Natural Standard® Patient Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). All Rights Reserved. Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
L-arginine was first isolated in 1886, reportedly from the extract of a lupine ( Lupinus spp.) seedling. Lupinus is a genus in the legume (Fabaceae) plant family.
Arginine is a semiessential amino acid; although the body normally makes enough of it, supplementation with additional amounts is sometimes needed. Arginine is found in foods containing protein.
Arginine is a chemical precursor to nitric oxide (a blood vessel-widening agent called a vasodilator). Early evidence suggests that arginine may help treat medical conditions that improve with increased vasodilation. These conditions include chest pain, atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), heart disease or failure, erectile dysfunction, intermittent claudication/peripheral vascular disease, and vascular headaches (headache-inducing blood vessel swelling).
Arginine also triggers the body to make protein and has been studied for healing wounds, bodybuilding, enhancing sperm production, and preventing tissue wasting in people with critical illnesses. However, caution is warranted. Arginine use was associated with death in certain groups of heart patients. Caution is also needed when using arginine to treat pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy).
Arginine hydrochloride has high chloride content and has been used to treat metabolic alkalosis. This use should be under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.