Arginine is a semi-essential amino acid involved in numerous biochemical pathways in the human body. It has functions in the immune system, and is also required for ammonia metabolism and the secretion of certain hormones. Arginine is well-known as a biochemical precursor to nitric oxide (NO), which is a functional part of endothelial-derived relaxing factor (EDRF). Because of arginine’s NO-stimulating and other effects, it is used as both a drug and supplement for several cardiovascular indications, most notably angina pectoris, congestive heart failure, hypertension, coronary heart disease, preeclampsia, intermittent claudication, and erectile dysfunction (ED). In addition, arginine has been studied in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, athletic performance, burns and trauma, cancer, diabetes and syndrome X (metabolic syndrome), gastrointestinal diseases, male and female infertility, interstitial cystitis, immunomodulation, and senile dementia.1 When taken in conjunction with omega-3 fatty acids, supplemental arginine has been shown to promote weight gain in patients with HIV.2
L Arginine (Amino Acid)
ARGININE IN ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
Most researchers using arginine for erectile dysfunction have studied it in combination with other ingredients, such as pycnogenol,22-25 yohimbine,26,27 or adenosine monophosphate.28 Only a few studies have looked at arginine by itself for erectile function. In a small, uncontrolled trial, men were given 2.8 g of arginine per day for 2 weeks. Forty percent of the men in the treatment group experienced improvement, compared to none in the placebo group.29 In a double-blind trial, men with erectile concerns took 5 g of arginine per day or a matching placebo for 6 weeks.30 Nine of 29 (31%) patients taking L-arginine reported a significant subjective improvement in sexual function. All 9 patients treated with L-arginine and who had subjectively improved sexual performance had an initially low urinary NO, and this level had doubled at the end of the study. Men given just 500 mg TID in another trial experienced no better improvement than placebo.31 These results suggest that higher doses may be needed, and that men with lower NO levels might benefit the most.
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