Supplement Forms/Alternate Names

  • L-Arginine


Arginine is an amino acid found in the body. It has been taken to lower blood pressure, improve heart function, and increase sex drive. Arginine can be taken as a pill or powder. Arginine can also be applied as a paste. It has been used to ease tooth sensitivity.


2 to 10 grams once daily

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

May Be Effective

  • Necrotising enterocolitis—may prevent in preterm infants F1, F2

May Not Be Effective

  • Athletic performance—may not enhance athletic performance or improve recovery from exhaustion B1

Unlikely to Be Effective

  • Acute myocardial infarction—unlikely to improve outcomes A1

Not Enough Data to Assess

  • Cancer treatment support H1
  • Hip and knee replacement support E1

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe to use arginine and to take it orally for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period. It is also not known whether it is safe to take by women who are breastfeeding.


Talk to your doctor about any alternative therapy or supplements you are taking to make sure it does not interfere with your current treatment. For example:

  • People who have had a heart attack should talk to their doctors before taking arginine. It may worsen symptoms.


REFA Acute Myocardial Infarction

REFA1 Sun T, Zhou WB, et al. Oral L-arginine supplementation in acute myocardial infarction therapy: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clin Cardiol. 2009 Nov;32(11):649-652.

REFB2 Athletic Performance

REFB1 Brooks JR, Oketch-Rabah H, et al. Safety and performance benefits of arginine supplements for military personnel: a systematic review. Nutr Rev. 2016 Nov;74(11):708-721.

REFC Dentin Hypersensitivity

REFC1 Yan B, Yi J, et al. Arginine-containing toothpastes for dentin hypersensitivity: systematic review and meta-analysis. Quintessence Int. 2013; 44(9): 709-723.

REFD High Blood Pressure

REFD1 Dong JY, Qin LQ, et al. Effects of oral L-arginine supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. Am Heart J. 2011;162(6):959-965.

REFD2 Borghi C, Cicero AF. Nutraceuticals with a clinically detectable blood pressure-lowering effect: a review of available randomized clinical trials and their meta-analyses. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2017 Jan;83(1):163-171.

REFE Hip and Knee Replacement Support

REFE1 Burgess LC, Phillips SM, et al. What Is the Role of Nutritional Supplements in Support of Total Hip Replacement and Total Knee Replacement Surgeries? A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2018 Jun 25;10(7). pii: E820.

REFF Necrotising Enterocolitis

REFF1 Mitchell K, Lyttle A, et al. Arginine supplementation in prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis in the premature infant: an updated systematic review. BMC Pediatr. 2014 Sep 10;14:226.

REFF2 Shah PS, Shah VS, et al. Arginine supplementation for prevention of necrotising enterocolitis in preterm infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;4:CD004339.

REFG Pre-eclampsia

REFG1 Zhu Q, Yue X, et al. Effect of L-arginine supplementation on blood pressure in pregnant women: a meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials. Hypertens Pregnancy. 2013;32(1):32-41.

REFG2 Gui S, Jia J, et al. Arginine supplementation for improving maternal and neonatal outcomes in hypertensive disorder of pregnancy: a systematic review. J Renin Angiotensin Aldosterone Syst. 2014;15(1):88-96.

REFH Cancer Treatment Support

REFH1 Marullo R, Castro M, et al. The metabolic adaptation evoked by arginine enhances the effect of radiation in brain metastases. Sci Adv. 2021;7(45):eabg1964. doi:10.1126/sciadv.abg1964.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
  • Review Date: 07/2019
  • Update Date: 11/08/2021