If all the rumours are true, L-arginine seems to be a versatile little amino acid. Some of its supposed benefits include reduced blood pressure, relief from angina, and even increased output in the gym (although this is more likely to be founded in “broscience” than actual science).
It is also rumoured to improve erectile function. In this complete guide to L-Arginine for erections, we delve into the science behind L-Arginine’s reported ability to improve erectile function, and examine just how effective it is for treating erectile dysfunction.
What is L-Arginine?
L-arginine is a naturally-occurring amino acid that is produced in the body. It is also found in red meat, fish, poultry, and other protein-rich foods. For our vegan friends, L-arginine can be found in high-protein food sources such as soy, whole grains, and beans.
It can be taken orally or topically (on the skin), and comes in the form of tablets, powders, capsules, creams, and gels.
How does L-Arginine help treat erectile dysfunction?
In summary, NO is made from L-arginine by the action of nitric synthase enzymes. The reason why NO is such a big deal when it comes to getting erections is because it is a vasodilator - meaning it widens the blood vessels in your penis.
Erections are essentially the result of increased blood flow to the penis. By widening blood vessels, NO allows more blood to enter the penis, which results in stronger, harder erections.
This is the theory. But just how effective is L-arginine in treating erectile dysfunction?
Let’s find out.
How effective is L-Arginine?
It is difficult to determine exactly how effective L-arginine is for treating erectile dysfunction because - like most other natural treatments for ED - there is little evidence to support the claims made about its effectiveness.
Most of the studies assessing its efficacy as an ED treatment have been relatively small, and yielded pretty modest results. For example, one study found that 31% of men reported an improvement in sexual function after being given L-arginine orally for 6 weeks - and this study only consisted of 29 men. Another study found that L-arginine had little effect on erectile dysfunction. Only five men (17%) reported improvement in their erectile function after being treated with L-arginine for 34 days.
Therefore, it is advisable to consult your doctor before attempting to take L-arginine (or any natural erectile dysfunction remedy) to ensure it is safe and doesn’t conflict with any medication you’re currently taking.
How safe is L-Arginine?
- Abdominal pain
- Allergic response
- Airway inflammation or worsening of asthma symptoms
- Increased risk of death if taken after a heart attack
- Re-triggering of herpes virus (if you have had cold sores or genital herpes)
L-Arginine may also adversely interact with some types of medication, such as:
- High blood pressure medication
- Erectile dysfunction medication
- Anticoagulants and anti-platelet drugs
- Diabetes drugs
Once again, talk to your doctor before taking L-arginine to make sure it is safe for you to take and does not interact with any medication you are currently taking.
The Bottom Line
There is little evidence to suggest L-arginine is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction. Although L-arginine plays an important role in synthesising NO - a vital molecule needed for strong erections - studies have not yielded very impressive results when studying its efficacy as an ED treatment.
L-arginine also interacts with a wide range of medications, so it is best to speak with your doctor before supplementing with L-arginine to make sure it is safe for you to take.
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