In this article I will cover the health benefits of Arginine, including directly raising Growth Hormone and indirectly supporting Testosterone levels, muscle hardness (all over) and bigger pumps while working out.
You will also learn contraindications, side effects and precautions of use.
CAUTION: Medical Disclaimer
Table of Contents
My experience with Arginine
Arginine is another one of my favorite supplements. It is a great pre-workout supplement that I highly recommend under certain conditions. A happy side effect of Arginine use is the morning hardness that you will experience in the lower abdominal area (i.e. morning erections) since its primary function is to enhance the blood flow (which leads to a better pump and in turn muscle growth). Also arginine is a great G.H. booster especially when taken at night. While it will not increase testosterone levels directly, the increase in Growth Hormone can potentially support your testosterone production.
Be careful if you are stressed since an extended use of Arginine might give you heart palpitations especially if you are over 30.
Also avoid buying the loaded-with-caffeine pre-workouts or N.O. stacks and instead go for the powder form, which you can combine (inexpensively) with other ingredients and supps to make your own pre-workout stack.
What is Arginine?
L-Arginine is a non-essential amino acid found in red meat, fish, poultry and dairy. Its claim to fame in the fitness world comes from its ability to produce Nitric Oxide directly in the muscles (which already happens in healthy adults to a smaller degree).
Nitric oxide opens up the blood vessels for an improved blood flow, which means better transportation of nutrients to a working muscle. It also stimulates growth hormone release.
What is also funny is that Citrulline (another non-essential amino acid) can also directly produce nitric oxide in the muscles and is much better absorbed compared to Arginine. Plus, Arginine needs to be cycled after 2 months of use since it loses its effect, while Citrulline can go for longer periods of time.
Arginine benefits include:
- Preserving cognitive processes in people of old age since we tend to have lower concentrations of Nitrous Oxide as we age.
- Controlling high blood pressure by increasing blood flow in type 2 diabetes patients with mild high blood pressure. This applies to a higher dose infusion of Arginine and oral supplements.
- Protecting insulin resistance as Arginine protects the pancreas (pancreatic β-cells) and thus the healthy secretion of insulin.
- Protecting people who are at risk for heart disease by supporting their Nitrous Oxide levels. People with diabetes also tend to have lower Nitrous Oxide levels.
- Helping with erectile dysfunction and sexual problems in both men and women.
- Improves exercise tolerance and improves protein synthesis but not necessary athletic performance.
- Increasing GH acutely at 34-120% (for a short period of time) when taken before sleep however the doses must be quite high (5-9gr). This can indirectly support testosterone levels.
When and how to take it
L-Arginine is available in many forms in the market such as pills and powder. Always go for the pure powder form as you can make your own stacks. Plus, it is free from additives and synthetic sweeteners, (not to mention cheaper and safer).
There are 5 different forms of Arginine:
- L-Arginine, which smells bad and tastes even worse.
- L-arginine HCL, which has a better taste but is only 83% L-arginine and clumps in liquid.
- L-arginine AKG, which stays longer in the body and provides better pumps but does have the GH release benefit since it uses AKG as its delivery method.
- Di-Arginine malate is a different delivery form of L-Arginine (uses malic acid for the transport) and has the same pros and cons as the AKG form.
- L-arginine Pyroglutamate is another form (uses pyroglutamic acid). This one is better absorbed by the intestines and also comes with the GH release. It has a sour taste and dissolves easily in water.
Some people take it pre workout for the pump effect but I believe that it is also amazing when taken before bed at night as it can stimulate the biggest response in G.H. levels.
My suggestion would be to first define your goals and then use it accordingly.
Safety and side effects
L-arginine is considered to be POSSIBLY SAFE for most healthy people when taken orally in recommended doses and for less than 3 months. The studies concluded that 20gr is a maximum safe limit but unfortunately no studies can currently prove that it is fully safe.
Reported side effects include:
- Abdominal pain,
- Blood abnormalities,
- Airway inflammation,
- Worsening of asthma,
- Low blood pressure.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
There is not enough information regarding the safety of L-Arginine so avoid using them during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Do not give L-Arginine supplements to a child unless instructed by a doctor.
Contraindications or interactions with other medication/substances:
Consult with your doctor before using this supplement especially if you have any of the following conditions or take the following medication/substances:
- Allergies or asthma: Do not use L-arginine if you are allergic as it can cause an allergic outbreak.
- Herpes: Do not use L-arginine if you have herpes as it can multiply the herpes virus.
- Low blood pressure: L-arginine can lower blood pressure so avoid using it if you already have low blood pressure.
- Heart attack: Do not use L-arginine if you have had a recent heart attack as it can increase the risk of death especially in older people.
- Scheduled Surgery: L-arginine can affect blood pressure so make sure that you have stopped L-arginine at least 2-3 weeks before your surgery.
- Viagra and antihypertensive medication when taken with L-Arginine can drive your blood pressure too low.
- Nitrates can increase blood flow to the heart and when used in combination with L-Arginine (which also increases blood flow to the heart) can cause dizziness.
Do I need to cycle off?
I recommend using only the L-form of L-Arginine as anything else will be synthetic and toxic. Use for a maximum period of 90 days and then discontinue for at least 30 days.
You can use L-Citrulline in the place of L-Arginine as it can also give you great pumps.
Over the past 20 years I have experimented with literally hundreds of herbs, supplements (and other natural products) and was finally able to discover the right doses for amazing results.
If you wish to learn more about the dosages that I use with my clients for different purposes (better health, hormonal balance, stress management, testosterone boost and more) or how I combine this herb/supp with others, leave a comment below or reach out to me for a consultation through the “Hire me” link.
Overall, you can expect more testosterone, stronger erections and bigger pumps with arginine. I will recommend this supplement for a variety of purposes, just make sure to watch your dose as a little can go a long way.
I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did writing it. Putting together this article took a bit of time but it will only take you a second to click on the Share buttons below and show your support to this blog.
Also if you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks!
by Nick Sigma
CWC, EH, E-YRT200
Arginine Studies and sources:
- Malinski T Nitric oxide and nitroxidative stress in Alzheimer’s disease . J Alzheimers Dis. (2007)
McCann SM, et al The nitric oxide theory of aging revisited. Ann N Y Acad Sci. (2005)
- Bode-Böger SM, et al L-arginine-induced vasodilation in healthy humans: pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic relationship. Br J Clin Pharmacol. (1998)
Vasilijevic A, et al Beneficial effects of L-arginine nitric oxide-producing pathway in rats treated with alloxan . J Physiol. (2007)
DiMagno MJ, et al Secretagogue-stimulated pancreatic secretion is differentially regulated by constitutive NOS isoforms in mice . Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. (2004)
- Tang WH, et al Diminished global arginine bioavailability and increased arginine catabolism as metabolic profile of increased cardiovascular risk. J Am Coll Cardiol. (2009)
- Sourij H, et al Arginine bioavailability ratios are associated with cardiovascular mortality in patients referred to coronary angiography. Atherosclerosis. (2011)
Morris CR, et al Dysregulated arginine metabolism, hemolysis-associated pulmonary hypertension, and mortality in sickle cell disease . JAMA. (2005)
Diabetes-induced Coronary Vascular Dysfunction Involves Increased Arginase Activity (http://circres.ahajournals.org/content/102/1/95.short)
Álvares TS, et al L-Arginine as a potential ergogenic aid in healthy subjects Sports Med. (2011)
Long JH, et al Arginine supplementation induces myoblast fusion via augmentation of nitric oxide production. J Muscle Res Cell Motil. (2006)
McConell GK Effects of L-arginine supplementation on exercise metabolism. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. (2007) Collier SR, Casey DP, Kanaley JA Growth hormone responses to varying doses of oral arginine Growth Horm IGF Res. (2005)
- Stoop R, Poo MM Synaptic modulation by neurotrophic factors. Prog Brain Res. (1996)
- Shao A, Hathcock JN Risk assessment for the amino acids taurine, L-glutamine and L-arginine . Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. (2008)