit you if your erectile dysfunction has another source.