Erectile Dysfunction (ED) affects around 30 million American men , with the percentage of prevalence increasing with age. ED is the inability to get or keep an erection firm for satisfactory sexual intercourse. Impotence comes tidy with a stigma, embarrassment, confidence issues, possibly even psychological and relationship problems. There are a host of pharmaceuticals, physical and psychological therapies, vacuum devices, and lifestyle changes attempting to remedy ED.
ED can have many causes, some more serious than others. Strictly speaking about the penis dysfunction part. It is the inability to get or maintain an erection due to lack of blood flow to the tissues running the length of the penis or damage to the penis itself. For whatever reason penis circulation is constricted, or reduced in people with ED.
To alleviate ED or mitigate its occurrences you need to increase your blood circulation. Which is where L-Arginine steps in. L-Arginine is a semi-essential amino acid that produces Nitric Oxide. Nitric Oxide (NO) is a gas that relaxes blood vessels, subsequently dilating the vessels, allowing greater blood flow. NO also directly inhibits platelet aggregation. Oral L-Arginine Supplementation increases flow mediated dilation and endothelial function in healthy individuals over seventy years old in this double blind placebo trial . Two double-blind placebo-controlled trials testing oral L-Arginine supplementations direct effect on ED, both showed significant improvement [4, 9].
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure may also cause ED. High blood pressure can decrease blood flow, and damage the endothelium. Consequent side effects of high blood pressure include ED. However multiple studies have recorded evidence that L-Arginine supplementation can lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure [5, 7, 8, 13].
Inflammation is the swelling and redness of an area of injury, it is meant to protect damaged cells and to clear the area of any pathogens. Inflammation is usually an extremely clever immunological response, yet old age and other conditions can create circumstances of chronic inflammation in humans. Side effects of acute or chronic inflammation, especially the older you get can influence the readiness and blood flow to the penis. Again L-Arginine and the molecules it helps produce can positively affect these circumstances with an aggregate of benefits that all add to your overall health. L-Arginine supplementation studies for blood pressure apply, and also double-blind placebo trials that directly test inflammation results .
Oxidative stress is the imbalance of free radicals to antioxidants, your body consumes and produces free radicals (volatile atoms or aggregates of atoms with unpaired valence electrons; highly reactive and short-lived). Free radicals reactivity is their danger, they indiscriminately react with molecules, cells, and anything else they can reach in their relatively short life spans. Free radicals either steal or add electrons to stable molecules, changing their chemical structures. Under normal healthy conditions, physiological systems have enough antioxidants to stop free radicals from stealing or adding electrons to stable molecules, antioxidants interact with the free radicals, effectively assuming their reactivity.
Oxidative stress can damage the endothelium or harm other physiological functions. A rather minor side effect of unchecked oxidative stress can be ED. If this is the case, L-Arginine may be of assistance. Amino acids, in general, express many and diverse effects on antioxidant supply, production, synthesis, and pathways. L-Arginine, in particular, may become conditionally essential during times of rouge oxidative stress (under normal circumstances your body can produce L-Arginine, but conditionally essential means that the body’s ability to produce L-Arginine is diminished). L-Arginine therefore must be obtained via food, or supplement, and with good reason, L-Arginine enhances antioxidants that can find and stop reactive oxygen species (ROS) a type of oxidative stress . L-Arginine also supports pathways, signaling, and antioxidant expression [2, 6].
Other Benefits of L-Arginine
Health benefits need to be looked at holistically. One change may affect a multitude of other systems, which in turn may support a number of other benefits or changes. Metabolism is omnipresent in living organisms, and we must assume that every little bit affects every other little bit.
So, worthy mentions of L-Arginine’s other important benefits. L-Arginine creates the neurotransmitter Agmatine, a highly keen neuromodulator of many metabolic reactions and functions . L-Arginine is also one of the three amino acids that compose Creatine, a potent natural energy regulator and important molecule in brain function. Creatine endures a vicious cycle of constant use and a requirement for more creatine. Your body needs high levels of creatine to ensure energy homeostasis, pathways, and proper brain function. You always need adequate supplies to build creatine endogenously, or a dietary intake of creatine. L-Arginine is also apart of plenty of other protein structures and serves many purposes as an individual amino acid as well.
- Angelos Halaris, John Plietz. (2007). Agmatine: Metabolic pathway and spectrum of activity in brain.(Leading Article). CNS Drugs, 21(11), 885-900.
- Assumpção, C. ., Brunini, T. M. ., Matsuura, C., Resende, A. ., & Mendes-Ribeiro, A. . (2008). Impact of the L-arginine-Nitric Oxide Pathway and Oxidative Stress on the Pathogenesis of the Metabolic Syndrome. The Open Biochemistry Journal, 2, 108–115. http://doi.org/10.2174/1874091X00802010108
- Bode-Böger, S. M., Muke, J., Surdacki, A., Brabant, G., Böger, R. H., & Frölich, J. C. (2003). Oral L-arginine improves endothelial function in healthy individuals older than 70 years. Vascular Medicine, 8(2), 77-81. doi:10.1191/1358863x03vm474oa
- Chen, Wollman, Chernichovsky, Iaina, Sofer, & Matzkin. (1999). Effect of oral administration of high‐dose nitric oxide donor l‐arginine in men with organic erectile dysfunction: Results of a double‐blind, randomized, placebo‐controlled study. BJU International, 83(3), 269-273.
- Effect of oral l-arginine supplementation on blood pressure: A meta-analysis of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials Dong, Jia-Yi et al. American Heart Journal , Volume 162 , Issue 6 , 959 – 965
- Ma, H., Ma, Y., Zhang, Z., Zhao, Z., Lin, R., Zhu, J., … Xu, L. (2016). l-Arginine Enhances Resistance against Oxidative Stress and Heat Stress in Caenorhabditis elegans. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(10), 969. http://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13100969
- McRae, M. P. (2016). Therapeutic Benefits of l-Arginine: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 15(3), 184–189. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcm.2016.06.002
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID=6322, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/6322 (accessed Apr. 22, 2018).
- Neuzillet, Y., Hupertan, V., Cour, F., Botto, H., & Lebret, T. (2013). A randomized, double‐blind, crossover, placebo‐controlled comparative clinical trial of arginine aspartate plus adenosine monophosphate for the intermittent treatment of male erectile dysfunction. Andrology, 1(2), 223-228.
- Nunes, K. P., Labazi, H., & Webb, R. C. (2012). New Insights into Hypertension-Associated Erectile Dysfunction. Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension, 21(2), 163–170. http://doi.org/10.1097/MNH.0b013e32835021bd
- Oral l-arginine supplementation improves endothelial function and ameliorates insulin sensitivity and inflammation in cardiopathic nondiabetic patients after an aortocoronary bypass Lucotti, Pietro et al. Metabolism – Clinical and Experimental , Volume 58 , Issue 9 , 1270 – 1276
- Shan, L., Wang, B., Gao, G., Cao, W., & Zhang, Y. (2013). L-Arginine supplementation improves antioxidant defenses through L-arginine/nitric oxide pathways in exercised rats. Journal of Applied Physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985), 115(8), 1146-55.
- Vasdev, S., & Gill, V. (2008). The antihypertensive effect of arginine. The International Journal of Angiology : Official Publication of the International College of Angiology, Inc, 17(1), 7–22.
Barbour, D. (2018, May 29). L-Arginine for Erectile Dysfunction. The Good Men Project.
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