Anxiety disorders can wreak havoc on your life. You may feel afraid to leave the house, experience constant worry and stress, and feel irritable or frustrated with those around you or with yourself. While a number of treatments can offer relief, research has shown that L-arginine may also offer benefits. Consult your doctor before using any dietary supplements.
The amino acid L-arginine plays a role in a number of important biological processes, including cell division, wound healing, immune system functioning and waste removal. It is found naturally in a number of foods, including dairy products, meat and poultry. Your body also uses arginine to produce nitric oxide, which has a relaxing effect on blood vessels. While you can typically meet your body's requirements for arginine through dietary sources, certain illnesses can deplete supplies more quickly, making supplementation a potentially beneficial solution for preventing a deficiency. Some research has shown that L-arginine, particularly when combined with lysine, another important amino acid, can have a beneficial impact on symptoms of anxiety.
Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety is a normal human response to a stressful or fear-invoking situation, and not everyone who experiences anxiety develops an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are characterized by persistent symptoms that occur without an easily identifiable cause. Some common symptoms of anxiety disorders include excessive worry and fear, irritability, sleep disorders, tension, bodily aches and pains and appetite changes. Typically, doctors recommend psychotherapy and/or medication to treat anxiety disorders. However, some research suggests that natural remedies like L-arginine can also help to reduce symptoms.
A study published in the June 2005 issue of the journal, "Nutritional Neuroscience" showed that a combination of L-lysine and L-arginine helped to reduce the effects of stress in study participants with high trait anxiety who were exposed to a simulated stress test. Another study, published in the April 2007 issue of the journal, "Biomedical Research," evaluated the effects of a combination of L-lysine and L-arginine on 108 healthy Japanese adults. The researchers found that supplementation helped to reduce both trait and stress-induced anxiety when subjects were exposed to a cognitive stress battery. The supplementation also helped to reduce levels of cortisol, a hormone released by your body in response to stress.
While L-arginine supplementation may help symptoms of anxiety, you should never attempt to self-treat your condition with dietary supplements. Anxiety disorders can become worse if not properly treated. L-arginine may interact with certain medications and can cause unpleasant side effects if taken in high doses. Inform your doctor if you choose to use an L-arginine supplement.
- Tufts Medical Center: Arginine
- "Nutritional Neuroscience"; Subchronic Treatment with Amino Acid Mixture of L-lysine and L-arginine Modifies Neuroendocrine Activation During Psychosocial Stress in Subjects with High Trait Anxiety; J. Daniela, et al; June 2005
- "Biomedical Research"; Oral Treatment with L-lysine and L-arginine Reduces Anxiety and Basal Cortisol Levels in Healthy Humans; M. Smriga, et al; April 2007