The list of L-arginine benefits is long and sometimes complicated. But there’s no need to get lost in all of the information. This guide is designed to help you know if L-arginine will be beneficial for you, even help you know if it is something you should avoid. But odds are you can benefit from L-arginine. In fact, it could be the supplement you have been waiting for.
What is L-arginine?
L-arginine is an amino acid (a type of protein)that comes from your diet. Foods that contain L-arginine include meats, fish, poultry, and eggs. It is also in chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and soybeans. However, sometimes a person needs more L-arginine than their diet can provide or their body can absorb. For this, taking L-arginine as a supplement can be very helpful.
Benefits of L-arginine
Lowers High Blood Pressure
The most well-known benefit of L-arginine is its ability to lower blood pressure. This is because L-arginine becomes nitric oxide when it is consumed. The nitric oxide widens blood vessels and improves blood flow. This, in turn, lowers blood pressure. Having high blood pressure can lead to conditions like heart disease, or cause heart attacks and strokes. If you have high blood pressure, including l-arginine in your diet can decrease your risk for these conditions.
Reduced blood flow helps more than just your heart. It also helps those with leg pain due to poor blood flow. However, it does not seem to improve walking-distance for people with peripheral artery disease.
Maintaining the right blood pressure is very important for pregnant women. Most research suggests that L-arginine can reduce high blood pressure during pregnancy (known as pre-eclampsia). Talk to your doctor to see if L-arginine is right for you and your baby.  
Used to Treat Migraine Headaches
The nitrates that open the blood vessels can have a positive effect on more than just blood pressure and heart health. It can be just as beneficial in easing migraine headaches by expanding blood vessels in the brain. 
Helps Correct Erectile Dysfunction
L-arginine is often used to treat Erectile Dysfunction (or ED). Research has shown that 5 grams of L-arginine seems to improve sexual function in men with ED. 
May Improve Wound Healing and Surgery Recovery
Nitric oxide is also important in the process of wound healing. Though more evidence is needed to understand if taking L-arginine supplements improves wound healing, the role of nitric oxide in healing suggests L-arginine could be helpful.  
L-arginine can also be beneficial in recovery after surgery. Research has shown that taking l-arginine with ribonucleic acid (RNA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) before or after surgery seems to reduce recovery time, prevent against infection, and improve wound healing. 
Decreases Chest Pain
While L-arginine does not treat chest pain known as angina, taking l-arginine does appear to decreases symptoms and improve quality of life.
Though more research needs to be done, but early research does suggest that taking L-arginine reduces number and intensity of chest pain related to the esophagus. (Note that this does not apply to chest pain related to the heart).  
Helps Blood Sugar Control in Those with Diabetes
Research does suggest that taking L-arginine can improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes. However, researchers are not sure whether L-arginine helps prevent people from developing diabetes. 
Can Help Prevent Memory Loss, Dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease
Nitric oxide does not just open blood vessels. It is also an important neurotransmitter in the brain and plays a role in learning and memory functions. Studies are showing that a lack of nitric oxide decreases the ability to learn and remember information. Maintaining healthy levels of nitric oxide from L-arginine may be vital to your brain health, especially as you age. Thankfully, L-arginine can help you do just that.   
Improves kidney function in those with heart failure
Another organ that might benefit from L-arginine: your kidneys. Taking L-arginine may improve kidney function in people with heart failure, though it should not be taken as a replacement of traditional treatment. 
Note: L-arginine is not effective for treating kidney disease
Alleviates Stress and Anxiety
Research has shown that L-arginine can be helpful in reducing stress. One study observed the administered L-lysine and L-arginine to study subjects. They found that 2.64 grams of each per day for one week was able to reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone in your body. L-lysine and L-arginine work to normalize hormonal stress responses. They concluded that these proteins can be an effective way to treat stress and anxiety in otherwise healthy individuals. 
Side Effects and Risk Factors
Side effects may include bloating, abdominal pain, airway inflammation, low blood pressure, worsening of asthma, and gout.
- L-arginine lowers blood pressure; if you already have low blood pressure, then taking L-arginine may not be right for you.
- L-arginine may increase inflammation in the airways. If you have allergies or asthma, talk to your doctor before taking L-arginine.
- There is increased risk of death after heart attack. Do not take L-arginine if you have recently had a heart attack.
- L-arginine can increase effects of herpes.
It is always a good idea to consult your doctor before starting any new dietary supplement, but especially when you are already taking a medication, have serious health concerns, or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
The Bottom Line
L-arginine has many benefits. It can be your natural way to lower blood pressure, treat migraine headaches, help your diabetes, or relieve stress. Talk to your doctor about trying L-arginine and improve your quality of life!